The Portsmouth Young Men's Christian Association and their Rev. Critic

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

The Portsmouth Young Men's Christian Association and their Rev. Critic is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in The Evening News (Portsmouth) on 27 march 1884.


Sir, — I read with much interest the three letters which appeared in your issue of yesterday in defence of the action of the Rev. Lindsay Young re. the Young Men's Christian Association, and was tempted to exclaim with Shakespeare, as I perused each, "Why, this is a more beautiful song than the other!" The trio, taken together, would be of interest to the antiquarian. There is a mediaeval smack about them which wafts us back to the enlightened days when so-called Christianity took its stand against quoit playing, the maypole, and plum-pudding, upon Christmas day. What! because Mr. Young is Vicar of St. John's, shall there be no more cakes or ale in the land? Think you that the mild man-god of Galilee looked stern when those children played whom he invited to come to him? "Worldly" is a word which the narrow-minded unimaginative bigot is only too ready to employ. The Roman Pro-Consul, steeped in the vices of the rising Empire, the Instful Sadducees, preaching temperance to the masses, and living in luxury — these were the men to whom Christ applied the term. Who thinks now that He would mean it to apply to earnest and God-fearing young men, deriving intellectual and moral amusement from the lips of a lady who is above slander? As "Veritas" remarks, Mr. Young probably cannot be shamed; and yet, unless his moral digestion is very strong, surely he cannot but feel some qualms when he thinks of the broad liberalism of our Saviour in the corn field and compares it with his own petty straw-splitting view of things around him. Is the designation of "Christian" to be withdrawn from a body of men because they listen to an account of how a child sacrifices its life in the hope of shedding a gleam of happiness upon the deathbed of a little mite younger than itself? This is the theme of "Billy's Rose"; but of course Mr. Young has not read it, because it is (save the mark!) worldly and un-Christian. Thank God that there are not many who accept Mr. Young's definitions of Christianity, for if they held good one would have to choose between Mohametanism and Atheism.

I remain, Sir, yours truly,