This column written by Fr. Dudley (published on July 2, 1939) was incorporated into Last Crescendo word for word–and the plot of the novel was then shaped to conform to it. Fr. Dudley wrote of what he knew. This is the text of the column:
I have just received a letter from a man who says: “By the time you read these words I shall be dead.”
The letter is anonymous and no address is given.
The writer of it, however, makes his intention quite clear: “I am going to finish in
suicide, the coward’s way out.”
I do not know whether he has carried out his intention or not; I may be writing this to a dead man.
I only hope and pray that I am writing it to a man who is still alive, and who may be
influenced by it to change his decision, and put away all thoughts of suicide.
He read my last article in the Daily Mirror, at the end of which I said: “You cannot fool
He quotes these words with the comment: “Perhaps not. But God has fooled me.”
♦ ♦ ♦
He gives his reasons for his statement that God has fooled him: “Unemployment, illness
and the despair of utter failure. . . . I didn’t go looking for disease, pain, hunger and misery. God, in His goodness, gave them to me.”
One of the most pathetic documents I have ever received.
I have tried to visualise the writer.
A man who has come down in the world, for his handwriting is educated.
A man who is a gentleman, for in spite of his bitterness he writes courteously throughout.
A man who has suffered intensely, for he refers to the “agony of life.”
A man who has known happiness, or at least knows happiness, for he says: “I wanted to
live, to be happy.”
A man who feels himself an outcast and unwanted—a “Piece of human driftwood.”
♦ ♦ ♦
When I opened his letter and read it I realised that I could do nothing myself to prevent
him from taking his life, that I had no means of getting in touch with him.
I did the only thing I could do as a priest: I asked the God Who created that man out of Eternal Love that the life He gave might not be taken.
I said Mass for that man—for God’s mercy on his soul, it it liad happened, for God’s grace to him if it had not.
I mention this because you, who wrote that letter to me, may still be alive, and I want you to understand how utterly different was the effect of your letter upon me from what you suggested it might be—”wearisome, a dreary bore.”
Do you really believe that? No, you don’t—or you wouldn’t have written.
You wrote because in your heart of hearts you knew that somewhere in this world you would find compassion—in the heart of a priest of God. Wasn’t that it?
♦ ♦ ♦
I want you to know, then, that all my compassion is for you, so much so that I couldn’t
get you out of my thoughts if I tried.
I want you to know that I could have no compassion for you at all unless I believed in a
God of Infinite Compassion, Who has no more fooled you than I am fooling you now.
You say that if I were with you I should tell you to put your faith in God. Yes, I should.
But not in the God your imagination has conjured up—an aloot, callous being, indifferent
to your suffering and misery.
Such a God does not exist.
I should tell you, in spite of everything, to trust a God Who took our human nature upon Himself and became Man, and as Man cried in the Garden of His Agony: “Father, if it be
possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”
Whose agony was so actual and terrible as to cause a sweat of blood.
Who took upon Himself the whole burden of a world’s evil and pain.
Who hung crucified upon a Cross amid the horror of a great darkness, isolated in abject
loneliness, nailed there at the mercy of Hell and the world’s hate—and no mercy came.
Whose cry to Heaven contained the supremity of all suffering, of the God-Man’s agony for man—for love of man.
And no man could understand—but only the God of Heaven and Earth Who hung there and endured. . .
♦ ♦ ♦
Yes, I do ask you to trust the God Who, as Man, has been through it all Himself, and
suffered as not one of His human creatures has ever suffered or ever will.
Can you honestly believe that such a God has fooled you ?
You may reply—then why has He allowed me to go through this hell on earth ?
I don’t know. Because I don’t know you. I don’t know what your lite has been.
I don’t know whether it’s through your own fault you’ve come down to this.
I don’t know whether sin has done it.
I don’t know whether you’ve turned your back on God.
I am not being cruel; I am merely conjecturing. I want to help you.
If you have refused God you have refused to let Him look after you.
It is possible that He has allowed you to go through this hell on eaith to bring you back
to Him—in repentance.
Supposing:, however, it has all happened through no fault of your own.
Supposing you, like miJlions of others, have been dipped in this world’s crucible to be tested for eternal life.
Supposing all this “agony of life” is in reality a ladder of life for the scaling of heroic heights.
Supposing God has asked you, as He has asked millions, to travel by the Royal Road of
The Royal Road ot Martyrdom
♦ ♦ ♦
The real heroes of this world are not the stars of the screen, of the ring, of record-breaking; they are those who have trodden the way of the Cross with Christ, the conquerors of life and death.
For them there Is an eternity of happiness ahead.
I could give you the arguments from reason for the goodness and love of God. I shall not do so, because I think what I have said is more likely to help you.
“I wanted to live, to be happy…”
My prayer is that you may still be living, to carry on until “the day dawn and the shadows
of earth flee away.”