« ForrigeFortsett »
week-day, he is in the midst of the struggle and the fight; it is catch who can, then, through all the holes and corners, highways and lanes of the busy city : what would it not be then if he could strike a five minutes--yea, even a one minute's—siience into the heart of the uproar? if he could entice one vessel to sail from the troubled sea of the streets, shops, counting-houses, into the quiet haven of the church, the doors of whose harbour stood ever open ? There the wind of the world would be quiet behind them. His heart swelled within him as he thought of sitting there keeping open door of refuge for the storm-tossed, the noise-deafened, the crushed, the hopeless. He would not trouble them with many words. There should be no long prayers. “But,” thought he, “as often as one came in, I would read the collect for the day; I would soothe him with comfort out of Handel or Mendelssohn, I would speak words of healing for the space of three minutes. I would sit at the receipt of such custom. I would fish for men--not to make churchmen of them-not to get them under my thumb”—(for Mr. Fuller used such homely phrases sometimes that certain fledgeling divines feared he was vulgar)—“not to get them under the Church's thumb, but to get them out of the hold of the devil, to lead them into the presence of Him who is the Truth, and so can make them free.”
Therefore he said to himself that his church, instead of accumulating a weary length of service on one day, should be open every day, and that there he would be ready for any soul upon which a flash of silence had burst through the clouds that ever rise from the city life and envelope those that have their walk therein.
It was not long before his cogitations came to the point of action ; for with men of Mr. Fuller's kind, all their meditations have action for their result: he opened his church-set the door to the wall, and got a youth to whom he had been of service, and who was an enthusiast in music, to play about one o'clock, when those who dined in the City began to go in search of their food, such music as might possibly waken the desire to see what was going on in the church. For he said to himself that the beil was of no use now, for no one would heed it; but that the organ might fulfil the spirit of the direction that "the curate that ministereth in every parish church shall say the morning and evening prayer—where he ministereth, and shall cause a bell to be tolled thereunto a convenient time before he begin, that the people may come to hear God's word, and to pray with him.”
Over the crowded street, over the roar of omnibuses, carts, waggons, cabs, and all kinds of noises, rose the ordered sounds of consort. Day after day, day after day, arose the sounds of hope and prayer; and not a soul in the streets around took notice of the same. Why should they? The clergy had lost their hold of them. They believed that the clergy were given to gain and pleasure just as much as they were themselves. Those even of the passers-by who were ready to acknowledge worth where they saw it, were yet not ready to acknowledge the probability of finding it in the priesthood; for their experience, and possibly some of their prejudices, were against it. They were wrong; but who was to blame for it ? The clergy of the eighteenth century, because so many of them were neither Christians nor gentlemen ; and the clergy of the present century, because so many of them are nothing but gentlemen-men ignorant of life, ignorant of human needs, ignorant of human temptations, yea, ignorant of human aspirations ; because in the city-pulpits their voice is not uplifted against city vices—against speculation, against falsehood, against money-loving, against dis. honesty, against selfishness ; because elsewhere their voices are not uplifted against the worship of money, and rank, and equipage ; against false shows in dress and economy; against buying and not paying; against envy and emulation ; against effeminacy and mannishness; against a morality which consists in discretion. Oh! for the voice of a St. Paul, or a St. John! But it would be of little use : such men would have small chance of being heard. They would find the one half of Christendom so intent upon saving souls instead of doing its duty, that the other half thought it all humbug. The organ sounded on from day to day, and no one heeded.
But Mr. Fuller had the support of knowing that there were clergymen east and west who felt with him ; men who, however much he might differ from them in the details of belief, yet worshipped the Lord Christ, and believed him to be the King of men, and the Saviour of men whose sins were of the same sort as their own, though they had learned them in the slums and not at Oxford or Cambridge. He knew that there were greater men, and better workers than himself among the London clergy; and he knew that he must work like them, after his own measure and fashion, and not follow the multitude. And the organ went on playing-I had written praying-for I was thinking of what our Lord said, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.
At last one day, about a quarter past one o'clock, a man came into the church. Mr. Fuller, who sat in the reading desk, listening to the music and praying to God, lifted up his eyes and saw Mr. Kitely.
The bookseller had been passing, and, having heard the organ, thought he would just look in and see what was doing in the church. For this church was a sort of link between him and his daughter now that she was away.
The moment he entered Mr. Fuller rose, and knelt, and began to read the collect for the day, in order that Mr. Kitely might pray with him. As soon as his voice arose, the organ, which was then playing very softly, ceased ; Mr. Kitely knelt, partly, it must be allowed, out of regard for Mr. Fuller; the organist came down and
knelt beside him ; and Mr. Fuller went on with the second and third collects. After this he read the Epistle and the Gospel for the foregoing Sunday, and then he opened his mouth and spoke-for not more than three minutes, and only to enforce the lesson. Then he kneeled and let his congregation depart with a blessing. Mr. Kitely rose and left the chapel, and the organist went back to his organ.
Now all this was out of order. But was it as much out of order as the omission of prayer altogether, which the Church enjoins shall be daily ? Times had changed : with them the order of prayer might possibly be changed without offence. At least Mr. Fuller was not such a slave to the letter as to believe that not to pray at all was better than to alter the form by choice of parts. And although in the use of prayers the Church had made great changes upon what had been first instituted, he did not care to leave present custom for the sake merely of reverting to that which was older.
He had no hope of getting business men to join in a full morning service-even such as it was at first-upon any week-day.
Mr. Kitely dropped in again before long, and again Mr. Fuller read the collect and went through the same form of worship. Thus he did every time any one appeared in the church, which was very seldom for the first month or so. But he had some friends scattered about the City, and when they knew of his custom they would think of it as they passed his church, until at length there were
very few days indeed upon which two or three persons did not • drop in and join in the collects, Epistle, and Gospel. To these he
always spoke for a few minutes, and then dismissed them with the blessing.
A DREARY ONE.
“ COULDN'T you get a holiday on Saturday, Tom?” said Mr. Worboise. “I mean to have one, and I should like to take you with
“I don't know, father," answered Tom, who did not regard the proposal as involving any great probability of enjoyment; “ my holiday is coming so soon that I should not like to ask for it, especially as Mr. Stopper__"
" What about Mr. Stopper? Not over friendly, eh? He is not a bad fellow, though, is Stopper. I'll ask for you, if you like that better.”
“ I would much rather you wouldn't, father."
“ Pooh, pooh! nonsense, man! It's quite a different thing if I ask, you know."
· Thomas made no further objection, for he had nothing at hand upon which to ground a fresh one ; nor, indeed, could he well have persisted in opposing what seemed a kind wish of his father. It was not, however, merely because they had little to talk about, and that Thomas always felt a considerable restraint in his father's presence-a feeling not very uncommon to young men-but he lived in constant dread of something coming to light about Lucy. He feared his father much more than he loved him ; not that he had ever been hardly treated by him; not that he had ever seen him in a passion, for Mr. Worboise had a very fair command of his ternper : it was the hardness and inflexibility read upon his face from earliest childhood, that caused fear thus to overlay love. If a father finds that from any cause such is the case, he ought at once to change his system, and to require very little of any sort from his child till a new crop has begun to appear on the ill-farmed ground of that child's heart.
Now the meaning of the holiday was this : Mr. Worboise had a city-client-a carpet-knight -- by name Sir Jonathan Hubbard, a decent man, as the Scotch would say, jolly, companionable, with a husky laugh, and friendly unfinished countenance in which the colour was of more weight than the drawing--for, to quote Chaucer of the Franklin, “ a better envined man,” either in regard of body or cellar, “was nowhere none :" upon Sir Jonathan's sociability Mr. Worboise had founded the scheme of the holiday. Not that he intended to risk any intrusion-Mr. Worboise was far too knowing a man for that. The fact was that he had appointed to wait upon his client at his house near Bickley on that day-at such an hour, however, as would afford cover to his pretence of having brouglt his son out with him for a holiday in the country. It was most probable that Sir Jonathan would invite them to stay to dinner, and so to spend their holiday with him. There was no Lady Hubbard alive, but there was a Miss Hubbard at the head of the house ; and hence Mr. Worboise's strategy. Nor had he reckoned without his host, for if Sir Jonathan was anything he was hospitable : things fell out as the lawyer had forehoped, if not foreseen. Sir Jonathan was pleased with the young fellow, would not allow him to wait companionless in the drawing-rcom till business was over -sent, on the contrary, for his daughter, and insisted on the two staying to dinner. He was one of those eaters and dririkers who have the redeeming merit of enjoying good things a great deal more in good company. Sir Jonathan's best port would seem to him to have something the matter with it if he had no one to share it. If, however, it had come to the question of a half-bottle or no companion, I would not answer for Sir Jonathan. But his cellar would stand a heavy siege.
Thomas was seated in the drawing-room, which looked cold and rather cheerless; for no company was expected, and I presume Miss Hubbard did not care for colour, save as reflected from her guests, seeing she had all her furniture in pinafores. How little some rich people know how to inherit the earth! The good things of it they only uncover when they can make, not receive a show.
My dear reader -No, I will not take a liberty to which I have no right; for perhaps were he to see me he would not like me, and possibly were I to meet him I should not like him: I will rather say My reader, without the impertinence or the pledge of an adjective-have a little patience while I paint Miss Hubbard just with the feather-end of my pen. I shall not be long about it.
Thomas sat in the drawing-room, I say, feeling vacant, for he was only waiting, not expecting, when the door opened, and in came a fashionable girl-rather tall, handsome, bright-eyed, welldressed, and yet - What was it that Thomas did not like about her ? Was it that she dressed in the extreme of the fashion ? I will not go on to say what the fashion was, for before I had finished writing it, it would have ceased to be the fashion ; and I will not paint my picture knowingly with colours that must fade the moment they are laid on. To be sure she had ridden the fashion till it was only fit for the knacker's yard; but she soon made him forget that, for she was clever, pleasant, fast-which means affectedly unrefined, only her affectation did no violence to fact-and altogether amusing. I believe what Thomas did not like about her at first was just all wherein she differed from Lucy. Yet he could not help being taken with her; and when his father and Sir Jonathan came into the room, the two were talking like a sewing-machine.
“Laura, my dear," said the knight, “I have prevailed on Mr. Worboise to spend the day with us. You have no engagement, I believe ?”
“Fortunately, I have not, papa.”
“ Well, I'll just give orders about dinner, and then I'll take our friends about the place. I want to show them my new stable. You had better come with us."
Sir Jonathan always ordered the dinner himself. He thought no woman capable of that department of the household economy. Laura put on her hat- beautiful with a whole kingfisher--and they went out into the grounds ; from the grounds to the stable—trim as her drawing-room--where her favourite horse ate apples out of her pocket ; from the stable to the hot-houses and kitchen-garden ; then out at a back door into the lane-shadowy with trees-in which other colours than green were now very near carrying the vote of the leaves. Sweet scents of decay filled the air, waved about, swelling and sinking, on the flow of a west wind, gentle and soft, as if it had been fanned from the wings of spring when nearest to summer. Great white clouds in a brilliant sky tempered the heat of the sun. What with the pure air, the fine light, and the