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The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler

Part 5 out of 8

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ordination, therefore, opened fields for ambition which made it the
central point in their thoughts, rather than as with Ernest,
something which he supposed would have to be done some day, but
about which, as about dying, he hoped there was no need to trouble
himself as yet.

By way of preparing themselves more completely they would have
meetings in one another's rooms for tea and prayer and other
spiritual exercises. Placing themselves under the guidance of a few
well-known tutors they would teach in Sunday Schools, and be
instant, in season and out of season, in imparting spiritual
instruction to all whom they could persuade to listen to them.

But the soil of the more prosperous undergraduates was not suitable
for the seed they tried to sow. The small pieties with which they
larded their discourse, if chance threw them into the company of one
whom they considered worldly, caused nothing but aversion in the
minds of those for whom they were intended. When they distributed
tracts, dropping them by night into good men's letter boxes while
they were asleep, their tracts got burnt, or met with even worse
contumely; they were themselves also treated with the ridicule which
they reflected proudly had been the lot of true followers of Christ
in all ages. Often at their prayer meetings was the passage of St
Paul referred to in which he bids his Corinthian converts note
concerning themselves that they were for the most part neither well-
bred nor intellectual people. They reflected with pride that they
too had nothing to be proud of in these respects, and like St Paul,
gloried in the fact that in the flesh they had not much to glory.

Ernest had several Johnian friends, and came thus to hear about the
Simeonites and to see some of them, who were pointed out to him as
they passed through the courts. They had a repellent attraction for
him; he disliked them, but he could not bring himself to leave them
alone. On one occasion he had gone so far as to parody one of the
tracts they had sent round in the night, and to get a copy dropped
into each of the leading Simeonites' boxes. The subject he had
taken was "Personal Cleanliness." Cleanliness, he said, was next to
godliness; he wished to know on which side it was to stand, and
concluded by exhorting Simeonites to a freer use of the tub. I
cannot commend my hero's humour in this matter; his tract was not
brilliant, but I mention the fact as showing that at this time he
was something of a Saul and took pleasure in persecuting the elect,
not, as I have said, that he had any hankering after scepticism, but
because, like the farmers in his father's village, though he would
not stand seeing the Christian religion made light of, he was not
going to see it taken seriously. Ernest's friends thought his
dislike for Simeonites was due to his being the son of a clergyman
who, it was known, bullied him; it is more likely, however, that it
rose from an unconscious sympathy with them, which, as in St Paul's
case, in the end drew him into the ranks of those whom he had most
despised and hated.


Once, recently, when he was down at home after taking his degree,
his mother had had a short conversation with him about his becoming
a clergyman, set on thereto by Theobald, who shrank from the subject
himself. This time it was during a turn taken in the garden, and
not on the sofa--which was reserved for supreme occasions.

"You know, my dearest boy," she said to him, "that papa" (she always
called Theobald "papa" when talking to Ernest) "is so anxious you
should not go into the Church blindly, and without fully realising
the difficulties of a clergyman's position. He has considered all
of them himself, and has been shown how small they are, when they
are faced boldly, but he wishes you, too, to feel them as strongly
and completely as possible before committing yourself to irrevocable
vows, so that you may never, never have to regret the step you will
have taken."

This was the first time Ernest had heard that there were any
difficulties, and he not unnaturally enquired in a vague way after
their nature.

"That, my dear boy," rejoined Christina, "is a question which I am
not fitted to enter upon either by nature or education. I might
easily unsettle your mind without being able to settle it again.
Oh, no! Such questions are far better avoided by women, and, I
should have thought, by men, but papa wished me to speak to you upon
the subject, so that there might be no mistake hereafter, and I have
done so. Now, therefore, you know all."

The conversation ended here, so far as this subject was concerned,
and Ernest thought he did know all. His mother would not have told
him he knew all--not about a matter of that sort--unless he actually
did know it; well, it did not come to very much; he supposed there
were some difficulties, but his father, who at any rate was an
excellent scholar and a learned man, was probably quite right here,
and he need not trouble himself more about them. So little
impression did the conversation make on him, that it was not till
long afterwards that, happening to remember it, he saw what a piece
of sleight of hand had been practised upon him. Theobald and
Christina, however, were satisfied that they had done their duty by
opening their son's eyes to the difficulties of assenting to all a
clergyman must assent to. This was enough; it was a matter for
rejoicing that, though they had been put so fully and candidly
before him, he did not find them serious. It was not in vain that
they had prayed for so many years to be made "TRULY honest and

"And now, my dear," resumed Christina, after having disposed of all
the difficulties that might stand in the way of Ernest's becoming a
clergyman, "there is another matter on which I should like to have a
talk with you. It is about your sister Charlotte. You know how
clever she is, and what a dear, kind sister she has been and always
will be to yourself and Joey. I wish, my dearest Ernest, that I saw
more chance of her finding a suitable husband than I do at
Battersby, and I sometimes think you might do more than you do to
help her."

Ernest began to chafe at this, for he had heard it so often, but he
said nothing.

"You know, my dear, a brother can do so much for his sister if he
lays himself out to do it. A mother can do very little--indeed, it
is hardly a mother's place to seek out young men; it is a brother's
place to find a suitable partner for his sister; all that I can do
is to try to make Battersby as attractive as possible to any of your
friends whom you may invite. And in that," she added, with a little
toss of her head, "I do not think I have been deficient hitherto."

Ernest said he had already at different times asked several of his

"Yes, my dear, but you must admit that they were none of them
exactly the kind of young man whom Charlotte could be expected to
take a fancy to. Indeed, I must own to having been a little
disappointed that you should have yourself chosen any of these as
your intimate friends."

Ernest winced again.

"You never brought down Figgins when you were at Roughborough; now I
should have thought Figgins would have been just the kind of boy
whom you might have asked to come and see us."

Figgins had been gone through times out of number already. Ernest
had hardly known him, and Figgins, being nearly three years older
than Ernest, had left long before he did. Besides he had not been a
nice boy, and had made himself unpleasant to Ernest in many ways.

"Now," continued his mother, "there's Towneley. I have heard you
speak of Towneley as having rowed with you in a boat at Cambridge.
I wish, my dear, you would cultivate your acquaintance with
Towneley, and ask him to pay us a visit. The name has an
aristocratic sound, and I think I have heard you say he is an eldest

Ernest flushed at the sound of Towneley's name.

What had really happened in respect of Ernest's friends was briefly
this. His mother liked to get hold of the names of the boys and
especially of any who were at all intimate with her son; the more
she heard, the more she wanted to know; there was no gorging her to
satiety; she was like a ravenous young cuckoo being fed upon a grass
plot by a water wag-tail, she would swallow all that Ernest could
bring her, and yet be as hungry as before. And she always went to
Ernest for her meals rather than to Joey, for Joey was either more
stupid or more impenetrable--at any rate she could pump Ernest much
the better of the two.

From time to time an actual live boy had been thrown to her, either
by being caught and brought to Battersby, or by being asked to meet
her if at any time she came to Roughborough. She had generally made
herself agreeable, or fairly agreeable, as long as the boy was
present, but as soon as she got Ernest to herself again she changed
her note. Into whatever form she might throw her criticisms it came
always in the end to this, that his friend was no good, that Ernest
was not much better, and that he should have brought her someone
else, for this one would not do at all.

The more intimate the boy had been or was supposed to be with Ernest
the more he was declared to be naught, till in the end he had hit
upon the plan of saying, concerning any boy whom he particularly
liked, that he was not one of his especial chums, and that indeed he
hardly knew why he had asked him; but he found he only fell on
Scylla in trying to avoid Charybdis, for though the boy was declared
to be more successful it was Ernest who was naught for not thinking
more highly of him.

When she had once got hold of a name she never forgot it. "And how
is So-and-so?" she would exclaim, mentioning some former friend of
Ernest's with whom he had either now quarrelled, or who had long
since proved to be a mere comet and no fixed star at all. How
Ernest wished he had never mentioned So-and-so's name, and vowed to
himself that he would never talk about his friends in future, but in
a few hours he would forget and would prattle away as imprudently as
ever; then his mother would pounce noiselessly on his remarks as a
barn-owl pounces upon a mouse, and would bring them up in a pellet
six months afterwards when they were no longer in harmony with their

Then there was Theobald. If a boy or college friend had been
invited to Battersby, Theobald would lay himself out at first to be
agreeable. He could do this well enough when he liked, and as
regards the outside world he generally did like. His clerical
neighbours, and indeed all his neighbours, respected him yearly more
and more, and would have given Ernest sufficient cause to regret his
imprudence if he had dared to hint that he had anything, however
little, to complain of. Theobald's mind worked in this way: "Now,
I know Ernest has told this boy what a disagreeable person I am, and
I will just show him that I am not disagreeable at all, but a good
old fellow, a jolly old boy, in fact a regular old brick, and that
it is Ernest who is in fault all through."

So he would behave very nicely to the boy at first, and the boy
would be delighted with him, and side with him against Ernest. Of
course if Ernest had got the boy to come to Battersby he wanted him
to enjoy his visit, and was therefore pleased that Theobald should
behave so well, but at the same time he stood so much in need of
moral support that it was painful to him to see one of his own
familiar friends go over to the enemy's camp. For no matter how
well we may know a thing--how clearly we may see a certain patch of
colour, for example, as red, it shakes us and knocks us about to
find another see it, or be more than half inclined to see it, as

Theobald had generally begun to get a little impatient before the
end of the visit, but the impression formed during the earlier part
was the one which the visitor had carried away with him. Theobald
never discussed any of the boys with Ernest. It was Christina who
did this. Theobald let them come, because Christina in a quiet,
persistent way insisted on it; when they did come he behaved, as I
have said, civilly, but he did not like it, whereas Christina did
like it very much; she would have had half Roughborough and half
Cambridge to come and stay at Battersby if she could have managed
it, and if it would not have cost so much money: she liked their
coming, so that she might make a new acquaintance, and she liked
tearing them to pieces and flinging the bits over Ernest as soon as
she had had enough of them.

The worst of it was that she had so often proved to be right. Boys
and young men are violent in their affections, but they are seldom
very constant; it is not till they get older that they really know
the kind of friend they want; in their earlier essays young men are
simply learning to judge character. Ernest had been no exception to
the general rule. His swans had one after the other proved to be
more or less geese even in his own estimation, and he was beginning
almost to think that his mother was a better judge of character than
he was; but I think it may be assumed with some certainty that if
Ernest had brought her a real young swan she would have declared it
to be the ugliest and worst goose of all that she had yet seen.

At first he had not suspected that his friends were wanted with a
view to Charlotte; it was understood that Charlotte and they might
perhaps take a fancy for one another; and that would be so very
nice, would it not? But he did not see that there was any
deliberate malice in the arrangement. Now, however, that he had
awoke to what it all meant, he was less inclined to bring any friend
of his to Battersby. It seemed to his silly young mind almost
dishonest to ask your friend to come and see you when all you really
meant was "Please, marry my sister." It was like trying to obtain
money under false pretences. If he had been fond of Charlotte it
might have been another matter, but he thought her one of the most
disagreeable young women in the whole circle of his acquaintance.

She was supposed to be very clever. All young ladies are either
very pretty or very clever or very sweet; they may take their choice
as to which category they will go in for, but go in for one of the
three they must. It was hopeless to try and pass Charlotte off as
either pretty or sweet. So she became clever as the only remaining
alternative. Ernest never knew what particular branch of study it
was in which she showed her talent, for she could neither play nor
sing nor draw, but so astute are women that his mother and Charlotte
really did persuade him into thinking that she, Charlotte, had
something more akin to true genius than any other member of the
family. Not one, however, of all the friends whom Ernest had been
inveigled into trying to inveigle had shown the least sign of being
so far struck with Charlotte's commanding powers, as to wish to make
them his own, and this may have had something to do with the
rapidity and completeness with which Christina had dismissed them
one after another and had wanted a new one.

And now she wanted Towneley. Ernest had seen this coming and had
tried to avoid it, for he knew how impossible it was for him to ask
Towneley, even if he had wished to do so.

Towneley belonged to one of the most exclusive sets in Cambridge,
and was perhaps the most popular man among the whole number of
undergraduates. He was big and very handsome--as it seemed to
Ernest the handsomest man whom he ever had seen or ever could see,
for it was impossible to imagine a more lively and agreeable
countenance. He was good at cricket and boating, very good-natured,
singularly free from conceit, not clever but very sensible, and,
lastly, his father and mother had been drowned by the overturning of
a boat when he was only two years old and had left him as their only
child and heir to one of the finest estates in the South of England.
Fortune every now and then does things handsomely by a man all
round; Towneley was one of those to whom she had taken a fancy, and
the universal verdict in this case was that she had chosen wisely.

Ernest had seen Towneley as every one else in the University
(except, of course, dons) had seen him, for he was a man of mark,
and being very susceptible he had liked Towneley even more than most
people did, but at the same time it never so much as entered his
head that he should come to know him. He liked looking at him if he
got a chance, and was very much ashamed of himself for doing so, but
there the matter ended.

By a strange accident, however, during Ernest's last year, when the
names of the crews for the scratch fours were drawn he had found
himself coxswain of a crew, among whom was none other than his
especial hero Towneley; the three others were ordinary mortals, but
they could row fairly well, and the crew on the whole was rather a
good one.

Ernest was frightened out of his wits. When, however, the two met,
he found Towneley no less remarkable for his entire want of anything
like "side," and for his power of setting those whom he came across
at their ease, than he was for outward accomplishments; the only
difference he found between Towneley and other people was that he
was so very much easier to get on with. Of course Ernest worshipped
him more and more.

The scratch fours being ended the connection between the two came to
an end, but Towneley never passed Ernest thenceforward without a nod
and a few good-natured words. In an evil moment he had mentioned
Towneley's name at Battersby, and now what was the result? Here was
his mother plaguing him to ask Towneley to come down to Battersby
and marry Charlotte. Why, if he had thought there was the remotest
chance of Towneley's marrying Charlotte he would have gone down on
his knees to him and told him what an odious young woman she was,
and implored him to save himself while there was yet time.

But Ernest had not prayed to be made "truly honest and
conscientious" for as many years as Christina had. He tried to
conceal what he felt and thought as well as he could, and led the
conversation back to the difficulties which a clergyman might feel
to stand in the way of his being ordained--not because he had any
misgivings, but as a diversion. His mother, however, thought she
had settled all that, and he got no more out of her. Soon
afterwards he found the means of escaping, and was not slow to avail
himself of them.


On his return to Cambridge in the May term of 1858, Ernest and a few
other friends who were also intended for orders came to the
conclusion that they must now take a more serious view of their
position. They therefore attended chapel more regularly than
hitherto, and held evening meetings of a somewhat furtive character,
at which they would study the New Testament. They even began to
commit the Epistles of St Paul to memory in the original Greek.
They got up Beveridge on the Thirty-nine Articles, and Pearson on
the Creed; in their hours of recreation they read More's "Mystery of
Godliness," which Ernest thought was charming, and Taylor's "Holy
Living and Dying," which also impressed him deeply, through what he
thought was the splendour of its language. They handed themselves
over to the guidance of Dean Alford's notes on the Greek Testament,
which made Ernest better understand what was meant by
"difficulties," but also made him feel how shallow and impotent were
the conclusions arrived at by German neologians, with whose works,
being innocent of German, he was not otherwise acquainted. Some of
the friends who joined him in these pursuits were Johnians, and the
meetings were often held within the walls of St John's.

I do not know how tidings of these furtive gatherings had reached
the Simeonites, but they must have come round to them in some way,
for they had not been continued many weeks before a circular was
sent to each of the young men who attended them, informing them that
the Rev. Gideon Hawke, a well-known London Evangelical preacher,
whose sermons were then much talked of, was about to visit his young
friend Badcock of St John's, and would be glad to say a few words to
any who might wish to hear them, in Badcock's rooms on a certain
evening in May.

Badcock was one of the most notorious of all the Simeonites. Not
only was he ugly, dirty, ill-dressed, bumptious, and in every way
objectionable, but he was deformed and waddled when he walked so
that he had won a nick-name which I can only reproduce by calling it
"Here's my back, and there's my back," because the lower parts of
his back emphasised themselves demonstratively as though about to
fly off in different directions like the two extreme notes in the
chord of the augmented sixth, with every step he took. It may be
guessed, therefore, that the receipt of the circular had for a
moment an almost paralysing effect on those to whom it was
addressed, owing to the astonishment which it occasioned them. It
certainly was a daring surprise, but like so many deformed people,
Badcock was forward and hard to check; he was a pushing fellow to
whom the present was just the opportunity he wanted for carrying war
into the enemy's quarters.

Ernest and his friends consulted. Moved by the feeling that as they
were now preparing to be clergymen they ought not to stand so
stiffly on social dignity as heretofore, and also perhaps by the
desire to have a good private view of a preacher who was then much
upon the lips of men, they decided to accept the invitation. When
the appointed time came they went with some confusion and self-
abasement to the rooms of this man, on whom they had looked down
hitherto as from an immeasurable height, and with whom nothing would
have made them believe a few weeks earlier that they could ever come
to be on speaking terms.

Mr Hawke was a very different-looking person from Badcock. He was
remarkably handsome, or rather would have been but for the thinness
of his lips, and a look of too great firmness and inflexibility.
His features were a good deal like those of Leonardo da Vinci;
moreover he was kempt, looked in vigorous health, and was of a ruddy
countenance. He was extremely courteous in his manner, and paid a
good deal of attention to Badcock, of whom he seemed to think
highly. Altogether our young friends were taken aback, and inclined
to think smaller beer of themselves and larger of Badcock than was
agreeable to the old Adam who was still alive within them. A few
well-known "Sims" from St John's and other colleges were present,
but not enough to swamp the Ernest set, as for the sake of brevity,
I will call them.

After a preliminary conversation in which there was nothing to
offend, the business of the evening began by Mr Hawke's standing up
at one end of the table, and saying "Let us pray." The Ernest set
did not like this, but they could not help themselves, so they knelt
down and repeated the Lord's Prayer and a few others after Mr Hawke,
who delivered them remarkably well. Then, when all had sat down, Mr
Hawke addressed them, speaking without notes and taking for his text
the words, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" Whether owing to
Mr Hawke's manner, which was impressive, or to his well-known
reputation for ability, or whether from the fact that each one of
the Ernest set knew that he had been more or less a persecutor of
the "Sims" and yet felt instinctively that the "Sims" were after all
much more like the early Christians than he was himself--at any rate
the text, familiar though it was, went home to the consciences of
Ernest and his friends as it had never yet done. If Mr Hawke had
stopped here he would have almost said enough; as he scanned the
faces turned towards him, and saw the impression he had made, he was
perhaps minded to bring his sermon to an end before beginning it,
but if so, he reconsidered himself and proceeded as follows. I give
the sermon in full, for it is a typical one, and will explain a
state of mind which in another generation or two will seem to stand
sadly in need of explanation.

"My young friends," said Mr Hawke, "I am persuaded there is not one
of you here who doubts the existence of a Personal God. If there
were, it is to him assuredly that I should first address myself.
Should I be mistaken in my belief that all here assembled accept the
existence of a God who is present amongst us though we see him not,
and whose eye is upon our most secret thoughts, let me implore the
doubter to confer with me in private before we part; I will then put
before him considerations through which God has been mercifully
pleased to reveal himself to me, so far as man can understand him,
and which I have found bring peace to the minds of others who have

"I assume also that there is none who doubts but that this God,
after whose likeness we have been made, did in the course of time
have pity upon man's blindness, and assume our nature, taking flesh
and coming down and dwelling among us as a man indistinguishable
physically from ourselves. He who made the sun, moon and stars, the
world and all that therein is, came down from Heaven in the person
of his Son, with the express purpose of leading a scorned life, and
dying the most cruel, shameful death which fiendish ingenuity has

"While on earth he worked many miracles. He gave sight to the
blind, raised the dead to life, fed thousands with a few loaves and
fishes, and was seen to walk upon the waves, but at the end of his
appointed time he died, as was foredetermined, upon the cross, and
was buried by a few faithful friends. Those, however, who had put
him to death set a jealous watch over his tomb.

"There is no one, I feel sure, in this room who doubts any part of
the foregoing, but if there is, let me again pray him to confer with
me in private, and I doubt not that by the blessing of God his
doubts will cease.

"The next day but one after our Lord was buried, the tomb being
still jealously guarded by enemies, an angel was seen descending
from Heaven with glittering raiment and a countenance that shone
like fire. This glorious being rolled away the stone from the
grave, and our Lord himself came forth, risen from the dead.

"My young friends, this is no fanciful story like those of the
ancient deities, but a matter of plain history as certain as that
you and I are now here together. If there is one fact better
vouched for than another in the whole range of certainties it is the
Resurrection of Jesus Christ; nor is it less well assured that a few
weeks after he had risen from the dead, our Lord was seen by many
hundreds of men and women to rise amid a host of angels into the air
upon a heavenward journey till the clouds covered him and concealed
him from the sight of men.

"It may be said that the truth of these statements has been denied,
but what, let me ask you, has become of the questioners? Where are
they now? Do we see them or hear of them? Have they been able to
hold what little ground they made during the supineness of the last
century? Is there one of your fathers or mothers or friends who
does not see through them? Is there a single teacher or preacher in
this great University who has not examined what these men had to
say, and found it naught? Did you ever meet one of them, or do you
find any of their books securing the respectful attention of those
competent to judge concerning them? I think not; and I think also
you know as well as I do why it is that they have sunk back into the
abyss from which they for a time emerged: it is because after the
most careful and patient examination by the ablest and most judicial
minds of many countries, their arguments were found so untenable
that they themselves renounced them. They fled from the field
routed, dismayed, and suing for peace; nor have they again come to
the front in any civilised country.

"You know these things. Why, then, do I insist upon them? My dear
young friends, your own consciousness will have made the answer to
each one of you already; it is because, though you know so well that
these things did verily and indeed happen, you know also that you
have not realised them to yourselves as it was your duty to do, nor
heeded their momentous, awful import.

"And now let me go further. You all know that you will one day come
to die, or if not to die--for there are not wanting signs which make
me hope that the Lord may come again, while some of us now present
are alive--yet to be changed; for the trumpet shall sound, and the
dead shall be raised incorruptible, for this corruption must put on
incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality, and the saying
shall be brought to pass that is written, 'Death is swallowed up in

"Do you, or do you not believe that you will one day stand before
the Judgement Seat of Christ? Do you, or do you not believe that
you will have to give an account for every idle word that you have
ever spoken? Do you, or do you not believe that you are called to
live, not according to the will of man, but according to the will of
that Christ who came down from Heaven out of love for you, who
suffered and died for you, who calls you to him, and yearns towards
you that you may take heed even in this your day--but who, if you
heed not, will also one day judge you, and with whom there is no
variableness nor shadow of turning?

"My dear young friends, strait is the gate, and narrow is the way
which leadeth to Eternal Life, and few there be that find it. Few,
few, few, for he who will not give up ALL for Christ's sake, has
given up nothing

"If you would live in the friendship of this world, if indeed you
are not prepared to give up everything you most fondly cherish,
should the Lord require it of you, then, I say, put the idea of
Christ deliberately on one side at once. Spit upon him, buffet him,
crucify him anew, do anything you like so long as you secure the
friendship of this world while it is still in your power to do so;
the pleasures of this brief life may not be worth paying for by the
torments of eternity, but they are something while they last. If,
on the other hand, you would live in the friendship of God, and be
among the number of those for whom Christ has not died in vain; if,
in a word, you value your eternal welfare, then give up the
friendship of this world; of a surety you must make your choice
between God and Mammon, for you cannot serve both.

"I put these considerations before you, if so homely a term may be
pardoned, as a plain matter of business. There is nothing low or
unworthy in this, as some lately have pretended, for all nature
shows us that there is nothing more acceptable to God than an
enlightened view of our own self-interest; never let anyone delude
you here; it is a simple question of fact; did certain things happen
or did they not? If they did happen, is it reasonable to suppose
that you will make yourselves and others more happy by one course of
conduct or by another?

"And now let me ask you what answer you have made to this question
hitherto? Whose friendship have you chosen? If, knowing what you
know, you have not yet begun to act according to the immensity of
the knowledge that is in you, then he who builds his house and lays
up his treasure on the edge of a crater of molten lava is a sane,
sensible person in comparison with yourselves. I say this as no
figure of speech or bugbear with which to frighten you, but as an
unvarnished unexaggerated statement which will be no more disputed
by yourselves than by me."

And now Mr Hawke, who up to this time had spoken with singular
quietness, changed his manner to one of greater warmth and continued

"Oh! my young friends turn, turn, turn, now while it is called to-
day--now from this hour, from this instant; stay not even to gird up
your loins; look not behind you for a second, but fly into the bosom
of that Christ who is to be found of all who seek him, and from that
fearful wrath of God which lieth in wait for those who know not the
things belonging to their peace. For the Son of Man cometh as a
thief in the night, and there is not one of us can tell but what
this day his soul may be required of him. If there is even one here
who has heeded me,"--and he let his eye fall for an instant upon
almost all his hearers, but especially on the Ernest set--"I shall
know that it was not for nothing that I felt the call of the Lord,
and heard as I thought a voice by night that bade me come hither
quickly, for there was a chosen vessel who had need of me."

Here Mr Hawke ended rather abruptly; his earnest manner, striking
countenance and excellent delivery had produced an effect greater
than the actual words I have given can convey to the reader; the
virtue lay in the man more than in what he said; as for the last few
mysterious words about his having heard a voice by night, their
effect was magical; there was not one who did not look down to the
ground, nor who in his heart did not half believe that he was the
chosen vessel on whose especial behalf God had sent Mr Hawke to
Cambridge. Even if this were not so, each one of them felt that he
was now for the first time in the actual presence of one who had had
a direct communication from the Almighty, and they were thus
suddenly brought a hundredfold nearer to the New Testament miracles.
They were amazed, not to say scared, and as though by tacit consent
they gathered together, thanked Mr Hawke for his sermon, said good-
night in a humble deferential manner to Badcock and the other
Simeonites, and left the room together. They had heard nothing but
what they had been hearing all their lives; how was it, then, that
they were so dumbfoundered by it? I suppose partly because they had
lately begun to think more seriously, and were in a fit state to be
impressed, partly from the greater directness with which each felt
himself addressed, through the sermon being delivered in a room, and
partly to the logical consistency, freedom from exaggeration, and
profound air of conviction with which Mr Hawke had spoken. His
simplicity and obvious earnestness had impressed them even before he
had alluded to his special mission, but this clenched everything,
and the words "Lord, is it I?" were upon the hearts of each as they
walked pensively home through moonlit courts and cloisters.

I do not know what passed among the Simeonites after the Ernest set
had left them, but they would have been more than mortal if they had
not been a good deal elated with the results of the evening. Why,
one of Ernest's friends was in the University eleven, and he had
actually been in Badcock's rooms and had slunk off on saying good-
night as meekly as any of them. It was no small thing to have
scored a success like this.


Ernest felt now that the turning point of his life had come. He
would give up all for Christ--even his tobacco.

So he gathered together his pipes and pouches, and locked them up in
his portmanteau under his bed where they should be out of sight, and
as much out of mind as possible. He did not burn them, because
someone might come in who wanted to smoke, and though he might
abridge his own liberty, yet, as smoking was not a sin, there was no
reason why he should be hard on other people.

After breakfast he left his rooms to call on a man named Dawson, who
had been one of Mr Hawke's hearers on the preceding evening, and who
was reading for ordination at the forthcoming Ember Weeks, now only
four months distant. This man had been always of a rather serious
turn of mind--a little too much so for Ernest's taste; but times had
changed, and Dawson's undoubted sincerity seemed to render him a
fitting counsellor for Ernest at the present time. As he was going
through the first court of John's on his way to Dawson's rooms, he
met Badcock, and greeted him with some deference. His advance was
received with one of those ecstatic gleams which shone occasionally
upon the face of Badcock, and which, if Ernest had known more, would
have reminded him of Robespierre. As it was, he saw it and
unconsciously recognised the unrest and self-seekingness of the man,
but could not yet formulate them; he disliked Badcock more than
ever, but as he was going to profit by the spiritual benefits which
he had put in his way, he was bound to be civil to him, and civil he
therefore was.

Badcock told him that Mr Hawke had returned to town immediately his
discourse was over, but that before doing so he had enquired
particularly who Ernest and two or three others were. I believe
each one of Ernest's friends was given to understand that he had
been more or less particularly enquired after. Ernest's vanity--for
he was his mother's son--was tickled at this; the idea again
presented itself to him that he might be the one for whose benefit
Mr Hawke had been sent. There was something, too, in Badcock's
manner which conveyed the idea that he could say more if he chose,
but had been enjoined to silence.

On reaching Dawson's rooms, he found his friend in raptures over the
discourse of the preceding evening. Hardly less delighted was he
with the effect it had produced on Ernest. He had always known, he
said, that Ernest would come round; he had been sure of it, but he
had hardly expected the conversion to be so sudden. Ernest said no
more had he, but now that he saw his duty so clearly he would get
ordained as soon as possible, and take a curacy, even though the
doing so would make him have to go down from Cambridge earlier,
which would be a great grief to him. Dawson applauded this
determination, and it was arranged that as Ernest was still more or
less of a weak brother, Dawson should take him, so to speak, in
spiritual tow for a while, and strengthen and confirm his faith.

An offensive and defensive alliance therefore was struck up between
this pair (who were in reality singularly ill assorted), and Ernest
set to work to master the books on which the Bishop would examine
him. Others gradually joined them till they formed a small set or
church (for these are the same things), and the effect of Mr Hawke's
sermon instead of wearing off in a few days, as might have been
expected, became more and more marked, so much so that it was
necessary for Ernest's friends to hold him back rather than urge him
on, for he seemed likely to develop--as indeed he did for a time--
into a religious enthusiast.

In one matter only, did he openly backslide. He had, as I said
above, locked up his pipes and tobacco, so that he might not be
tempted to use them. All day long on the day after Mr Hawke's
sermon he let them lie in his portmanteau bravely; but this was not
very difficult, as he had for some time given up smoking till after
hall. After hall this day he did not smoke till chapel time, and
then went to chapel in self-defence. When he returned he determined
to look at the matter from a common sense point of view. On this he
saw that, provided tobacco did not injure his health--and he really
could not see that it did--it stood much on the same footing as tea
or coffee.

Tobacco had nowhere been forbidden in the Bible, but then it had not
yet been discovered, and had probably only escaped proscription for
this reason. We can conceive of St Paul or even our Lord Himself as
drinking a cup of tea, but we cannot imagine either of them as
smoking a cigarette or a churchwarden. Ernest could not deny this,
and admitted that Paul would almost certainly have condemned tobacco
in good round terms if he had known of its existence. Was it not
then taking rather a mean advantage of the Apostle to stand on his
not having actually forbidden it? On the other hand, it was
possible that God knew Paul would have forbidden smoking, and had
purposely arranged the discovery of tobacco for a period at which
Paul should be no longer living. This might seem rather hard on
Paul, considering all he had done for Christianity, but it would be
made up to him in other ways.

These reflections satisfied Ernest that on the whole he had better
smoke, so he sneaked to his portmanteau and brought out his pipes
and tobacco again. There should be moderation he felt in all
things, even in virtue; so for that night he smoked immoderately.
It was a pity, however, that he had bragged to Dawson about giving
up smoking. The pipes had better be kept in a cupboard for a week
or two, till in other and easier respects Ernest should have proved
his steadfastness. Then they might steal out again little by
little--and so they did.

Ernest now wrote home a letter couched in a vein different from his
ordinary ones. His letters were usually all common form and
padding, for as I have already explained, if he wrote about anything
that really interested him, his mother always wanted to know more
and more about it--every fresh answer being as the lopping off of a
hydra's head and giving birth to half a dozen or more new questions-
-but in the end it came invariably to the same result, namely, that
he ought to have done something else, or ought not to go on doing as
he proposed. Now, however, there was a new departure, and for the
thousandth time he concluded that he was about to take a course of
which his father and mother would approve, and in which they would
be interested, so that at last he and they might get on more
sympathetically than heretofore. He therefore wrote a gushing
impulsive letter, which afforded much amusement to myself as I read
it, but which is too long for reproduction. One passage ran: "I am
now going towards Christ; the greater number of my college friends
are, I fear, going away from Him; we must pray for them that they
may find the peace that is in Christ even as I have myself found
it." Ernest covered his face with his hands for shame as he read
this extract from the bundle of letters he had put into my hands--
they had been returned to him by his father on his mother's death,
his mother having carefully preserved them.

"Shall I cut it out?" said I, "I will if you like."

"Certainly not," he answered, "and if good-natured friends have kept
more records of my follies, pick out any plums that may amuse the
reader, and let him have his laugh over them." But fancy what
effect a letter like this--so unled up to--must have produced at
Battersby! Even Christina refrained from ecstasy over her son's
having discovered the power of Christ's word, while Theobald was
frightened out of his wits. It was well his son was not going to
have any doubts or difficulties, and that he would be ordained
without making a fuss over it, but he smelt mischief in this sudden
conversion of one who had never yet shown any inclination towards
religion. He hated people who did not know where to stop. Ernest
was always so outre and strange; there was never any knowing what he
would do next, except that it would be something unusual and silly.
If he was to get the bit between his teeth after he had got ordained
and bought his living, he would play more pranks than ever he,
Theobald, had done. The fact, doubtless, of his being ordained and
having bought a living would go a long way to steady him, and if he
married, his wife must see to the rest; this was his only chance
and, to do justice to his sagacity, Theobald in his heart did not
think very highly of it.

When Ernest came down to Battersby in June, he imprudently tried to
open up a more unreserved communication with his father than was his
wont. The first of Ernest's snipe-like flights on being flushed by
Mr Hawke's sermon was in the direction of ultra-evangelicalism.
Theobald himself had been much more Low than High Church. This was
the normal development of the country clergyman during the first
years of his clerical life, between, we will say, the years 1825 to
1850; but he was not prepared for the almost contempt with which
Ernest now regarded the doctrines of baptismal regeneration and
priestly absolution (Hoity toity, indeed, what business had he with
such questions?), nor for his desire to find some means of
reconciling Methodism and the Church. Theobald hated the Church of
Rome, but he hated dissenters too, for he found them as a general
rule troublesome people to deal with; he always found people who did
not agree with him troublesome to deal with: besides, they set up
for knowing as much as he did; nevertheless if he had been let alone
he would have leaned towards them rather than towards the High
Church party. The neighbouring clergy, however, would not let him
alone. One by one they had come under the influence, directly or
indirectly, of the Oxford movement which had begun twenty years
earlier. It was surprising how many practices he now tolerated
which in his youth he would have considered Popish; he knew very
well therefore which way things were going in Church matters, and
saw that as usual Ernest was setting himself the other way. The
opportunity for telling his son that he was a fool was too
favourable not to be embraced, and Theobald was not slow to embrace
it. Ernest was annoyed and surprised, for had not his father and
mother been wanting him to be more religious all his life? Now that
he had become so they were still not satisfied. He said to himself
that a prophet was not without honour save in his own country, but
he had been lately--or rather until lately--getting into an odious
habit of turning proverbs upside down, and it occurred to him that a
country is sometimes not without honour save for its own prophet.
Then he laughed, and for the rest of the day felt more as he used to
feel before he had heard Mr Hawke's sermon.

He returned to Cambridge for the Long Vacation of 1858--none too
soon, for he had to go in for the Voluntary Theological Examination,
which bishops were now beginning to insist upon. He imagined all
the time he was reading that he was storing himself with the
knowledge that would best fit him for the work he had taken in hand.
In truth, he was cramming for a pass. In due time he did pass--
creditably, and was ordained Deacon with half-a-dozen others of his
friends in the autumn of 1858. He was then just twenty-three years


Ernest had been ordained to a curacy in one of the central parts of
London. He hardly knew anything of London yet, but his instincts
drew him thither. The day after he was ordained he entered upon his
duties--feeling much as his father had done when he found himself
boxed up in the carriage with Christina on the morning of his
marriage. Before the first three days were over, he became aware
that the light of the happiness which he had known during his four
years at Cambridge had been extinguished, and he was appalled by the
irrevocable nature of the step which he now felt that he had taken
much too hurriedly.

The most charitable excuse that I can make for the vagaries which it
will now be my duty to chronicle is that the shock of change
consequent upon his becoming suddenly religious, being ordained and
leaving Cambridge, had been too much for my hero, and had for the
time thrown him off an equilibrium which was yet little supported by
experience, and therefore as a matter of course unstable.

Everyone has a mass of bad work in him which he will have to work
off and get rid of before he can do better--and indeed, the more
lasting a man's ultimate good work is, the more sure he is to pass
through a time, and perhaps a very long one, in which there seems
very little hope for him at all. We must all sow our spiritual wild
oats. The fault I feel personally disposed to find with my godson
is not that he had wild oats to sow, but that they were such an
exceedingly tame and uninteresting crop. The sense of humour and
tendency to think for himself, of which till a few months previously
he had been showing fair promise, were nipped as though by a late
frost, while his earlier habit of taking on trust everything that
was told him by those in authority, and following everything out to
the bitter end, no matter how preposterous, returned with redoubled
strength. I suppose this was what might have been expected from
anyone placed as Ernest now was, especially when his antecedents are
remembered, but it surprised and disappointed some of his cooler-
headed Cambridge friends who had begun to think well of his ability.
To himself it seemed that religion was incompatible with half
measures, or even with compromise. Circumstances had led to his
being ordained; for the moment he was sorry they had, but he had
done it and must go through with it. He therefore set himself to
find out what was expected of him, and to act accordingly.

His rector was a moderate High Churchman of no very pronounced
views--an elderly man who had had too many curates not to have long
since found out that the connection between rector and curate, like
that between employer and employed in every other walk of life, was
a mere matter of business. He had now two curates, of whom Ernest
was the junior; the senior curate was named Pryer, and when this
gentleman made advances, as he presently did, Ernest in his forlorn
state was delighted to meet them.

Pryer was about twenty-eight years old. He had been at Eton and at
Oxford. He was tall, and passed generally for good-looking; I only
saw him once for about five minutes, and then thought him odious
both in manners and appearance. Perhaps it was because he caught me
up in a way I did not like. I had quoted Shakespeare for lack of
something better to fill up a sentence--and had said that one touch
of nature made the whole world kin. "Ah," said Pryer, in a bold,
brazen way which displeased me, "but one touch of the unnatural
makes it more kindred still," and he gave me a look as though he
thought me an old bore and did not care two straws whether I was
shocked or not. Naturally enough, after this I did not like him.

This, however, is anticipating, for it was not till Ernest had been
three or four months in London that I happened to meet his fellow-
curate, and I must deal here rather with the effect he produced upon
my godson than upon myself. Besides being what was generally
considered good-looking, he was faultless in his get-up, and
altogether the kind of man whom Ernest was sure to be afraid of and
yet be taken in by. The style of his dress was very High Church,
and his acquaintances were exclusively of the extreme High Church
party, but he kept his views a good deal in the background in his
rector's presence, and that gentleman, though he looked askance on
some of Pryer's friends, had no such ground of complaint against him
as to make him sever the connection. Pryer, too, was popular in the
pulpit, and, take him all round, it was probable that many worse
curates would be found for one better. When Pryer called on my
hero, as soon as the two were alone together, he eyed him all over
with a quick penetrating glance and seemed not dissatisfied with the
result--for I must say here that Ernest had improved in personal
appearance under the more genial treatment he had received at
Cambridge. Pryer, in fact, approved of him sufficiently to treat
him civilly, and Ernest was immediately won by anyone who did this.
It was not long before he discovered that the High Church party, and
even Rome itself, had more to say for themselves than he had
thought. This was his first snipe-like change of flight.

Pryer introduced him to several of his friends. They were all of
them young clergymen, belonging as I have said to the highest of the
High Church school, but Ernest was surprised to find how much they
resembled other people when among themselves. This was a shock to
him; it was ere long a still greater one to find that certain
thoughts which he had warred against as fatal to his soul, and which
he had imagined he should lose once for all on ordination, were
still as troublesome to him as they had been; he also saw plainly
enough that the young gentlemen who formed the circle of Pryer's
friends were in much the same unhappy predicament as himself.

This was deplorable. The only way out of it that Ernest could see
was that he should get married at once. But then he did not know
any one whom he wanted to marry. He did not know any woman, in
fact, whom he would not rather die than marry. It had been one of
Theobald's and Christina's main objects to keep him out of the way
of women, and they had so far succeeded that women had become to him
mysterious, inscrutable objects to be tolerated when it was
impossible to avoid them, but never to be sought out or encouraged.
As for any man loving, or even being at all fond of any woman, he
supposed it was so, but he believed the greater number of those who
professed such sentiments were liars. Now, however, it was clear
that he had hoped against hope too long, and that the only thing to
do was to go and ask the first woman who would listen to him to come
and be married to him as soon as possible.

He broached this to Pryer, and was surprised to find that this
gentleman, though attentive to such members of his flock as were
young and good-looking, was strongly in favour of the celibacy of
the clergy, as indeed were the other demure young clerics to whom
Pryer had introduced Ernest.


"You know, my dear Pontifex," said Pryer to him, some few weeks
after Ernest had become acquainted with him, when the two were
taking a constitutional one day in Kensington Gardens, "You know, my
dear Pontifex, it is all very well to quarrel with Rome, but Rome
has reduced the treatment of the human soul to a science, while our
own Church, though so much purer in many respects, has no organised
system either of diagnosis or pathology--I mean, of course,
spiritual diagnosis and spiritual pathology. Our Church does not
prescribe remedies upon any settled system, and, what is still
worse, even when her physicians have according to their lights
ascertained the disease and pointed out the remedy, she has no
discipline which will ensure its being actually applied. If our
patients do not choose to do as we tell them, we cannot make them.
Perhaps really under all the circumstances this is as well, for we
are spiritually mere horse doctors as compared with the Roman
priesthood, nor can we hope to make much headway against the sin and
misery that surround us, till we return in some respects to the
practice of our forefathers and of the greater part of Christendom."

Ernest asked in what respects it was that his friend desired a
return to the practice of our forefathers.

"Why, my dear fellow, can you really be ignorant? It is just this,
either the priest is indeed a spiritual guide, as being able to show
people how they ought to live better than they can find out for
themselves, or he is nothing at all--he has no raison d'etre. If
the priest is not as much a healer and director of men's souls as a
physician is of their bodies, what is he? The history of all ages
has shown--and surely you must know this as well as I do--that as
men cannot cure the bodies of their patients if they have not been
properly trained in hospitals under skilled teachers, so neither can
souls be cured of their more hidden ailments without the help of men
who are skilled in soul-craft--or in other words, of priests. What
do one half of our formularies and rubrics mean if not this? How in
the name of all that is reasonable can we find out the exact nature
of a spiritual malady, unless we have had experience of other
similar cases? How can we get this without express training? At
present we have to begin all experiments for ourselves, without
profiting by the organised experience of our predecessors, inasmuch
as that experience is never organised and co-ordinated at all. At
the outset, therefore, each one of us must ruin many souls which
could be saved by knowledge of a few elementary principles."

Ernest was very much impressed.

"As for men curing themselves," continued Pryer, "they can no more
cure their own souls than they can cure their own bodies, or manage
their own law affairs. In these two last cases they see the folly
of meddling with their own cases clearly enough, and go to a
professional adviser as a matter of course; surely a man's soul is
at once a more difficult and intricate matter to treat, and at the
same time it is more important to him that it should be treated
rightly than that either his body or his money should be so. What
are we to think of the practice of a Church which encourages people
to rely on unprofessional advice in matters affecting their eternal
welfare, when they would not think of jeopardising their worldly
affairs by such insane conduct?"

Ernest could see no weak place in this. These ideas had crossed his
own mind vaguely before now, but he had never laid hold of them or
set them in an orderly manner before himself. Nor was he quick at
detecting false analogies and the misuse of metaphors; in fact he
was a mere child in the hands of his fellow curate.

"And what," resumed Pryer, "does all this point to? Firstly, to the
duty of confession--the outcry against which is absurd as an outcry
would be against dissection as part of the training of medical
students. Granted these young men must see and do a great deal we
do not ourselves like even to think of, but they should adopt some
other profession unless they are prepared for this; they may even
get inoculated with poison from a dead body and lose their lives,
but they must stand their chance. So if we aspire to be priests in
deed as well as name, we must familiarise ourselves with the
minutest and most repulsive details of all kinds of sin, so that we
may recognise it in all its stages. Some of us must doubtlessly
perish spiritually in such investigations. We cannot help it; all
science must have its martyrs, and none of these will deserve better
of humanity than those who have fallen in the pursuit of spiritual

Ernest grew more and more interested, but in the meekness of his
soul said nothing.

"I do not desire this martyrdom for myself," continued the other,
"on the contrary I will avoid it to the very utmost of my power, but
if it be God's will that I should fall while studying what I believe
most calculated to advance his glory--then, I say, not my will, oh
Lord, but thine be done."

This was too much even for Ernest. "I heard of an Irish-woman
once," he said, with a smile, "who said she was a martyr to the

"And so she was," rejoined Pryer with warmth; and he went on to show
that this good woman was an experimentalist whose experiment, though
disastrous in its effects upon herself, was pregnant with
instruction to other people. She was thus a true martyr or witness
to the frightful consequences of intemperance, to the saving,
doubtless, of many who but for her martyrdom would have taken to
drinking. She was one of a forlorn hope whose failure to take a
certain position went to the proving it to be impregnable and
therefore to the abandonment of all attempt to take it. This was
almost as great a gain to mankind as the actual taking of the
position would have been.

"Besides," he added more hurriedly, "the limits of vice and virtue
are wretchedly ill-defined. Half the vices which the world condemns
most loudly have seeds of good in them and require moderate use
rather than total abstinence."

Ernest asked timidly for an instance.

"No, no," said Pryer, "I will give you no instance, but I will give
you a formula that shall embrace all instances. It is this, that no
practice is entirely vicious which has not been extinguished among
the comeliest, most vigorous, and most cultivated races of mankind
in spite of centuries of endeavour to extirpate it. If a vice in
spite of such efforts can still hold its own among the most polished
nations, it must be founded on some immutable truth or fact in human
nature, and must have some compensatory advantage which we cannot
afford altogether to dispense with."

"But," said Ernest timidly, "is not this virtually doing away with
all distinction between right and wrong, and leaving people without
any moral guide whatever?"

"Not the people," was the answer: "it must be our care to be guides
to these, for they are and always will be incapable of guiding
themselves sufficiently. We should tell them what they must do, and
in an ideal state of things should be able to enforce their doing
it: perhaps when we are better instructed the ideal state may come
about; nothing will so advance it as greater knowledge of spiritual
pathology on our own part. For this, three things are necessary;
firstly, absolute freedom in experiment for us the clergy; secondly,
absolute knowledge of what the laity think and do, and of what
thoughts and actions result in what spiritual conditions; and
thirdly, a compacter organisation among ourselves.

"If we are to do any good we must be a closely united body, and must
be sharply divided from the laity. Also we must be free from those
ties which a wife and children involve. I can hardly express the
horror with which I am filled by seeing English priests living in
what I can only designate as 'open matrimony.' It is deplorable.
The priest must be absolutely sexless--if not in practice, yet at
any rate in theory, absolutely--and that too, by a theory so
universally accepted that none shall venture to dispute it."

"But," said Ernest, "has not the Bible already told people what they
ought and ought not to do, and is it not enough for us to insist on
what can be found here, and let the rest alone?"

"If you begin with the Bible," was the rejoinder, "you are three
parts gone on the road to infidelity, and will go the other part
before you know where you are. The Bible is not without its value
to us the clergy, but for the laity it is a stumbling-block which
cannot be taken out of their way too soon or too completely. Of
course, I mean on the supposition that they read it, which, happily,
they seldom do. If people read the Bible as the ordinary British
churchman or churchwoman reads it, it is harmless enough; but if
they read it with any care--which we should assume they will if we
give it them at all--it is fatal to them."

"What do you mean?" said Ernest, more and more astonished, but more
and more feeling that he was at least in the hands of a man who had
definite ideas.

"Your question shows me that you have never read your Bible. A more
unreliable book was never put upon paper. Take my advice and don't
read it, not till you are a few years older, and may do so safely."

"But surely you believe the Bible when it tells you of such things
as that Christ died and rose from the dead? Surely you believe
this?" said Ernest, quite prepared to be told that Pryer believed
nothing of the kind.

"I do not believe it, I know it."

"But how--if the testimony of the Bible fails?"

"On that of the living voice of the Church, which I know to be
infallible and to be informed of Christ himself."


The foregoing conversation and others like it made a deep impression
upon my hero. If next day he had taken a walk with Mr Hawke, and
heard what he had to say on the other side, he would have been just
as much struck, and as ready to fling off what Pryer had told him,
as he now was to throw aside all he had ever heard from anyone
except Pryer; but there was no Mr Hawke at hand, so Pryer had
everything his own way.

Embryo minds, like embryo bodies, pass through a number of strange
metamorphoses before they adopt their final shape. It is no more to
be wondered at that one who is going to turn out a Roman Catholic,
should have passed through the stages of being first a Methodist,
and then a free thinker, than that a man should at some former time
have been a mere cell, and later on an invertebrate animal. Ernest,
however, could not be expected to know this; embryos never do.
Embryos think with each stage of their development that they have
now reached the only condition which really suits them. This, they
say, must certainly be their last, inasmuch as its close will be so
great a shock that nothing can survive it. Every change is a shock;
every shock is a pro tanto death. What we call death is only a
shock great enough to destroy our power to recognise a past and a
present as resembling one another. It is the making us consider the
points of difference between our present and our past greater than
the points of resemblance, so that we can no longer call the former
of these two in any proper sense a continuation of the second, but
find it less trouble to think of it as something that we choose to
call new.

But, to let this pass, it was clear that spiritual pathology (I
confess that I do not know myself what spiritual pathology means--
but Pryer and Ernest doubtless did) was the great desideratum of the
age. It seemed to Ernest that he had made this discovery himself
and been familiar with it all his life, that he had never known, in
fact, of anything else. He wrote long letters to his college
friends expounding his views as though he had been one of the
Apostolic fathers. As for the Old Testament writers, he had no
patience with them. "Do oblige me," I find him writing to one
friend, "by reading the prophet Zechariah, and giving me your candid
opinion upon him. He is poor stuff, full of Yankee bounce; it is
sickening to live in an age when such balderdash can be gravely
admired whether as poetry or prophecy." This was because Pryer had
set him against Zechariah. I do not know what Zechariah had done; I
should think myself that Zechariah was a very good prophet; perhaps
it was because he was a Bible writer, and not a very prominent one,
that Pryer selected him as one through whom to disparage the Bible
in comparison with the Church.

To his friend Dawson I find him saying a little later on: "Pryer
and I continue our walks, working out each other's thoughts. At
first he used to do all the thinking, but I think I am pretty well
abreast of him now, and rather chuckle at seeing that he is already
beginning to modify some of the views he held most strongly when I
first knew him.

"Then I think he was on the high road to Rome; now, however, he
seems to be a good deal struck with a suggestion of mine in which
you, too, perhaps may be interested. You see we must infuse new
life into the Church somehow; we are not holding our own against
either Rome or infidelity." (I may say in passing that I do not
believe Ernest had as yet ever seen an infidel--not to speak to.)
"I proposed, therefore, a few days back to Pryer--and he fell in
eagerly with the proposal as soon as he saw that I had the means of
carrying it out--that we should set on foot a spiritual movement
somewhat analogous to the Young England movement of twenty years
ago, the aim of which shall be at once to outbid Rome on the one
hand, and scepticism on the other. For this purpose I see nothing
better than the foundation of an institution or college for placing
the nature and treatment of sin on a more scientific basis than it
rests at present. We want--to borrow a useful term of Pryer's--a
College of Spiritual Pathology where young men" (I suppose Ernest
thought he was no longer young by this time) "may study the nature
and treatment of the sins of the soul as medical students study
those of the bodies of their patients. Such a college, as you will
probably admit, will approach both Rome on the one hand, and science
on the other--Rome, as giving the priesthood more skill, and
therefore as paving the way for their obtaining greater power, and
science, by recognising that even free thought has a certain kind of
value in spiritual enquiries. To this purpose Pryer and I have
resolved to devote ourselves henceforth heart and soul.

"Of course, my ideas are still unshaped, and all will depend upon
the men by whom the college is first worked. I am not yet a priest,
but Pryer is, and if I were to start the College, Pryer might take
charge of it for a time and I work under him nominally as his
subordinate. Pryer himself suggested this. Is it not generous of

"The worst of it is that we have not enough money; I have, it is
true, 5000 pounds, but we want at least 10,000 pounds, so Pryer
says, before we can start; when we are fairly under weigh I might
live at the college and draw a salary from the foundation, so that
it is all one, or nearly so, whether I invest my money in this way
or in buying a living; besides I want very little; it is certain
that I shall never marry; no clergyman should think of this, and an
unmarried man can live on next to nothing. Still I do not see my
way to as much money as I want, and Pryer suggests that as we can
hardly earn more now we must get it by a judicious series of
investments. Pryer knows several people who make quite a handsome
income out of very little or, indeed, I may say, nothing at all, by
buying things at a place they call the Stock Exchange; I don't know
much about it yet, but Pryer says I should soon learn; he thinks,
indeed, that I have shown rather a talent in this direction, and
under proper auspices should make a very good man of business.
Others, of course, and not I, must decide this; but a man can do
anything if he gives his mind to it, and though I should not care
about having more money for my own sake, I care about it very much
when I think of the good I could do with it by saving souls from
such horrible torture hereafter. Why, if the thing succeeds, and I
really cannot see what is to hinder it, it is hardly possible to
exaggerate its importance, nor the proportions which it may
ultimately assume," etc., etc.

Again I asked Ernest whether he minded my printing this. He winced,
but said "No, not if it helps you to tell your story: but don't you
think it is too long?"

I said it would let the reader see for himself how things were going
in half the time that it would take me to explain them to him.

"Very well then, keep it by all means."

I continue turning over my file of Ernest's letters and find as
follows -

"Thanks for your last, in answer to which I send you a rough copy of
a letter I sent to the Times a day or two back. They did not insert
it, but it embodies pretty fully my ideas on the parochial
visitation question, and Pryer fully approves of the letter. Think
it carefully over and send it back to me when read, for it is so
exactly my present creed that I cannot afford to lose it.

"I should very much like to have a viva voce discussion on these
matters: I can only see for certain that we have suffered a
dreadful loss in being no longer able to excommunicate. We should
excommunicate rich and poor alike, and pretty freely too. If this
power were restored to us we could, I think, soon put a stop to by
far the greater part of the sin and misery with which we are

These letters were written only a few weeks after Ernest had been
ordained, but they are nothing to others that he wrote a little
later on.

In his eagerness to regenerate the Church of England (and through
this the universe) by the means which Pryer had suggested to him, it
occurred to him to try to familiarise himself with the habits and
thoughts of the poor by going and living among them. I think he got
this notion from Kingsley's "Alton Locke," which, High Churchman
though he for the nonce was, he had devoured as he had devoured
Stanley's Life of Arnold, Dickens's novels, and whatever other
literary garbage of the day was most likely to do him harm; at any
rate he actually put his scheme into practice, and took lodgings in
Ashpit Place, a small street in the neighbourhood of Drury Lane
Theatre, in a house of which the landlady was the widow of a cabman.

This lady occupied the whole ground floor. In the front kitchen
there was a tinker. The back kitchen was let to a bellows-mender.
On the first floor came Ernest, with his two rooms which he
furnished comfortably, for one must draw the line somewhere. The
two upper floors were parcelled out among four different sets of
lodgers: there was a tailor named Holt, a drunken fellow who used
to beat his wife at night till her screams woke the house; above him
there was another tailor with a wife but no children; these people
were Wesleyans, given to drink but not noisy. The two back rooms
were held by single ladies, who it seemed to Ernest must be
respectably connected, for well-dressed gentlemanly-looking young
men used to go up and down stairs past Ernest's rooms to call at any
rate on Miss Snow--Ernest had heard her door slam after they had
passed. He thought, too, that some of them went up to Miss
Maitland's. Mrs Jupp, the landlady, told Ernest that these were
brothers and cousins of Miss Snow's, and that she was herself
looking out for a situation as a governess, but at present had an
engagement as an actress at the Drury Lane Theatre. Ernest asked
whether Miss Maitland in the top back was also looking out for a
situation, and was told she was wanting an engagement as a milliner.
He believed whatever Mrs Jupp told him.


This move on Ernest's part was variously commented upon by his
friends, the general opinion being that it was just like Pontifex,
who was sure to do something unusual wherever he went, but that on
the whole the idea was commendable. Christina could not restrain
herself when on sounding her clerical neighbours she found them
inclined to applaud her son for conduct which they idealised into
something much more self-denying than it really was. She did not
quite like his living in such an unaristocratic neighbourhood; but
what he was doing would probably get into the newspapers, and then
great people would take notice of him. Besides, it would be very
cheap; down among these poor people he could live for next to
nothing, and might put by a great deal of his income. As for
temptations, there could be few or none in such a place as that.
This argument about cheapness was the one with which she most
successfully met Theobald, who grumbled more suo that he had no
sympathy with his son's extravagance and conceit. When Christina
pointed out to him that it would be cheap he replied that there was
something in that.

On Ernest himself the effect was to confirm the good opinion of
himself which had been growing upon him ever since he had begun to
read for orders, and to make him flatter himself that he was among
the few who were ready to give up ALL for Christ. Ere long he began
to conceive of himself as a man with a mission and a great future.
His lightest and most hastily formed opinions began to be of
momentous importance to him, and he inflicted them, as I have
already shown, on his old friends, week by week becoming more and
more entete with himself and his own crotchets. I should like well
enough to draw a veil over this part of my hero's career, but cannot
do so without marring my story.

In the spring of 1859 I find him writing -

"I cannot call the visible Church Christian till its fruits are
Christian, that is until the fruits of the members of the Church of
England are in conformity, or something like conformity, with her
teaching. I cordially agree with the teaching of the Church of
England in most respects, but she says one thing and does another,
and until excommunication--yes, and wholesale excommunication--be
resorted to, I cannot call her a Christian institution. I should
begin with our Rector, and if I found it necessary to follow him up
by excommunicating the Bishop, I should not flinch even from this.

"The present London Rectors are hopeless people to deal with. My
own is one of the best of them, but the moment Pryer and I show
signs of wanting to attack an evil in a way not recognised by
routine, or of remedying anything about which no outcry has been
made, we are met with, 'I cannot think what you mean by all this
disturbance; nobody else among the clergy sees these things, and I
have no wish to be the first to begin turning everything topsy-
turvy.' And then people call him a sensible man. I have no
patience with them. However, we know what we want, and, as I wrote
to Dawson the other day, have a scheme on foot which will, I think,
fairly meet the requirements of the case. But we want more money,
and my first move towards getting this has not turned out quite so
satisfactorily as Pryer and I had hoped; we shall, however, I doubt
not, retrieve it shortly."

When Ernest came to London he intended doing a good deal of house-
to-house visiting, but Pryer had talked him out of this even before
he settled down in his new and strangely-chosen apartments. The
line he now took was that if people wanted Christ, they must prove
their want by taking some little trouble, and the trouble required
of them was that they should come and seek him, Ernest, out; there
he was in the midst of them ready to teach; if people did not choose
to come to him it was no fault of his.

"My great business here," he writes again to Dawson, "is to observe.
I am not doing much in parish work beyond my share of the daily
services. I have a man's Bible Class, and a boy's Bible Class, and
a good many young men and boys to whom I give instruction one way or
another; then there are the Sunday School children, with whom I fill
my room on a Sunday evening as full as it will hold, and let them
sing hymns and chants. They like this. I do a great deal of
reading--chiefly of books which Pryer and I think most likely to
help; we find nothing comparable to the Jesuits. Pryer is a
thorough gentleman, and an admirable man of business--no less
observant of the things of this world, in fact, than of the things
above; by a brilliant coup he has retrieved, or nearly so, a rather
serious loss which threatened to delay indefinitely the execution of
our great scheme. He and I daily gather fresh principles. I
believe great things are before me, and am strong in the hope of
being able by and by to effect much.

"As for you I bid you God speed. Be bold but logical, speculative
but cautious, daringly courageous, but properly circumspect withal,"
etc., etc.

I think this may do for the present.


I had called on Ernest as a matter of course when he first came to
London, but had not seen him. I had been out when he returned my
call, so that he had been in town for some weeks before I actually
saw him, which I did not very long after he had taken possession of
his new rooms. I liked his face, but except for the common bond of
music, in respect of which our tastes were singularly alike, I
should hardly have known how to get on with him. To do him justice
he did not air any of his schemes to me until I had drawn him out
concerning them. I, to borrow the words of Ernest's landlady, Mrs
Jupp, "am not a very regular church-goer"--I discovered upon cross-
examination that Mrs Jupp had been to church once when she was
churched for her son Tom some five and twenty years since, but never
either before or afterwards; not even, I fear, to be married, for
though she called herself "Mrs" she wore no wedding ring, and spoke
of the person who should have been Mr Jupp as "my poor dear boy's
father," not as "my husband." But to return. I was vexed at
Ernest's having been ordained. I was not ordained myself and I did
not like my friends to be ordained, nor did I like having to be on
my best behaviour and to look as if butter would not melt in my
mouth, and all for a boy whom I remembered when he knew yesterday
and to-morrow and Tuesday, but not a day of the week more--not even
Sunday itself--and when he said he did not like the kitten because
it had pins in its toes.

I looked at him and thought of his aunt Alethea, and how fast the
money she had left him was accumulating; and it was all to go to
this young man, who would use it probably in the very last ways with
which Miss Pontifex would have sympathised. I was annoyed. "She
always said," I thought to myself, "that she should make a mess of
it, but I did not think she would have made as great a mess of it as
this." Then I thought that perhaps if his aunt had lived he would
not have been like this.

Ernest behaved quite nicely to me and I own that the fault was mine
if the conversation drew towards dangerous subjects. I was the
aggressor, presuming I suppose upon my age and long acquaintance
with him, as giving me a right to make myself unpleasant in a quiet

Then he came out, and the exasperating part of it was that up to a
certain point he was so very right. Grant him his premises and his
conclusions were sound enough, nor could I, seeing that he was
already ordained, join issue with him about his premises as I should
certainly have done if I had had a chance of doing so before he had
taken orders. The result was that I had to beat a retreat and went
away not in the best of humours. I believe the truth was that I
liked Ernest, and was vexed at his being a clergyman, and at a
clergyman having so much money coming to him.

I talked a little with Mrs Jupp on my way out. She and I had
reckoned one another up at first sight as being neither of us "very
regular church-goers," and the strings of her tongue had been
loosened. She said Ernest would die. He was much too good for the
world and he looked so sad "just like young Watkins of the 'Crown'
over the way who died a month ago, and his poor dear skin was white
as alablaster; least-ways they say he shot hisself. They took him
from the Mortimer, I met them just as I was going with my Rose to
get a pint o' four ale, and she had her arm in splints. She told
her sister she wanted to go to Perry's to get some wool, instead o'
which it was only a stall to get me a pint o' ale, bless her heart;
there's nobody else would do that much for poor old Jupp, and it's a
horrid lie to say she is gay; not but what I like a gay woman, I do:
I'd rather give a gay woman half-a-crown than stand a modest woman a
pot o' beer, but I don't want to go associating with bad girls for
all that. So they took him from the Mortimer; they wouldn't let him
go home no more; and he done it that artful you know. His wife was
in the country living with her mother, and she always spoke
respectful o' my Rose. Poor dear, I hope his soul is in Heaven.
Well Sir, would you believe it, there's that in Mr Pontifex's face
which is just like young Watkins; he looks that worrited and
scrunched up at times, but it's never for the same reason, for he
don't know nothing at all, no more than a unborn babe, no he don't;
why there's not a monkey going about London with an Italian organ
grinder but knows more than Mr Pontifex do. He don't know--well I

Here a child came in on an errand from some neighbour and
interrupted her, or I can form no idea where or when she would have
ended her discourse. I seized the opportunity to run away, but not
before I had given her five shillings and made her write down my
address, for I was a little frightened by what she said. I told her
if she thought her lodger grew worse, she was to come and let me

Weeks went by and I did not see her again. Having done as much as I
had, I felt absolved from doing more, and let Ernest alone as
thinking that he and I should only bore one another.

He had now been ordained a little over four months, but these months
had not brought happiness or satisfaction with them. He had lived
in a clergyman's house all his life, and might have been expected
perhaps to have known pretty much what being a clergyman was like,
and so he did--a country clergyman; he had formed an ideal, however,
as regards what a town clergyman could do, and was trying in a
feeble tentative way to realise it, but somehow or other it always
managed to escape him.

He lived among the poor, but he did not find that he got to know
them. The idea that they would come to him proved to be a mistaken
one. He did indeed visit a few tame pets whom his rector desired
him to look after. There was an old man and his wife who lived next
door but one to Ernest himself; then there was a plumber of the name
of Chesterfield; an aged lady of the name of Gover, blind and bed-
ridden, who munched and munched her feeble old toothless jaws as
Ernest spoke or read to her, but who could do little more; a Mr
Brookes, a rag and bottle merchant in Birdsey's Rents in the last
stage of dropsy, and perhaps half a dozen or so others. What did it
all come to, when he did go to see them? The plumber wanted to be
flattered, and liked fooling a gentleman into wasting his time by
scratching his ears for him. Mrs Gover, poor old woman, wanted
money; she was very good and meek, and when Ernest got her a
shilling from Lady Anne Jones's bequest, she said it was "small but
seasonable," and munched and munched in gratitude. Ernest sometimes
gave her a little money himself, but not, as he says now, half what
he ought to have given.

What could he do else that would have been of the smallest use to
her? Nothing indeed; but giving occasional half-crowns to Mrs Gover
was not regenerating the universe, and Ernest wanted nothing short
of this. The world was all out of joint, and instead of feeling it
to be a cursed spite that he was born to set it right, he thought he
was just the kind of person that was wanted for the job, and was
eager to set to work, only he did not exactly know how to begin, for
the beginning he had made with Mr Chesterfield and Mrs Gover did not
promise great developments.

Then poor Mr Brookes--he suffered very much, terribly indeed; he was
not in want of money; he wanted to die and couldn't, just as we
sometimes want to go to sleep and cannot. He had been a serious-
minded man, and death frightened him as it must frighten anyone who
believes that all his most secret thoughts will be shortly exposed
in public. When I read Ernest the description of how his father
used to visit Mrs Thompson at Battersby, he coloured and said--
"that's just what I used to say to Mr Brookes." Ernest felt that
his visits, so far from comforting Mr Brookes, made him fear death
more and more, but how could he help it?

Even Pryer, who had been curate a couple of years, did not know
personally more than a couple of hundred people in the parish at the
outside, and it was only at the houses of very few of these that he
ever visited, but then Pryer had such a strong objection on
principle to house visitations. What a drop in the sea were those
with whom he and Pryer were brought into direct communication in
comparison with those whom he must reach and move if he were to
produce much effect of any kind, one way or the other. Why there
were between fifteen and twenty thousand poor in the parish, of whom
but the merest fraction ever attended a place of worship. Some few
went to dissenting chapels, a few were Roman Catholics; by far the
greater number, however, were practically infidels, if not actively
hostile, at any rate indifferent to religion, while many were avowed
Atheists--admirers of Tom Paine, of whom he now heard for the first
time; but he never met and conversed with any of these.

Was he really doing everything that could be expected of him? It
was all very well to say that he was doing as much as other young
clergymen did; that was not the kind of answer which Jesus Christ
was likely to accept; why, the Pharisees themselves in all
probability did as much as the other Pharisees did. What he should
do was to go into the highways and byways, and compel people to come
in. Was he doing this? Or were not they rather compelling him to
keep out--outside their doors at any rate? He began to have an
uneasy feeling as though ere long, unless he kept a sharp look out,
he should drift into being a sham.

True, all would be changed as soon as he could endow the College for
Spiritual Pathology; matters, however, had not gone too well with
"the things that people bought in the place that was called the
Stock Exchange." In order to get on faster, it had been arranged
that Ernest should buy more of these things than he could pay for,
with the idea that in a few weeks, or even days, they would be much
higher in value, and he could sell them at a tremendous profit; but,
unfortunately, instead of getting higher, they had fallen
immediately after Ernest had bought, and obstinately refused to get
up again; so, after a few settlements, he had got frightened, for he
read an article in some newspaper, which said they would go ever so
much lower, and, contrary to Pryer's advice, he insisted on selling-
-at a loss of something like 500 pounds. He had hardly sold when up
went the shares again, and he saw how foolish he had been, and how
wise Pryer was, for if Pryer's advice had been followed, he would
have made 500 pounds, instead of losing it. However, he told
himself he must live and learn.

Then Pryer made a mistake. They had bought some shares, and the
shares went up delightfully for about a fortnight. This was a happy
time indeed, for by the end of a fortnight, the lost 500 pounds had
been recovered, and three or four hundred pounds had been cleared
into the bargain. All the feverish anxiety of that miserable six
weeks, when the 500 pounds was being lost, was now being repaid with
interest. Ernest wanted to sell and make sure of the profit, but
Pryer would not hear of it; they would go ever so much higher yet,
and he showed Ernest an article in some newspaper which proved that
what he said was reasonable, and they did go up a little--but only a
very little, for then they went down, down, and Ernest saw first his
clear profit of three or four hundred pounds go, and then the 500
pounds loss, which he thought he had recovered, slipped away by
falls of a half and one at a time, and then he lost 200 pounds more.
Then a newspaper said that these shares were the greatest rubbish
that had ever been imposed upon the English public, and Ernest could
stand it no longer, so he sold out, again this time against Pryer's
advice, so that when they went up, as they shortly did, Pryer scored
off Ernest a second time.

Ernest was not used to vicissitudes of this kind, and they made him
so anxious that his health was affected. It was arranged therefore
that he had better know nothing of what was being done. Pryer was a
much better man of business than he was, and would see to it all.
This relieved Ernest of a good deal of trouble, and was better after
all for the investments themselves; for, as Pryer justly said, a man
must not have a faint heart if he hopes to succeed in buying and
selling upon the Stock Exchange, and seeing Ernest nervous made
Pryer nervous too--at least, he said it did. So the money drifted
more and more into Pryer's hands. As for Pryer himself, he had
nothing but his curacy and a small allowance from his father.

Some of Ernest's old friends got an inkling from his letters of what
he was doing, and did their utmost to dissuade him, but he was as
infatuated as a young lover of two and twenty. Finding that these
friends disapproved, he dropped away from them, and they, being
bored with his egotism and high-flown ideas, were not sorry to let
him do so. Of course, he said nothing about his speculations--
indeed, he hardly knew that anything done in so good a cause could
be called speculation. At Battersby, when his father urged him to
look out for a next presentation, and even brought one or two
promising ones under his notice, he made objections and excuses,
though always promising to do as his father desired very shortly.


By and by a subtle, indefinable malaise began to take possession of
him. I once saw a very young foal trying to eat some most
objectionable refuse, and unable to make up its mind whether it was
good or no. Clearly it wanted to be told. If its mother had seen
what it was doing she would have set it right in a moment, and as
soon as ever it had been told that what it was eating was filth, the
foal would have recognised it and never have wanted to be told
again; but the foal could not settle the matter for itself, or make
up its mind whether it liked what it was trying to eat or no,
without assistance from without. I suppose it would have come to do
so by and by, but it was wasting time and trouble, which a single
look from its mother would have saved, just as wort will in time
ferment of itself, but will ferment much more quickly if a little
yeast be added to it. In the matter of knowing what gives us
pleasure we are all like wort, and if unaided from without can only
ferment slowly and toilsomely.

My unhappy hero about this time was very much like the foal, or
rather he felt much what the foal would have felt if its mother and
all the other grown-up horses in the field had vowed that what it
was eating was the most excellent and nutritious food to be found
anywhere. He was so anxious to do what was right, and so ready to
believe that every one knew better than himself, that he never
ventured to admit to himself that he might be all the while on a
hopelessly wrong tack. It did not occur to him that there might be
a blunder anywhere, much less did it occur to him to try and find
out where the blunder was. Nevertheless he became daily more full
of malaise, and daily, only he knew it not, more ripe for an
explosion should a spark fall upon him.

One thing, however, did begin to loom out of the general vagueness,
and to this he instinctively turned as trying to seize it--I mean,
the fact that he was saving very few souls, whereas there were
thousands and thousands being lost hourly all around him which a
little energy such as Mr Hawke's might save. Day after day went by,
and what was he doing? Standing on professional etiquette, and
praying that his shares might go up and down as he wanted them, so
that they might give him money enough to enable him to regenerate
the universe. But in the meantime the people were dying. How many
souls would not be doomed to endless ages of the most frightful
torments that the mind could think of, before he could bring his
spiritual pathology engine to bear upon them? Why might he not
stand and preach as he saw the Dissenters doing sometimes in
Lincoln's Inn Fields and other thoroughfares? He could say all that
Mr Hawke had said. Mr Hawke was a very poor creature in Ernest's
eyes now, for he was a Low Churchman, but we should not be above
learning from any one, and surely he could affect his hearers as
powerfully as Mr Hawke had affected him if he only had the courage
to set to work. The people whom he saw preaching in the squares
sometimes drew large audiences. He could at any rate preach better
than they.

Ernest broached this to Pryer, who treated it as something too
outrageous to be even thought of. Nothing, he said, could more tend
to lower the dignity of the clergy and bring the Church into
contempt. His manner was brusque, and even rude.

Ernest ventured a little mild dissent; he admitted it was not usual,
but something at any rate must be done, and that quickly. This was
how Wesley and Whitfield had begun that great movement which had
kindled religious life in the minds of hundreds of thousands. This
was no time to be standing on dignity. It was just because Wesley
and Whitfield had done what the Church would not that they had won
men to follow them whom the Church had now lost.

Pryer eyed Ernest searchingly, and after a pause said, "I don't know
what to make of you, Pontifex; you are at once so very right and so
very wrong. I agree with you heartily that something should be
done, but it must not be done in a way which experience has shown
leads to nothing but fanaticism and dissent. Do you approve of
these Wesleyans? Do you hold your ordination vows so cheaply as to
think that it does not matter whether the services of the Church are
performed in her churches and with all due ceremony or not? If you
do--then, frankly, you had no business to be ordained; if you do
not, then remember that one of the first duties of a young deacon is
obedience to authority. Neither the Catholic Church, nor yet the
Church of England allows her clergy to preach in the streets of
cities where there is no lack of churches."

Ernest felt the force of this, and Pryer saw that he wavered.

"We are living," he continued more genially, "in an age of
transition, and in a country which, though it has gained much by the
Reformation, does not perceive how much it has also lost. You
cannot and must not hawk Christ about in the streets as though you
were in a heathen country whose inhabitants had never heard of him.
The people here in London have had ample warning. Every church they
pass is a protest to them against their lives, and a call to them to
repent. Every church-bell they hear is a witness against them,
everyone of those whom they meet on Sundays going to or coming from
church is a warning voice from God. If these countless influences
produce no effect upon them, neither will the few transient words
which they would hear from you. You are like Dives, and think that
if one rose from the dead they would hear him. Perhaps they might;
but then you cannot pretend that you have risen from the dead."

Though the last few words were spoken laughingly, there was a sub-
sneer about them which made Ernest wince; but he was quite subdued,
and so the conversation ended. It left Ernest, however, not for the
first time, consciously dissatisfied with Pryer, and inclined to set
his friend's opinion on one side--not openly, but quietly, and
without telling Pryer anything about it.


He had hardly parted from Pryer before there occurred another
incident which strengthened his discontent. He had fallen, as I
have shown, among a gang of spiritual thieves or coiners, who passed
the basest metal upon him without his finding it out, so childish
and inexperienced was he in the ways of anything but those back
eddies of the world, schools and universities. Among the bad
threepenny pieces which had been passed off upon him, and which he
kept for small hourly disbursement, was a remark that poor people
were much nicer than the richer and better educated. Ernest now
said that he always travelled third class not because it was
cheaper, but because the people whom he met in third class carriages
were so much pleasanter and better behaved. As for the young men
who attended Ernest's evening classes, they were pronounced to be
more intelligent and better ordered generally than the average run
of Oxford and Cambridge men. Our foolish young friend having heard
Pryer talk to this effect, caught up all he said and reproduced it
more suo.

One evening, however, about this time, whom should he see coming
along a small street not far from his own but, of all persons in the
world, Towneley, looking as full of life and good spirits as ever,
and if possible even handsomer than he had been at Cambridge. Much
as Ernest liked him he found himself shrinking from speaking to him,
and was endeavouring to pass him without doing so when Towneley saw
him and stopped him at once, being pleased to see an old Cambridge
face. He seemed for the moment a little confused at being seen in
such a neighbourhood, but recovered himself so soon that Ernest
hardly noticed it, and then plunged into a few kindly remarks about
old times. Ernest felt that he quailed as he saw Towneley's eye
wander to his white necktie and saw that he was being reckoned up,
and rather disapprovingly reckoned up, as a parson. It was the
merest passing shade upon Towneley's face, but Ernest had felt it.

Towneley said a few words of common form to Ernest about his
profession as being what he thought would be most likely to interest
him, and Ernest, still confused and shy, gave him for lack of
something better to say his little threepenny-bit about poor people
being so very nice. Towneley took this for what it was worth and
nodded assent, whereon Ernest imprudently went further and said
"Don't you like poor people very much yourself?"

Towneley gave his face a comical but good-natured screw, and said
quietly, but slowly and decidedly, "No, no, no," and escaped.

It was all over with Ernest from that moment. As usual he did not
know it, but he had entered none the less upon another reaction.
Towneley had just taken Ernest's threepenny-bit into his hands,
looked at it and returned it to him as a bad one. Why did he see in
a moment that it was a bad one now, though he had been unable to see
it when he had taken it from Pryer? Of course some poor people were
very nice, and always would be so, but as though scales had fallen
suddenly from his eyes he saw that no one was nicer for being poor,
and that between the upper and lower classes there was a gulf which
amounted practically to an impassable barrier.

That evening he reflected a good deal. If Towneley was right, and
Ernest felt that the "No" had applied not to the remark about poor
people only, but to the whole scheme and scope of his own recently
adopted ideas, he and Pryer must surely be on a wrong track.
Towneley had not argued with him; he had said one word only, and
that one of the shortest in the language, but Ernest was in a fit
state for inoculation, and the minute particle of virus set about
working immediately.

Which did he now think was most likely to have taken the juster view
of life and things, and whom would it be best to imitate, Towneley
or Pryer? His heart returned answer to itself without a moment's
hesitation. The faces of men like Towneley were open and kindly;
they looked as if at ease themselves, and as though they would set
all who had to do with them at ease as far as might be. The faces
of Pryer and his friends were not like this. Why had he felt
tacitly rebuked as soon as he had met Towneley? Was he not a
Christian? Certainly; he believed in the Church of England as a
matter of course. Then how could he be himself wrong in trying to
act up to the faith that he and Towneley held in common? He was
trying to lead a quiet, unobtrusive life of self-devotion, whereas
Towneley was not, so far as he could see, trying to do anything of
the kind; he was only trying to get on comfortably in the world, and
to look and be as nice as possible. And he was nice, and Ernest
knew that such men as himself and Pryer were not nice, and his old
dejection came over him.

Then came an even worse reflection; how if he had fallen among
material thieves as well as spiritual ones? He knew very little of
how his money was going on; he had put it all now into Pryer's
hands, and though Pryer gave him cash to spend whenever he wanted
it, he seemed impatient of being questioned as to what was being
done with the principal. It was part of the understanding, he said,
that that was to be left to him, and Ernest had better stick to
this, or he, Pryer, would throw up the College of Spiritual
Pathology altogether; and so Ernest was cowed into acquiescence, or
cajoled, according to the humour in which Pryer saw him to be.
Ernest thought that further questions would look as if he doubted
Pryer's word, and also that he had gone too far to be able to recede
in decency or honour. This, however, he felt was riding out to meet
trouble unnecessarily. Pryer had been a little impatient, but he
was a gentleman and an admirable man of business, so his money would
doubtless come back to him all right some day.

Ernest comforted himself as regards this last source of anxiety, but
as regards the other, he began to feel as though, if he was to be
saved, a good Samaritan must hurry up from somewhere--he knew not


Next day he felt stronger again. He had been listening to the voice
of the evil one on the night before, and would parley no more with
such thoughts. He had chosen his profession, and his duty was to
persevere with it. If he was unhappy it was probably because he was
not giving up all for Christ. Let him see whether he could not do
more than he was doing now, and then perhaps a light would be shed
upon his path.

It was all very well to have made the discovery that he didn't very
much like poor people, but he had got to put up with them, for it
was among them that his work must lie. Such men as Towneley were
very kind and considerate, but he knew well enough it was only on
condition that he did not preach to them. He could manage the poor
better, and, let Pryer sneer as he liked, he was resolved to go more
among them, and try the effect of bringing Christ to them if they
would not come and seek Christ of themselves. He would begin with
his own house.

Who then should he take first? Surely he could not do better than
begin with the tailor who lived immediately over his head. This
would be desirable, not only because he was the one who seemed to
stand most in need of conversion, but also because, if he were once
converted, he would no longer beat his wife at two o'clock in the
morning, and the house would be much pleasanter in consequence. He
would therefore go upstairs at once, and have a quiet talk with this

Before doing so, he thought it would be well if he were to draw up
something like a plan of a campaign; he therefore reflected over
some pretty conversations which would do very nicely if Mr Holt
would be kind enough to make the answers proposed for him in their
proper places. But the man was a great hulking fellow, of a savage
temper, and Ernest was forced to admit that unforeseen developments
might arise to disconcert him. They say it takes nine tailors to
make a man, but Ernest felt that it would take at least nine Ernests
to make a Mr Holt. How if, as soon as Ernest came in, the tailor
were to become violent and abusive? What could he do? Mr Holt was
in his own lodgings, and had a right to be undisturbed. A legal
right, yes, but had he a moral right? Ernest thought not,
considering his mode of life. But put this on one side; if the man
were to be violent, what should he do? Paul had fought with wild
beasts at Ephesus--that must indeed have been awful--but perhaps
they were not very wild wild beasts; a rabbit and a canary are wild
beasts; but, formidable or not as wild beasts go, they would,
nevertheless stand no chance against St Paul, for he was inspired;
the miracle would have been if the wild beasts escaped, not that St
Paul should have done so; but, however all this might be, Ernest
felt that he dared not begin to convert Mr Holt by fighting him.
Why, when he had heard Mrs Holt screaming "murder," he had cowered
under the bed clothes and waited, expecting to hear the blood
dripping through the ceiling on to his own floor. His imagination
translated every sound into a pat, pat, pat, and once or twice he
thought he had felt it dropping on to his counterpane, but he had
never gone upstairs to try and rescue poor Mrs Holt. Happily it had
proved next morning that Mrs Holt was in her usual health.

Ernest was in despair about hitting on any good way of opening up
spiritual communication with his neighbour, when it occurred to him
that he had better perhaps begin by going upstairs, and knocking
very gently at Mr Holt's door. He would then resign himself to the
guidance of the Holy Spirit, and act as the occasion, which, I
suppose, was another name for the Holy Spirit, suggested. Triply
armed with this reflection, he mounted the stairs quite jauntily,
and was about to knock when he heard Holt's voice inside swearing
savagely at his wife. This made him pause to think whether after
all the moment was an auspicious one, and while he was thus pausing,
Mr Holt, who had heard that someone was on the stairs, opened the
door and put his head out. When he saw Ernest, he made an
unpleasant, not to say offensive movement, which might or might not
have been directed at Ernest and looked altogether so ugly that my
hero had an instantaneous and unequivocal revelation from the Holy
Spirit to the effect that he should continue his journey upstairs at
once, as though he had never intended arresting it at Mr Holt's
room, and begin by converting Mr and Mrs Baxter, the Methodists in
the top floor front. So this was what he did.

These good people received him with open arms, and were quite ready
to talk. He was beginning to convert them from Methodism to the
Church of England, when all at once he found himself embarrassed by
discovering that he did not know what he was to convert them from.
He knew the Church of England, or thought he did, but he knew
nothing of Methodism beyond its name. When he found that, according
to Mr Baxter, the Wesleyans had a vigorous system of Church
discipline (which worked admirably in practice) it appeared to him
that John Wesley had anticipated the spiritual engine which he and
Pryer were preparing, and when he left the room he was aware that he
had caught more of a spiritual Tartar than he had expected. But he
must certainly explain to Pryer that the Wesleyans had a system of
Church discipline. This was very important.

Mr Baxter advised Ernest on no account to meddle with Mr Holt, and
Ernest was much relieved at the advice. If an opportunity arose of
touching the man's heart, he would take it; he would pat the
children on the head when he saw them on the stairs, and ingratiate
himself with them as far as he dared; they were sturdy youngsters,
and Ernest was afraid even of them, for they were ready with their
tongues, and knew much for their ages. Ernest felt that it would
indeed be almost better for him that a millstone should be hanged
about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend
one of the little Holts. However, he would try not to offend them;
perhaps an occasional penny or two might square them. This was as
much as he could do, for he saw that the attempt to be instant out
of season, as well as in season, would, St Paul's injunction
notwithstanding, end in failure.

Mrs Baxter gave a very bad account of Miss Emily Snow, who lodged in
the second floor back next to Mr Holt. Her story was quite
different from that of Mrs Jupp the landlady. She would doubtless
be only too glad to receive Ernest's ministrations or those of any
other gentleman, but she was no governess, she was in the ballet at
Drury Lane, and besides this, she was a very bad young woman, and if
Mrs Baxter was landlady would not be allowed to stay in the house a
single hour, not she indeed.

Miss Maitland in the next room to Mrs Baxter's own was a quiet and
respectable young woman to all appearance; Mrs Baxter had never
known of any goings on in that quarter, but, bless you, still waters
run deep, and these girls were all alike, one as bad as the other.
She was out at all kinds of hours, and when you knew that you knew

Ernest did not pay much heed to these aspersions of Mrs Baxter's.
Mrs Jupp had got round the greater number of his many blind sides,
and had warned him not to believe Mrs Baxter, whose lip she said was

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