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How beautiful is the spirit of reverence which pervades an English church service, in contrast with the too free and informal air of our American worship. The sense of awe, of quiet, of yearning prayer, so wistfully poignant in these days, makes an atmosphere most favorable to inspiration and insight. It makes preaching a different thing. In intellectual average and moral passien there is little difference between English and American preaching, but the emphasis is different. The English preacher seeks to educate and edify his people in the fundamentals of their faith and duty; the American preacher is more intent upon the application of religion to the affairs of the moment. The Englishman goes to church, as to a house of ancient mystery, to forget the turmoil of the world, to be refreshed in spirit, to regain the great backgrounds of life, against which to see the problems of the morrow. It has been said that the distinctive note of the American pulpit is vitality; of the English pulpit, serenity. Perhaps each has something to learn from the other.
May 27. — No man may ever hope to receive a warmer welcome than was accorded me upon my return to the City Temple, and it was needed. Something like panic seized me, perhaps because I did not realize the burden I was asked to bear until I arrived at the Temple. Putting on the pulpit gown of Joseph Parker was enough to make a young man nervous, but I made the mistake of looking through a peep-hole which he had cut in the vestry door, the better to see the size of his audiences. The Temple was full clean back to the 'Rocky Mountains,' as the top gallery is called — a sea of faces in the area, and clouds of faces above. It was terrifying. Pacing the vestry floor in my distress, I thought of all the naughty things the English people are wont to say about American speakers — how we
talk through the nose, and the like. My sermon, and almost my wits, began to leave me. There was a vase of flowers on the vestry desk, and in the midst of my agony, as I bent over it to enjoy the fragrance, I saw a dainty envelope tucked down in it. Lifting it out, I saw that it was addressed to me, and, opening it, this is what I read: —
Welcome! God bless you. We have not come to criticize, but to pray for you and pray with you. — The City TemPle Chubch.
At once all my nervousness was forgotten; and if that day was a victory, it was due, not to myself, but to those who knew that I was a stranger in a strange land, and whose good-will made me feel at home in a Temple made mellow by the richness of its experience, like an old violin which remembers all the melodies it has heard.
May 28. — Every day, almost anywhere, one sees a little tragedy of the war. Here is an example. Scene I: a tube train standing at Blackfriars Station. Enter a tired-looking man with a 'cello in its cumbrous case. He sinks heavily into a seat and closes his eyes. People passing stumble against his instrument and are, in about equal numbers, apologetic, annoyed, and indifferent. Enter a tall New Zealander. He sits opposite the tired 'cellist, and looks lovingly at the instrument. Scene Il: the same, four stations west. The New Zealander rises to leave the car. The musician looks up, and his eyes meet those of the soldier. The latter smiles faintly, trying to be light-hearted, and pointing to the 'cello-case, says: 'No more of that for me. It was my favorite instrument.' He goes out, and the 'cellist sees that his right sleeve is empty. He flushes slightly and, after a moment, blows his nose defiantly, looking round furtively to see if anyone has had the indecency to notice his emotion.' No one has.
June 4. — Went down to-day to see White Horse Hill, near Uffington, and lay for hours on the June grass near the head of that huge horse carved in the chalk. What a superb panorama of Southern, Western, and Midland shires lay spread out, with the Hampshire and Wiltshire downs to the south, clipped out on the skyline. Just below is the vale of White Horse, which Michael Drayton, no mean judge of such matters, held to be the queen of English vales. The great creating tide of summer is nearing its zenith. Everything is brimming over with sap, scent, and song. Yet one is conscious of the infinitely old all around, of the remote and legendary. The Horse himself, for instance — who cut him out of the turf? When? To what heroic or religious end? There is nothing to tell us. How different Nature is in a land where man has mingled his being with hers for countless generations; where every field is steeped in history and every crag is ivied with legend. Such places give me a strange sense of kinship with the dead, who were not as we are; the 'long, long dead, the men who knew not life in towns, and felt no strangeness in sun and wind and rain.' Uffington Castle, with its huge earth walls and ditches, is near by. Perhaps the men of the Stone Age fortified it. Perhaps King Alfred fought the Danes there. Nobody knows, and a day in June is no time to investigate. But what is that faint, rhythmic throb? The guns in France!
June 9. — Spent yesterday afternoon and evening at the country house of
Lord and Lady M , with an oddly
assorted group of journalists, labor leaders, socialists, radicals, conservatives, moderates, and what not. It was a rainbow club, having all colors of opinion, and yet, as Carlyle said of his talk with Sterling, 'except in opinion not disagreeing.' They discussed many matters, formally on the lawn, or
informally in groups, with freedom, frankness, and thoroughness. They were not afraid of names or labels. They cracked the nut of every kind of idea and got the kernel. The war, of course, was a topic, but more often the background of other topics, in the light and shadow of which many issues were discussed, such as Ireland, AngloAmerican relations, industrial democracy, socialism, religion, and the like. The Government was mercilessly criticized — not merely abused, but dealt with intelligently, with constructive suggestion, and all in good spirit. Try to imagine such discussions at a dinnertable on Fifth Avenue. .
It was a revelation to me, showing that there is more freedom of thought in England than in America. Liberty, in fact, means a different thing in England from what it does with us. In England it signifies the right to think, feel, and act differently from other people; with us it is the right to develop according to a standardized attitude of thought or conduct. If one deviates from that standard, he is scourged into line by the lash of opinion. We think in a kind of lock-step movement. Nor is this conformity imposed from without. It is inherent in our social growth and habit. An average American knows tens times as many people as the average Englishman, and talks ten times as much. We are gregarious; we gossip; and because everyone knows the affairs of everyone else, we are afraid of one another. For that reason, even in time of peace, public opinion moves with a regimented ruthlessness unknown in England, where the majority has no such arrogant tyranny as it has with us.
June 11. — More than once recently I have heard Dr. Forsyth lecture, and I am as much puzzled by his speaking as I have long been by his writing. Each time I found myself interested less in his thesis than in the curiously involved processes of his mind. It is now several years since I read his famous article on 'The Lust for Lucidity,' a vice, if it is a vice, of which his worst enemy, if he has an enemy, would never think of accusing him. It is indeed strange. I have read everything Dr. Forsyth has written about the Cross, and yet I have no idea of what he means by it. As was said of Newman, his single sentences are lucid, often luminous, — many of them, indeed, glittering epigrams, — but the total result is a fog, like a Scottish mist hovering over Mount Calvary. One recalls the epigram of Erasmus about the divines of his day, that 'they strike the fire of subtlety from the flint of obscurity.' Just when one expects Dr. Forsyth to extricate his thought, he loses himself in the mystic void of evangelical emotion. But perhaps it is my fault. When he writes on other subjects — on literature and art, especially — he is as inspiring as he is winsome.
June 14. — To-day was a soft, hazy day, such as one loves in London; and suddenly, at noon, there was a rain of air-raid bombs. The explosions were deafening. Houses trembled, windows rattled or were shattered — and it was all over. Throngs of people soon filled the streets, grave, silent, excited, but with no signs of panic. Quickly ambulances were moving hither and yon. Not far from the City Temple I saw a cordon formed by police joining hands at the doorway of a shattered house, as the dead and mutilated — one little girl with her leg blown off — were being cared for. Calm good-nature prevailed. Officials were courteous and firm. Everybody was kind, helpful, practical. Even the children, darting to and fro, seemed not to be flustered at all. I find it difficult to describe, much less to analyze, my own reaction. I seemed to be submerged in a vast, potent tide of emotion, — neither fear, nor anger, nor ex
citement, — in which my will floated like a tiny boat on a sea. There was an unmistakable current of thought, how engendered and how acting I know not; but I was inside it and swept along by it. While my mind was alert, my individuality seemed to abdicate in favor of something greater than itself. I shall never forget the sense of unity and fusion of purpose, a wave of common humanity, which drew us all together in a trustful and direct comradeship.
June 18. — Met H. G. Wells at lunch to-day, his invitation being a response to my sermon on his book, God, the Invisible King. He entered with a jigging sort of gait, perspiring profusely, — in fact, doing everything profusely, — all fussed up about the heat, saying that he feared it would exterminate him. In personal appearance he is not distinguished, except his eyes, where one divines the strength of the man. Eager, friendly, companionable, his talk, thinly uttered, is not unlike his writing — vivid, stimulating, at times all-questioning. Just now he is all aglow with his discovery of God,'the happy God of the heart,' to use his words. He looked surprised when I suggested that he had found what the Bible means by the Holy Spirit, as if he had thought his discovery entirely new. What if this interesting man, — whose genius is like a magic mirror reflecting what is in the minds of men before they are aware of it themselves, — so long a member of the Sect of Seekers, should join the Fellowship of the Finders. Stranger thing* have happened, but his rushing into print with his discovery fills me with misgiving. The writing man is an odd species, but I recall the saying of the San loan chief to the missionary: 'We know that at night Some One goes by among the trees, but we never speak of it.' Anyway, we had a nutritious time.
Two ministers have just told me how, at a meeting of ministers some time ago, which they attended, a resolution was offered, and nearly passed, to the effect that not one of them would darken the doors of the City Temple during my ministry. My visitors told it with shame, confessing that they, too, had been prejudiced against me as an American. It recalled how, thirty years ago, when Dr. John Hall was called to the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York, he received a letter from an American friend saying, 'You will find a prejudice against you in the minds of some of the smaller men here. It is natural that they should feel slighted by a call being given to you, a foreigner, which to some extent will be strengthened by the prejudice against Irishmen in particular.' Evidently human nature is much the same on both sides of the sea; but that was long ago, and our two countries were not then allies in the great war. I do not recall that in recent years any British minister working in America — of whom there are many, but not half enough — has had to face such a feeling.
July 18. — Joined the Bishop of London at luncheon with the Lord Mayor at the Mansion House, and he was much interested in the ministry of my colleague, Miss Maude Royden. The two grave questions in his mind seemed to be, first, does she actually stand in the pulpit where I stand when I preach? second, does she wear a hat? If I had to wear the gaiters of the Bishop of London, I should be concerned, not about Miss Royden's hat, but about what she is doing with the brains under her hat. Like John Wesley, she may remain all her days in the Anglican fold, but she will be there only in her private capacity, and her influence will be centrifugal. The Bishop, moreover, though his foresight is not abnormal, ought to suspect the existence of the forces gathering about the greatest woman preacher of our generation outside his jurisdiction.
Had he been wise, instead of leaving her to consort with feminists, intellectuals, and social revolutionaries outside the church, he would have set her the task of bringing them inside. As it is, the little dark woman in the big white pulpit is a note of interrogation to the future of the Church of England, and the sign of its failure to meet a great movement; but the Bishop can see nothing but her hat!
Frail of figure, slight unspeakably, with a limp in her gait, as a speaker Miss Royden is singularly effective in her simplicity and directness. There is no shrillness in her eloquence, no impression of strain. In style conversational rather than oratorical, she speaks with the inevitable ease of long practice. Some of her epigrams are unforgettable in their quick-sighted summing up of situations; as when she said recently in the Royal Albert Hall: 'The Church of England is the Conservative Party at prayer.' She is an authority on all matters pertaining to woman and child, holding much the same position in England that Miss Jane Addams has long held in America. Untrained in theology, — which some hold to be an advantage, — she deals with the old issues of faith as an educated, spiritually minded woman in sensitive contact with life, albeit casting aside the 'muffled Christianity' that Wells once described as the religion of the well-to-do classes. Not the least important part of her work is what I call her 'clinic'; her service as guide, confidant, and friend to hundreds of women, and as confessor to not a few. Here she does what no man may ever hope to do, doubly so at a time when England is a world of women who are entering upon a life new, strange, and difficult. As she remains a loyal Anglican, at least we are giving an example of that Christian unity of which we hear so much and see so little.
July 20. •— How childish people can be, especially Britishers and Americans when they begin to compare the merits and demerits of their respective lands. Each contrasts what is best in his country with what is worst in the other, and both proceed upon the idea that difference is inferiority. It would be amusing, if it were not so stupid. One sees so much of it, now that our troops are beginning to arrive in small detachments, and it is so important that contacts should be happy. As it is, Americans and Englishmen look at each other askance, like distant cousins who have a dim memory that they once played and fought together, and are not sure that they are going to be friends. Both are thin-skinned, but their skins are thick and thin in different spots, and it takes time and tact to learn the spots. Each says the wrong thing at the right time. Our men are puzzled at the reticence of the English, mistaking it for snobbishness or indifference. The English are irritated at the roars of laughter that our boys emit when they see the diminutive 'goods' trains and locomotives, and speak of England as if they were afraid to turn around lest they fall into the sea. Among the early arrivals were a few, more talkative than wise, who said that, England having failed, it was 'up to America to do the trick.' They were only a few, but they did harm. Alas, all of us will be wiser before the war is over. If only we can keep our senses, especially our sense of humor. But there is the rub, since neither understands the jokes of the other, regarding them as insults. Americans and Scotchmen understand each other quickly and completely, no doubt because their humor is more alike. We shall see what we shall see.
This friction and criticism actually extend to preaching. The other day I heard an American preach in the morning, a Scotchman in the afternoon, and
an Englishman in the evening. It was most interesting, and the differences of accent and emphasis were very striking. The American was topical and oratorical, the Scotchman expository and analytical, the Englishman polished and persuasive. After the evening service a dear old Scotchman confided to me that no Englishman had ever preached a real sermon in his life, and that the sermon to which we had just listened would be resented by a village congregation in Scotland. On my objecting that there are great preachers in England, he insisted that 'an Englishman either reads an essay, or he talks nonsense; and neither of these is preaching.' As a rule, a good English sermon is, if not an essay, at least of the essay type; but the Scotchman exaggerated. When I made bold to ask him what he thought of
• American preaching, with a twinkle in , his eye he quoted the words of Herbert:
'Do not grudge
• To pick treasures out of an earthen pot.
The worst speaks something good: if all want .; sense,
God takes a text, and preacheth patience.'
; Not wishing to tempt providence, I did not press the matter; but we did agree, 1 diplomatically, that neither type of I preaching is what it ought to be. The ;j people are not astonished at the teach'• ing, as of old, nor do the rulers tremble :.' with rage.
:! July 24.— Had a delightful chat over 1 a chop with Sir Gilbert Parker, and a ;j good 'row' about Henry James. When •I I called James's renunciation of his ,j American for British citizenship an ,i apostasy, my host was 'wicked' enough :.: to describe it as an apotheosis. It was
• in vain' that I argued that James was I? not a true cosmopolitan, else he would
* have been at home anywhere, even in his own country. The talk then turned
,) to the bad manners of the two countries, 'ours being chiefly diplomatic, theirs l. literary. Indeed, if one takes the trouble