Made and Printed in Great Britain at _The Mayflower Press, Plymouth_. William Brendan & Son, Ltd.
IN a former book, called _Lord of the World_, I attempted to sketch the kind of developments a hundred years hence which, I thought, might reasonably be expected if the present lines of what is called “modern thought” were only prolonged far enough; and I was informed repeatedly that the effect of the book was exceedingly depressing and discouraging to optimistic Christians. In the present book I am attempting–also in parable form–not in the least to withdraw anything that I said in the former, but to follow up the other lines instead, and to sketch–again in parable–the kind of developments, about sixty years hence which, I think, may reasonably be expected should the opposite process begin, and ancient thought (which has stood the test of centuries, and is, in a very remarkable manner, being “rediscovered” by persons even more modern than modernists) be prolonged instead. We are told occasionally by moralists that we live in very critical times, by which they mean that they are not sure whether their own side will win or not. In that sense no times can ever be critical to Catholics, since Catholics are never in any kind of doubt as to whether or no their side will win. But from another point of view every period is a critical period, since every period has within itself the conflict of two irreconcilable forces. It has been for the sake of tracing out the kind of effects that, it seemed to me, each side would experience in turn, should the other, at any rate for a while, become dominant, that I have written these two books.
Finally if I may be allowed, I should wish to draw attention to my endeavours to treat of the subject of “religious persecution,” since I strongly believe that in some such theory is to be found the explanation of such phenomena as those of Mary Tudor’s reign in England, and of the Spanish Inquisition. In practically every such case, I think, it was the State and not the Church which was responsible for so unhappy a policy; and that the policy was directed not against unorthodoxy, as such, but against an unorthodoxy which, under the circumstances of those days, was thought to threaten the civil stability of society in general, and which was punished as amounting to treasonable, rather than to heretical, opinions.
ROBERT HUGH BENSON.
ROME Lent 1911
THE DAWN OF ALL
Gradually memory and consciousness once more reasserted themselves, and he became aware that he was lying in bed. But this was a slow process of intense mental effort, and was as laboriously and logically built up of premises and deductions as were his theological theses learned twenty years before in his seminary. There was the sheet below his chin; there was a red coverlet (seen at first as a blood-coloured landscape of hills and valleys); there was a ceiling, overhead, at first as remote as the vault of heaven. Then, little by little, the confused roaring in his ears sank to a murmur. It had been just now as the sound of brazen hammers clanging in reverberating caves, the rolling of wheels, the tramp of countless myriads of men. But it had become now a soothing murmur, not unlike the coming in of a tide at the foot of high cliffs–just one gentle continuous note, overlaid with light, shrill sounds. This too required long argument and reasoning before any conclusion could be reached; but it was attained at last, and he became certain that he lay somewhere within sound of busy streets. Then rashly he leapt to the belief that he must be in his own lodgings in Bloomsbury; but another long slow stare upwards showed him that the white ceiling was too far away.
The effort of thought seemed too much for him; it gave him a sense of inexplicable discomfort. He determined to think no more, for fear that the noises should revert again to the crash of hammers in his hollow head. . . .
He was next conscious of a pressure on his lip, and a kind of shadow of a taste of something. But it was no more than a shadow: it was as if he were watching some one else drink and perceiving some one else to swallow. . . . Then with a rush the ceiling came back into view: he was aware that he was lying in bed under a red coverlet; that the room was large and airy about him; and that two persons, a doctor in white and a nurse, were watching him. He rested in that knowledge for a long time, watching memory reassert itself. Detail after detail sprang into view: farther and farther back into his experience, far down into the childhood he had forgotten. He remembered now who he was, his story, his friends, his life up to a certain blank day or set of days, between him and which there was nothing. Then he saw the faces again, and it occurred to him, with a flash as of illumination, to ask. So he began to ask; and he considered carefully each answer, turning it over and reflecting upon it with what seemed to him an amazing degree of concentration.
“. . . So I am in Westminster Hospital,” he considered. “That is extraordinarily interesting and affecting. I have often seen the outside of it. It is of discoloured brick. And I have been here . . . how long? how long, did they say? . . . Oh! that is a long time. Five days! And what in the world can have happened to my work? They will be looking out for me in the Museum. How can Dr. Waterman’s history get on without me? I must see about that at once. He’ll understand that it’s not my fault. . . .
“What’s that? I mustn’t trouble myself about that? But–Oh! Dr. Waterman has been here, has he? That’s very kind–very kind and thoughtful indeed. And I’m to take my time, am I? Very well. Please thank Dr. Waterman for his kindness and his thoughtfulness in enquiring. . . . And tell him I’ll be with him again in a day or two at any rate. . . . Oh! tell him that he’ll find the references to the thirteenth-century Popes in the black notebook–the thick one–on the right of the fire-place. They’re all verified. Thank you, thank you very much. . . . and . . . by the way . . . just tell him I’m not sure yet about the Piccolomini matter. . . . What’s that? I’m not to trouble myself? . . . But . . . Oh! very well. Thank you. . . . Thank you very much.”
There followed a long pause. He was thinking still very hard about the thirteenth-century Popes. It was really very tiresome that he could not explain to Dr. Waterman himself. He was certain that some of the pages in the thick black notebook were loose; and how terrible it would be if the book were taken out carelessly, and some of the pages fell into the fire. They easily might! And then there’d be all the work to do again. . . . And that would mean weeks and weeks. . . .
Then there came a grave, quiet voice of a woman speaking in his ear; but for a long time he could not understand. He wished it would let him alone. He wanted to think about the Popes. He tried nodding and murmuring a general sort of assent, as if he wished to go to sleep; but it was useless: the voice went on and on. And then suddenly he understood, and a kind of fury seized him.
How did they know he had once been a priest? Spying and badgering, as usual! . . . No: he did not want a priest sent for. He was not a priest any more; not even a Catholic. It was all lies–lies from the beginning to the end–all that they had taught him in the seminary. It was all lies! There! Was that plain enough? . . .
Ah! why would not the voice be quiet? . . . He was in great danger, was he? He would be unconscious again soon, would he? Well, he didn’t know what they meant by that; but what had it to do with him? No: he did not want a priest. Was that clear enough? . . . He was perfectly clear-headed; he knew what he was saying. . . . Yes; even if he were in great danger . . . even if he were practically certain to die. (That, by the way, was impossible; because he had to finish the notes for Dr. Waterman’s new History of the Popes; and it would take months.) Anyhow, he didn’t want a priest. He knew all about that: he had faced it all, and he wasn’t afraid. Science had knocked all that religious nonsense on the head. There wasn’t any religion. All religions were the same. There wasn’t any truth in any of them. Physical science had settled one half of the matter, and psychology the other half. It was all accounted for. So he didn’t want a priest anyhow. Damn priests! There! would they let him alone after that? . . .
And now as to the Piccolomini affair. It was certain that when Aeneas was first raised to the Sacred College. . . .
Why . . . what was happening to the ceiling? How could he attend to Aeneas while the ceiling behaved like that? He had no idea that ceilings in the Westminster Hospital could go up like lifts. How very ingenious! It must be to give him more air. Certainly he wanted more air. . . . The walls too. . . . Ought not they also to revolve? They could change the whole air in the room in a moment. What an extraordinarily ingenious . . . Ah! and he wanted it. . . . He wanted more air. . . . Why don’t these doctors know their business better? . . . What was the good of catching hold of him like that? . . . He wanted air . . . more air . . . He must get to the window! . . . Air . . . air! . . .
The first objects of which he became aware were his own hands clasped on his lap before him, and the cloth cuffs from which they emerged; and it was these latter that puzzled him. So engrossed was he that at first he could not pay attention to the strange sounds in the air about him; for these cuffs, though black, were marked at their upper edges with a purpled line such as prelates wear. He mechanically turned the backs of his hands upwards; but there was no ring on his finger. Then he lifted his eyes and looked.
He was seated on some kind of raised chair beneath a canopy. A carpet ran down over a couple of steps beneath his feet, and beyond stood the backs of a company of ecclesiastics–secular priests in cotta, cassock, and biretta, with three or four bare-footed Franciscans and a couple of Benedictines. Ten yards away there rose a temporary pulpit with a back and a sounding-board beneath the open sky; and in it was the tall figure of a young friar, preaching, it seemed, with extraordinary fervour. Around the pulpit, beyond it, and on all sides to an immense distance, so far as he could see, stretched the heads of an incalculable multitude, dead silent, and beyond them again trees, green against a blue summer sky.
He looked on all this, but it meant nothing to him. It fitted on nowhere with his experience; he knew neither where he was, nor at what he was assisting, nor who these people were, nor who the friar was, nor who he was himself. He simply looked at his surroundings, then back at his hands and down his figure.
He gained no knowledge there, for he was dressed as he had never been dressed before. His caped cassock was black, with purple buttons and a purple cincture. He noticed that his shoes shone with gold buckles; he glanced at his breast, but no cross hung there. He took off his biretta, nervously, lest some one should notice, and perceived that it was black with a purple tassel. He was dressed then, it seemed, in the costume of a Domestic Prelate. He put on his biretta again.
Then he closed his eyes and tried to think; but he could remember nothing. There was, it seemed, no continuity anywhere. But it suddenly struck him that if he knew that he was a Domestic Prelate, and if he could recognize a Franciscan, he must have seen those phenomena before. Where? When?
Little pictures began to form before him as a result of his intense mental effort, but they were far away and minute, like figures seen through the wrong end of a telescope; and they afforded no explanation. But, as he bent his whole mind upon it, he remembered that he had been a priest–he had distinct memories of saying mass. But he could not remember where or when; he could not even remember his own name.
This last horror struck him alert again. _He did not know who he was_. He opened his eyes widely, terrified, and caught the eye of an old priest in cotta and cassock who was looking back at him over his shoulder. Something in the frightened face must have disturbed the old man, for he detached himself from the group and came up the two steps to his side.
“What is it, Monsignor?” he whispered.
“I am ill . . . I am ill . . . father,” he stammered.
The priest looked at him doubtfully for an instant.
“Can you . . . can you hold out for a little? The sermon must be nearly—“
Then the other recovered. He understood that at whatever cost he must not attract attention. He nodded sharply.
“Yes, I can hold out, father; if he isn’t too long. But you must take me home afterwards.”
The priest still looked at him doubtfully.
“Go back to your place, father. I’m all right. Don’t attract attention. Only come to me afterwards.”
The priest went back, but he still glanced at him once or twice.
Then the man who did not know himself set his teeth and resolved to remember. The thing was too absurd. He said to himself he would begin by identifying where he was. If he knew so much as to his own position and the dresses of those priests, his memory could not be wholly gone.
In front of him and to the right there were trees, beyond the heads of the crowd. There was something vaguely familiar to him about the arrangement of these, but not enough to tell him anything. He craned forward and stared as far to the right as he could. There were more trees. Then to the left; and here, for the first time, he caught sight of buildings. But these seemed very odd buildings–neither houses nor arches–but something between the two. They were of the nature of an elaborate gateway.
And then in a flash he recognized where he was. He was sitting, under this canopy, just to the right as one enters through Hyde Park Corner; these trees were the trees of the Park; that open space in front was the beginning of Rotten Row; and Something Lane–Park Lane–(that was it!)–was behind him.
Impressions and questions crowded upon him quickly now–yet in none of them was there a hint as to how he got here, nor who he was, nor what in the world was going on. This friar! What was he doing, preaching in Hyde Park? It was ridiculous–ridiculous and very dangerous. It would cause trouble. . . .
He leaned forward to listen, as the friar with a wide gesture swept his hand round the horizon. “Brethren,” he cried, “Look round you! Fifty years ago this was a Protestant country, and the Church of God a sect among the sects. And to-day–to-day God is vindicated and the truth is known. Fifty years ago we were but a handful among the thousands that knew not God, and to-day we rule the world. ‘Son of man, can these dry bones live?’ So cried the voice of God to the prophet. And behold! they stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. If then He has done such things for us, what shall He not do for those for whom I speak? Yet He works through man. ‘How shall they hear without a preacher?’ Do you see to it then that there are not wanting labourers in that vineyard of which you have heard. Already the grapes hang ready to pluck, and it is but we that are wanting. . . . Send forth then labourers into My vineyard, cries the Lord of all.”
The words were ill-chosen and commonplace enough, and uttered in an accent indefinably strange to the bewildered listener, but the force of the man was tremendous, as he sent out his personality over the enormous crowd, on that high vibrant voice that controlled, it seemed, even those on the outskirts far up the roads on either side. Then with a swift sign of the cross, answered generally by those about the pulpit, he ended his sermon and disappeared down the steps, and a great murmur of talk began.
But what in the world was it all about, wondered the man under the canopy. What was this vineyard? and why did he appeal to English people in such words as these? Every one knew that the Catholic Church was but a handful still in this country. Certainly, progress had been made, but. . . .
He broke off his meditations as he saw the group of ecclesiastics coming towards him, and noticed that on all sides the crowd was beginning to disperse. He gripped the arms of the chair fiercely, trying to gain self-command. He must not make a fool of himself before all these people; he must be discreet and say as little as possible.
But there was no great need for caution at present. The old priest who had spoken to him before stepped a little in advance of the rest, and turning, said in a low sentence or two to the Benedictines; and the group stopped, though one or two still eyed, it seemed, with sympathy, the man who awaited him. Then the priest came up alone and put his hand on the arm of the chair.
“Come out this way,” he whispered. “There’s a path behind, Monsignor, and I’ve sent orders for the car to be there.”
The man rose obediently (he could do nothing else), passed down the steps and behind the canopy. A couple of police stood there in an unfamiliar, but unmistakable uniform, and these drew themselves up and saluted. They went on down the little pathway and out through a side-gate. Here again the crowd was tremendous, but barriers kept them away, and the two passed on together across the pavement, saluted by half a dozen men who were pressed against the barriers–(it was here, for the first time, that the bewildered man noticed that the dresses seemed altogether unfamiliar)–and up to a car of a peculiar and unknown shape, that waited in the roadway, with a bare-headed servant, in some strange purple livery, holding the door open.
“After you, Monsignor,” said the old priest.
The other stepped in and sat down. The priest hesitated for an instant, and then leaned forward into the car.
“You have an appointment in Dean’s Yard, Monsignor, you remember. It’s important, you know. Are you too ill?”
“I can’t. . . . I can’t. . . .” stammered the man.
“Well, at least, we can go round that way. I think we ought, you know. I can go in and see him for you, if you wish; and we can at any rate leave the papers.”
“Anything, anything. . . . Very well.”
The priest got in instantly; the door closed; and the next moment, through crowds, held back by the police, the great car, with no driver visible in front through the clear-glass windows, moved off southward.
It was a moment before either spoke. The old priest broke the silence. He was a gentle-faced old man, not unlike a very shrewd and wide-awake dormouse; and his white hair stood out in a mass beneath his biretta. But the words he used were unintelligible, though not altogether unfamiliar.
“I . . . I don’t understand, father,” stammered the man.
The priest looked at him sharply.
“I was saying,” he said slowly and distinctly, “I was saying that you looked very well, and I was asking you what was the matter.”
The other was silent a moment. How, to explain the thing! . . . Then he determined on making a clean breast of it. This old man looked kindly and discreet. “I . . . I think it’s a lapse of memory,” he said. “I’ve heard of such things. I . . . I don’t know where I am nor what I’m doing. Are you . . . are you sure you’re not making a mistake? Have I got any right—-?”
The priest looked at him as if puzzled.
“I don’t quite understand, Monsignor. What can’t you remember?”
“I can’t remember anything,” wailed the man, suddenly broken down. “Nothing at all. Not who I am, nor where I’m going, or where I come from. . . . What am I? Who am I? Father, for God’s sake tell me.”
“Monsignor, be quiet, please. You mustn’t give way. Surely—-“
“I tell you I can remember nothing. . . . It’s all gone. I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what day it is, or what year it is, or anything—-“
He felt a hand on his arm, and his eyes met a look of a very peculiar power and concentration. He sank back into his seat strangely quieted and soothed.
“Now, Monsignor, listen to me. You know who I am”–(he broke off). “I’m Father Jervis. I know about these things. I’ve been through the psychological schools. You’ll be all right presently, I hope. But you must be perfectly quiet—-“
“Tell me who I am,” stammered the man.
“Listen then. You are Monsignor Masterman, secretary to the Cardinal. You are going back to Westminster now, in your own car—-“
“What’s been going on? What was all that crowd about?”
Still the eyes were on him, compelling and penetrating.
“You have been presiding at the usual midday Saturday sermon in Hyde Park, on behalf of the Missions to the East. Do you remember now? No! Well, it doesn’t matter in the least. That was Father Anthony who was preaching. He was a little nervous, you noticed. It was his first sermon in Hyde Park.”
“I saw he was a friar,” murmured the other.
“Oh! you recognized his habit then? There, you see; your memory’s not really gone. And . . . and what’s the answer to _Dominus vobiscum_?”
“_Et cum spiritu tuo._”
The priest smiled, and the pressure on the man’s arm relaxed.
“That’s excellent. It’s only a partial obscurity. Why didn’t you understand me when I spoke to you in Latin then?”
“That was Latin? I thought so. But you spoke too fast; and I’m not accustomed to speak it.”
The old man looked at him with grave humour. “Not accustomed to speak it, Monsignor! Why—-” (He broke off again.) “Look out of the window, please. Where are we?”
The other looked out. (He felt greatly elated and comforted. It was quite true; his memory was not altogether gone then. Surely he would soon be well again!) Out of the windows in front, but seeming to wheel swiftly to the left as the car whisked round to the right, was the Victoria Tower. He noticed that the hour pointed to five minutes before one.
“Those are the Houses of Parliament,” he said. “And what’s that tall pillar in the middle of Parliament Square?”
“That’s the image of the Immaculate Conception. But what did you call those buildings just now?”
“Houses of Parliament, aren’t they?” faltered the man, terrified that his brain was really going.
“Why do you call them that?”
“It is their name, isn’t it?”
“It used to be; but it isn’t the usual name now.”
“Good God! Father, am I mad? Tell me. What year is it?”
The eyes looked again into his.
“Monsignor, think. Think hard.”
“I don’t know. . . . I don’t know. . . . Oh, for God’s sake! . . .”
“Quietly then. . . . It’s the year nineteen hundred and seventy-three.”
“It can’t be; it can’t be,” gasped the other. “Why, I remember the beginning of the century.”
“Monsignor, attend to me, please. . . . That’s better. It’s the year nineteen hundred and seventy-three. You were born in the year–in the year nineteen hundred and thirty-two. You are just forty years old. You are secretary and chaplain to the Cardinal–Cardinal Bellairs. Before that you were Rector of St. Mary’s in the West. . . . Do you remember now?”
“I remember nothing.”
“You remember your ordination?”
“No. Once I remember saying Mass somewhere. I don’t know where.”
“Stay, we’re just there.” (The car wheeled in swiftly under an archway, whisked to the left, and drew up before the cloister door.) “Now, Monsignor, I’m going in to see the Prior myself and give him the papers. You have them?”
“I. . . I don’t know.”
The priest dived forward and extracted a small despatch-box from some unseen receptacle.
“Your keys, please, Monsignor.”
The other felt wildly about his person. He saw the steady eyes of the old priest upon him.
“You keep them in your left-hand breast pocket,” said the priest slowly and distinctly.
The man felt there, fetched out a bundle of thin, flat keys, and handed them over helplessly. While the priest turned them over, examining each, the other stared hopelessly out of the window, past the motionless servant in purple who waited with his hand on the car-door. Surely he knew this place. . . . Yes; it was Dean’s Yard. And this was the entrance to the cloister of the Abbey. But who was “the Prior,” and what was it all about?
He turned to the other, who by now was bending over the box and extracting a few papers laid neatly at the top.
“What are you doing, father? Who are you going to see?”
“I am going to take these papers of yours to the Prior–the Prior of Westminster. The Abbot isn’t here yet. Only a few of the monks have come.”
“Monks! Prior! . . . Father!”
The old man looked him in the eyes again.
“Yes,” he said quietly. “The Abbey was made over again to the Benedictines last year, but they haven’t yet formally taken possession. And these papers concern business connected with the whole affair–the relations of seculars and regulars. I’ll tell you afterwards. I must go in now, and you must just remain here quietly. Tell me again. What is your name? Who are you?”
“I. . . I am Monsignor Masterman. . . secretary to Cardinal Bellairs.”
The priest smiled as he laid his hand on the door.
“Quite right,” he said. “Now please sit here quietly, Monsignor, till I come back.”
He sat in perfect silence, waiting, leaning back in his corner with closed eyes, compelling himself to keep his composure.
It was, at any rate, good luck that he had fallen in with such a friend as this–Father Jervis, was it not?–who knew all about him, and, obviously, could be trusted to be discreet. He must just attend to his instructions quietly then, and do what he was told. No doubt things would come back soon. But how very curious this all was about Hyde Park and Westminster. He could have sworn that England was a Protestant country, and the Church just a tiny fragment of its population. Why, it was only recently that Westminster Cathedral was built–was it not? But then this was the year seventy-three . . . and . . . and he could not remember in what year the Cathedral was built. Then again the horror and bewilderment seized him. He gripped his knees with his hands in an agony of consternation. He would go mad if he could not remember. Or at least—-Ah! here was Father Jervis coming back again.
The two sat quite silent again for a moment, as the car moved off.
“Tell me,” said the priest suddenly, “don’t you remember faces, or people’s names?”
The other concentrated his mind fiercely for a moment or two.
“I remember some faces–yes,” he said. “And I remember some names. But I cannot remember which faces belong to which names. . . . I remember . . . I remember the name Archbishop Bourne; and . . . and a priest called Farquharson—-“
“What have you been reading lately? . . . Ah! I forgot. Well; but can’t you remember the Cardinal . . . Cardinal Bellairs?”
“I’ve never heard of him.”
“Nor what he looks like?”
“I haven’t a notion.”
The priest again was silent.
“Look here, Monsignor,” he said suddenly, “I’d better take you straight up to your rooms as soon as we arrive; and I’ll have a notice put up on your confessional that you are unable to attend there to-day. You’ll have the whole afternoon–after four at least–to yourself, and the rest of the evening. We needn’t tell a soul until we’re certain that it can’t be helped, not even the Cardinal. But I’m afraid you’ll have to preside at lunch to-day.”
“Mr. Manners is coming, you know, to consult with the Cardinal; and I think if you weren’t there to entertain him—-“
Monsignor nodded sharply, with compressed lips.
“I understand. But just tell me who Mr. Manners is?”
The priest answered without any sign of discomposure.
“He’s a member of the Government. He’s the great Political Economist. And he’s coming to consult with the Cardinal about certain measures that affect the Church. Do you remember now?”
The other shook his head. “No.”
“Well, just talk to him vaguely. I’ll sit opposite and take care that you don’t make any mistakes. Just talk to him generally. Talk about the sermon in Hyde Park, and the Abbey. He won’t expect you to talk politics publicly.”
The car drew up as the conversation ended; and the man who had lost his memory glanced out. To his intense relief, he recognized where he was. It was the door of Archbishop’s House, in Ambrosden Avenue; and beyond he perceived the long northern side of the Cathedral.
“I know this,” he said.
“Of course you do, my dear Monsignor,” said the priest reassuringly. “Now follow me: bow to any one who salutes you; but don’t speak a word.”
They passed in together through the door, past a couple of liveried servants who held it open, up the staircase and beyond up the further flight. The old priest drew out a key and unlocked the door before them; and together they turned to the left up the corridor, and passed into a large, pleasant room looking out on to the street, with a further door communicating, it seemed, with a bedroom beyond. Fortunately they had met no one on the way.
“Here we are,” said Father Jervis cheerfully. “Now, Monsignor, do you know where you are?”
The other shook his head dolorously.
“Come, come; this is your own room. Look at your writing-table, Monsignor; where you sit every day.”
The other looked at it eagerly and yet vaguely. A half-written letter, certainly in his own handwriting, lay there on the blotting-pad, but the name of his correspondent meant nothing to him; nor did the few words which he read. He looked round the room–at the bookcases, the curtains, the _prie-Dieu_ . . . And again terror seized him.
“I know nothing, father . . . nothing at all. It’s all new! For God’s sake! . . .”
“Quietly then, Monsignor. It’s all perfectly right. . . . Now I’m going to leave you for ten minutes, to arrange about the places at lunch. You’d better lock your door and admit no one. Just look round the rooms when I’m gone—-Ah!”
Father Jervis broke off suddenly and darted at an arm-chair, where a book lay face downwards on the seat. He snatched up the book, glanced at the pages, looked at the title, and laughed aloud.
“I knew it,” he said; “I was certain of it. You’ve got hold of Manners’ History, Look! you’re at the very page.”
He held it up for the other to see. Monsignor looked at it, still only half comprehending, and just noticing that the paper had a peculiar look, and saw that the running dates at the top of the pages contained the years 1904-1912. The priest shook the book in gentle triumph. A sheet of paper fell out of it, which he picked up and glanced at. Then he laughed again.
“See,” he said, “you’ve been making notes of the very period–no doubt in order to be able to talk to Manners. That’s the time he knows more about than any living soul. He calls it the ‘crest of the wave,’ you know. Everything dated from then, in his opinion.”
“I don’t understand a word—-“
“See here, Monsignor,” interrupted the priest in mild glee, “here’s a subject to talk about at lunch. Just get Manners on to it, and you’ll have no trouble. He loves lecturing; and he talks just like a history-book. Tell him you’ve been reading his History and want a bird’s-eye view.”
“Why, yes,” he said, “and that’ll tell me the facts, too.”
“Excellent. Now, Monsignor, I must go. Just look round the rooms well, and get to know where things are kept. I’ll be back in ten minutes, and we’ll have a good talk before lunch as to all who’ll be there. It’ll all go perfectly smoothly, I promise you.”
When the door closed Monsignor Masterman looked round him slowly and carefully. He had an idea that the mist must break sooner or later and that all would become familiar once again. It was perfectly plain, by now, to his mind, what had happened to him; and the fact that there were certain things which he recognized, such as the Cathedral, and Hyde Park, and a friar’s habit, and Archbishop’s House–all this helped him to keep his head. If he remembered so much, there seemed no intrinsic reason why he should not remember more.
But his inspection was disappointing. Not only was there not one article in the room which he knew, but he did not even understand the use of some of the things which he saw. There was a row of what looked like small black boxes fastened to the right-hand wall, about the height of a man’s head; and there was some kind of a machine, all wheels and handles, in the corner by the nearer window, which was completely mysterious to him.
He glanced through into the bedroom, and this was not much better. Certainly there was a bed; there was no mistake about that; and there seemed to be wardrobes sunk to the level of the walls on all sides; but although in this room he thought he recognized the use of everything which he saw, there was no single thing that wore a familiar aspect.
He came back to his writing-table and sat down before it in despair. But that did not reassure him. He took out one or two of the books that stood there in a row–directories and address-books they appeared chiefly to be–and found his name written in each, with here and there a note or a correction, all in his own handwriting. He took up the half-written letter again and glanced through it once more, but it brought no relief. He could not even conjecture how the interrupted sentence on the third page ought to end.
Again and again he tried to tear up from his inner consciousness something which he could remember, closing his eyes and sinking his head upon his hands, but nothing except fragments and glimpses of vision rose before him. It was now a face or a scene to which he could give no name; now a sentence or a thought that owned no context. There was no frame at all–no unified scheme in which these fragments found cohesion. It was like regarding the pieces of a shattered jar whose shape even could not be conjectured. . . .
Then a sudden thought struck him; he sprang up quickly and ran into his bedroom. A tall mirror, he remembered, hung between the windows. He ran straight up to this and stood staring at his own reflection. It was himself that he saw there–there was no doubt of that–every line and feature of that keen, pale, professorial-looking face was familiar, though it seemed to him that his hair was a little greyer than it ought to be.
“I shall be delighted, Monsignor,” said the thin, clever-faced statesman, in his high, dry voice; “I shall be delighted to sketch out what seem to me the principal points in the century’s development.”
A profound silence fell upon all the table.
Really, Monsignor Masterman thought to himself, as he settled down to listen, he had done very well so far. He had noticed the old priest opposite smiling more than once, contentedly, as their eyes met.
Father Jervis had come to him as he had promised, for half an hour’s good talk before lunch; and they had spent a very earnest thirty minutes together. First they had discussed with great care all the persons who would be present at lunch–not more than eight, besides themselves; the priest had given him a little plan of the table, showing where each would sit, and had described their personal appearance and recounted a salient fact or two about every one. These were all priests except Mr. Manners himself and his secretary. The rest of the time had been occupied in information being given to the man who had lost his memory, with regard to a few very ordinary subjects of conversation–the extraordinary fairness of the weather; a new opera produced with unparalleled success by a “well-known” composer of whom Monsignor had never heard; a recent Eucharistic congress in Tokio, from which the Cardinal had just returned; and the scheme for redecorating the interior of Archbishop’s House.
There had not been time for more; but these subjects, under the adroit handling of Father Jervis, had proved sufficient; and up to the preconcerted moment when Monsignor had uttered the sentence about his study of Mr. Manners’ _History of Twentieth Century Development_ which had drawn from the author the words recorded above, all had gone perfectly smoothly.
There had been a few minor hitches; for example, the food and the manner of serving it and the proper method of consuming it had furnished a bad moment or two; and once Monsignor had been obliged to feign sudden deafness on being asked a question on a subject of which he knew nothing by a priest whose name he had forgotten, until Father Jervis slid in adroitly and saved him. Yet these were quite unnoticed, it appeared, and could easily be attributed to the habit of absent-mindedness for which, Monsignor Masterman was relieved to learn, he was almost notorious.
And now the crisis was past and Mr. Manners was launched. Monsignor glanced almost happily round the tall dining-room, from which the servants had already disappeared, and, with his glass in his hand, settled himself down to listen and remember.
* * * * *
“The crisis, to my mind, in the religious situation,” began the statesman, looking more professional than ever, with his closed eyes, thin, wrinkled face, and high forehead–“the real crisis is to be sought in the period from 1900 to 1920.
“This was the period, you remember, of tremendous social agitation. There was the widespread revolution of the Latin countries, beginning with France and Portugal, chiefly against Authority, and most of all against Monarchy (since Monarchy is the most vivid and the most concrete embodiment of authority); and in Teutonic and Anglo-Saxon countries against Capital and Aristocracy. It was in these years that Socialism came most near to dominating the civilized world; and, indeed, you will remember that for long after that date it did dominate civilization in certain places.
“Now the real trouble at the bottom of all this was the state in which Religion found itself. And you will find, gentlemen,” said the quasi-lecturer in parenthesis, glancing round the attentive faces, “that Religion always is and always has been at the root of every world-movement. In fact it must be so. The deepest instinct in man is his religion, that is, his attitude to eternal issues; and on that attitude must depend his relation to temporal things. This is so, largely, even in the case of the individual; it must therefore be infinitely more so in large bodies or nations; since every crowd is moved by principles that are the least common multiple of the principles of the units which compose it. Of course this is universally recognized now; but it was not always so. There was a time, particularly at this period of which I am now speaking, when men attempted to treat Religion as if it were one department of life, instead of being the whole foundation of every and all life. To treat it so is, of course, to proclaim oneself as fundamentally irreligious–and, indeed, very ignorant and uneducated.
“To resume, however:
“Religion at this period was at a very strange crisis. That it could possibly be treated in the way I have mentioned shows how very deeply irreligion had spread. There is no such thing, of course, really as Irreligion–except by a purely conventional use of the word: the ‘irreligious’ man is one who has made up his mind either that there is no future world, or that it is so remote, as regards effectivity, as to have no bearing upon this. And that is a religion–at least it is a dogmatic creed–as much as any other.
“The causes of this state of affairs I take to have been as follows:
“Religion up to the Reformation had been a matter of authority, as it is again now; but the enormous development of various sciences and the wide spread of popular ‘knowledge’ had, in the first flush, distracted attention from that which is now, in all civilized countries, simply an axiom of thought, viz., that a Revelation of God must be embodied in a living authority safeguarded by God. Further, at that time science and exact knowledge generally had not reached the point which they reached a little later–of corroborating in particular after particular, so far as they are capable of doing so, the Revelation of God known as Catholicism; and of knowing their limitations where they cannot. Many sciences, at this time, had gone no further than to establish certain facts which appeared, to the very imperfectly educated persons of that period, to challenge and even to refute certain facts or deductions of Revelation. Psychology, for example, strange as it now appears in our own day, actually seemed to afford other explanations of the Universe than that of Revelation. (We will discuss details presently.) Social Science, at that time, too, moved in the direction of Democracy and even Socialism. I know it appears monstrous, and indeed almost incredible, that men who really had some claim to be called educated seriously maintained that the most stable and the most reasonable method of government lay in the extension of the franchise–that is, in reversing the whole eternal and logical order of things, and permitting the inexpert to rule the expert, and the uneducated and the ill-informed to control by their votes–that is, by sheer weight of numbers–the educated and the well-informed. Yet such was the case. And the result was–since all these matters act and react–that the idea of authority from above in matters of religion was thought to be as ‘undemocratic’ as in matters of government and social life. Men had learnt, that is to say, something of the very real truth in the theory of the Least Common Multiple, and, as in psychology and many other sciences, had presumed that the little fragment of truth that they had perceived was the whole truth.”
Mr. Manners paused to draw breath. Obviously he was enjoying himself enormously. He was a born lecturer, and somehow the rather pompous sentences were strangely alive and strangely interesting. Above all, they fascinated and amazed the prelate at the head of the table, for they revealed to him an advance of thought, and an assurance in the position they described, that seemed wholly inexplicable. Such phrases as “all educated men,” “the well-informed,” and the rest–these were vaguely familiar to him, yet surely in a very different connection. He had at the back of his mind a kind of idea that these were the phrases that the irreligious or the agnostics applied to themselves; yet here was a man, obviously a student, and a statesman as he knew, calmly assuming (scarcely even giving himself the trouble to state) that all educated and well-informed persons were Catholic Christians!
He settled himself down to listen with renewed interest as Mr. Manners began once more.
“Well,” he said, “to come more directly to our point; let us next consider what were those steps and processes by which Catholic truth once more became the religion of the civilized world, as it had been five centuries earlier.
“And first we must remark that, even at the very beginning of this century, popular thought–in England as elsewhere–had retraced its steps so far as to acknowledge that if Christianity were true–true, really and actually–the Catholic Church was the only possible embodiment of it. Not only did the shrewdest agnostic minds of the time acknowledge this–such men as Huxley in the previous century, Sir Leslie Stephen, Mallock, and scores of others–but even popular Christianity itself began to turn in that direction. Of course there were survivals and reactions, as we should expect. There was a small body of Christians in England called Anglicans, who attempted to hold another view; there was that short-lived movement called Modernism, that held yet a third position. But, for the rest, it was as I say.
“It was the Catholic Church or nothing. And just for a few years it seemed humanly possible that it might be nothing.
“And now for the causes of the revival.
“Briefly, I should say they were all included under one head–the correlation of sciences and their coincidence into one point. Let us take them one by one. We have only time to glance very superficially at each.
“First there was Psychology.
“Even at the end of the nineteenth century it was beginning to be perceived that there was an inexplicable force working behind mere matter. This force was given a number of names–the ‘subliminal consciousness,’ in man, and ‘Nature’ in the animal, vegetable, and even mineral creation; and it gave birth to a series of absurd superstitions such as that now wholly extinct sect of the ‘Christian Scientists,’ or the Mental Healers; and among the less educated of the Materialists, to Pantheism. But the force was acknowledged, and it was perceived to move along definite lines of law. Further, in the great outburst of Spiritualism it began gradually to be evident to the world that this force occasionally manifested itself in a personal, though always a malevolent manner. Now it must be remembered that even this marked an immense advance in the circles called scientific; since in the middle of the nineteenth century, even the phenomena so carefully recorded by the Church were denied. These were now no longer denied, since phenomena, at least closely resembling them, were matters of common occurrence under the eyes of the most sceptical. Of course, since the enquiries were made along purely ‘scientific’ lines–lines which in those days were nothing other than materialistic–an attempt was made to account for the phenomena by new anti-spiritual theories hastily put together to meet the emergency. But, little by little, an uneasy sense began to manifest itself that the Church had already been familiar with the phenomena for about two thousand years, and that a body, which had marked and recorded facts with greater accuracy than all the ‘scientists’ put together, at least had some claim to consideration with regard to her hypothesis concerning them. Further, it began to be seen (what is perfectly familiar to us all now) that Religion contributed an element which nothing else could contribute–that, for example, ‘Religious Suggestion,’ as it was called in the jargon of the time, could accomplish things that ordinary ‘Suggestion’ could not. Finally, the researches of psychologists into what was then called the phenomenon of ‘Alternating Personality’ prepared the way for a frank acceptance of the Catholic teaching concerning Possession and Exorcism–teaching which half a century before would have been laughed out of court by all who claimed the name of Scientist. Psychology then, up to this point, had rediscovered that a Force was working behind physical phenomena, itself not physical; that this Force occasionally exhibited characteristics of Personality; and finally that the despised Catholic Church had been more scientific than scientists in her observation of facts; and that this Force, dealt with along Christian lines, could accomplish what it was unable to accomplish along any other.
“The next advance lay along the lines of Comparative Religion.
“The study of Comparative Religion was practically a new science at the end of the nineteenth century, and like all new sciences, claimed at once, before it had constructed its own, to destroy the schemes of others. For instance, there were actually educated persons who advanced as an argument against Christianity the fact that many Christian dogmas and ceremonies were to be found in other religions. It is extremely difficult for us now, even in imagination, to sympathize with such a mentality as this; but it must be remembered that the science was very youthful, and had all the inexperience and the arrogance of youth. As time went on, however, this argument began to disappear, except in very elementary rationalistic manuals, as the fact became evident that while this or that particular religion had one or more identities with Christian doctrines, Christianity possessed them all; that Christianity, in short, had all the principal doctrines of all religions–or at least all doctrines that were of any strength to other religions, as well as several others necessary to weld these detached dogmas into a coherent whole; that, to use a simple metaphor, Christianity stood in the world like a light upon a hill, and that partial and imperfect reflections of this light were thrown back, with more or less clearness, from the various human systems of belief that surrounded it. And at last it became evident, even to the most unintelligent, that the only scientific explanation of this phenomenon lay in the theory that Christianity was indeed unique, and, at the very least, was the most perfect human system of faith–perfectly human, I mean, in that it embodied and answered adequately all the religious aspirations of the human race–the most perfect system of faith the world had ever seen.
“A third cause was to be found in the new philosophy of evidence that began to prevail soon after the dawn of the century.
“Up to that period, so-called Physical Science had so far tyrannized over men’s minds as to persuade them to accept her claim that evidence that could not be reduced to her terms was not, properly speaking, evidence at all. Men demanded that purely spiritual matters should be, as they said, ‘proved,’ by which they meant should be reduced to physical terms. Little by little, however, the preposterous nature of this claim was understood. People began to perceive that each order of life had evidence proper to itself–that there were such things, for instance, as moral proofs, artistic proofs, and philosophical proofs; and that these proofs were not interchangeable. To demand physical proof for every article of belief was as fantastic as to demand, let us say, a chemical proof of the beauty of a picture, or evidence in terms of light or sound for the moral character of a friend, or mathematical proof for the love of a mother for her child. This very elementary idea seems to have come like a thunderclap upon many who claimed the name of ‘thinkers’; for it entirely destroyed a whole artillery of arguments previously employed against Revealed Religion.
“For a time, Pragmatism came to the rescue from the philosophical camp; but the assault was but a very short one; since, tested by Pragmatic methods (that is, the testing of the truth of a religion by its appeal to human consciousness), if one fact stood out luminous and undisputed, it was that the Catholic Religion, with its eternal appeal in every century and to every type of temperament, was utterly supreme.
“Let us turn to another point—-“
(Mr. Manners lifted the glass he had been twirling between his fingers, and drank it off with an appearance of great enjoyment. Then he smacked his lips once or twice and continued.)
“Let us turn to the realm of politics–even to the realm of trade.
“Socialism, in its purely economic aspect, was a well-meant attempt to abolish the law of competition–that is, the natural law of the Survival of the Fittest. It was an attempt, I say; and it ended, as we know, in disaster; for it established instead, so far as it was successful, the law of the Survival of the Majority, and tyrannized first over the minority and then over the individual.
“But it was a well-meant attempt; since its instinct was perfectly right, that competition is not the highest law of the Universe. And there were several other ideals in Socialism that were most commendable in theory: for example, the idea that the Society sanctifies and safeguards the individual, not the individual the Society; that obedience is a much-neglected virtue, and so forth.
“Then, suddenly almost, it seems to have dawned upon the world that all the _ideals_ of Socialism (apart from its methods and its dogmas) had been the ideals of Christianity; and that the Church had, in her promulgation of the Law of Love, anticipated the Socialist’s discovery by about two thousand years. Further, that in the Religious Orders these ideals had been actually incarnate; and that by the doctrine of Vocation–that is by the freedom of the individual to submit himself to a superior–the rights of the individual were respected and the rights of the Society simultaneously vindicated.
“A very good example of all this is to be found in the Poor-law system.
“You remember that before the Reformation, and in Catholic countries long after, there was no Poor-law system, because the Religious Houses looked after the sick and needy. Well, when the Religious Houses were destroyed in England the State had to do their work. You could not simply flog beggars out of existence, as Elizabeth tried to do. Then the inevitable happened, and it began to be a mark of disgrace to be helped by the State in a workhouse: people often preferred to starve. Then at the beginning of the twentieth century a well-meant attempt was made, in the Old-Age Pensions and George’s State Insurance Act, to remedy this and to help the poor in a manner that would not injure their self-respect. Of course that failed, too. It is incredible that statesmen did not see it must be so. Old-Age Pensions, too, and State-Insurance (so soon as it was socially digested), began to be considered a mark of disgrace–for the simple cause that it is not the receiving of money that is resented, but the motive for which the money is given and the position of the giver. The State can only give for economic reasons, however conscientious and individually charitable statesmen may be; while the Church gives for the Love of God, and the Love of God never yet destroyed any man’s self-respect. Well, you know the end. The Church came forward once more and, under certain conditions, offered to relieve the State of the entire burden. Two results followed–first, all grievances vanished; and secondly, the whole pauper population of England within ten years was Catholic in sympathies. And yet all this is only a reversion to medieval times–a reversion made absolutely necessary by the failure of every attempt to supplant Divine methods by human.
“Now look at it all in another way–the general situation, I mean.
“The Socialist saw plainly the rights of the Society; the Anarchist saw the rights of the Individual. How therefore were these to be reconciled? The Church stepped in at that crucial point and answered, By the Family–whether domestic or Religious. For in the Family you have both claims recognized: there is authority and yet there is liberty. For the union of the Family lies in Love; and _Love is the only reconciliation of authority and liberty_.
“Now, as I have put it–and as we all now see it–the argument is simplicity itself. But it took a long time to be recognized; and it was not until after the appalling events of the first twenty years of the century, and the discrediting of the absurd Socialistic attempt to preach the Law of Love by methods of Force, that civilization as a whole saw the point. Yet for all that it was beginning to mould popular opinion even as early as 1910.
“Turn now to a completely different plane. Turn to Art. This, too, drove men back to the Church.”
(Mr. Manners’ air was becoming now less professional and more vivid. He glanced quickly from face to face with a kind of sharp triumph; his long, thin hands waved a slight gesture now and again.)
“Art, you remember, in the end of the Victorian era had attempted to become realistic–had attempted, that is, the absurdly impossible; and photography exposed the absurdity, For no man can be truly a realist, since it is literally impossible to paint or to describe all that the eye sees. When photography became general, this began to be understood; since it was soon seen that the only photographer who could lay any claim to artistic work was the man who selected and altered and posed–arranged his subject, that is to say, in more or less symbolic form. Then people began to see again that Symbolism was the underlying spirit of Art–as they had known perfectly well, of course, in medieval days: that Art consisted in going beneath the material surfaces that reflected light, or the material events that happened, in painting and literature respectively, and, by a process of selection, of symbolizing (not photographically representing) the Ideas beneath the Things–the Substance beneath the Accidents–the Thought beneath the Expression–(you can call it what you like). Zola in literature, Strauss in music, the French school of painting–these reduced Realism _ad absurdum_. Thus once more the Catholic Church, in this as in everything else, was discovered to have possessed the secret all along. The Symbolic Reaction therefore began, and all our music, all our painting, and all our literature to-day are frankly and confessedly Symbolic–that is, Catholic. And this too, you see, pointed to the same lesson as Psychology, that beneath phenomena there was a Force which transcended phenomena; and that the Church had dealt with this Force, knowing It to be Personal, through all her history.
“Finally–and this was the crowning argument of all, that correlated all the rest–there was the growing scientific and popular perception of the Recuperative Power of the Church–that which our Divine Lord Himself called the Sign of the Prophet Jonas, or Resurrection.
“There were of course countless other lines of advance, in practically every science, and they all pointed in the same direction, and met, so to speak, from every quarter of the compass the end of the tunnel which the Church had been boring through all the heaped-up stupidities and ignorances of man. Psychology tunnelled, and presently heard the voices of the exorcists and the echoes of Lourdes through the darkness. Human religions tunnelled–Hinduism with its idea of a Divine Incarnation, Buddhism with its coarse apprehension of the Eternal Peace of a Beatific Vision, North American Religion with its guesses at Sacramentalism, Savage Religion with its caricature of a Bloody Sacrifice; all from various points; and presently heard through the tumult the historical dogma of the Incarnation of Christ, the dogma of Eternal Life, the Sacramental System and the Sacrifice of the Cross–all proclaimed in one coherent and perfectly philosophical Creed. Ideals of Social Reform met with the same experiences. The Socialist with his dream of a Divine Society, the Anarchist with his passionate nightmare of complete individual liberty, both ran up together, in the heart of the black darkness, against the vast outline of a Divine Family that was a fact and not a far-off ambition–a Family that fell in Eden and became a competitive State; a Holy Family that redeemed Nazareth and all the world; a Catholic Family in whom was neither Jew nor Greek, nor masters against men–in whom the doctrine of Vocation secured the rights and the dignities of the Society on one side and the Individual on the other. Finally Art, wandering hither and thither in the mazes of Realism, saw light ahead, and found in Catholic Art and Symbolism the secret of her life.
“This, then, was the result–that the Church was found to be eternally right in every plane. In plane after plane she had been condemned. Pilate–the Law of Separate Nations–had found her guilty of sedition; Herod–the miracle-monger at one instant and the sceptic at the next–the Scientist, in fact–had declared her guilty of fraud; Caiaphas had condemned her in the name of National Religion. Or, again, she had been thought the enemy of Art by the Greek-spirited; the enemy of Law by the Latins; the enemy of Religion by the Hebraic Pharisee. She had borne her title written in Greek and Latin and Hebrew. She had been crucified, and taunted as she hung there; she had seemed to die; and, to and behold! when the Third Day dawned she was alive again for evermore. From every single point she had been justified and vindicated. Men had thought to invent a new religion, a new art, a new social order, a new philosophy; they had burrowed and explored and digged in every direction; and, at the end, when they had worked out their theories and found, as they thought, the reward of their labours, they found themselves looking once more into the serene, smiling face of Catholicism. She was risen from the dead once more, and was seen to be the Daughter of God, with Power.”
There was a moment’s silence.
“There, gentlemen,” said Mr. Manners, dropping back again into the quiet professor, “that, I think, in a few words, is the outline for which Monsignor asked. I hope I have not detained you too long.”
“It is the most extraordinary story I have ever heard,” said Monsignor Masterman ten minutes later, as he threw himself down in his chair upstairs, with Father Jervis sitting opposite.
“Certainly he puts it very well,” said the old priest, smiling. “I think every one was interested. It’s not often that we can hear such a clear analysis of events. Of course Manners has it all at his fingers’ ends. It’s his special subject, and—-“
“But the amazing thing to me,” interrupted the other, “is that this isn’t just a dream or a prophecy, but a relation of facts. . . . Do you mean to tell me that the whole world is Christian?”
The priest looked at him doubtfully.
“Monsignor, surely your memory isn’t—-“
Monsignor made an impatient gesture.
“Father,” he said, “it’s exactly as I told you before lunch. I’ll promise to tell you if my memory comes back. At present I remember practically nothing at all, except instinctively. All I know is that this story we have heard simply astounds me. I had a sort of idea that Christianity was ebbing from the world; that most thinking men had given up all belief in it; and now I find it’s exactly the other way. Please treat me as if I had stepped straight out of the beginning of the century. Just tell me the facts as if for the first time. Is it really true that practically the whole world is Christian?”
The priest hesitated.
“You mean that, Monsignor?”
“Very well, then.” He paused again. “But it’s extraordinarily hard to know where to begin.”
“Begin anywhere. It’s all new to me.”
“Very good. Well, yes: roughly we may say that the world is Christian, in the same sort of way, at least, in which Europe was Christian, say in the twelfth century. There are survivals, of course, particularly in the East, where large districts still cling to their old superstitions; and there are even eminent men here and there who are not explicitly Catholics; but, as a whole, the world is Christian.”
“Do you mean Catholic?”
The priest stared a moment.
“Why, yes. What else—?”
“All right; go on.”
“Well then, to begin with England. Catholicism is not yet established as the State Religion; but it’ll only be a question of time, and it may be said that all the laws are Christian.”
“Divorce was abolished thirty years ago, and fornication was made a felony ten years later,” said the priest quietly. “Benefit of clergy also was restored three years ago; and we have our own courts for heresy, with power to hand over convicted criminals to the secular arm.”
“Certainly. It has been in force now for three years.”
“Then what do you mean by saying that the Church isn’t established?”
“I mean that no religious test is demanded of officers of state, and that bishops and abbots have no seat in Parliament. It was the enfranchisement of women that turned the tide once and for all.”
“Do you mean that all women have the vote?”
“They are under the same conditions as men. There’s a severe educational test now, of course. Not more than about one in seventy adults ever get the vote at all. But the result is that we’re governed by educated persons.”
“Stop. Is it a Monarchy?”
“Certainly. Edward IX–a young man–is on the throne.”
“Christianity, then, holds the field. Of course there are infidels left, who write letters to the newspapers sometimes, and hold meetings, and so on. But they are practically negligible. As regards Church property, practically everything has finally been given back to us;–I mean in the way of buildings, and, very largely, revenues too. All the cathedrals are ours, and all parish churches built before the Reformation, as well as all other churches in parishes where there was not organized Protestant resistance.”
“I thought you said there were no Protestants.”
Father Jervis suddenly laughed aloud.
“Monsignor, are you really serious? Do you really mean you wish me to go on?”
“Good God, man! I’m not playing a game. . . . Go on, please. Tell me about the Protestants.”
“Well, of course there are some Protestants left. I think they’ve got four or five churches in London, and . . . and . . . yes, I’m sure of it, they’ve got some kind of bishop. But really I scarcely know. I shall have to look it up.”
“Well, go on.”
“Well, that’s the state of England. Practically everybody is a Catholic–from the King downwards. The last remains of Church property was only actually given back to us last year. That’s why the monks haven’t come back to Westminster yet.”
“What about the rest of the world?”
“Well, first Rome. Austria drove out the House of Savoy nearly twenty-five years ago; and the Holy Father—-“
“What’s his name?”
“Gregory the Nineteenth. He’s a Frenchman. Well, the Holy Father is Temporal Ruler of the whole of Italy; but the Emperor of Austria administers it. Then France is, of course, a very small country.”
“Well, you know the European War of 1914 . . .?” Monsignor interrupted by a large sigh.
“Good heavens!” he said. “How I shall have to read. I’m sorry. Go on, please.”
“Well, France is a very small country, but intensely Catholic. The Church is re-established there,—-“
“Is it a monarchy too?”
“Certainly. The Orleans line came back after the war. Louis XXII is king. I was saying that the Church is re-established there, and is practically supreme. That is traceable entirely to Pius X’s policy.”
“Pius X! Why—-“
“I know all about that. But I thought Pius X simply ruined everything.”
“So they said at the time. His policy was to draw the lines tight and to make no concessions. He drove out every half-hearted Catholic by his regulations, and the result was a small but extraordinarily pure body. The result has been that the country was re-evangelized, and has become almost a land of saints. They say that our Lady—-“
“Well, go on with the other countries.”
“Spain and Portugal are, of course, entirely Catholic, like France. The Monarchy was re-established in both of them in about 1935. But Germany–Germany’s the weak spot.”
“You see the Emperor isn’t a Christian yet; and Socialism lingers on there with extraordinary pertinacity. Practically Berlin is the Holy City of Freemasonry. It’s all organized from there–such as it is. And no one is quite comfortable about Germany. The Emperor Frederick is a perfectly sincere man, but really rather uneducated; he still holds on to some sort of materialism; and the result is—-“
“But there are hopes of his conversion. He’s to be at Versailles next week; and that’s a good sign.”
“Well, what about America?”
“Oh! America’s chiefly English; and very like England.”
“You mean she isn’t republican?”
“Of course not. My dear Monsignor—-“
“Please go on, as I asked you. Tell me when she ceased to be republican.”
“Why, I scarcely know,” murmured the priest. “It must have been about 1930, I suppose. I know there was a lot of trouble before that–civil wars and so forth. But at any rate that was the end. Japan got a good deal of the Far West; but the Eastern States came in with Canada and formed the American Colonies; and the South of course became Latinized, largely through ecclesiastical influence. Well, then America asked England—-“
“Stop, please. I shall get bewildered. What about the religion?”
“Well, the Empire of Mexico—-“
“The Empire of Mexico.”
“The King of Spain, Monsignor,” said the priest patiently. “Well, that used to be called South America. It’s all the Empire of Mexico now, and belongs to Spain. That’s solidly Catholic, of course. And the American Colonies–old North America–that’s like England. It’s practically Catholic, of course; but there are a few infidels and Socialists.”
“Australia’s entirely Irish, and Catholic.”
“And Ireland itself?”
“Oh! Ireland developed enormously as soon as she had gained independence, but emigration continued, and the Irish strength really lies abroad. Then an odd thing happened. Ireland continued to empty, obeying some social law we don’t even yet understand properly; and the Religious began to get possession of the country in an extraordinary way, until they owned all the large estates, and even most of the towns. You may say that Ireland is practically one Religious Enclosure now. Of course, she’s a part of the British Empire; but her real social life lies in her colonies. Australia succeeded in getting Home Rule from Ireland about twenty-five years ago.”
Monsignor pressed his hands to his head.
“It sounds like the wildest dream,” he said.
“Hadn’t I better—?”
“No; go on. I only want an outline. What about the East?”
“Well, old superstitions still linger on in the East, especially in China. But the end is quite certain. It is simply a matter of time—-“
“But . . . but I don’t understand. If the whole world is practically Christian, what is there left to do?”
The priest smiled.
“Ah! but you must remember Germany. There are great forces in Germany. It’s there that the danger lies. And you must remember too that there is no Universal Arbitrator yet. Nationalism is still pretty strong. There might easily be another big European war.”
“Then you hope—-“
“Yes. We’re all working for the recognition of the Pope as Universal Arbitrator, as he was practically in Europe in the Middle Ages. Of course, as soon as the sovereigns acknowledge officially that they hold all their rights at the will of Rome, the thing will be done. But it’s not done yet, except—-“
“Look here, Monsignor, you’ve had enough,” said the priest, rising. “Though I must say you have followed it closely enough. Are you certain that it is quite new to you? Don’t you remember—“
“It’s not only new; it’s inconceivable! I understand it perfectly; but—-“
“Well, you’ve had enough. Now what about coming to see the Cardinal? I feel sure he’ll insist upon your taking a rest instantly. I feel rather guilty—-“
“Stop. Tell me about languages. Why did you talk to me in Latin this morning?”
“Ecclesiastics generally do. And so do the laity a good deal. Europe is practically bi-lingual. Each country keeps up its own tongue, and learns Latin as well. You must rub up your Latin, Monsignor.”
“Wait a moment. What are you going to say to the Cardinal?”
“Well, hadn’t I better tell him the whole thing, just as it happened? Then you needn’t explain.”
The other pondered a moment.
“Thanks very much, father. . . . Stop. Do I talk English all right?”
“But—-Oh well. . . . And I . . . did I do all right at lunch? Did any one suspect anything?”
“You did perfectly. You seemed a little absent-minded once or twice; but that was quite in keeping.”
The two smiled at one another pleasantly.
“Then I’ll be going,” said the priest. “Will you wait here till I come for you?”
“Just be natural,” whispered Father Jervis a quarter of an hour later, as they passed through the big ante-room. “You needn’t explain a word. I’ve told him everything.”
He tapped; and a voice answered.
Sitting in a big arm-chair drawn up to the writing-table, the man who had lost his memory saw a tall, thin figure, in black with scarlet buttons, and a small scarlet skull-cap crowning his iron-grey hair. It was a little hard to make out the face at first, as the window was immediately beyond it; but he saw almost immediately that, although the face smiled at him reassuringly and welcomingly, it was entirely unfamiliar.
The Cardinal stood up as the two approached, pushing back his chair, and held out both his hands.
“My dear Monsignor,” he said, and grasped the other’s hands firmly and kindly.
“I . . . your Eminence . . .” stammered the man.
“Now, now; not one word till I’ve done. I’ve heard everything. Come and sit down.”
He led him to a chair on the hearth-rug, placed him in it, and himself sat down in his own, facing him. The priest remained standing.
“Now, I’m going to begin with an order, on holy obedience,” smiled the Cardinal. “You and Father Jervis–if the doctor approves–are to start for a little European tour by the midnight volor.”
“The . . . ?”
“The volor,” said the Cardinal. “It’ll do you good. Father Jervis will undertake all responsibility, and you needn’t worry yourself at all. I shall telegraph to Versailles in my own name, and make one or two arrangements, and a couple of my servants will attend you. You will have nothing to do but get better. You can’t be spared. It’ll all come perfectly right, I have no manner of doubt. Father Jervis, just ask the doctor to step here.”
The Cardinal talked a minute or two longer, still with that soothing, peaceful air; and Monsignor, as he listened, watched the priest go up to a row of black boxes, resembling those in his own room, and take down a shutter from one of them. He then said a rapid sentence or two in a whisper, reclosed the shutter, and came back.
“If things don’t clear themselves, you will just have to learn your business over again, Monsignor,” went on the Cardinal, still smiling. “Father Jervis has told me how well you did at lunch; and Mr. Manners said nothing, except that you were a very good host and a very graceful listener. So you need not fear that any one will notice. So please put out of your mind any thought that any one else will take your place here. I shall expect you back in a month or two, and not a soul will be any the wiser. I shall just let it be known that you’re gone for a holiday. You have always worked hard enough, anyhow, to deserve one.”
At that moment, somewhere out of the air, from the direction of the boxes on the wall, a very deferential, quiet voice uttered a few words in Latin.
The Cardinal nodded. Father Jervis went to the door and opened it, and there came through a man in a black cloak, resembling a gown, followed by a servant carrying a bag. The bag was set down, the servant went out, and the doctor came forward to kiss the Cardinal’s ring.
“I want you just to examine Monsignor Masterman,” said the Cardinal. “And, doctor, please observe absolute silence afterwards. Just say that you have found him a little run down.”
Monsignor made a movement to stand up, but the Cardinal restrained him.
“Do you remember this gentleman?” he asked.
Monsignor stared blankly at the doctor.
“I have never seen him in my life,” he said.
The doctor smiled, simply and frankly.
“Well, well, Monsignor,” he said.
“It seems just a loss of memory,” went on the Cardinal. “Just tell the doctor how it happened.”
The invalid made an effort; he shut his eyes for an instant to recover himself; and then he related at length his first apparent consciousness in Hyde Park, and all that had followed. Father Jervis put a question from time to time, which he answered quite rationally; and at the close the doctor, who was sitting opposite, watching every movement of his face, leaned back, smiling.
“Well, Monsignor,” he said, “it seems to me that your memory is sufficiently good. Just put another question, father–a really difficult one–about something that has happened since noon.”
“Can you remember the points of Mr. Manners’ speech?” asked the priest doubtfully.
The other paused for a moment.
“Psychology, Comparative Religion, the Philosophy of Evidence, Pragmatism, Art, Politics, and finally Recuperation. These were the—-“
“Now that’s astonishing!” said the priest. “I could only remember four myself.”
“When did you see the Cardinal last?” asked the doctor suddenly.
“I have never seen him before, to my knowledge,” faltered the sick man.
The Cardinal leaned forward and patted him gently on the knee.
“Never mind,” he said. “Then, doctor—-“
“Would your Eminence put a question to him on some very important matter? Something that would have made a deep impression.”
The Cardinal considered.
“Well,” he said, “yes. Do you remember the message brought by special messenger from Windsor yesterday evening?”
Monsignor shook his head.
“That’ll do,” said the doctor. “Don’t attempt to force yourself.”
He rose from his chair, fetched his bag and opened it. Out of it he took an instrument rather resembling a small camera, but with a bundle of minute wires of some very pliable material, each ending in a tiny disc.
“Do you know what this is, Monsignor?” asked the doctor, busying himself with the wires.
“I have no idea.”
“Well, well. . . . Now, Monsignor, kindly loosen your waistcoat, so that I can get at your breast and back.”
“Is it a stethoscope?”
“Something like it,” smiled the doctor. “But how did you know that name? Never mind. Now then, please.”
He placed the camera affair on the corner of the table near the arm-chair; and then, very rapidly, began to affix the discs–it seemed by some process of air-exhaustion–all over the head, breast, and back of the amazed man. No sensation followed this at all, except the very faint feeling of skin-contraction at each point of contact.
“May I have that blind down, your Eminence? . . . Ah! that’s better. Now then.”
He bent closely over the square box on the table, and seemed to peer at something inside. The others kept silence.
“Well?” asked the Cardinal at last.
“Perfectly satisfactory, your Eminence. There is a very faint discoloration, but no more than is usual in a man of Monsignor’s temperament at any excitement. There is absolutely nothing wrong, and–Monsignor,” he continued, looking straight at the wire-bedecked invalid, “not the very faintest indication of anything even approaching insanity or imbecility.”
The man who had lost his memory drew a swift breath.
“May I see, doctor?” asked the Cardinal suavely.
“Certainly, your Eminence; and Monsignor can look himself, if he likes.”
When the other two had looked, the sick man himself was given the box.
“(Carefully with that wire, please.) There!” said the doctor. “Look down there.”
In the centre of the box, shielded by a little plate of glass, there appeared a small semi-luminous globe. This globe seemed tinted with slightly wavering colours, in which a greyish blue predominated; but, almost like a pulse, there moved across it from time to time a very pale red tint, suffusing it, and then dying away again.
“What is it?” asked the man in the chair hoarsely, lifting his head.
“That, my dear Monsignor,” explained the doctor carefully, “is a reflection of your physical condition. It is an exceedingly simple, though of course very delicate instrument. The method was discovered—“
“Is it anything to do with magnetism?”
“They used to call it that, I think. It’s got several names now. All mental disturbance has, of course, a physical side to it, and that is how we are able to record it physically. It was discovered by a monk, of course.”
“But . . . but it’s marvellous.”
“Everything is marvellous, Monsignor. Certainly this, however, caused a revolution. It became the symbol of the whole modern method of medicine.”
“What’s that?” The doctor laughed.
“That’s a large question,” he said.
“But . . .”
“Well, in a word, it’s the old system turned upside down. A century ago when a man was ill they began by doctoring his body. Now, when a man’s ill, they begin by doctoring his mind. You see the mind is much more the man than the body is, as Theology always taught us. Therefore by dealing with the mind—-“
“But that’s Christian Science!”
The doctor looked bewildered.
“It was an old heresy, doctor,” put in the Cardinal, smiling, “that denied the reality of matter. No, Monsignor, we don’t deny the reality of matter. It’s perfectly real. Only, as the doctor says, we prefer to attack the real root of the disease, rather than its physical results. We still use drugs; but only to remove painful symptoms.”
“That . . . that sounds all right,” stammered the man, bewildered by the simplicity of it. “Then . . . then do you mean, your Eminence, that physical diseases are treated—?”
“There are no physical diseases left,” put in the doctor. “Of course there are accidents and external physical injuries; but practically all the rest have disappeared. Very nearly all of them were carried by the blood, and, by dealing with this, the tissues are made immune. Our discoveries also in the region of innervation—-“
“But . . . but . . . are there no diseases then?”
“Why, yes, Monsignor,” interrupted the Cardinal, with the patient air of one talking to a child, “there are hundreds of those; and they are very real indeed; but they are almost entirely mental–or psychical, as some call them. And there are specialists on all of these. Bad habits of thought, for example, always set up some kind of disease; and there are hospitals for these; and even isolation homes.”
“Forgive me, your Eminence,” put in the doctor, with a certain imperiousness, “but I think we ought not to talk to Monsignor too much on this subject. May I put a question or two?”
“I beg your pardon, doctor. Certainly. Put any question you wish.”
The doctor sat down again.
“Have you been in the habit of saying Mass every day, Monsignor?”
“I . . . I don’t know,” said the invalid.
“Yes, doctor,” put in Father Jervis.
“And confession once a week?”
“Twice a week,” said Father Jervis. “I am Monsignor’s confessor.”
“Very good,” said the doctor. “For the present, as far as I am concerned, I should recommend confession only once a fortnight as a general rule. Mass can be as before. Then Monsignor may say half of his office every day, or the rosary; but not both. And no other devotions of any kind, except the particular Examen. If Monsignor and Father Jervis both consent, I should like the Examen to be forwarded to a priest-doctor for a few weeks.”
An exclamation broke from the invalid.
“I don’t understand. What are you talking about?”
The Cardinal leaned forward.
“Monsignor, listen to me. In these cases the doctor always gives his advice. You see even the sacraments have their mental side; and on this mental side the doctor speaks. But the whole decision rests entirely with the patient and his confessor; or they can call in an expert priest-doctor. Only a priest can possibly decide finally the relations between the grace of the sacraments and their reactionary effect upon the mind. A lay doctor only recommends. Are you satisfied?”
The man nodded. It seemed very simple, so stated.
“For the rest,” continued the doctor, with a certain stateliness of manner, “I order a complete change of scene. This must be for a fortnight at least, if not longer. If the priest-doctor’s report–to whom the Examen may be sent–is not satisfactory, it will have to be for longer. The patient must engage in no business that does not honestly interest him.”
“May he travel to-night?” asked the Cardinal.
“The sooner the better,” said the doctor, rising.
“What is the matter with me?” asked the invalid hoarsely.
“It is a small mental explosion, but it has not affected the mechanism of the brain. There is not, as I have said, a trace of insanity or of loss of balance. I cannot promise that the injury will be repaired; but defects that may follow from this can easily be remedied by study. It simply depends upon yourself, Monsignor, as to in how long you can be at your post again here. As soon as you have learned the threads of business, you will be able to apply yourself as before. I shall look for a report in a fortnight’s time at the latest. Good day, your Eminence.”
The clocks of London were all striking the single stroke of midnight as the two priests stood on the wind-sheltered platform of the volor, waiting for the start.
To Monsignor Masterman the scene was simply overwhelming. There was hardly a detail that was not new and unfamiliar. From where he stood on the upper deck, grasping the rail before him, his eyes looked out over a luminous city as lovely as fairyland. There were no chimneys, of course (these, he had just learnt, had altogether disappeared more than fifty years ago), but spires and towers and pinnacles rose before him like a dream, glowing against the dark sky, lit by the soft radiance of the streets beneath. To the right, not a hundred yards away, rose Saint Edward’s tower, mellowed now to clear orange by the lapse of three-quarters of a century; to the left a flight of buildings, of an architectural design which he did not understand, but which gave him a sense of extreme satisfaction; in front towered the masses of Buckingham Palace as he seemed always to have known it.
The platform of the flying ship on which he stood hung in dock at least three hundred feet high above the roads beneath. He had examined the whole vessel just now from stem to stern, and had found it vaguely familiar; he determined to examine it again presently. There was no gas-bag to sustain it–so much he had noticed–though he could not say whence he had the idea that gas-bags were usual. But it seemed to him as if the notion of airships did carry some faint association to his mind, although far less distinct than that of motor-cars and even trains. He had enquired of his companion an hour or two earlier as they had discussed their journey as to whether they would not go by train and steamer, and had received the answer that these were never used except for very short journeys.
Here, then, he stood and stared.
It was very quiet up here; but he listened with considerable curiosity to the strange humming sound that filled the air, rising and falling, as of a beehive. At first he thought it was the working of engines in the ship; but he presently perceived it to be the noise of the streets rising from below; and it was then that he saw for the first time that foot-passengers were almost entirely absent, and that practically the whole roadway, so far as he could make out from the high elevation at which he stood, was occupied by cars of all descriptions going this way and that. They sounded soft horns as they went, but they bore no lights, for the streets were as light as day with a radiance that seemed to fall from beneath the eaves of all the buildings that lined them. This effect of lighting had a curious result of making the city look as if it were seen through glass or water–a beautifully finished, clean picture, moving within itself like some precise and elaborate mechanism.
He turned round at a touch on his arm.