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the sins and shortcomings of those whom he leaves to represent himself; all their indiscretions, their untidiness, their careless reading, their bad preaching, their irreverence or their foolery, their timidity or their violence, their ignorance or their escapades. One man is horribly afraid of catching the measles; another has never been accustomed to cows' and will not go where they are; a third is a woman-hater, and week by week bawls out strong language against the other sex beginning with Eden and ending with Babylon. The absentee returns to find everything has been turned topsy-turvy. The locum tenens has set everyone by the ears, altered the times of service, broken your pony's knees, had your dog poisoned for howling at the moon, or kept a monkey in your drawing-room. People outside. laugh, but when you are the sufferer, and the conviction is forced upon you that harm has been done which you cannot hope to see repaired, you are not so likely to laugh as to do the other thing.

Shall I go on to dwell upon the aggrieved parishioner, the amenities of the School Board, the anxieties of the school treat, the scenes at the meetings of the Poor-law guardians, the faithful laity who come to expostulate, to ask your views and to set you right? Shall I? Shall I dwell upon the occasional sermons which some delegate from some society comes and fulminates against you and your people? Nay! Silence on some parts of our experience is golden.

When we have said all that need be said about the minor vexations and worries which are incident to the country parson's life, and which, like all men who live in isolation, he is apt to exaggerate, there is something still behind it all which only a few feel to be an evil at all, and which those who do feel, for many good reasons, are shy of speaking about; partly because they know it to be incurable, partly because if they do touch upon it they are likely to be tabulated among the dissatisfied, or are credited with unworthy motives which they know in their hearts that they are not swayed by.

That which really makes the country parson's position a cheerless and trying one is its absolute finality. Dante's famous line ought to be carved upon the lintel of every country parsonage in England. When the new rector on his induction takes the key of the church, locks himself in, and tolls the bell, it is his own passing bell that he is ringing. He is shutting himself out from any hope of a further career upon earth. He is a man transported for life, to whom there will come no reprieve. Whether he be the sprightly and sanguine young bachelor of twentyfour who takes the family living, or the podgy plebeian whose uncle the butcher has bought the advowson for a song, or the college. tutor, fastidious, highly cultured, even profoundly learned, who has accepted university preferment, or the objectionable and quarrelsome

man, whom it was necessary to provide for by sending into the country-be he who he may, gifted or very much the reverse, careless or earnest, slothful or zealous, genial, eloquent, wise and notoriously successful in his ministrations, or the veriest stick and humdrum that ever snivelled through a homily-from the day that he accepts a country benefice he is a shelved man, and is put upon the retired list as surely as the commander in the navy who disappears on half-pay. I do not mean only that the country parson is never promoted to the higher dignities in the Church, or that cathedral preferment is very rarely bestowed upon him; but I do mean that he is never moved from the benefice in which he has once been planted. You may ply me with instances to the contrary here and there, but they are instances only numerous enough to illustrate the universality of the law which prevails-Once a country parson always a country parson; where he finds himself there he has to stay.

As long as the patronage of ecclesiastical preferment in the Church of England remains in the hands it has remained in for a thousand years and more, and as long as the tenure of the benefice continues to be as it is and as it has been since feudal times, I can see no remedy and no prospect that things should go on otherwise than they do now. Give a man some future in whatever position you put him, and he will be content to give you all his best energies, his time, his strength, his fortune, in return for the chance of recognition that he may sooner or later reasonably look forward to; but there is no surer way of making the ablest man a fainéant at the best, a soured and angry revolutionist at the second best, and something even more odious and degraded at the worst, than to shut him up in a cage like Sterne's starling, and bid him sing gaily and hop briskly from perch to perch till the end of his days, with a due supply of sopped bread crumbs and hemp seed found for him from day to day, and a sight of the outer world granted him-through the bars.

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There is a something which appeals to our pity in every career manqué. The statesman who made one false step, the soldier who at the crisis of his life was out-generalled, the lawyer who began so well but who proved not quite strong enough for the strain he had to bear-we meet them now and then where we should least have expected to find them, the obliterated heroes of the hour, and we say with a kindly sigh, This man might have had another chance." But each of these has had his chance; they have worked up to a position and have forfeited it when it has been proved they were in the wrong place; they have gone into the battle of life, and the fortune of war has gone against them; tried by the judgment of that world which is so 'cold to all that might have been,' they have been found wanting; they have had to step aside, and make way for abler men than themselves. But up and down the land in remote

country parsonages-counting by the hundreds-there are to be found those who have never had, and never will have, any chance at all of showing what stuff is in them-men of real genius shrivelled, men of noble intellect, its expansion arrested, men fitted to lead and rule, men of force of character and power of mind, who from the day that they entered upon the charge of a rural parish have had never a chance of deliverance from

The dull mechanic pacing to and fro,

The set grey life and apathetic end.

You might as well expect from such as these that they should be able to break away from their surroundings, or fail to be dwarfed and cramped by them, as expect that Robinson Crusoe should develop into a sagacious politician.

'Pathos,' did I say? How often have I heard the casual visitor to our wilds exclaim with half-incredulous wonder, What, that Parkins? Why, he used to walk the streets of Camford like a god! He carried all before him. The younger dons used to say the world. was at his feet-a ball that he might kick over what goal he might please to choose. And was that other really the great Dawkins, whose lectures we used to hear of with such envy, we of St. Chad's College, who had to content ourselves with little Smug's platitudes? Dawkins! How St. Mary's used to be crowded when he preached! Old Dr. Stokes used to say Dawkins had too much fire and enthusiasm for Oxbridge. He called him Savonarola, and he meant it for And that's Dawkins! How are the mighty fallen!'

a sneer.

I lay innocent traps for my casuals now and then, when I can persuade some of the effaced ones to come and dine with us, but it is often just a little too sad. They are like the ghosts of the heroic dead. Men of sixty, old before their time; the broad massive brow, with the bar of Michael Angelo, is there, but-the eyes that used to flash and kindle have grown dim and sleepy, those lips that curled with such fierce scorn, or quivered with such glad playfulness or subtle drollery -it seems as if it were yesterday-have become stiff and starched. Poverty has come and hope has gone. Dawkins knew so little about the matter that he actually believed he only required to get a pied à terre such as a college living would afford him, and a (nominal) income of 700l. a year, and there would be a fresh world to conquer as easy to subdue as the old Academic world which was under his feet. Poor Dawkins! Poor Parkins! Poor any one who finds himself high and dry some fine morning on his island home, while between him and the comrades who helped him to his fate the distance widens; for him there is no escape, no sailing back. There are the fruits of the earth, and the shade of the trees, and the wreckage of other barks that have stranded there; but there is no tomorrow with a different promise from to-day's, nor even another islet to look to when this one has been made the most of and explored,

only the resource of acquiescence as he muses on the things that


Gazing far out foamward.

Such men as these I have in my mind were never meant to be straitened and poor. They never calculated upon six or eight children who have to be educated; the real dreariness of the prospect, its crushing unchangeableness only gradually reveals itself to them; they shut their eyes not so much because they will not as because they cannot believe that such as they have no future. Their first experience of life led up to the full conviction that character and brain-power must sooner or later bring a man to the first rank-what did it matter where a man cast anchor for a time? So they burnt their ships bravely, hope like a fiery column before them, the dark side not yet turned.' But suppose there was no scope for the brains and consequently no demand for them? We in the wilderness have abundance of butter and eggs, but keep these commodities long enough, and they infallibly grow a trifle stale.

People say with some indignation, 'What a pity, what a shame, that Parkins and Dawkins should be buried as they are!' No, that is not the shame nor the pity; the shame is that, being buried, they should have no hope of being dug up again. Yonder splendid larva may potentially be a much more splendid imago; let it bury itself by all means, but do not keep it for ever below ground. Do not say to it, 'Once there, you must stop there, there and there only. For such as you there shall be no change, your resting place shall inevitably be your grave.'

But if it be a melancholy spectacle to see the wreck of a man of great intellect and noble nature, whom banishment in his prime and poverty in his old age have blighted, scarcely less saddening is the sight of the active and energetic young man of merely ordinary abilities to whom a country living has come in his youth and vigour, and once for all has stunted his growth and extinguished his ambition. There is no man more out of place and who takes longer to fit into his place than the worthy young clergyman who has been ordained to a town curacy, kept for four or five years at all the routine work of a large town parish, worked and admirably organised as-thank God!-most large town parishes are, and who, at eight or nine and twenty, is dropped down suddenly into a small village, and told that there he is to live and die. He does not know a horse from a cow. He has had his regular work mapped out for him by his superior officer as clearly as if he were a policeman. He has been part of a very complex machinery, religious, educational, eleemosynary. Every hour has been fully occupied, so occupied that he has lost all the habits of reading and study which he ever possessed. He has to preach at one hundred sermons in the course of the year, and there is not

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