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26, 42, 58, 74, 90, 106, 122, 138,
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326, 344, 360, 391
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$ 5. The Reception of Hea-
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aton Acci: 165
OUT OF THE CLOUD;
A TALE; BY P. W. P.
AFTER DINNER CHAT ABOUT THE CLERGY. “WELL, George, so for some time at least, this is to be our last evening together."
“Yes, Doctor, it must be our night of adieus, and the worst part of it is my being compelled to go away without the hope of returning, except upon a flying visit.”
"May joy be with you, for--(and you will forgive me for not giving you the original ; my Italian has grown somewhat rusty)—as poor Francesca says, • If the King of the Universe were our friend we should pray to him for thy peace. But going away furnishes no reason for looking so thoroughly woebegone and gloomy. Sooner or later, as the old saw has it, the best of friends must part. Cheer up, man, and let us make the best of it." .
This conversation was carried on in the snug dining-room wherein Doctor Moule received, and without formality, spent the evening with his favourites. It was commonly called the Bachelor's Hall, and for the excellent reason that, excepting the female domestics, none of the fair ses were permitted to enter it. Lester had on this day dined with the Doctor, but the meal was a very heavy affair, for it had been eaten in silence ; both seemed to feel oppressed by the thought of parting. Neither was this so strange as it would at first appear. Generally, men form friendships with those of their own age, here there was a great disparity of years; but the truth is, that Doctor Moule saw in Lester, the friend of his youth, the Colonel, revived again, and Lester looked upon the Doctor as a second father. Thus their attachment depended upon other than the ordinary sources, and it was more like that of the father and son than it was like ordinary friendship. But as Doctor Moule had remarked, Lester looked woe-begone, and hitherto all his attempts at throwing off the load from his spirits had been baffled.
Vol. VI. NEW SERIES. VOL. II.
“I wish I could be cheerful,” said he, "for although at length it seems that I am about to become of some use in the world, which should make one glad, still it is not pleasant to leave the old place, the old haunts, the old friends; and, to be plain with you, Doctor, the fact of having to leave you behind saddens me.”
“Oh, yes, a neat little dish of flattery for the old man, served up in the Colonel's best style; it is delicate, but a little too highly seasoned. But in a little time you wili be getting a Deanery; or, who knows? perhaps a Bishoprick, and the old place will be forgotten.”
"I hope not; and as to Deanery or Bishoprick, I would not accept either, I have no ambition in that direction. But there is no danger of their being offered; I feel, indeed, that the current will not run in that direction, and as to happiness, why probably the future will not yield me half as much as I have already enjoyed in this old parlour. Still I'll not meet trouble half way."
"No, nor bow before it when it comes. Trouble has no power wherewith to crush us unless we bend our backs to make its labour all the lighter. And why should you speak of trouble? You are strong and healthy, blessed with what I call a cast-iron constitution, and although only in your twenty-third year, you have a living worth six hundred pounds a-year, with the handsomest girl in the shire pledged to become your wife. What more do you want? Why, if at that age your humble servant had been so fortunate, I should have gone frantic with delight, instead of keeping my senses to enjoy my good luck.”
“ You mistake me, Doctor; instead of being discontented with fortune, it is with myself I am dissatisfied. It is that very six hundred a-year which troubles me. I cannot enter into possession of it without feeling how little will be given in return. And why receive wages without being able to perform the stipulated labour ? I cannot but feel guilty of injustice in taking it. No man hires a gardener without first ascertaining the fitness of the hired man; but regarding my fitness there was practically no inquiry. The examination was a miserable delusion, and so far as my own convictions are concerned, I feel to be utterly incapable of performing the duties of my office as they should be performed. I seem to myself to have wasted many years, at least they have not been wisely employed, for although I read a great deal I positiveiv do not know anything well. The Bodleian met all my wants, but it was only in desultory reading. I read works upon Egypt, Greece, and Rome, works upon Art in all its forms, and was Goth enough to dive into the most valuable treatises upon Modern Science, where, in fact, I seemed to be more at my ease than in any other. But although I obtained an insight into many things, I'mastered none, and now it appears that I have to do it all over again."
“What you read has not been lost. Now that you are settling down into the Clerical profession your studies will be mainly theological, but all the other, desultory as it was, will prove useful at times when least expected. But you are suffering from a compound disease which my physic will not reach. The first is an attack of conscientiousness in regard to your income, as being more than you are worth. It is a very rare disease, very rare, and I know of no remedy to recommend. I should advise, however, that you make speedy application to some of the Bishops, for as no men do less for their incomes than they do, they must be acquainted with some remedy wherewith to quiet the voice of conscience. Secondly, you are suffering under a feverish conviction of your own incompetence, that also, especially in modern times, is rare, but not so much so as the other. I was afflicted in the latter fashion when I commenced practice. Although I passed through my three examinations with tolerable credit, and had gained more prizes than was usual, I could not get rid of the idea that I was incompetent. When I obtained patients, an undefinable dread came over me lest I should treat them improperly, and shorten their days. I had one case of typhus fever that nearly killed me. The idea got into my mind that through wrong treatment my patient would slip through my fingers; in which case I should be his murderer. He recovered and so did I. When his wife thanked me for my unremitting attention, she little suspected its real cause. It was a strange notion, but it worked well, for when it vanished it left a consciousness behind of the important nature of my duties, and to that I owe all my subsequent success, for it made me deal with every case attentively and with earnest
“But I don't see that others in the Church feel as I do. They rejoice and make merry when fortune favours them with a living; I have had a score of congratulatory letters from men who, without wishing my fortunes to be a whit lowered, do not disguise that they envy my success. They would enter upon the performance of my duties without fearing as I fear.”
“Ah, probably so, but it does not follow that they would be any better qualified for the task. I knew a man, John Sedley, a fellow-student of mine, (although, in fact, he never studied anything beyond the science of boxing, the quality of porter, and the physiology of tea-gardens, wherein he drank no tea,) he obtained a most valuable appointment in the Army Medical Department, for which he was totally unfitted ; and when I asked him how he intended to manage his affairs, he said that some poor devil would be glad to do the work for a small salary, he had done enough to get the appointment, and should have enough to do to spend his income. There are plenty of place-hunters like Sedley. The great majority of young men seem to be careless about the duties of an office if they can obtain the appointment. Their theory is that if employed by private persons they must be diligent in learning and performing their business, but that when public money is involved it matters little whether they work or play. And young men enter the Church much the same as they enter the Exchequer, merely because the appointment is acceptable. If the chances happen to be in their favour they go to the Bar or enter the Army, if better openings are visible in the Church, then to the Church they go. But, George, I would not have you put yourself upon their level. They do not share your fears, simply because of not having hearts noble enough to be moved by the proud sense of duty. You seem to me to be in the right track, for to be conscious of the importance of our task, and to feel our own incompetency, are essentials to all success.".
"But that consciousness affords no proof of the existence in its possessor of power to perform the duties," said George.
"No, but it shows that the man has some soul in him, which, with all due respect to the popular theory about all men having a soul, is rare in these days. Look at your statesmen, have they any sense of the awful importance of their functions ? Do they care about doing the best for the country ? They run a race to obtain office, and after success has crowned their efforts, their whole energy is devoted to the task of retaining power, without a thought bestowed upon the actual wants of the country. Their business is not to discover and perform the statesman-work which should be done, but to bridge over the existing difficulties and put a smiling face upon things, so as to avoid every difficult question; and when any important matter is thrust upon them, they drug the people with moral opiates, so as to suspend the sense of pain, but do not attack its evil causes lest they should lose office. And while such examples are set in high places, there is no cause for wondering that in lower offices men imagine it is quite enough if they condescend to take the pay, without troubling themselves to perform, or even to understand, their duties. But in order to understand how far you are justi. fied in your fears, I should like to hear something of what you intend to
“Preach? Why, Doctor, what else can I preach than the Gospel ?”
“ Aye, 'good tidings should be preached, but what I want to know is, whose Gospel' are you going to preach ? According to what interpretation and system ? Shall you preach it according to Augustine or Origen, to Pascal or Püsey, to Calvin or Wesley? Is it to be High Church, Low Church, Broad Church, or Free Church Gospel ? Are you intending to teach the dogmatical, ecclesiastical, or muscular Gospel ? At present they are all in vogue; but the great majority of the people seem to be in doubt if, between them, with all their pulling and amputating, there be any Gospel which is worth the having.”
For a few minutes Lester hesitated, as though not fully comprehending the spirit in which these questions were asked, but knowing the character of Dr. Moule to be above suspicion, for candour and directness, he replied.
“You think too much of these trifling distinctions, which, when fairly considered, involve no serious differences. The fact is, that they are nothing more than varieties of the one form of faith. It would perhaps be better if such distinctions were not drawn, better if all were ranged under one banner-although that is by no means certain-still, the various names and watch-words are only nominal, and do not involve any fundamental differences.”
"Perhaps not; and having just arrived from the centre of Christian learning, you ought to know better about that than I do. Still, if there be no radical differences between the various sects, it will be hard to redeem their pastors from the charge of lacking charity; for why, in that case, should they be so bitter against each other? But I confess my ignorance of the subject. Theological books are not numerous in my library. I never could understand them, and, in truth, I don't believe they were written to be understood; they are not composed in the same style or language other works are. I once tried to get through Dwight's Theology, but, although making desperate attempts, I could not advance beyond the third volume, it would have killed me outright if I had read the fourth and fifth. The writers of such books always struck me as men who, to boldness of assertion, defiance of logic, and uncandid selections of facts, added unscrupolosity of argument, coupled with the resolve to bring in a verdict against their opponents, without permitting them to give in evidence. I believed in the religion they professed, but was disgusted with their sophistry."
“ You are rather harsh, Doctor, in stating a painful truth. I grant their apparent lack of candour, but must maintain their integrity. They were led by foregone conclusions to say things which can be wrested to their condem-, nation ; but "
. "The results, however, in either case are precisely the same to those who are deceived by them. But, as I was saying, they appear to me to differ