Chapter 4.

{22} BATEMAN was one of these composite characters; he had much good and much cleverness in him; but he was absurd, and he afforded a subject of conversation to the two friends as they proceeded on their walk. "I wish there was less of fudge and humbug everywhere," said Sheffield; "one might shovel off cartloads from this place, and not miss it."

"If you had your way," answered Charles, "you would scrape off the roads till there was nothing to walk on. We are forced to walk on what you call humbug; we put it under our feet, but we use it."

"I cannot think that; It's like doing evil that good may come. I see shams everywhere. I go into St. Mary's, and I hear men spouting out commonplaces in a deep or a shrill voice, or with slow, clear, quiet emphasis and significant eyes—as that Bampton preacher not long ago, who assured us, apropos of the resurrection of the body, that 'all attempts to resuscitate the inanimate corpse by natural methods had hitherto been experimentally abortive'. I go into the place where degrees are given—the Convocation, I think—and there one hears a deal of unmeaning Latin {23} for hours, graces, dispensations, and proctors walking up and down for nothing; all in order to keep up a sort of ghost of things passed away for centuries, while the real work might be done in a quarter of an hour. I fall in with this Bateman, and he talks to me of rood-lofts without roods, and piscinę without water, and niches without images, and candlesticks without lights, and masses without Popery; till I feel, with Shakespeare, that 'all the world's a stage'. Well, I go to Shaw, Turner, and Brown, very different men, pupils of Dr. Gloucester—you know who I mean—and they tell us that we ought to put up crucifixes by the wayside, in order to excite religious feeling."

"Well, I really think you are hard on all these people," said Charles; "it is all very much like declamation; you would destroy externals of every kind. You are like the man in one of Miss Edgeworth's novels, who shut his ears to the music that he might laugh at the dancers."

"What is the music to which I close my ears?" asked Sheffield.

"To the meaning of those various acts," answered Charles; "the pious feeling which accompanies the sight of the image is the music."

"To those who have the pious feeling, certainly," said Sheffield; "but to put up images in England in order to create the feeling is like dancing to create music."

"I think you are hard upon England," replied Charles; "we are a religious people."

"Well, I will put it differently: do you like music?" {24}

"You ought to know," said Charles, "whom I have frightened so often with my fiddle."

"Do you like dancing?"

"To tell the truth," said Charles, "I don't."

"Nor do I," said Sheffield; "it makes me laugh to think what I have done, when a boy, to escape dancing; there is something so absurd in it; and one had to be civil and to duck to young girls who were either prim or pert. I have behaved quite rudely to them sometimes, and then have been annoyed at my ungentlemanlikeness, and not known how to get out of the scrape."

"Well, I didn't know we were so like each other in anything," said Charles; "oh, the misery I have endured, in having to stand up to dance, and to walk about with a partner!—everybody looking at me, and I so awkward. It has been a torture to me days before and after."

They had by this time come up to the foot of the rough rising ground which leads to the sort of table-land on the edge of which Oxley is placed; and they stood still awhile to see some equestrians take the hurdles. They then mounted the hill, and looked back upon Oxford.

"Perhaps you call those beautiful spires and towers a sham," said Charles, "because you see their tops and not their bottoms?"

"Whereabouts were we in our argument?" said the other, reminded that they had been wandering from it for the last ten minutes. "Oh, I recollect; I know what I was at. I was saying that you liked music, but {25} didn't like dancing; music leads another person to dance, but not you; and dancing does not increase but diminishes the intensity of the pleasure you find in music. In like manner, it is a mere piece of pedantry to make a religious nation, like the English, more religious by placing images in the streets; this is not the English way, and only offends us. If it were our way, it would come naturally without any one telling us. As music incites to dancing, so religion would lead to images; but as dancing does not improve music to those who do not like dancing, so ceremonies do not improve religion to those who do not like ceremonies."

"Then do you mean," said Charles, "that the English Romanists are shams, because they use crucifixes?"

"Stop there," said Sheffield; "now you are getting upon a different subject. They believe that there is virtue in images; that indeed is absurd in them, but it makes them quite consistent in honouring them. They do not put up images as outward shows, merely to create feelings in the minds of beholders, as Gloucester would do, but they in good, downright earnest worship images, as being more than they seem, as being not a mere outside show. They pay them a religious worship, as having been handled by great saints years ago, as having been used in pestilences, as having wrought miracles, as having moved their eyes or bowed their heads; or, at least, as having been blessed by the priest, and been brought into connection with invisible grace. This is superstitious, but it is real."

Charles was not satisfied. "An image is a mode of teaching," he said; "do you mean to say that a person {26} is a sham merely because he mistakes the particular mode of teaching best suited to his own country?"

"I did not say that Dr. Gloucester was a sham," answered Sheffield; "but that mode of teaching of his was among Protestants a sham and a humbug."

"But this principle will carry you too far, and destroy itself," said Charles. "Don't you recollect what Thompson quoted the other day out of Aristotle, which he had lately begun in lecture with Vincent, and which we thought so acute—that habits are created by those very acts in which they manifest themselves when created? We learn to swim well by trying to swim. Now, Bateman, doubtless, wishes to introduce piscinę and tabernacles; and to wait, before beginning, till they are received, is like not going into the water till you can swim."

"Well, but what is Bateman the better when his piscinę are universal?" asked Sheffield; "what does it mean? In the Romish Church it has a use, I know—I don't know what—but it comes into the Mass. But if Bateman makes piscinę universal among us, what has he achieved but the reign of a universal humbug?"

"But, my dear Sheffield," answered Reding, "consider how many things there are which, in the course of time, have altered their original meaning, and yet have a meaning, though a changed one, still. The judge's wig is no sham, yet it has a history. The Queen, at her coronation, is said to wear a Roman Catholic vestment; is that a sham? Does it not still typify and impress upon us the 'divinity that doth hedge a king,' though it has lost the very meaning {27} which the Church of Rome gave it? Or are you of the number of those, who, according to witticism, think majesty, when deprived of its externals, a jest?"

"Then you defend the introduction of unmeaning piscinę and candlesticks?"

"I think," answered Charles, "that there's a great difference between reviving and retaining; it may be natural to retain, even while the use fails, unnatural to revive when it has failed; but this is a question of discretion and judgment."

"Then you give it against Bateman?" said Sheffield.

A slight pause ensued; then Charles added, "But perhaps these men actually do wish to introduce the realities as well as the externals: perhaps they wish to use the piscina as well as to have it ... Sheffield," he continued abruptly, "why are not canonicals a sham, if piscinę are shams?"

"Canonicals," said Sheffield, as if thinking about them; "no, canonicals are no sham; for preaching, I suppose, is the highest ordinance in our Church, and has the richest dress. The robes of a great preacher cost, I know, many pounds; for there was one near us who, on leaving, had a present from the ladies of an entire set, and a dozen pair of worked slippers into the bargain. But it's all fitting, if preaching is the great office of the clergy. Next comes the Sacrament, and has the surplice and hood. And hood," he repeated, musing; "what's that for? no, it's the scarf. The hood is worn in the University pulpit; what is the scarf?—it belongs to chaplains, I believe, that is, to persons; I can't make a view out of it". {28}

"My dear Sheffield," said Charles, "you have cut your own throat. Here you have been trying to give a sense to the clerical dress, and cannot; are you then prepared to call it a sham? Answer me this single question—Why does a clergyman wear a surplice when he reads prayers? Nay, I will put it more simply—Why can only a clergyman read prayers in church?—Why cannot I?"

Sheffield hesitated, and looked serious. "Do you know," he said, "you have just pitched on Jeremy Bentham's objection. In his 'Church of Englandism' he proposes, if I recollect rightly, that a parish-boy should be taught to read the Liturgy; and he asks, Why send a person to the University for three or four years at an enormous expense, why teach him Latin and Greek, on purpose to read what any boy could be taught to read at a dame's school? What is the virtue of a clergyman's reading? Something of this kind, Bentham says; and," he added slowly, "to tell the truth, I don't know how to answer him."

Reding was surprised, and shocked, and puzzled too; he did not know what to say; when the conversation was, perhaps fortunately, interrupted.

Chapter 1-5

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