« ElőzőTovább »
house's look of sulky insolence, he to do something in it—to be good turned back again, much fluttered for something—and with your faand disturbed. He had an interest culties, Gerald !" cried the admirin the matter, though the two in ing and regretful brother. whose hands it now lay were the abstract right in an institution, if last whom he would have chosen as that is what you aim at, be worth confidants; and to do him justice, the sacrifice of your existence—your he was thinking of Lucy only in his power of influencing your fellowdesire to hear what they decided creatures ?” This Mr Wentworth upon. “Something might happen said, being specially moved by the to me,” he said to himself; "and, circumstances in which he found even if all was well, she would be himself-for, under any other conhappier not to be wholly dependent ditions, such sentiments would have upon her sister;" with which self- produced the warmest opposition exculpatory reflection, Mr Proctor in his Anglican bosom. But he was slowly followed the others into the so far sympathetic that he could drawing-room. Gerald and Frank, be tolerant to his brother who had who were neither of them disposed gone to Rome. for society, went away together. “I know what you mean," said They had enough to think of, with Gerald ; "it is the prevailing theory out much need of conversation, and in England that all human instithey had walked half-way down tutions are imperfect. My dear Grange Lane before either spoke. Frank, I want à Chureh which is Then it was Frank who broke the not a human institution. In Engsilence abruptly with a question land it seems to be the rule of faith which had nothing to do with the that every man may believe as he business in which they had been pleases. There is no authority engaged.
either to decide or to punish. If “And what do you mean to do?" you can foresee what that may said Frank, suddenly. It was just lead us to, I cannot. I take refuge as they came in sight of the grace in the true Church, where alone ful spire of St Roque's; and, per- there is certainty-where,” said the haps, it was the sight of his own convert, with a heightened colour church which roused the Perpetual and a long-drawn breath, “there is Curate to think of the henceforth authority clear and decisive. In aimless life of his brother. "I England you believe what you will, don't understand how you are to and the result will be one that I at give up your work. To - night least fear to contemplate; in Rome
we believe what-we must,” said “ "I did not forget myself,” said Gerald. He said the words slowly,
. Gerald ; every man who can dis- bowing his head more than once tinguish good from evil has a right with determined submission, as if to advise his fellow-creature. I bending under the yoke. “Frank, have not given up that common it is salvation !” said the new Caprivilege-don't hope it, Frank,” tholic, with the emphasis of a desaid the martyr, with a momentary spairing hope. And for the first smile.
time Frank Wentworth perceived “If I could but understand why what it was which had driven his it is that you make this terrible brother to Rome. sacrifice !” said the Curate—“No, “I understand you now," said the I don't want to argue-of course, Perpetual Curate; “it is because you are convinced. I can under- there is no room for our conflicting stand the wish that our unfortunate doctrines and latitude of belief. Indivision had never taken place; stead of a Church happily so far but I can't understand the sacrifice imperfect, that a man can put his of a man's life and work. Nothing life to the best account in it, withis perfect in this world; but at least out absolutely delivering up his in
tellect to a set of doctrines, you difficult questions. Can your Church seek a perfect Church, in which, for explain why one man is happy and a symmetrical system of doctrine, another miserable ?—why one has you lose the use of your existence!" everything and abounds, and the Mr Wentworth uttered this opinion other loses all that is most precious with all the more vehemence, that in life? My sister Mary, for exit was in direct opposition to his ample,” said the Curate, “she seems own habitual ideas; but even his to bear the cross for our family. veneration for his “Mother” yield- Her children die and yours live. ed for the moment to his strong Can you explain to her why? I sense of his brother's mistake. have heard her cry out to God to
" It is a hard thing to say,” said know the reason, and He made no Gerald, “but it is true. If you answer. Tell me, have you the but knew the consolation, after interpretation ?” cried the young years of struggling among the pro- man, on whom the hardness of his blems of faith, to find one's self at own position was pressing at the last upon a rock of authority, of moment. They went on together certainty-one holds in one's hand in silence for a few minutes, at last the interpretation of the without any attempt on Gerald's enigma,” said Gerald. He looked part to
“You accept up to the sky as he spoke, and the explanation of the Church breathed into the serene air a wistful in respect to doctrines,” said the lingering sigh. If it was certainty Curate, after that pause, “and conthat echoed in that breath of un- sent that her authority is sufficient, satisfied nature, the sound was sadly and that your perplexity is over out of concord with the sentiment. - that is well enough, so far His soul, notwithstanding that ex- as it goes: but outside lies a pression of serenity, was still as world in which every event is an wistful as the night.
enigma, where nothing that comes “Have you the interpretation ?" offers any explanation of itself ; said his brother; and Frank, too, where God does not show himself looked up into the pure sky above, always kind, but by times awful, with its stars which stretched over terrible-a God who smites and them serene and silent, arching over
does not spare.
It is easy to make the town that lay behind, and of a harmonious balance of doctrine; which nobody knew better than he but where is the interpretation the human mysteries and wonderful of life ?” The young priest unanswerable questions. The heart looked back on his memory, and of the Curate ached to think how recalled, as if they had been in many problems lay in the darkness, a book, the daily problems with over which that sky stretched silent, which he was so well acquainted. making no sign. There were the As for Gerald, he bowed his head sorrowful of the earth, enduring a little, with a kind of reverence, as their afflictions, lifting up pitiful if he had been bowing before the hands, demanding of God in their shrine of a saint. bereavements and in their miseries I have had a happy life,” said the reason why. There were all the elder brother.
* I have not the inequalities of life, side by side, been driven to ask such questions evermore echoing dumbly the same for myself. To these the Church awful question ; and over all shone has but one advice to offer : Trust the calm sky which gave no answer. God.” “Have you the interpretation ?” he “We say so in England,” said said. “ Perhaps you can reconcile Frank Wentworth; "it is the grand freewill and predestination — the scope of our teaching. Trust God. need of a universal atonement and He will not explain Himself, nor the existence of individual virtue ? can we attempt it. When it is cerBut these are not to me the most tain that I must be content with
this answer for all the sorrows of of the family. As he went up to life, I am content to take my doc- his own room, a momentary spasm trines on the same terms,” said the of doubt came upon the new convert Perpetual Curate ;—and by this —whether, perhaps, he was making time they had come to Miss Went- a sacrifice of his life for a mistake. worth's door. After all, perhaps He hushed the thought forcibly it was not Gerald, except so far as as it rose; such impulses were no he was carried by a wonderful force longer to be listened to. The same of human sympathy and purity of authority which made faith certain soul, who was the predestined priest decided every doubt to be sin.
Next morning the Curate got up dubious light brightened in the with anticipations which were far skies. Unawares, he had been from cheerful, and a weary sense of wondering never to receive any the monotony and dulness of life. token of sympathy, any word of He had won his little battle, it was encouragement from those for whom true; but the very victory had re- he had made so many exertions. moved that excitement which an- When he had read Lucy's letter, swered in the absence of happier the aspect of affairs changed consistimulants to keep up his heart and derably. To be sure nothing that courage. After a struggle like that she had said or could say made in which he had been engaged, it any difference in the facts of the was hard to come again into the case; but the Curate was young, peaceable routine without any par- and still liable to those changes of ticular hope to enliven or happiness atmosphere which do more for an to cheer it, which was all he had at imaginative mind than real revolupresent to look for in his life; and it tions. He read the letter several was harderstillto feel the necessity of times over as he lingered through being silent, of standing apart from his breakfast, making on the whole Lucy in her need, of shutting up an agreeable meal, and finding himin his own heart the longing he had self repossessed of his ordinary towards her, and refraining himself healthful appetite. He even canfrom the desperate thought of unit- vassed the signature as much in ing his genteel beggary to hers. reading as Lucy had done in writThat was the one thing which must ing it balancing in his mind the not be thought of, and he subdued maidenly “truly yours” of that himself with an impatient sigh, and subscription with as many ingenicould not but wonder, as he went ous renderings of its possible meandown-stairs, whether, if Gerald had ing, as if Lucy's letter had been been less smoothly guided through articles of faith. “Truly mine," the perplexing paths of life, he he said to himself, with a smile;
a would have found time for all the which indeed meant all a lover difficulties which had driven him to could require; and then paused, as take refuge in Rome. It was with if he had been Dr Lushington or this sense of hopeless restraint and Lord Westbury, to inquire into the incapacity, which is perhaps of all real force of the phrase. For after .sensations the most humbling, that all, it is not only when signing the he went down-stairs, and found Articles that the bond and pledge lying on his breakfast-table, the of subscription means more than is first thing that met his eye, the intended. When Mr Wentworth was note which Lucy Wodehouse had able to tear himself from the agreewritten to him on the previous able casuistry of this self-discussion, night. As he read it, the earth he got up in much better spirits to somehow turned to the sun; the go about his daily business. First
of all, he had to see his father, and “After all, it was not an unnatural ascertain what were the Squire's in- mistake,” he said to himself, and tentions, and how long he meant to smiled benignly upon the excelstay in Carlingford; and then It lent people who had found out the occurred to the Perpetual Curate that error of their own ways. Carlingafter that, politeness demanded that ford, indeed, seemed altogether in he should call on the Miss Wode- a more cheerful state than usual, and houses, who had, or at least one of Mr Wentworth could not but think them, expressed so frankly their that the community in general was confidence in him. He could not glad to find that it had been debut call to thank her, to inquire in- ceived, and so went upon his
way, to their plans, perhaps to back aunt pleasing himself with those maxims Leonora's invitation, which he was about the ultimate prevalence of aware had been gratefully declined. justice and truth, which make it With these ideas in his mind he went apparent that goodness is always down-stairs, after brushing his hat victorious, and wickedness punishvery carefully and casting one solicit- ed, in the end. Somehow even a ous glance in the mirror as he pass- popular fallacy has an aspect of ed—which presented to him a very truth when it suits one's own case. creditable reflection, an eidolon The Perpetual Curate went through in perfect clerical apparel, without his aunt's garden with a any rusty suggestions of a Perpetu- scious smile, feeling once al Curacy. Yet a Perpetual Curacy master of himself and his concerns. it was which was his sole bene- There was, to tell the truth, fice or hope in his present circum- even a slight shade of self-content stances, for he knew very well that, and approbation upon his handwere all other objections at an end, some countenance. In the present neither Skelmersdale nor Went changed state of public opinion and worth could be kept open for him'; private feeling, he began to take and that beyond these two he had some pleasure in his sacrifice. not a hope of advancement—and at To be sure, a Perpetual Curate the same time he was pledged to re- could not marry; but perhaps main in Carlingford. All this, how- Lucy-in short, there was no telling ever, though discouraging enough, what might happen; and it was acdid not succeed in discouraging Mr cordingly with that delicious sense Wentworth after he had read Lucy's of goodness which generally attends letter. He went down-stairs so an act of self-sacrifice, mingled with lightly that Mrs Hadwin, who was an equally delicious feeling that the waiting in the parlour in her best act, when accomplished, might turn cap, to ask if he would pardon her out no such great sacrifice after all for making such a mistake, did not —which it is to be feared is the hear him pass, and sat waiting for most usual way in which the sacrian hour, forgetting, or rather ne- fices of youth are made that the glecting to give any response, when Curate walked into the hall, passing the butcher came for orders—which his aunt Dora's toy terrier without
an unprecedented accident. that violent inclination to give it a Mr Wentworth went cheerfully up whack with his cane in passing, Grange Lane, meeting, by a singular which was his usual state of feelchance, ever so many people, who ing. To tell the truth, Lucy's letstopped to shake hands with him, ter had made him at peace with all or at least bowed their good wishes the world. and friendly acknowledgments. He When, however, he entered the smiled in himself at these evidences dining-room, where the family were of popular penitence, but was not still at breakfast, Frank's serenity the less pleased to find himself re- was unexpectedly disturbed. The instated in his place in the affec- first thing that met his eye was his tions and respect of Carlingford. aunt Leonora, towering over her
tea-urn at the upper end of the who knows me could suppose
for table, holding in her hand a letter minute that I would let my feelings which she had just opened. The stand in the way of my public duty. envelope had fallen in the midst of Still it is very awkward just at this the immaculate breakfast "things," moment, when Frank, on the whole,
“ and indeed lay, with its broad black has been behaving very properly, edge on the top of the snow-white and one can't help so far approving lumps, in Miss Leonora's own sugar- of himbasin; and the news had been suf- “I am much obliged to you, aunt ficiently interesting to suspend the Leonora," said the Curate. operations of tea-making, and to “Oh, you are there, Frank,” said bring the strong-minded woman to his sensible aunt; and strong-mindher feet. The first words which ed though she was, a slight shade were audible to Frank revealed to of additional colour appeared for a him the nature of the intelligence moment on Miss Leonora's face. which had produced such startling She paused a little, evidently dieffects.
verted from the line of discourse “He was always a contradictory which she had contemplated, and man,” said Miss Leonora ; “since wavered like a vessel disturbed in the first hour he was in Skelmers- its course. “ The fact is, I have dale, he has made a practice of doing just had a letter announcing Mr things at the wrong time. I don't Shirley's death,” she continued, mean to reproach the poor man now facing round towards her nephew, he's gone ; but when he has been and setting off abruptly, in face of so long of going, what good could all consequences, on the new tack. it do him to choose this particular “I am very sorry," said Frank moment, for no other reason that I Wentworth ; “ though I have an can see, except that it was specially old grudge at him on account of uncomfortable to us? What my his long sermons; but as you have brother has just been saying makes expected it for a year or two, I it all the worse,” said Miss Leonora, can't imagine your grief
be overwith a look of annoyance. She had whelming,” said the Curate, with a turned her head away from the touch of natural impertinence to be door, which was at the side of the expected under the circumstances. room, and had not perceived the Skelmersdale had been so long entrance of the Curate. “ As long thought interesting to him, that as we could imagine that Frank now, when it was not in the least was to succeed to the Rectory the interesting, he got impatient of the thing looked comparatively easy. I beg your pardon, Gerald. Of “I quite agree with you, Frank," course, you know how grieved I said (Miss Wentworth. Aunt Ceam—in short, that we all feel the cilia had not been able for a long deepest distress and vexation; but, time to agree with anybody. She to be sure, since you have given it had been, on the contrary, shaking up, somebody must succeed you— her head and shedding a few gentle there can be no doubt of that.” tears over Gerald's silent submis
“ Not the least, my dear aunt,” sion and Louisa's noisy lamentasaid Gerald.
tions. Everything was somehow “I am glad you grant so much. going wrong; and she who had no It is well to be sure of something," power to mend, at least could not said the incisive and peremptory assent, and broke through her old speaker. “It would have been a use and wont to shake her head, painful thing for us at any time to which was a thing very alarming place another person in Skelmersdale to the family. The entire party while Frank" was unprovided for; was moved by a sensation of pleabut, of course,” said Miss Leonora, sure to hear Miss Cecilia say, “I sitting down suddenly, “nobody quite agree with you, Frank.'