The author was a priest in the Catholic Church and subsequently left it as he slowly lost faith in its teachings. He then began a life-long literary career until his death in 1955. He translated over 200 books and some 300 titles under Haldeman-Julius Publications and became know as the "world's greatest scholar. Quoted from the author's "preface to the Third Edition."
"WHEN this work first appeared, in 1897, the only criticism which the author observed among the many columns of press notices was that he would have done well to refrain for a few years from writing about the Church he had abandoned. The painful experiences which are recorded in its later chapters would not unnaturally suggest that the book must have been written in an embittered mood. The implication was, however, inaccurate, and when, in 1903, a second edition was prepared, after the work had been out of print for five years, very little
change was needed. The author had had the good fortune, on leaving the Church, to come under the genial influence of Sir Leslie Stephen, and had endeavoured to write in the mood of " good-natured contempt," which the great critic recommended to him. Neither in this nor in any subsequent work of his will there be found any justification for the petulant Catholic complaint that the author writes with "bitterness " or "hatred " of the Roman Church. The truth is that, on re-reading the book after an interval of nine years, for the purpose of preparing a popular edition, the moderation of its temper somewhat surprises the author. The reader may judge for himself whether the system depicted in the following pages has been harshly judged in the few phrases of censure which have been admitted into the work. The author himself looks back with astonishment on features of that system which had almost faded from his memory, and is amazed to think that such a system still commands the nominal
allegiance of large numbers of educated men and refined women. The Rome of history we all know — the Rome which retained the bandage of ignorance about the eyes of Europe for a thousand years, and, while exhibiting a spectacle of continuous and unblushing immorality in its most sacred courts, employed the rack and the stake to intimidate any man who would venture to impugn its sanctity or its truth. But there is a widespread feeling that the Reformation chastened the Church of Rome, and that at least in the nineteenth and twentieth
century it has ground, whatever its superstitions, to claim to be one of the greatest spiritual forces in the world."