Dawn of All - Robert Hugh Benson - ebook
Kategoria: Religia i duchowość Język: angielski Rok wydania: 1911

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About
Prologue
Part 1
Chapter 1
Chapter 2

About Benson:

Robert Hugh Benson (born November 18, 1871; died October 19, 1914) was the youngest son of Edward White Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury, and younger brother of Edward Frederic Benson. Benson studied Classics and Theology at Trinity College, Cambridge, from 1890 to 1893. In 1895, he was ordained a priest in the Church of England by his father, Edward White Benson, who was then Archbishop of Canterbury. His father died suddenly in 1896, and Benson was sent on a trip to the Middle East to recover his own health. While there, he began to question the status of the Church of England and to consider the claims of the Roman Catholic Church. His own piety began to tend toward the High Church variety, and he started exploring religious life in various Anglican communities, eventually obtaining permission to join the Community of the Resurrection. Benson made his profession as a member of the community in 1901, at which time he had no thoughts of leaving the Church of England. But as he continued his studies and began writing, he became more and more uneasy with his own doctrinal position, and on September 11, 1903, he was received into the Roman Catholic Church. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1904 and sent to Cambridge. He continued his writing career along with the usual elements of priestly ministry. He was named a monsignor in 1911. "Robert Hugh Benson: Life and Works," a biography by Janet Grayson was published in 1998.

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Prologue

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! …



Chapter 1

 

1.

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.


Chapter 2

 

1.

"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."