HotFreeBooks.com
Loss and Gain - The Story of a Convert
by John Henry Newman
1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

LOSS AND GAIN: THE STORY OF A CONVERT.

BY JOHN HENRY NEWMAN, OF THE ORATORY.

ADHUC MODICUM ALIQUANTULUM, QUI VENTURUS EST, VENIET, ET NON TARDABIT. JUSTUS AUTEM MEUS EX FIDE VIVIT.

Eighth Edition.

LONDON: BURNS AND OATES. 1881.



TO THE VERY REV. CHARLES W. RUSSELL, D.D., PRESIDENT OF ST. PATRICK'S COLLEGE, MAYNOOTH, &c. &c.

My dear Dr. Russell,—Now that at length I take the step of printing my name in the Title-Page of this Volume, I trust I shall not be encroaching on the kindness you have so long shown to me, if I venture to follow it up by placing yours in the page which comes next, thus associating myself with you, and recommending myself to my readers by the association.

Not that I am dreaming of bringing down upon you, in whole or part, the criticisms, just or unjust, which lie against a literary attempt which has in some quarters been thought out of keeping with my antecedents and my position; but the warm and sympathetic interest which you took in Oxford matters thirty years ago, and the benefits which I derived personally from that interest, are reasons why I am desirous of prefixing your name to a Tale, which, whatever its faults, at least is a more intelligible and exact representation of the thoughts, sentiments, and aspirations, then and there prevailing, than was to be found in the anti-Catholic pamphlets, charges, sermons, reviews, and story-books of the day.

These reasons, too, must be my apology, should I seem to be asking your acceptance of a Volume, which, over and above its intrinsic defects, is, in its very subject and style, hardly commensurate with the theological reputation and the ecclesiastical station of the person to whom it is presented.

I am, my dear Dr. Russell,

Your affectionate friend,

JOHN H. NEWMAN.

THE ORATORY, Feb. 21, 1874.



ADVERTISEMENT.

The following tale is not intended as a work of controversy in behalf of the Catholic Religion; but as a description of what is understood by few, viz. the course of thought and state of mind,—or rather one such course and state,—which issues in conviction of its Divine origin.

Nor is it founded on fact, to use the common phrase. It is not the history of any individual mind among the recent converts to the Catholic Church. The principal characters are imaginary; and the writer wishes to disclaim personal allusion in any. It is with this view that he has feigned ecclesiastical bodies and places, to avoid the chance, which might otherwise occur, of unintentionally suggesting to the reader real individuals, who were far from his thoughts.

At the same time, free use has been made of sayings and doings which were characteristic of the time and place in which the scene is laid. And, moreover, when, as in a tale, a general truth or fact is exhibited in individual specimens of it, it is impossible that the ideal representation should not more or less coincide, in spite of the author's endeavour, or even without his recognition, with its existing instances or champions.

It must also be added, to prevent a farther misconception, that no proper representative is intended in this tale, of the religious opinions which had lately so much influence in the University of Oxford.

Feb. 21, 1848.



ADVERTISEMENT TO THE SIXTH EDITION.

A tale, directed against the Oxford converts to the Catholic Faith, was sent from England to the author of this Volume in the summer of 1847, when he was resident at Santa Croce in Rome. Its contents were as wantonly and preposterously fanciful, as they were injurious to those whose motives and actions it professed to represent; but a formal criticism or grave notice of it seemed to him out of place.

The suitable answer lay rather in the publication of a second tale; drawn up with a stricter regard to truth and probability, and with at least some personal knowledge of Oxford, and some perception of the various aspects of the religious phenomenon, which the work in question handled so rudely and so unskilfully.

Especially was he desirous of dissipating the fog of pomposity and solemn pretence, which its writer had thrown around the personages introduced into it, by showing, as in a specimen, that those who were smitten with love of the Catholic Church, were nevertheless as able to write common-sense prose as other men.

Under these circumstances "Loss and Gain" was given to the public.

Feb. 21, 1874.



LOSS AND GAIN.



Part I.

CHAPTER I.

Charles Reding was the only son of a clergyman, who was in possession of a valuable benefice in a midland county. His father intended him for orders, and sent him at a proper age to a public school. He had long revolved in his mind the respective advantages and disadvantages of public and private education, and had decided in favour of the former. "Seclusion," he said, "is no security for virtue. There is no telling what is in a boy's heart: he may look as open and happy as usual, and be as kind and attentive, when there is a great deal wrong going on within. The heart is a secret with its Maker; no one on earth can hope to get at it or to touch it. I have a cure of souls; what do I really know of my parishioners? Nothing; their hearts are sealed books to me. And this dear boy, he comes close to me; he throws his arms round me, but his soul is as much out of my sight as if he were at the antipodes. I am not accusing him of reserve, dear fellow: his very love and reverence for me keep him in a sort of charmed solitude. I cannot expect to get at the bottom of him.

'Each in his hidden sphere of bliss or woe, Our hermit spirits dwell.'

It is our lot here below. No one on earth can know Charles's secret thoughts. Did I guard him here at home ever so well, yet, in due time, it would be found that a serpent had crept into the heart of his innocence. Boys do not fully know what is good and what is evil; they do wrong things at first almost innocently. Novelty hides vice from them; there is no one to warn them or give them rules; and they become slaves of sin, while they are learning what sin is. They go to the University, and suddenly plunge into excesses, the greater in proportion to their inexperience. And, besides all this, I am not equal to the task of forming so active and inquisitive a mind as his. He already asks questions which I know not how to answer. So he shall go to a public school. There he will get discipline at least, even if he has more of trial: at least he will gain habits of self-command, manliness, and circumspection; he will learn to use his eyes, and will find materials to use them upon; and thus will be gradually trained for the liberty which, any how, he must have when he goes to college."

This was the more necessary, because, with many high excellences, Charles was naturally timid and retiring, over-sensitive, and, though lively and cheerful, yet not without a tinge of melancholy in his character, which sometimes degenerated into mawkishness.

To Eton, then, he went; and there had the good fortune to fall into the hands of an excellent tutor, who, while he instructed him in the old Church-of-England principles of Mant and Doyley, gave his mind a religious impression, which secured him against the allurements of bad company, whether at the school itself, or afterwards at Oxford. To that celebrated seat of learning he was in due time transferred, being entered at St. Saviour's College; and he is in his sixth term from matriculation, and his fourth of residence, at the time our story opens.

At Oxford, it is needless to say, he had found a great number of his schoolfellows, but, it so happened, had found very few friends among them. Some were too gay for him, and he had avoided them; others, with whom he had been intimate at Eton, having high connections, had fairly cut him on coming into residence, or, being entered at other colleges, had lost sight of him. Almost everything depends at Oxford, in the matter of acquaintance, on proximity of rooms. You choose your friend, not so much by your tastes, as by your staircase. There is a story of a London tradesman who lost custom after beautifying his premises, because his entrance went up a step; and we all know how great is the difference between open and shut doors when we walk along a street of shops. In a university a youth's hours are portioned out to him. A regular man gets up and goes to chapel, breakfasts, gets up his lectures, goes to lecture, walks, dines; there is little to induce him to mount any staircase but his own; and if he does so, ten to one he finds the friend from home whom he is seeking; not to say that freshmen, who naturally have common feelings and interests, as naturally are allotted a staircase in common. And thus it was that Charles Reding was brought across William Sheffield, who had come into residence the same term as himself.

The minds of young people are pliable and elastic, and easily accommodate themselves to any one they fall in with. They find grounds of attraction both where they agree with one another and where they differ; what is congenial to themselves creates sympathy; what is correlative, or supplemental, creates admiration and esteem. And what is thus begun is often continued in after-life by the force of habit and the claims of memory. Thus, in the choice of friends, chance often does for us as much as the most careful selection could have effected. What was the character and degree of that friendship which sprang up between the freshmen Reding and Sheffield, we need not here minutely explain: it will be enough to say, that what they had in common was freshmanship, good talents, and the back staircase; and that they differed in this—that Sheffield had lived a good deal with people older than himself, had read much in a desultory way, and easily picked up opinions and facts, especially on controversies of the day, without laying anything very much to heart; that he was ready, clear-sighted, unembarrassed, and somewhat forward: Charles, on the other hand, had little knowledge as yet of principles or their bearings, but understood more deeply than Sheffield, and held more practically, what he had once received; he was gentle and affectionate, and easily led by others, except when duty clearly interfered. It should be added, that he had fallen in with various religious denominations in his father's parish, and had a general, though not a systematic, knowledge of their tenets. What they were besides, will be seen as our narrative advances.



CHAPTER II.

It was a little past one P.M. when Sheffield, passing Charles's door, saw it open. The college servant had just entered with the usual half-commons for luncheon, and was employed in making up the fire. Sheffield followed him in, and found Charles in his cap and gown, lounging on the arm of his easy-chair, and eating his bread and cheese. Sheffield asked him if he slept, as well as ate and drank, "accoutred as he was."

"I am just going for a turn into the meadow," said Charles; "this is to me the best time of the year: nunc formosissimus annus; everything is beautiful; the laburnums are out, and the may. There is a greater variety of trees there than in any other place I know hereabouts; and the planes are so touching just now, with their small multitudinous green hands half-opened; and there are two or three such fine dark willows stretching over the Cherwell; I think some dryad inhabits them: and, as you wind along, just over your right shoulder is the Long Walk, with the Oxford buildings seen between the elms. They say there are dons here who recollect when the foliage was unbroken, nay, when you might walk under it in hard rain, and get no wet. I know I got drenched there the other day."

Sheffield laughed, and said that Charles must put on his beaver, and walk with him a different way. He wanted a good walk; his head was stupid from his lectures; that old Jennings prosed so awfully upon Paley, it made him quite ill. He had talked of the Apostles as neither "deceivers nor deceived," of their "sensible miracles," and of their "dying for their testimony," till he did not know whether he himself was an ens physiologicum or a totum metaphysicum, when Jennings had cruelly asked him to repeat Paley's argument; and because he had not given it in Jennings' words, friend Jennings had pursed up his lips, and gone through the whole again; so intent, in his wooden enthusiasm, on his own analysis of it, that he did not hear the clock strike the hour; and, in spite of the men's shuffling their feet, blowing their noses, and looking at their watches, on he had gone for a good twenty minutes past the time; and would have been going on even then, he verily believed, but for an interposition only equalled by that of the geese at the Capitol. For that, when he had got about half through his recapitulation, and was stopping at the end of a sentence to see the impression he was making, that uncouth fellow, Lively, moved by what happy inspiration he did not know, suddenly broke in, apropos of nothing, nodding his head, and speaking in a clear cackle, with, "Pray, sir, what is your opinion of the infallibility of the Pope?" Upon which every one but Jennings did laugh out: but he, au contraire, began to look very black; and no one can tell what would have happened, had he not cast his eyes by accident on his watch, on which he coloured, closed his book, and instanter sent the whole lecture out of the room.

Charles laughed in his turn, but added, "Yet, I assure you, Sheffield, that Jennings, stiff and cold as he seems, is, I do believe, a very good fellow at bottom. He has before now spoken to me with a good deal of feeling, and has gone out of his way to do me favours. I see poor bodies coming to him for charity continually; and they say that his sermons at Holy Cross are excellent."

Sheffield said he liked people to be natural, and hated that donnish manner. What good could it do? and what did it mean?

"That is what I call bigotry," answered Charles; "I am for taking every one for what he is, and not for what he is not: one has this excellence, another that; no one is everything. Why should we not drop what we don't like, and admire what we like? This is the only way of getting through life, the only true wisdom, and surely our duty into the bargain."

Sheffield thought this regular prose, and unreal. "We must," he said, "have a standard of things, else one good thing is as good as another. But I can't stand here all day," he continued, "when we ought to be walking." And he took off Charles's cap, and, placing his hat on him instead, said, "Come, let us be going."

"Then must I give up my meadow?" said Charles.

"Of course you must," answered Sheffield; "you must take a beaver walk. I want you to go as far as Oxley, a village some little way out, all the vicars of which, sooner or later, are made bishops. Perhaps even walking there may do us some good."

The friends set out, from hat to boot in the most approved Oxford bandbox-cut of trimness and prettiness. Sheffield was turning into the High Street, when Reding stopped him: "It always annoys me," he said, "to go down High Street in a beaver; one is sure to meet a proctor."

"All those University dresses are great fudge," answered Sheffield; "how are we the better for them? They are mere outside, and nothing else. Besides, our gown is so hideously ugly."

"Well, I don't go along with your sweeping condemnation," answered Charles; "this is a great place, and should have a dress. I declare, when I first saw the procession of Heads at St. Mary's, it was quite moving. First——"

"Of course the pokers," interrupted Sheffield.

"First the organ, and every one rising; then the Vice-Chancellor in red, and his bow to the preacher, who turns to the pulpit; then all the Heads in order; and lastly the Proctors. Meanwhile, you see the head of the preacher slowly mounting up the steps; when he gets in, he shuts-to the door, looks at the organ-loft to catch the psalm, and the voices strike up."

Sheffield laughed, and then said, "Well, I confess I agree with you in your instance. The preacher is, or is supposed to be, a person of talent; he is about to hold forth; the divines, the students of a great University, are all there to listen. The pageant does but fitly represent the great moral fact which is before us; I understand this. I don't call this fudge; what I mean by fudge is, outside without inside. Now I must say, the sermon itself, and not the least of all the prayer before it—what do they call it?"

"The bidding prayer," said Reding.

"Well, both sermon and prayer are often arrant fudge. I don't often go to University sermons, but I have gone often enough not to go again without compulsion. The last preacher I heard was from the country. Oh, it was wonderful! He began at the pitch of his voice, 'Ye shall pray.' What stuff! 'Ye shall pray;' because old Latimer or Jewell said, 'Ye shall praie,' therefore we must not say, 'Let us pray.' Presently he brought out," continued Sheffield, assuming a pompous and up-and-down tone, "'especially for that pure and apostolic branch of it established,'—here the man rose on his toes, 'established in these dominions.' Next came, 'for our Sovereign Lady Victoria, Queen, Defender of the Faith, in all causes and over all persons, ecclesiastical as well as civil, within these her dominions, supreme'—an awful pause, with an audible fall of the sermon-case on the cushion; as though nature did not contain, as if the human mind could not sustain, a bigger thought. Then followed, 'the pious and munificent founder,' in the same twang, 'of All Saints' and Leicester Colleges,' But his chef-d'oeuvre was his emphatic recognition of 'all the doctors, both the proctors', as if the numerical antithesis had a graphic power, and threw those excellent personages into a charming tableau vivant."

Charles was amused at all this; but he said in answer, that he never heard a sermon but it was his own fault if he did not gain good from it; and he quoted the words of his father, who, when he one day asked him if so-and-so had not preached a very good sermon, "My dear Charles," his father had said, "all sermons are good." The words, simple as they were, had retained a hold on his memory.

Meanwhile, they had proceeded down the forbidden High Street, and were crossing the bridge, when, on the opposite side, they saw before them a tall, upright man, whom Sheffield had no difficulty in recognizing as a bachelor of Nun's Hall, and a bore at least of the second magnitude. He was in cap and gown, but went on his way, as if intending, in that extraordinary guise, to take a country walk. He took the path which they were going themselves, and they tried to keep behind him; but they walked too briskly, and he too leisurely, to allow of that. It is very difficult duly to delineate a bore in a narrative, for the very reason that he is a bore. A tale must aim at condensation, but a bore acts in solution. It is only on the long-run that he is ascertained. Then, indeed, he is felt; he is oppressive; like the sirocco, which the native detects at once, while a foreigner is often at fault. Tenet occiditque. Did you hear him make but one speech, perhaps you would say he was a pleasant, well-informed man; but when he never comes to an end, or has one and the same prose every time you meet him, or keeps you standing till you are fit to sink, or holds you fast when you wish to keep an engagement, or hinders you listening to important conversation,—then there is no mistake, the truth bursts on you, apparent dirae facies, you are in the clutches of a bore. You may yield, or you may flee; you cannot conquer. Hence it is clear that a bore cannot be represented in a story, or the story would be the bore as much as he. The reader, then, must believe this upright Mr. Bateman to be what otherwise he might not discover, and thank us for our consideration in not proving as well as asserting it.

Sheffield bowed to him courteously, and would have proceeded on his way; but Bateman, as became his nature, would not suffer it; he seized him. "Are you disposed," he said, "to look into the pretty chapel we are restoring on the common? It is quite a gem—in the purest style of the fourteenth century. It was in a most filthy condition, a mere cow-house; but we have made a subscription, and set it to rights."

"We are bound for Oxley," Sheffield answered; "you would be taking us out of our way."

"Not a bit of it," said Bateman; "it's not a stone's throw from the road; you must not refuse me. I'm sure you'll like it."

He proceeded to give the history of the chapel—all it had been, all it might have been, all it was not, all it was to be.

"It is to be a real specimen of a Catholic chapel," he said; "we mean to make the attempt of getting the Bishop to dedicate it to the Royal Martyr—why should not we have our St. Charles as well as the Romanists?—and it will be quite sweet to hear the vesper-bell tolling over the sullen moor every evening, in all weathers, and amid all the changes and chances of this mortal life."

Sheffield asked what congregation they expected to collect at that hour.

"That's a low view," answered Bateman; "it does not signify at all. In real Catholic churches the number of the congregation is nothing to the purpose; service is for those who come, not for those who stay away."

"Well," said Sheffield, "I understand what that means when a Roman Catholic says it; for a priest is supposed to offer sacrifice, which he can do without a congregation as well as with one. And, again, Catholic chapels often stand over the bodies of martyrs, or on some place of miracle, as a record; but our service is 'Common Prayer,' and how can you have that without a congregation?"

Bateman replied that, even if members of the University did not drop in, which he expected, at least the bell would be a memento far and near.

"Ah, I see," retorted Sheffield, "the use will be the reverse of what you said just now; it is not for those that come, but for those who stay away. The congregation is outside, not inside; it's an outside concern. I once saw a tall church-tower—so it appeared from the road; but on the sides you saw it was but a thin wall, made to look like a tower, in order to give the church an imposing effect. Do run up such a bit of a wall, and put the bell in it."

"There's another reason," answered Bateman, "for restoring the chapel, quite independent of the service. It has been a chapel from time immemorial, and was consecrated by our Catholic forefathers."

Sheffield argued that this would be as good a reason for keeping up the Mass as for keeping up the chapel.

"We do keep up the Mass," said Bateman; "we offer our Mass every Sunday, according to the rite of the English Cyprian, as honest Peter Heylin calls him; what would you have more?"

Whether Sheffield understood this or no, at least it was beyond Charles. Was the Common Prayer the English Mass, or the Communion-service, or the Litany, or the sermon, or any part of these? or were Bateman's words really a confession that there were clergymen who actually said the Popish Mass once a week? Bateman's precise meaning, however, is lost to posterity; for they had by this time arrived at the door of the chapel. It had once been the chapel of an almshouse; a small farmhouse stood near; but, for population, it was plain no "church accommodation" was wanted. Before entering, Charles hung back, and whispered to his friend that he did not know Bateman. An introduction, in consequence, took place. "Reding of St. Saviour's—Bateman of Nun's Hall;" after which ceremony, in place of holy water, they managed to enter the chapel in company.

It was as pretty a building as Bateman had led them to expect, and very prettily done up. There was a stone altar in the best style, a credence table, a piscina, what looked like a tabernacle, and a couple of handsome brass candlesticks. Charles asked the use of the piscina—he did not know its name—and was told that there was always a piscina in the old churches in England, and that there could be no proper restoration without it. Next he asked the meaning of the beautifully wrought closet or recess above the altar; and received for answer, that "our sister churches of the Roman obedience always had a tabernacle for reserving the consecrated bread." Here Charles was brought to a stand: on which Sheffield asked the use of the niches; and was told by Bateman that images of saints were forbidden by the canon, but that his friends, in all these matters, did what they could. Lastly, he asked the meaning of the candlesticks; and was told that, Catholicly-minded as their Bishop was, they had some fear lest he would object to altar lights in service—at least at first: but it was plain that the use of the candlesticks was to hold candles. Having had their fill of gazing and admiring, they turned to proceed on their walk, but could not get off an invitation to breakfast, in a few days, at Bateman's lodgings in the Turl.



CHAPTER III.

Neither of the friends had what are called views in religion; by which expression we do not here signify that neither had taken up a certain line of opinion, though this was the case also; but that neither of them—how could they at their age?—had placed his religion on an intellectual basis. It may be as well to state more distinctly what a "view" is, what it is to be "viewy," and what is the state of those who have no "views." When, then; men for the first time look upon the world of politics or religion, all that they find there meets their mind's eye as a landscape addresses itself for the first time to a person who has just gained his bodily sight. One thing is as far off as another; there is no perspective. The connection of fact with fact, truth with truth, the bearing of fact upon truth, and truth upon fact, what leads to what, what are points primary and what secondary,—all this they have yet to learn. It is all a new science to them, and they do not even know their ignorance of it. Moreover, the world of to-day has no connection in their minds with the world of yesterday; time is not a stream, but stands before them round and full, like the moon. They do not know what happened ten years ago, much less the annals of a century; the past does not live to them in the present; they do not understand the worth of contested points; names have no associations for them, and persons kindle no recollections. They hear of men, and things, and projects, and struggles, and principles; but everything comes and goes like the wind, nothing makes an impression, nothing penetrates, nothing has its place in their minds. They locate nothing; they have no system. They hear and they forget; or they just recollect what they have once heard, they can't tell where. Thus they have no consistency in their arguments; that is, they argue one way to-day, and not exactly the other way to-morrow, but indirectly the other way, at random. Their lines of argument diverge; nothing comes to a point; there is no one centre in which their mind sits, on which their judgment of men and things proceeds. This is the state of many men all through life; and miserable politicians or Churchmen they make, unless by good luck they are in safe hands, and ruled by others, or are pledged to a course. Else they are at the mercy of the winds and waves; and, without being Radical, Whig, Tory, or Conservative, High Church or Low Church, they do Whig acts, Tory acts, Catholic acts, and heretical acts, as the fit takes them, or as events or parties drive them. And sometimes, when their self-importance is hurt, they take refuge in the idea that all this is a proof that they are unfettered, moderate, dispassionate, that they observe the mean, that they are "no party men;" when they are, in fact, the most helpless of slaves; for our strength in this world is, to be the subjects of the reason, and our liberty, to be captives of the truth.

Now Charles Reding, a youth of twenty, could not be supposed to have much of a view in religion or politics; but no clever man allows himself to judge of things simply at hap-hazard; he is obliged, from a sort of self-respect, to have some rule or other, true or false; and Charles was very fond of the maxim, which he has already enunciated, that we must measure people by what they are, and not by what they are not. He had a great notion of loving every one—of looking kindly on every one; he was pierced with the sentiment which he had seen in a popular volume of poetry, that—

"Christian souls, ... Though worn and soil'd with sinful clay, Are yet, to eyes that see them true, All glistening with baptismal dew."

He liked, as he walked along the road, and met labourer or horseman, gentleman or beggar, to say to himself, "He is a Christian." And when he came to Oxford, he came there with an enthusiasm so simple and warm as to be almost childish. He reverenced even the velvet of the Pro.; nay, the cocked hat which preceded the Preacher had its claim on his deferential regard. Without being himself a poet, he was in the season of poetry, in the sweet spring-time, when the year is most beautiful, because it is new. Novelty was beauty to a heart so open and cheerful as his; not only because it was novelty, and had its proper charm as such, but because when we first see things, we see them in a "gay confusion," which is a principal element of the poetical. As time goes on, and we number and sort and measure things—as we gain views—we advance towards philosophy and truth, but we recede from poetry.

When we ourselves were young, we once on a time walked on a hot summer-day from Oxford to Newington—a dull road, as any one who has gone it knows; yet it was new to us; and we protest to you, reader, believe it or not, laugh or not, as you will, to us it seemed on that occasion quite touchingly beautiful; and a soft melancholy came over us, of which the shadows fall even now, when we look back on that dusty, weary journey. And why? because every object which met us was unknown and full of mystery. A tree or two in the distance seemed the beginning of a great wood, or park, stretching endlessly; a hill implied a vale beyond, with that vale's history; the bye-lanes, with their green hedges, wound and vanished, yet were not lost to the imagination. Such was our first journey; but when we had gone it several times, the mind refused to act, the scene ceased to enchant, stern reality alone remained; and we thought it one of the most tiresome, odious roads we ever had occasion to traverse.

But to return to our story. Such was Reding. But Sheffield, on the other hand, without possessing any real view of things more than Charles, was, at this time, fonder of hunting for views, and more in danger of taking up false ones. That is, he was "viewy," in a bad sense of the word. He was not satisfied intellectually with things as they are; he was critical, impatient to reduce things to system, pushed principles too far, was fond of argument, partly from pleasure in the exercise, partly because he was perplexed, though he did not lay anything very much to heart.

They neither of them felt any special interest in the controversy going on in the University and country about High and Low Church. Sheffield had a sort of contempt for it; and Reding felt it to be bad taste to be unusual or prominent in anything. An Eton acquaintance had asked him to go and hear one of the principal preachers of the Catholic party, and offered to introduce him; but he had declined it. He did not like, he said, mixing himself up with party; he had come to Oxford to get his degree, and not to take up opinions; he thought his father would not relish it; and, moreover, he felt some little repugnance to such opinions and such people, under the notion that the authorities of the University were opposed to the whole movement. He could not help looking at its leaders as demagogues; and towards demagogues he felt an unmeasured aversion and contempt. He did not see why clergymen, however respectable, should be collecting undergraduates about them; and he heard stories of their way of going on which did not please him. Moreover, he did not like the specimens of their followers whom he fell in with; they were forward, or they "talked strong," as it was called; did ridiculous, extravagant acts; and sometimes neglected their college duties for things which did not concern them. He was unfortunate, certainly: for this is a very unfair account of the most exemplary men of that day, who doubtless are still, as clergymen or laymen, the strength of the Anglican Church; but in all collections of men, the straw and rubbish (as Lord Bacon says) float on the top, while gold and jewels sink and are hidden. Or, what is more apposite still, many men, or most men, are a compound of precious and worthless together, and their worthless swims, and their precious lies at the bottom.



CHAPTER IV.

Bateman was one of these composite characters: he had much good and much cleverness in him; but he was absurd, and he afforded a subject of conversation to the two friends as they proceeded on their walk. "I wish there was less of fudge and humbug everywhere," said Sheffield; "one might shovel off cartloads from this place, and not miss it."

"If you had your way," answered Charles, "you would scrape off the roads till there was nothing to walk on. We are forced to walk on what you call humbug; we put it under our feet, but we use it."

"I cannot think that; it's like doing evil that good may come. I see shams everywhere. I go into St. Mary's, and I hear men spouting out commonplaces in a deep or a shrill voice, or with slow, clear, quiet emphasis and significant eyes—as that Bampton preacher not long ago, who assured us, apropos of the resurrection of the body, that 'all attempts to resuscitate the inanimate corpse by natural methods had hitherto been experimentally abortive.' I go into the place where degrees are given—the Convocation, I think—and there one hears a deal of unmeaning Latin for hours, graces, dispensations, and proctors walking up and down for nothing; all in order to keep up a sort of ghost of things passed away for centuries, while the real work might be done in a quarter of an hour. I fall in with this Bateman, and he talks to me of rood-lofts without roods, and piscinae without water, and niches without images, and candlesticks without lights, and masses without Popery; till I feel, with Shakespeare, that 'all the world's a stage.' Well, I go to Shaw, Turner, and Brown, very different men, pupils of Dr. Gloucester—you know whom I mean—and they tell us that we ought to put up crucifixes by the wayside, in order to excite religious feeling."

"Well, I really think you are hard on all these people," said Charles; "it is all very much like declamation; you would destroy externals of every kind. You are like the man in one of Miss Edgeworth's novels, who shut his ears to the music that he might laugh at the dancers."

"What is the music to which I close my ears?" asked Sheffield.

"To the meaning of those various acts," answered Charles; "the pious feeling which accompanies the sight of the image is the music."

"To those who have the pious feeling, certainly," said Sheffield; "but to put up images in England in order to create the feeling is like dancing to create music."

"I think you are hard upon England," replied Charles; "we are a religious people."

"Well, I will put it differently: do you like music?"

"You ought to know," said Charles, "whom I have frightened so often with my fiddle."

"Do you like dancing?"

"To tell the truth," said Charles, "I don't."

"Nor do I," said Sheffield; "it makes me laugh to think what I have done, when a boy, to escape dancing; there is something so absurd in it; and one had to be civil and to duck to young girls who were either prim or pert. I have behaved quite rudely to them sometimes, and then have been annoyed at my ungentlemanlikeness, and not known how to get out of the scrape."

"Well, I didn't know we were so like each other in anything," said Charles; "oh, the misery I have endured, in having to stand up to dance, and to walk about with a partner!—everybody looking at me, and I so awkward. It has been a torture to me days before and after."

They had by this time come up to the foot of the rough rising ground which leads to the sort of table-land on the edge of which Oxley is placed; and they stood still awhile to see some equestrians take the hurdles. They then mounted the hill, and looked back upon Oxford.

"Perhaps you call those beautiful spires and towers a sham," said Charles, "because you see their tops and not their bottoms?"

"Whereabouts were we in our argument?" said the other, reminded that they had been wandering from it for the last ten minutes. "Oh, I recollect; I know what I was at. I was saying that you liked music, but didn't like dancing; music leads another person to dance, but not you; and dancing does not increase but diminishes the intensity of the pleasure you find in music. In like manner, it is a mere piece of pedantry to make a religious nation, like the English, more religious by placing images in the streets; this is not the English way, and only offends us. If it were our way, it would come naturally without any one telling us. As music incites to dancing, so religion would lead to images; but as dancing does not improve music to those who do not like dancing, so ceremonies do not improve religion to those who do not like ceremonies."

"Then do you mean," said Charles, "that the English Romanists are shams, because they use crucifixes?"

"Stop there," said Sheffield; "now you are getting upon a different subject. They believe that there is virtue in images; that indeed is absurd in them, but it makes them quite consistent in honouring them. They do not put up images as outward shows, merely to create feelings in the minds of beholders, as Gloucester would do, but they in good, downright earnest worship images, as being more than they seem, as being not a mere outside show. They pay them a religious worship, as having been handled by great saints years ago, as having been used in pestilences, as having wrought miracles, as having moved their eyes or bowed their heads; or, at least, as having been blessed by the priest, and been brought into connection with invisible grace. This is superstitious, but it is real."

Charles was not satisfied. "An image is a mode of teaching," he said; "do you mean to say that a person is a sham merely because he mistakes the particular mode of teaching best suited to his own country?"

"I did not say that Dr. Gloucester was a sham," answered Sheffield; "but that mode of teaching of his was among Protestants a sham and a humbug."

"But this principle will carry you too far, and destroy itself," said Charles. "Don't you recollect what Thompson quoted the other day out of Aristotle, which he had lately begun in lecture with Vincent, and which we thought so acute—that habits are created by those very acts in which they manifest themselves when created? We learn to swim well by trying to swim. Now Bateman, doubtless, wishes to introduce piscinae and tabernacles; and to wait, before beginning, till they are received, is like not going into the water till you can swim."

"Well, but what is Bateman the better when his piscinae are universal?" asked Sheffield; "what does it mean? In the Romish Church it has a use, I know—I don't know what—but it comes into the Mass. But if Bateman makes piscinae universal among us, what has he achieved but the reign of a universal humbug?"

"But, my dear Sheffield," answered Reding, "consider how many things there are which, in the course of time, have altered their original meaning, and yet have a meaning, though a changed one, still. The judge's wig is no sham, yet it has a history. The Queen, at her coronation, is said to wear a Roman Catholic vestment, is that a sham? Does it not still typify and impress upon us the 'divinity that doth hedge a king,' though it has lost the very meaning which the Church of Rome gave it? Or are you of the number of those, who, according to the witticism, think majesty, when deprived of its externals, a jest?"

"Then you defend the introduction of unmeaning piscinae and candlesticks?"

"I think," answered Charles, "that there's a great difference between reviving and retaining; it may be natural to retain, even while the use fails, unnatural to revive when it has failed; but this is a question of discretion and judgment."

"Then you give it against Bateman?" said Sheffield.

A slight pause ensued; then Charles added, "But perhaps these men actually do wish to introduce the realities as well as the externals: perhaps they wish to use the piscina as well as to have it ... Sheffield," he continued abruptly, "why are not canonicals a sham, if piscinae are shams?"

"Canonicals," said Sheffield, as if thinking about them; "no, canonicals are no sham; for preaching, I suppose, is the highest ordinance in our Church, and has the richest dress. The robes of a great preacher cost, I know, many pounds; for there was one near us who, on leaving, had a present from the ladies of an entire set, and a dozen pair of worked slippers into the bargain. But it's all fitting, if preaching is the great office of the clergy. Next comes the Sacrament, and has the surplice and hood. And hood," he repeated, musing; "what's that for? no, it's the scarf. The hood is worn in the University pulpit; what is the scarf?—it belongs to chaplains, I believe, that is, to persons; I can't make a view out of it."

"My dear Sheffield," said Charles, "you have cut your own throat. Here you have been trying to give a sense to the clerical dress, and cannot; are you then prepared to call it a sham? Answer me this single question—Why does a clergyman wear a surplice when he reads prayers? Nay, I will put it more simply—Why can only a clergyman read prayers in church?—Why cannot I?"

Sheffield hesitated, and looked serious. "Do you know," he said, "you have just pitched on Jeremy Bentham's objection. In his 'Church of Englandism' he proposes, if I recollect rightly, that a parish-boy should be taught to read the Liturgy; and he asks, Why send a person to the University for three or four years at an enormous expense, why teach him Latin and Greek, on purpose to read what any boy could be taught to read at a dame's school? What is the virtue of a clergyman's reading? Something of this kind, Bentham says; and," he added, slowly, "to tell the truth, I don't know how to answer him."

Reding was surprised, and shocked, and puzzled too; he did not know what to say; when the conversation was, perhaps fortunately, interrupted.



CHAPTER V.

Every year brings changes and reforms. We do not know what is the state of Oxley Church now; it may have rood-loft, piscina, sedilia, all new; or it may be reformed backwards, the seats on principle turning from the Communion-table, and the pulpit planted in the middle of the aisle; but at the time when these two young men walked through the churchyard, there was nothing very good or very bad to attract them within the building; and they were passing on, when they observed, coming out of the church, what Sheffield called an elderly don, a fellow of a college, whom Charles knew. He was a man of family, and had some little property of his own, had been a contemporary of his father's at the University, and had from time to time been a guest at the parsonage. Charles had, in consequence, known him from a boy; and now, since he came into residence, he had, as was natural, received many small attentions from him. Once, when he was late for his own hall, he had given him his dinner in his rooms; he had taken him out on a fishing expedition towards Faringdon; and had promised him tickets for some ladies, lionesses of his, who were coming up to the Commemoration. He was a shrewd, easy-tempered, free-spoken man, of small desires and no ambition; of no very keen sensibilities or romantic delicacies, and very little religious pretension; that is, though unexceptionable in his deportment, he hated the show of religion, and was impatient at those who affected it. He had known the University for thirty years, and formed a right estimate of most things in it. He had come out to Oxley to take a funeral for a friend, and was now returning home. He hallooed to Charles, who, though feeling at first awkward on finding himself with two such different friends and in two such different relations, was, after a time, partially restored to himself by the unconcern of Mr. Malcolm; and the three walked home together. Yet, even to the last, he did not quite know how and where to walk, and how to carry himself, particularly when they got near Oxford, and he fell in with various parties who greeted him in passing.

Charles, by way of remark, said they had been looking in at a pretty little chapel on the common, which was now in the course of repair. Mr. Malcolm laughed. "So, Charles," he said, "you're bit with the new fashion."

Charles coloured, and asked, "What fashion?" adding, that a friend, by accident, had taken them in.

"You ask what fashion," said Mr. Malcolm; "why, the newest, latest fashion. This is a place of fashions; there have been many fashions in my time. The greater part of the residents, that is, the boys, change once in three years; the fellows and tutors, perhaps, in half a dozen; and every generation has its own fashion. There is no principle of stability in Oxford, except the Heads, and they are always the same, and always will be the same to the end of the chapter. What is in now," he asked, "among you youngsters—drinking or cigars?"

Charles laughed modestly, and said he hoped drinking had gone out everywhere.

"Worse things may come in," said Mr. Malcolm; "but there are fashions everywhere. There was once a spouting club, perhaps it is in favour still; before it was the music-room. Once geology was all the rage; now it is theology; soon it will be architecture, or medieval antiquities, or editions and codices. Each wears out in its turn; all depends on one or two active men; but the secretary takes a wife, or the professor gets a stall; and then the meetings are called irregularly, and nothing is done in them, and so gradually the affair dwindles and dies."

Sheffield asked whether the present movement had not spread too widely through the country for such a termination; he did not know much about it himself, but the papers were full of it, and it was the talk of every neighbourhood; it was not confined to Oxford.

"I don't know about the country," said Mr. Malcolm, "that is a large question; but it has not the elements of stability here. These gentlemen will take livings and marry, and that will be the end of the business. I am not speaking against them; they are, I believe, very respectable men; but they are riding on the spring-tide of a fashion."

Charles said it was a nuisance to see the party-spirit it introduced. Oxford ought to be a place of quiet and study; peace and the Muses always went together; whereas there was talk, talk, in every quarter. A man could not go about his duties in a natural way, and take every one as he came, but was obliged to take part in questions, and to consider points which he might wish to put from him, and must sport an opinion when he really had none to give.

Mr. Malcolm assented in a half-absent way, looking at the view before him, and seemingly enjoying it. "People call this county ugly," said he, "and perhaps it is; but whether I am used to it or no, I always am pleased with it. The lights are always new; and thus the landscape, if it deserves the name, is always presented in a new dress. I have known Shotover there take the most opposite hues, sometimes purple, sometimes a bright saffron or tawny orange." Here he stopped: "Yes, you speak of party-spirit; very true, there's a good deal of it.... No, I don't think there's much," he continued, rousing; "certainly there is more division just at this minute in Oxford, but there always is division, always rivalry. The separate societies have their own interests and honour to maintain, and quarrel, as the orders do in the Church of Rome. No, that's too grand a comparison; rather, Oxford is like an almshouse for clergymen's widows. Self-importance, jealousy, tittle-tattle are the order of the day. It has always been so in my time. Two great ladies, Mrs. Vice-Chancellor and Mrs. Divinity-Professor, can't agree, and have followings respectively: or Vice-Chancellor himself, being a new broom, sweeps all the young Masters clean out of Convocation House, to their great indignation: or Mr. Slaney, Dean of St. Peter's, does not scruple to say in a stage-coach that Mr. Wood is no scholar; on which the said Wood calls him in return 'slanderous Slaney;' or the elderly Mr. Barge, late Senior Fellow of St. Michael's, thinks that his pretty bride has not been received with due honours; or Dr. Crotchet is for years kept out of his destined bishopric by a sinister influence; or Mr. Professor Carraway has been infamously shown up, in the Edinburgh, by an idle fellow whom he plucked in the schools; or (majora movemus) three colleges interchange a mortal vow of opposition to a fourth; or the young working Masters conspire against the Heads. Now, however, we are improving; if we must quarrel, let it be the rivalry of intellect and conscience, rather than of interest or temper; let us contend for things, not for shadows."

Sheffield was pleased at this, and ventured to say that the present state of things was more real, and therefore more healthy. Mr. Malcolm did not seem to hear him, for he did not reply; and, as they were now approaching the bridge again, the conversation stopped. Sheffield looked slily at Charles, as Mr. Malcolm proceeded with them up High Street; and both of them had the triumph and the amusement of being convoyed safely past a proctor, who was patrolling it, under the protection of a Master.



CHAPTER VI.

The walk to Oxley had not been the first or the second occasion on which Charles had, in one shape or other, encountered Sheffield's views about realities and shams; and his preachments had begun to make an impression on him; that is, he felt that there was truth in them at bottom, and a truth new to him. He was not a person to let a truth sleep in his mind; though it did not vegetate very quickly, it was sure ultimately to be pursued into its consequences, and to affect his existing opinions. In the instance before us, he saw Sheffield's principle was more or less antagonistic to his own favourite maxim, that it was a duty to be pleased with every one. Contradictions could not both be real: when an affirmative was true, a negative was false. All doctrines could not be equally sound: there was a right and a wrong. The theory of dogmatic truth, as opposed to latitudinarianism (he did not know their names or their history, or suspect what was going on within him), had in the course of these his first terms, gradually begun to energise in his mind. Let him but see the absurdities of the latitudinarian principle, when carried out, and he is likely to be still more opposed to it.

Bateman, among his peculiarities, had a notion that bringing persons of contrary sentiments together was the likeliest way of making a party agreeable, or at least useful. He had done his best to give his breakfast, to which our friends were invited, this element of perfection; not, however, to his own satisfaction; for with all his efforts, he had but picked up Mr. Freeborn, a young Evangelical Master, with whom Sheffield was acquainted; a sharp, but not very wise freshman, who, having been spoiled at home, and having plenty of money, professed to be aesthetic, and kept his college authorities in a perpetual fidget lest he should some morning wake up a Papist; and a friend of his, a nice, modest-looking youth, who, like a mouse, had keen darting eyes, and ate his bread and butter in absolute silence.

They had hardly seated themselves, and Sheffield was pouring out coffee, and a plate of muffins was going round, and Bateman was engaged, saucepan in hand, in the operation of landing his eggs, now boiled, upon the table, when our flighty youth, whose name was White, observed how beautiful the Catholic custom was of making eggs the emblem of the Easter-festival. "It is truly Catholic," said he; "for it is retained in parts of England, you have it in Russia, and in Rome itself, where an egg is served up on every plate through the Easter-week, after being, I believe, blessed; and it is as expressive and significant as it is Catholic."

"Beautiful indeed!" said their host; "so pretty, so sweet; I wonder whether our Reformers thought of it, or the profound Hooker,—he was full of types—or Jewell. You recollect the staff Jewell gave Hooker: that was a type. It was like the sending of Elisha's staff by his servant to the dead child."

"Oh, my dear, dear Bateman," cried Sheffield, "you are making Hooker Gehazi!"

"That's just the upshot of such trifling," said Mr. Freeborn; "you never know where to find it; it proves anything, and disproves anything."

"That is only till it's sanctioned," said White; "When the Catholic Church sanctions it, we're safe."

"Yes, we're safe," said Bateman; "it's safe when it's Catholic."

"Yes," continued White, "things change their nature altogether when they are taken up by the Catholic Church: that's how we are allowed to do evil that good may come."

"What's that?" said Bateman.

"Why," said White, "the Church makes evil good."

"My dear White," said Bateman gravely, "that's going too far; it is indeed."

Mr. Freeborn suspended his breakfast operations, and sat back in his chair.

"Why," continued White, "is not idolatry wrong—yet image-worship is right?"

Mr. Freeborn was in a state of collapse.

"That's a bad instance, White," said Sheffield; "there are people in the world who are uncatholic enough to think image-worship is wrong, as well as idolatry."

"A mere Jesuitical distinction," said Freeborn with emotion.

"Well," said White, who did not seem in great awe of the young M.A., though some years, of course, his senior, "I will take a better instance: who does not know that baptism gives grace? yet there were heathen baptismal rites, which, of course, were devilish."

"I should not be disposed, Mr. White, to grant you so much as you would wish," said Freeborn, "about the virtue of baptism."

"Not about Christian baptism?" asked White.

"It is easy," answered Freeborn, "to mistake the sign for the thing signified."

"Not about Catholic baptism?" repeated White.

"Catholic baptism is a mere deceit and delusion," retorted Mr. Freeborn.

"Oh, my dear Freeborn," interposed Bateman, "now you are going too far; you are indeed."

"Catholic, Catholic—I don't know what you mean," said Freeborn.

"I mean," said White, "the baptism of the one Catholic Church of which the Creed speaks: it's quite intelligible."

"But what do you mean by the Catholic Church?" asked Freeborn.

"The Anglican," answered Bateman.

"The Roman," answered White; both in the same breath.

There was a general laugh.

"There is nothing to laugh at," said Bateman; "Anglican and Roman are one."

"One! impossible," cried Sheffield.

"Much worse than impossible," observed Mr. Freeborn.

"I should make a distinction," said Bateman: "I should say, they are one, except the corruptions of the Romish Church."

"That is, they are one, except where they differ," said Sheffield.

"Precisely so," said Bateman.

"Rather, I should say," objected Mr. Freeborn, "two, except where they agree."

"That's just the issue," said Sheffield; "Bateman says that the Churches are one except when they are two; and Freeborn says that they are two except when they are one."

It was a relief at this moment that the cook's boy came in with a dish of hot sausages; but though a relief, it was not a diversion; the conversation proceeded. Two persons did not like it; Freeborn, who was simply disgusted at the doctrine, and Reding, who thought it a bore; yet it was the bad luck of Freeborn forthwith to set Charles against him, as well as the rest, and to remove the repugnance which he had to engage in the dispute. Freeborn, in fact, thought theology itself a mistake, as substituting, as he considered, worthless intellectual notions for the vital truths of religion; so he now went on to observe, putting down his knife and fork, that it really was to him inconceivable, that real religion should depend on metaphysical distinctions, or outward observances; that it was quite a different thing in Scripture; that Scripture said much of faith and holiness, but hardly a word about Churches and forms. He proceeded to say that it was the great and evil tendency of the human mind to interpose between itself and its Creator some self-invented mediator, and it did not matter at all whether that human device was a rite, or a creed, or a form of prayer, or good works, or communion with particular Churches—all were but "flattering unctions to the soul," if they were considered necessary; the only safe way of using them was to use them with the feeling that you might dispense with them; that none of them went to the root of the matter, for that faith, that is, firm belief that God had forgiven you, was the one thing needful; that where that one thing was present, everything else was superfluous; that where it was wanting, nothing else availed. So strongly did he hold this, that (he confessed he put it pointedly, but still not untruly), where true faith was present, a person might be anything in profession; an Arminian, a Calvinist, an Episcopalian, a Presbyterian, a Swedenborgian—nay, a Unitarian—he would go further, looking at White, a Papist, yet be in a state of salvation.

Freeborn came out rather more strongly than in his sober moments he would have approved; but he was a little irritated, and wished to have his turn of speaking. It was altogether a great testification.

"Thank you for your liberality to the poor Papists," said White; "it seems they are safe if they are hypocrites, professing to be Catholics, while they are Protestants in heart."

"Unitarians, too," said Sheffield, "are debtors to your liberality; it seems a man need not fear to believe too little, so that he feels a good deal."

"Rather," said White, "if he believes himself forgiven, he need not believe anything else."

Reding put in his word; he said that in the Prayer Book, belief in the Holy Trinity was represented, not as an accident, but as "before all things" necessary to salvation.

"That's not a fair answer, Reding," said Sheffield; "what Mr. Freeborn observed was, that there's no creed in the Bible; and you answer that there is a creed in the Prayer Book."

"Then the Bible says one thing, and the Prayer Book another," said Bateman.

"No," answered Freeborn; "The Prayer Book only deduces from Scripture; the Athanasian Creed is a human invention; true, but human, and to be received, as one of the Articles expressly says, because 'founded on Scripture.' Creeds are useful in their place, so is the Church; but neither Creed nor Church is religion."

"Then why do you make so much of your doctrine of 'faith only'?" said Bateman; "for that is not in Scripture, and is but a human deduction."

"My doctrine!" cried Freeborn; "why it's in the Articles; the Articles expressly say that we are justified by faith only."

"The Articles are not Scripture any more than the Prayer Book," said Sheffield.

"Nor do the Articles say that the doctrine they propound is necessary for salvation," added Bateman.

All this was very unfair on Freeborn, though he had provoked it. Here were four persons on him at once, and the silent fifth apparently a sympathiser. Sheffield talked through malice; White from habit; Reding came in because he could not help it; and Bateman spoke on principle; he had a notion that he was improving Freeborn's views by this process of badgering. At least he did not improve his temper, which was suffering. Most of the party were undergraduates; he (Freeborn) was a Master; it was too bad of Bateman. He finished in silence his sausage, which had got quite cold. The conversation flagged; there was a rise in toast and muffins; coffee-cups were put aside, and tea flowed freely.



CHAPTER VII.

Freeborn did not like to be beaten; he began again. Religion, he said, was a matter of the heart; no one could interpret Scripture rightly whose heart was not right. Till our eyes were enlightened, to dispute about the sense of Scripture, to attempt to deduce from Scripture, was beating about the bush: it was like the blind disputing about colours.

"If this is true," said Bateman, "no one ought to argue about religion at all; but you were the first to do so, Freeborn."

"Of course," answered Freeborn, "those who have found the truth are the very persons to argue, for they have the gift."

"And the very last persons to persuade," said Sheffield; "for they have the gift all to themselves."

"Therefore true Christians should argue with each other, and with no one else," said Bateman.

"But those are the very persons who don't want it," said Sheffield; "reasoning must be for the unconverted, not for the converted. It is the means of seeking."

Freeborn persisted that the reason of the unconverted was carnal, and that such could not understand Scripture.

"I have always thought," said Reding, "that reason was a general gift, though faith is a special and personal one. If faith is really rational, all ought to see that it is rational; else, from the nature of the case, it is not rational."

"But St. Paul says," answered Freeborn, "that 'to the natural man the things of the Spirit are foolishness.'"

"But how are we to arrive at truth at all," said Reding, "except by reason? It is the appointed method for our guidance. Brutes go by instinct, men by reason."

They had fallen on a difficult subject; all were somewhat puzzled except White, who had not been attending, and was simply wearied; he now interposed. "It would be a dull world," he said, "if men went by reason: they may think they do, but they don't. Really, they are led by their feelings, their affections, by the sense of the beautiful, and the good, and the holy. Religion is the beautiful; the clouds, sun, and sky, the fields and the woods, are religion."

"This would make all religions true," said Freeborn, "good and bad."

"No," answered White, "heathen rites are bloody and impure, not beautiful; and Mahometanism is as cold and as dry as any Calvinistic meeting. The Mahometans have no altars or priests, nothing but a pulpit and a preacher."

"Like St. Mary's," said Sheffield.

"Very like," said White; "we have no life or poetry in the Church of England; the Catholic Church alone is beautiful. You would see what I mean if you went into a foreign cathedral, or even into one of the Catholic churches in our large towns. The celebrant, deacon, and subdeacon, acolytes with lights, the incense, and the chanting—all combine to one end, one act of worship. You feel it is really a worshipping; every sense, eyes, ears, smell, are made to know that worship is going on. The laity on the floor saying their beads, or making their acts; the choir singing out the Kyrie; and the priest and his assistants bowing low, and saying the Confiteor to each other. This is worship, and it is far above reason."

This was spoken with all his heart; but it was quite out of keeping with the conversation which had preceded it, and White's poetry was almost as disagreeable to the party as Freeborn's prose.

"White, you should turn Catholic out and out," said Sheffield.

"My dear good fellow," said Bateman, "think what you are saying. You can't really have gone to a schismatical chapel. Oh, for shame!"

Freeborn observed, gravely, that if the two Churches were one, as had been maintained, he could not see, do what he would, why it was wrong to go to and fro from one to the other.

"You forget," said Bateman to White, "you have, or might have, all this in your own Church, without the Romish corruptions."

"As to the Romish corruptions," answered White, "I know very little about them."

Freeborn groaned audibly.

"I know very little about them," repeated White eagerly, "very little; but what is that to the purpose? We must take things as we find them. I don't like what is bad in the Catholic Church, if there is bad, but what is good. I do not go to it for what is bad, but for what is good. You can't deny that what I admire is very good and beautiful. Only you try to introduce it into your own Church. You would give your ears, you know you would, to hear the Dies irae."

Here a general burst of laughter took place. White was an Irishman. It was a happy interruption; the party rose up from table, and a tap at that minute, which sounded at the door, succeeded in severing the thread of the conversation.

It was a printseller's man with a large book of plates.

"Well timed," said Bateman;—"put them down, Baker: or rather give them to me;—I can take the opinion of you men on a point I have much at heart. You know I wanted you, Freeborn, to go with me to see my chapel; Sheffield and Reding have looked into it. Well now, just see here."

He opened the portfolio; it contained views of the Campo Santo at Pisa. The leaves were slowly turned over in silence, the spectators partly admiring, partly not knowing what to think, partly wondering at what was coming.

"What do you think my plan is?" he continued. "You twitted me, Sheffield, because my chapel would be useless. Now I mean to get a cemetery attached to it; there is plenty of land; and then the chapel will become a chantry. But now, what will you say if we have a copy of these splendid medieval monuments round the burial-place, both sculpture and painting? Now, Sheffield, Mr. Critic, what do you say to that?"

"A most admirable plan," said Sheffield, "and quite removes my objections.... A chantry! what is that? Don't they say Mass in it for the dead?"

"Oh, no, no, no," said Bateman, in fear of Freeborn; "we'll have none of your Popery. It will be a simple, guileless chapel, in which the Church Service will be read."

Meanwhile Sheffield was slowly turning over the plates. He stopped at one. "What will you do with that figure?" he said, pointing to a Madonna.

"Oh, it will be best, most prudent, to leave it out; certainly, certainly."

Sheffield soon began again: "But look here, my good fellow, what do you do with these saints and angels? do see, why here's a complete legend; do you mean to have this? Here's a set of miracles, and a woman invoking a saint in heaven."

Bateman looked cautiously at them, and did not answer. He would have shut the book, but Sheffield wished to see some more. Meanwhile he said, "Oh yes, true, there are some things; but I have an expedient for all this; I mean to make it all allegorical. The Blessed Virgin shall be the Church, and the saints shall be cardinal and other virtues; and as to that saint's life, St. Ranieri's, it shall be a Catholic 'Pilgrim's Progress.'"

"Good! then you must drop all these popes and bishops, copes and chalices," said Sheffield; "and have their names written under the rest, that people mayn't take them for saints and angels. Perhaps you had better have scrolls from their mouths, in old English. This St. Thomas is stout; make him say, 'I am Mr. Dreadnought,' or 'I am Giant Despair;' and, since this beautiful saint bears a sort of dish, make her 'Mrs. Creature Comfort.' But look here," he continued, "a whole set of devils; are these to be painted up?"

Bateman attempted forcibly to shut the book; Sheffield went on: "St. Anthony's temptations; what's this? Here's the fiend in the shape of a cat on a wine-barrel."

"Really, really," said Bateman, disgusted, and getting possession of it, "you are quite offensive, quite. We will look at them when you are more serious."

Sheffield indeed was very provoking, and Bateman more good-humoured than many persons would have been in his place. Meanwhile Freeborn, who had had his gown in his hand the last two minutes, nodded to his host, and took his departure by himself; and White and Willis soon followed in company.

"Really," said Bateman to Sheffield, when they were gone, "you and White, each in his own way, are so very rash in your mode of speaking, and before other people, too. I wished to teach Freeborn a little good Catholicism, and you have spoilt all. I hoped something would have come out of this breakfast. But only think of White! it will all out. Freeborn will tell it to his set. It is very bad, very bad indeed. And you, my friend, are not much better; never serious. What could you mean by saying that our Church is not one with the Romish? It was giving Freeborn such an advantage."

Sheffield looked provokingly easy; and, leaning with his back against the mantelpiece, and his coat-tail almost playing with the spout of the kettle, replied, "You had a most awkward team to drive." Then he added, looking sideways at him, with his head back, "And why had you, O most correct of men, the audacity to say that the English Church and the Romish Church were one?"

"It must be so," answered Bateman; "there is but one Church—the Creed says so; would you make two?"

"I don't speak of doctrine," said Sheffield, "but of fact. I didn't mean to say that there were two Churches; nor to deny that there was one Church. I but denied the fact, that what are evidently two bodies were one body."

Bateman thought awhile; and Charles employed himself in scraping down the soot from the back of the chimney with the poker. He did not wish to speak, but he was not sorry to listen to such an argument.

"My good fellow," said Bateman, in a tone of instruction, "you are making a distinction between a Church and a body which I don't quite comprehend. You say that there are two bodies, and yet but one Church. If so, the Church is not a body, but something abstract, a mere name, a general idea; is that your meaning? if so, you are an honest Calvinist."

"You are another," answered Sheffield; "for if you make two visible Churches, English and Romish, to be one Church, that one Church must be invisible, not visible. Thus, if I hold an abstract Church, you hold an invisible one."

"I do not see that," said Bateman.

"Prove the two Churches to be one," said Sheffield, "and then I'll prove something else."

"Some paradox?" said Bateman.

"Of course," answered Sheffield, "a huge one; but yours, not mine. Prove the English and Romish Churches to be in any sense one, and I will prove by parallel arguments that in the same sense we and the Wesleyans are one."

This was a fair challenge. Bateman, however, suddenly put on a demure look, and was silent. "We are on sacred subjects," he said at length in a subdued tone, "we are on very sacred subjects; we must be reverent," and he drew a very long face.

Sheffield laughed out, nor could Reding stand it. "What is it?" cried Sheffield; "don't be hard on me? What have I done? Where did the sacredness begin? I eat my words."

"Oh, he meant nothing," said Charles, "indeed he did not; he's more serious than he seems; do answer him; I am interested."

"Really, I do wish to treat the subject gravely," said Sheffield; "I will begin again. I am very sorry, indeed I am. Let me put the objection more reverently."

Bateman relaxed: "My good Sheffield," he said, "the thing is irreverent, not the manner. It is irreverent to liken your holy mother to the Wesleyan schismatics."

"I repent, I do indeed," said Sheffield; "it was a wavering of faith; it was very unseemly, I confess it. What can I say more? Look at me; won't this do? But now tell me, do tell me, how are we one body with the Romanists, yet the Wesleyans not one body with us?"

Bateman looked at him, and was satisfied with the expression of his face. "It's a strange question for you to ask," he said; "I fancied you were a sharper fellow. Don't you see that we have the apostolical succession as well as the Romanists?"

"But Romanists say," answered Sheffield, "that that is not enough for unity; that we ought to be in communion with the Pope."

"That's their mistake," answered Bateman.

"That's just what the Wesleyans say of us," retorted Sheffield, "when we won't acknowledge their succession; they say it's our mistake."

"Their succession!" cried Bateman; "they have no succession."

"Yes, they have," said Sheffield; "they have a ministerial succession."

"It isn't apostolical," answered Bateman.

"Yes, but it is evangelical, a succession of doctrine," said Sheffield.

"Doctrine! Evangelical!" cried Bateman; "whoever heard! that's not enough; doctrine is not enough without bishops."

"And succession is not enough without the Pope," answered Sheffield.

"They act against the bishops," said Bateman, not quite seeing whither he was going.

"And we act against the Pope," said Sheffield.

"We say that the Pope isn't necessary," said Bateman.

"And they say that bishops are not necessary," returned Sheffield.

They were out of breath, and paused to see where they stood. Presently Bateman said, "My good sir, this is a question of fact, not of argumentative cleverness. The question is, whether it is not true that bishops are necessary to the notion of a Church, and whether it is not false that Popes are necessary."

"No, no," cried Sheffield, "the question is this, whether obedience to our bishops is not necessary to make Wesleyans one body with us, and obedience to their Pope necessary to make us one body with the Romanists. You maintain the one, and deny the other; I maintain both. Maintain both, or deny both: I am consistent; you are inconsistent."

Bateman was puzzled.

"In a word," Sheffield added, "succession is not unity, any more than doctrine."

"Not unity? What then is unity?" asked Bateman.

"Oneness of polity," answered Sheffield.

Bateman thought awhile. "The idea is preposterous," he said: "here we have possession; here we are established since King Lucius's time, or since St. Paul preached here; filling the island; one continuous Church; with the same territory, the same succession, the same hierarchy, the same civil and political position, the same churches. Yes," he proceeded, "we have the very same fabrics, the memorials of a thousand years, doctrine stamped and perpetuated in stone; all the mystical teaching of the old saints. What have the Methodists to do with Catholic rites? with altars, with sacrifice, with rood-lofts, with fonts, with niches?—they call it all superstition."

"Don't be angry with me, Bateman," said Sheffield, "and, before going, I will put forth a parable. Here's the Church of England, as like a Protestant Establishment as it can stare; bishops and people, all but a few like yourselves, call it Protestant; the living body calls itself Protestant; the living body abjures Catholicism, flings off the name and the thing, hates the Church of Rome, laughs at sacramental power, despises the Fathers, is jealous of priestcraft, is a Protestant reality, is a Catholic sham. This existing reality, which is alive and no mistake, you wish to top with a filagree-work of screens, dorsals, pastoral staffs, croziers, mitres, and the like. Now most excellent Bateman, will you hear my parable? will you be offended at it?"

Silence gave consent, and Sheffield proceeded.

"Why, once on a time a negro boy, when his master was away, stole into his wardrobe, and determined to make himself fine at his master's expense. So he was presently seen in the streets, naked as usual, but strutting up and down with a cocked hat on his head, and a pair of white kid gloves on his hands."

"Away with you! get out, you graceless, hopeless fellow!" said Bateman, discharging the sofa-bolster at his head. Meanwhile Sheffield ran to the door, and quickly found himself with Charles in the street below.



CHAPTER VIII.

Sheffield and Charles may go their way; but we must follow White and Willis out of Bateman's lodgings. It was a Saint's day, and they had no lectures; they walked arm-in-arm along Broad Street, evidently very intimate, and Willis found his voice: "I can't bear that Freeborn," said he, "he's such a prig; and I like him the less because I am obliged to know him."

"You knew him in the country, I think?" said White.

"In consequence, he has several times had me to his spiritual tea-parties, and has introduced me to old Mr. Grimes, a good, kind-hearted old fogie, but an awful evangelical, and his wife worse. Grimes is the old original religious tea-man, and Freeborn imitates him. They get together as many men as they can, perhaps twenty freshmen, bachelors, and masters, who sit in a circle, with cups and saucers in their hands and hassocks at their knees. Some insufferable person of Capel Hall or St. Mark's, who hardly speaks English, under pretence of asking Mr. Grimes some divinity question, holds forth on original sin, or justification, or assurance, monopolizing the conversation. Then tea-things go, and a portion of Scripture comes instead; and old Grimes expounds; very good it is, doubtless, though he is a layman. He's a good old soul; but no one in the room can stand it; even Mrs. Grimes nods over her knitting, and some of the dear brothers breathe very audibly. Mr. Grimes, however, hears nothing but himself. At length he stops; his hearers wake up, and the hassocks begin. Then we go; and Mr. Grimes and the St. Mark's man call it a profitable evening. I can't make out why any one goes twice; yet some men never miss."

"They all go on faith," said White: "faith in Mr. Grimes."

"Faith in old Grimes," said Willis; "an old half-pay lieutenant!"

"Here's a church open," said White; "that's odd; let's go in."

They entered; an old woman was dusting the pews as if for service. "That will be all set right," said Willis; "we must have no women, but sacristans and servers."

"Then, you know, all these pews will go to the right about. Did you ever see a finer church for a function?"

"Where would you put the sacristy?" said Willis; "that closet is meant for the vestry, but would never be large enough."

"That depends on the number of altars the church admits," answered White; "each altar must have its own dresser and wardrobe in the sacristy."

"One," said Willis, counting, "where the pulpit stands, that'll be the high altar; one quite behind, that may be Our Lady's; two, one on each side of the chancel—four already; to whom do you dedicate them?"

"The church is not wide enough for those side ones," objected White.

"Oh, but it is," said Willis; "I have seen, abroad, altars with only one step to them, and they need not be very broad. I think, too, this wall admits of an arch—look at the depth of the window; that would be a gain of room."

"No," persisted White; "the chancel is too narrow;" and he began to measure the floor with his pocket-handkerchief. "What would you say is the depth of an altar from the wall?" he asked.

On looking up he saw some ladies in the church whom he and Willis knew—the pretty Miss Boltons—very Catholic girls, and really kind, charitable persons into the bargain. We cannot add, that they were much wiser at that time than the two young gentlemen whom they now encountered; and if any fair reader thinks our account of them a reflection on Catholic-minded ladies generally, we beg distinctly to say, that we by no means put them forth as a type of a class; that among such persons were to be found, as we know well, the gentlest spirits and the tenderest hearts; and that nothing short of severe fidelity to historical truth keeps us from adorning these two young persons in particular with that prudence and good sense with which so many such ladies were endowed. These two sisters had open hands, if they had not wise heads; and their object in entering the church (which was not the church of their own parish) was to see the old woman, who was at once a subject and instrument of their bounty, and to say a word about her little grandchildren, in whom they were interested. As may be supposed, they did not know much of matters ecclesiastical, and they knew less of themselves; and the latter defect White could not supply, though he was doing, and had done, his best to remedy the former deficiency; and every meeting did a little.

The two parties left the church together, and the gentlemen saw the ladies home. "We were imagining, Miss Bolton," White said, walking at a respectful distance from her, "we were imagining St. James's a Catholic church, and trying to arrange things as they ought to be."

"What was your first reform?" asked Miss Bolton.

"I fear," answered White, "it would fare hard with your protegee, the old lady who dusts out the pews."

"Why, certainly," said Miss Bolton, "because there would be no pews to dust."

"But not only in office, but in person, or rather in character, she must make her exit from the church," said White.

"Impossible," said Miss Bolton; "are women, then, to remain Protestants?"

"Oh, no," answered White, "the good lady will reappear, only in another character; she will be a widow."

"And who will take her present place?"

"A sacristan," answered White; "a sacristan in a cotta. Do you like the short cotta or the long?" he continued, turning to the younger lady.

"I?" answered Miss Charlotte; "I always forget, but I think you told us the Roman was the short one; I'm for the short cotta."

"You know, Charlotte," said Miss Bolton, "that there's a great reform going on in England in ecclesiastical vestments."

"I hate all reforms," answered Charlotte, "from the Reformation downwards. Besides, we have got some way in our cope; you have seen it, Mr. White? it's such a sweet pattern."

"Have you determined what to do with it?" asked Willis.

"Time enough to think of that," said Charlotte; "it'll take four years to finish."

"Four years!" cried White; "we shall be all real Catholics by then; England will be converted."

"It will be done just in time for the Bishop," said Charlotte.

"Oh, it's not good enough for him!" said Miss Bolton; "but it may do in church for the Asperges. How different all things will be!" continued she; "I don't quite like, though, the idea of a cardinal in Oxford. Must we be so very Roman? I don't see why we might not be quite Catholic without the Pope."

"Oh, you need not be afraid," said White sagely; "things don't go so apace. Cardinals are not so cheap."

"Cardinals have so much state and stiffness," said Miss Bolton: "I hear they never walk without two servants behind them; and they always leave the room directly dancing begins."

"Well, I think Oxford must be just cut out for cardinals," said Miss Charlotte; "can anything be duller than the President's parties? I can fancy Dr. Bone a cardinal, as he walks round the parks."

"Oh, it's the genius of the Catholic Church," said White; "you will understand it better in time. No one is his own master; even the Pope cannot do as he will; he dines by himself, and speaks by precedent."

"Of course he does," said Charlotte, "for he is infallible."

"Nay, if he makes mistakes in the functions," continued White, "he is obliged to write them down and confess them, lest they should be drawn into precedents."

"And he is obliged, during a function, to obey the master of ceremonies, against his own judgment," said Willis.

"Didn't you say the Pope confessed, Mr. White?" asked Miss Bolton; "it has always puzzled me whether the Pope was obliged to confess like another man."

"Oh, certainly," answered White, "every one confesses."

"Well," said Charlotte, "I can't fancy Mr. Hurst of St. Peter's, who comes here to sing glees, confessing, or some of the grave heads of houses, who bow so stiffly."

"They will all have to confess," said White.

"All?" asked Miss Bolton; "you don't mean converts confess? I thought it was only old Catholics."

There was a little pause.

"And what will the heads of houses be?" asked Miss Charlotte.

"Abbots or superiors," answered White; "they will bear crosses; and when they say Mass, there will be a lighted candle in addition."

"What a good portly abbot the Vice-Chancellor will make!" said Miss Bolton.

"Oh, no; he's too short for an abbot," said her sister; "but you have left out the Chancellor himself: you seem to have provided for every one else; what will become of him?"

"The Chancellor is my difficulty," said White gravely.

"Make him a Knight-Templar," said Willis.

"The Duke's a queer hand," said White, still thoughtfully: "there's no knowing what he'll come to. A Knight-Templar—yes; Malta is now English property; he might revive the order."

The ladies both laughed.

"But you have not completed your plan, Mr. White," said Miss Bolton: "the heads of houses have got wives; how can they become monks?"

"Oh, the wives will go into convents," said White: "Willis and I have been making inquiries in the High Street, and they are most satisfactory. Some of the houses there were once university-halls and inns, and will easily turn back into convents: all that will be wanted is grating to the windows."

"Have you any notion what order they ought to join?" said Miss Charlotte.

"That depends on themselves," said White: "no compulsion whatever must be put on them. They are the judges. But it would be useful to have two convents—one of an active order, and one contemplative: Ursuline for instance, and Carmelite of St. Theresa's reform."

Hitherto their conversation had been on the verge of jest and earnest; now it took a more pensive tone.

"The nuns of St. Theresa are very strict, I believe, Mr. White," said Miss Bolton.

"Yes," he made reply; "I have fears for the Mrs. Wardens and Mrs. Principals who at their age undertake it."

They had got home, and White politely rang the bell.

"Younger persons," said he tenderly, "are too delicate for such a sacrifice."

Louisa was silent; presently she said, "And what will you be, Mr. White?"

"I know not," he answered; "I have thought of the Cistercians; they never speak."

"Oh, the dear Cistercians!" she said; "St. Bernard wasn't it?—sweet, heavenly man, and so young! I have seen his picture: such eyes!"

White was a good-looking man. The nun and the monk looked at each other very respectfully, and bowed; the other pair went through a similar ceremony; then it was performed diagonally. The two ladies entered their home; the two gentlemen retired.

We must follow the former upstairs. When they entered the drawing-room they found their mother sitting at the window in her bonnet and shawl, dipping into a chance volume in that unsettled state which implies that a person is occupied, if it may be so called, in waiting, more than in anything else.

"My dear children," she said as they entered, "where have you been? the bells have stopped a good quarter of an hour: I fear we must give up going to church this morning."

"Impossible, dear mamma," answered Miss Bolton; "we went out punctually at half-past nine; we did not stop two minutes at your worsted-shop; and here we are back again."

"The only thing we did besides," said Charlotte, "was to look in at St. James's, as the door was open, to say a word or two to poor old Wiggins. Mr. White was there, and his friend Mr. Willis; and they saw us home."

"Oh, I understand," answered Mrs. Bolton; "that is the way when young gentlemen and ladies get together: but at any rate we are late for church."

"Oh, no," said Charlotte, "let us set out directly, we shall get in by the first lesson."

"My dear child, how can you propose such a thing?" said her mother: "I would not do so for any consideration; it is so very disgraceful. Better not go at all."

"Oh, dearest mamma," said the elder sister, "this certainly is a prejudice. Why always come in at one time? there is something so formal in people coming in all at once, and waiting for each other. It is surely more reasonable to come in when you can: so many things may hinder persons."

"Well, my dear Louisa," said her mother, "I like the old way. It used always to be said to us, Be in your seats before 'When the wicked man,' and at latest before the 'Dearly Beloved.' That's the good old-fashioned way. And Mr. Jones and Mr. Pearson used always to sit at least five minutes in the desk to give us some law, and used to look round before beginning; and Mr. Jones used frequently to preach against late comers. I can't argue, but it seems to me reasonable that good Christians should hear the whole service. They might as well go out before it's over."

"Well, but, mamma," said Charlotte, "so it is abroad: they come in and go out when they please. It's so devotional."

"My dear girl," said Mrs. Bolton, "I am too old to understand all this; it's beyond me. I suppose Mr. White has been saying all this to you. He's a good young man, very amiable and attentive. I have nothing to say against him, except that he is young, and he'll change his view of things when he gets older."

"While we talk, time's going," said Louisa; "is it quite impossible we should still go to church?"

"My dear Louisa, I would not walk up the aisle for the world; positively I should sink into the earth: such a bad example! How can you dream of such a thing?"

"Then I suppose nothing's to be done," said Louisa, taking off her bonnet; "but really it is very sad to make worship so cold and formal a thing. Twice as many people would go to church if they might be late."

"Well, my dear, all things are changed now: in my younger days Catholics were the formal people, and we were the devotional; now it's just the reverse."

"But isn't it so, dear mamma?" said Charlotte, "isn't it something much more beautiful, this continued concourse, flowing and ebbing, changing yet full, than a way of praying which is as wooden as the reading-desk?—it's so free and natural."

"Free and easy, I think," said her mother; "for shame, Charlotte! how can you speak against the beautiful Church Service; you pain me."

"I don't," answered Charlotte; "it's a mere puritanical custom, which is no more part of our Church than the pews are."

"Common Prayer is offered to all who can come," said Louisa; "Church should be a privilege, not a mere duty."

"Well, my dear love, this is more than I can follow. There was young George Ashton—he always left before the sermon; and when taxed with it, he said he could not bear an heretical preacher; a boy of eighteen!"

"But, dearest mamma," said Charlotte, "what is to be done when a preacher is heretical? what else can be done?—it's so distressing to a Catholic mind."

"Catholic, Catholic!" cried Mrs. Bolton, rather vexed; "give me good old George the Third and the Protestant religion. Those were the times! Everything went on quietly then. We had no disputes or divisions; no differences in families. But now it is all otherwise. My head is turned, I declare; I hear so many strange, out-of-the-way things."

The young ladies did not answer; one looked out of the window, the other prepared to leave the room.

"Well it's a disappointment to us all," said their mother; "you first hindered me going, then I have hindered you. But I suspect, dear Louisa, mine is the greater disappointment of the two."

Louisa turned round from the window.

"I value the Prayer Book as you cannot do, my love," she continued; "for I have known what it is to one in deep affliction. May it be long, dearest girls, before you know it in a similar way; but if affliction comes on you, depend on it, all these new fancies and fashions will vanish from you like the wind, and the good old Prayer Book alone will stand you in any stead."

They were both touched.

"Come, my dears; I have spoken too seriously," she added. "Go and take your things off, and come and let us have some quiet work before luncheon-time."



CHAPTER IX.

Some persons fidget at intellectual difficulties, and, successfully or not, are ever trying to solve them. Charles was of a different cast of temper; a new idea was not lost on him, but it did not distress him, if it was obscure, or conflicted with his habitual view of things. He let it work its way and find its place, and shape itself within him, by the slow spontaneous action of the mind. Yet perplexity is not in itself a pleasant state; and he would have hastened its removal, had he been able.

By means of conversations such as those which we have related (to which many others might be added, which we spare the reader's patience), and from the diversities of view which he met with in the University, he had now come, in the course of a year, to one or two conclusions, not very novel, but very important:—first, that there are a great many opinions in the world on the most momentous subjects; secondly, that all are not equally true; thirdly, that it is a duty to hold true opinions; and, fourthly, that it is uncommonly difficult to get hold of them. He had been accustomed, as we have seen, to fix his mind on persons, not on opinions, and to determine to like what was good in every one; but he had now come to perceive that, to say the least, it was not respectable in any great question to hold false opinions. It did not matter that such false opinions were sincerely held,—he could not feel that respect for a person who held what Sheffield called a sham, with which he regarded him who held a reality. White and Bateman were cases in point; they were very good fellows, but he could not endure their unreal way of talking, though they did not feel it to be unreal themselves. In like manner, if the Roman Catholic system was untrue, so far was plain (putting aside higher considerations), that a person who believed in the power of saints, and prayed to them, was an actor in a great sham, let him be as sincere as he would. He mistook words for things, and so far forth, he could not respect him more than he respected White or Bateman. And so of a Unitarian; if he believed the power of unaided human nature to be what it was not; if by birth man is fallen, and he thought him upright, he was holding an absurdity. He might redeem and cover this blot by a thousand excellences, but a blot it would remain; just as we should feel a handsome man disfigured by the loss of an eye or a hand. And so, again, if a professing Christian made the Almighty a being of simple benevolence, and He was, on the contrary, what the Church of England teaches, a God who punishes for the sake of justice, such a person was making an idol or unreality the object of his religion, and (apart from more serious thoughts about him) so far he could not respect him. Thus the principle of dogmatism gradually became an essential element in Charles's religious views.

1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse