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you are, nails the brasses to the walls, sets up a lectern, and intones the service, keeping well within the chancel, from which he firmly banishes all worshippers who are not males. As for that gallery at the west end where the singers used to sit for a couple of centuries, and never failed to take their part with conscious pride in their own performances, that is abomination in his eyes-that must go of course, 'to throw out the belfry arch, you see, and to bring the ringers into closer connection with the worship of the sanctuary.' 'I love to see the bell ropes,' said one of these dear well-meaning young clergymen to me. They are a constant lesson and reminder to us, my friend. Did you ever read Durandus on Symbolism? That is a very precious observation of his, that a bell rope symbolises humility-it always hangs down."'

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But if an energetic young reformer calls himself an Evangelical, he is, if possible, a more dangerous innovator than the other. Then the axes and hammers come in with a vengeance. None of your pagan inscriptions for him, teaching false doctrine and popery. None of your Orate pro anima, none of your crosses and remains of frescoes on his walls; St. Christopher with the Child upon his shoulder wading through the stream, St. Sebastian stuck all over with arrows, or St. Peter with those very objectionable keys. As for the rood screen, away with it! Are we not all kings and priests? If you must have a division between the chancel and the nave, set up the pulpit there, tall, prominent, significant; and if the preacher can't be heard, then learn the lesson which our grandfathers taught us, and let there be a sounding board.

The serious part of all this passionate meddling with the status quo ante is that any young incumbent can come in and play the wildest havoc with our old churches without any one interfering with him. The beneficed cleric is master of the situation, and is frightfully more so now that Church rates have been abolished than he was before. It is no one's interest to open his mouth; is he not inducted into possession of the sacred building, and is he not therefore tenant for life of the freehold? As long as he makes himself liable for all the expense, it is surely better to let him have his way. 'I ain't a going to interfere,' says one after another; and in six weeks a church which had upon its walls and floors, upon its tower and its roof, upon its windows and its doors, upon its every stone and timber, the marks and evidences which constituted a continuous chronicle, picturing not telling-a tale of the faith and hope, and folly and errors, and devotion and sorrow, and striving after a higher ideal and painful groping for more light in the gloom-a tale that goes back a thousand years, a tale of the rude forefathers of the village world which still regards the house of God as somehow its own-in six weeks, I say, all this is as effectually obliterated as if a ton of dynamite had been exploded in one of the vaults, and the genius of smugness had claimed the comminuted fragments as her own.

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1887

THE TRIALS OF A COUNTRY PARSON.

269

What we want is to make it at least a misdemeanour punishable by imprisonment for the parson to touch the fabric of the church under any circumstances whatever, except with the consent and under the license of some external authority. But that implies that the ownership of the church should no longer be vested in a corporation sole. It brings us again face to face with the whole question of the parson's freehold, and how long is that mischievous legal fiction-which is, however, a very stubborn legal fact-to be endured?

If I were to go on in this vein, and dwell upon all the parson has to suffer from his predecessors-the man who built the house two miles from the parish church, the man who added to it to find room for a score of pupils, the man who loved air, or the man who loved water, or the man who loved society, or the man who bred horses, or the man who turned the rectory into a very lucrative lunatic asylum -I should tire out my reader's patience, and the more so that there are other trials about which it is advisable that I should utter my querulous wail.

I know one clergyman who, though ordained some forty years ago, has never written or preached a sermon in his life; but I only know one. His is perhaps a unique case. As a rule, we all begin by being curates-that is, we begin by learning our business as subordinates. It would be truer to say we used to begin that way; but subordination is dying out all over the world, and in the ministry of the Church of England subordination is a virtue which is in articulo mortis. Nowadays a young fellow at twenty-three, who has become a reverend gentleman for just a week, poses at once as the guide, philosopher, and friend of the whole human race. He poses as a great teacher. It is not only that he delivers the oracles with authoritative sententiousness from the tripod, but he has no doubts and no hesitation about anything in earth or heaven. He fortifies himself with a small collection of brand-new words which you, poor ignorant creature, don't know the meaning of. You feel rather out of it' when he gravely calls your gloves Mannaries (he does not wear them), and your dressing-gown a Poderis; expresses his mournful regret that there is no Scuophylacium in the Presbytery, nor any Bankers on the walls; gently admonishes you for standing bareheaded by the grave at your time of life, when prudence would suggest, and ecclesiastical precedent would recommend, the use of the Anabata; tells you he always goes about with a Totum under his arm, and a Virge in his right hand. When he vanishes you slyly peep into your Du Cange, but the Bankers are quite too much for you. I am not much more ignorant than other men of my age, but I never did pretend to omniscience, and when I don't know a thing I am not ashamed of asking questions. But our modern curates never ask questions. Inquire within upon everything' seems to be stamped upon every line of their placid faces. When I was a young curate I

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was very shy and timid, and held my dear rector in some awe. It might have been hoped that as the years went by I should have grown out of this weakness-but no! I am horribly afraid of the curates now. I dare hardly open my mouth before my superiors, and that they are my superiors I should not for a moment presume to question. I know my place, and I tremble lest I should betray my silliness by speaking unadvisedly with my lips. All this is very trying to a man who will never see sixty again. The hoary head is no crown at all to the eyes of the young and learned. They don't yet cry out at me, Go up, thou baldhead,' but I can't help suspecting that they're only waiting to do it sooner or later. For myself I have, unfortunately, never been able to afford to engage the services of a clergyman who should assist me in my ministrations. So much the worse for me, and so much the worse for my parish. When I am no longer able to do my own pastoral work, I shall feel the pinch of poverty; but I am resolved to be very meek to my curate when he shall vouchsafe to take me under his protection. I will do as I am told.

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It is a very serious fact, however, which we cannot but think of without anxiety, that since the Curate Market rose, as it did some fifteen or twenty years ago, there has been a large incursion of young men into the ministry of the Church of England who are not gentlemen by birth, education, sentiment, or manners, and who bring into the profession (regarded as a mere profession) no capital of any sort -no capital I mean of money, brains, culture, enthusiasm, or force of character. This is bad enough, but there is a worse behind it. These young curates almost invariably marry, and the last state of that man is worse than the first. My friends assure me, and my observation confirms it, that the domestic career of these young people is sometimes very pathetic. Sanguine, affectionate, simpleminded and childlike, they learn the hard lessons of life all too late, and their experience comes to them, as Coleridge said, 'like the stern lights of a ship, throwing a glare only upon the path behind.' When their children come upon them with the usual rapidity, it is but rarely that we country parsons keep these married curates among us. They emigrate into the towns for the sake of educating their progeny, or because they soon find out that there is no hope of preferment for them among the villages. When there is no family, or when the bride has brought her spouse some small accession of income, the couple stay where they are for years till somebody gives them a small living, and there they do as others do. But in the first exuberance of youth, and when the youthful pair are highly delighted with the position that has been acquired, he is profoundly impressed with the sense of his importance, and she exalted at the notion of having married a 'clergyman and a gentleman;' he is apt to be stuck up, and she is very apt to be huffy. It's

bad enough to be associated officially with an underbred man, but it's a great deal worse to find yourself brought into social relations, which cannot be avoided, with an underbred woman. The curate's wife is sometimes a very dreadful personage, but then most dreadful when she is a 'young person' of your own parish who has angled for the clerical stickleback and landed him.

The Rev. Percy De la Pole was a courtly gentleman, sensitive, fastidious, and just a trifle, a little trifle, distant in his demeanour. His curate, the Rev. Giles Goggs, was a worthy young fellow enough, painstaking and assiduous, anxious to do his duty, and not at all airified. We all liked him till Rebecca Busk overcame him. Mr. De la Pole was cautious and reserved by temperament; but who has never committed a mistake? In an evil hour-how could he have been so imprudent?-he gently warned the curate against the wiles of Miss Busk and her family, telling him that she was far from being a desirable match, and going to the length of saying plainly that she was making very indelicate advances. All that may be quite true,' replied Mr. Goggs, but I am sure you will soon change your opinion. I come in now to let you know that I am engaged to be married to Miss Busk.' From that day our reverend neighbour had so bad a time of it that it is commonly believed his valuable life was shortened by his sufferings. I am afraid some people behaved very cruelly, for they could not help laughing. Mrs. Goggs took her revenge in the most vicious way. On all public occasions she clasped the rector's arm and looked up in his face with the tenderest interest. She tripped across lawns at garden parties to pluck him by the sleeve, screamed out with shrill delight when he appeared, called him her dear old father confessor, giggled and smirked and patted him, and fairly drove him out of the place at last by finding that he had twice preached borrowed sermons, and keeping the discovery back till the opportune moment arrived, when, at a large wedding party, she shook her greasy little ringlets at him with a wicked laugh, exclaiming, Ah! you dear old slyboots, when you can speak like that, why do you preach the Penny Pulpit to us?' The wretched victim could not hold up his head after that, and when a kind neighbour strongly advised him to dismiss the curate whose wife was unbearable, the broken-down old gentleman feebly objected. My dear friend, I may have an opportunity of getting preferment for Mr. Goggs some day, but in the meantime I have no power to send away my curate because his wife-well, because his wife is not nice.'

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It often happens that the parson has to go away from his parish. for some months, and he finds considerable difficulty in getting any one to take charge of it during his absence. At the eleventh hour he is compelled to take the last chance applicant. And behold, he and his parishioners are given over to a locum tenens. This is nothing more than saying that he has put himself into the power of a man with a loose end.

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