Father Damien: An Open Letter to the Reverend Doctor Hyde of Honolulu

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Chatto and Windus, 1890 - Leprosy - 30 pages
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Letter from Stevenson to Reverend C.M. Hyde of Honolulu in rebuttal to a letter written by Reverend Hyde to Reverend H.B. Gage (1889) which denounced Father Damien, who worked in the leper colony of Kalawao, Hawaii, province of Molokai.
 

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How presient Robert Louis Stevenson was -- On October 11, 2009, Father Damien will be made a saint, by the hand of the Pope at the Vatican, in view of his miraculous life, and miracles having occurred in his name since that time. A modern statue of him, in metal, a copy of an original carved in native Hawaiian woods, resides in the halls of the U.S. Capitol, a gift of pride by Hawaii as one of their favorite sons. This small book, comprised of an open letter to a pompous cleric who had bothered to publish a slanderous letter concerning the devoted and soon sainted priest, a man not of his faith. Stevenson uses his pen like a foil, and refers to having removed the rubber tip from its sharp point. This letter should be read in every literary class, and certainly every class in journalism. A moving experience, and a classic portrait of a truly great man of history and faith.  

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Page 6 - If I have at all learned the trade of using words to convey truth and to arouse emotion, you have at last furnished me with a subject. For it is in the interest of all mankind, and the cause of public decency in every quarter of the world, not only that Damien should be righted, but that you and your letter should be displayed at length, in their true colors, to the public eye.
Page 13 - However, let us not forget what Robert Louis Stevenson said: "The truth that is suppressed by friends is the readiest weapon of the enemy.
Page 8 - I conceive you as a man quite beyond and below the reticences of civility : with what measure you mete, with that shall it be measured you again ; with you, at last, I rejoice to feel the button off the foil and to plunge home.
Page 18 - Luna, or overseer, of the unruly settlement] " there followed a brief term of office by Father Damien which served only to publish the weakness of that noble man. He was rough in his ways, and he had no control. Authority was relaxed ; Damien's life was threatened, and he was soon eager to resign.
Page 7 - In answer to your inquiries about Father Damien, I can only reply that we who knew the man are surprised at the extravagant newspaper laudations, as if he was a most saintly philanthropist. The simple truth is, he was a coarse, dirty man, headstrong and bigoted. He was not sent to Molokai, but went there without orders...
Page 20 - I have set down these private passages, as you perceive, without correction; thanks to you, the public has them in their bluntness. They are almost a list of the man's faults, for it is rather these that I was seeking: with his virtues, with the heroic profile of his life, I and the world were already sufficiently acquainted. I was besides a little suspicious of Catholic testimony; in no ill sense, but merely because Damien's admirers and disciples were the least likely to be critical. I know you...
Page 7 - He was not a pure man in his relations with women, and the leprosy of which he died should be attributed to his vices and carelessness.
Page 26 - I tell you that, to a mind not prejudiced by jealousy, all the reforms of the lazaretto, and even those which he most vigorously opposed, are properly the work of Damien. They are the evidence of his success; they are what his heroism provoked from the reluctant and the careless. Many were before him in the field; Mr. Meyer, for instance, of whose faithful work we hear too little: there have been many since; and some had more worldly wisdom, though none had more devotion, than our saint. Before his...
Page 16 - ... but still breathing, still thinking, still remembering; you would have understood that life in the lazaretto is an ordeal from which the nerves of a man's spirit shrink, even as his eye quails under the brightness of the sun; you would have felt it was (even to-day) 488 a pitiful place to visit and a hell to dwell in.
Page 5 - February 25, 1890. SIR, — It may probably occur to you that we have met, and visited, and conversed; on my side, with interest. You may remember that you have done me several courtesies, for which I was prepared to be grateful. But there are duties which come before gratitude, and offences which justly divide friends, far more acquaintances. Your letter to the Reverend HB Gage is a document, which, in my sight, if you had filled me with bread when I was starving, if you had sat up to nurse my father...

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