Chapter 2.

{6} IT was a little past one P.M. when Sheffield, passing Charles's door, saw it open. The college servant had just entered with the usual half-commons for luncheon, and was employed in making up the fire. Sheffield followed him in, and found Charles in his cap and gown, lounging on the arm of his easy-chair and eating his bread and cheese. Sheffield asked him if he slept, as well as ate and drank, "accoutred as he was".

"I am just going for a turn into the meadow," said Charles; "this is to me the best time of the year: nunc formosissimus annus; everything is beautiful; the laburnums are out, and the may. There is a greater variety of trees there than in any other place I know hereabouts; and the planes are so touching just now, with their small multitudinous green hands half-opened; and there are two or three such fine dark willows stretching over the Cherwell; I think some dryad inhabits them: and, as you wind along, just over your right shoulder is the Long Walk, with the Oxford buildings seen between the elms. They say there are dons here who recollect when the foliage was unbroken, nay, when you might walk under it in hard {7} rain, and get no wet. I know I got drenched there the other day."

Sheffield laughed, and said that Charles must put on his beaver, and walk with him a different way. He wanted a good walk; his head was stupid from his lectures; that old Jennings prosed so awfully upon Paley, it made him quite ill. He had talked of the Apostles as neither "deceivers nor deceived," of their "sensible miracles," and of their "dying for their testimony," till he did not know whether he himself was an ens physiologicum or a totum metaphysicum, when Jennings had cruelly asked him to repeat Paley's argument; and because he had not given it in Jennings' words, friend Jennings had pursed up his lips, and gone through the whole again; so intent, in his wooden enthusiasm, on his own analysis of it, that he did not hear the clock strike the hour; and, in spite of the men's shuffling their feet, blowing their noses, and looking at their watches, on he had gone for a good twenty minutes past the time; and would have been going on even then, he verily believed, but for an interposition only equalled by that of the geese at the Capitol. For that, when he had got about half through his recapitulation, and was stopping at the end of a sentence to see the impression he was making, that uncouth fellow, Lively, moved by what happy inspiration he did not know, suddenly broke in, apropos of nothing, nodding his head, and speaking in a clear cackle, with, "Pray, sir, what is your opinion of the infallibility of the Pope?" Upon which every one but Jennings did laugh out: but he, au contraire, began to {8} look very black; and no one can tell what would have happened, had he not cast his eyes by accident on his watch, on which he coloured, closed his book, and instanter sent the whole lecture out of the room.

Charles laughed in his turn, but added, "Yet, I assure you, Sheffield, that Jennings, stiff and cold as he seems, is, I do believe, a very good fellow at bottom. He has before now spoken to me with a good deal of feeling, and has gone out of his way to do me favours. I see poor bodies coming to him for charity continually; and they say that his sermons at Holy Cross are excellent."

Sheffield said he liked people to be natural, and hated that donnish manner. What good could it do? and what did it mean?

"That is what I call bigotry," answered Charles; "I am for taking every one for what he is, and not for what he is not: one has this excellence, another that; no one is everything. Why should we not drop what we don't like, and admire what we like? This is the only way of getting through life, the only true wisdom, and surely our duty into the bargain."

Sheffield thought this regular prose, and unreal. "We must," he said, "have a standard of things, else one good thing is as good as another. But I can't stand here all day," he continued, "when we ought to be walking." And he took off Charles's cap, and, placing his hat on him instead, said, "Come, let us be going".

"Then must I give up my meadow?" said Charles.

"Of course you must," answered Sheffield; "you must take a beaver walk. I want you to go as far as {9} Oxley, a village some little way out, all the vicars of which, sooner or later, are made bishops. Perhaps even walking there may do us some good."

The friends set out, from hat to boot in the most approved Oxford bandbox-cut of trimness and prettiness. Sheffield was turning into the High Street, when Reding stopped him: "It always annoys me," he said, "to go down High Street in a beaver; one is sure to meet a proctor".

"All those University dresses are great fudge," answered Sheffield; "how are we the better for them? They are mere outside, and nothing else. Besides, our gown is so hideously ugly."

"Well, I don't go along with your sweeping condemnation," answered Charles; "this is a great place, and should have a dress. I declare, when I first saw the procession of Heads at St. Mary's, it was quite moving. First—"

"Of course the pokers," interrupted Sheffield.

"First the organ, and every one rising; then the Vice-Chancellor in red, and his bow to the preacher, who turns to the pulpit; then all the Heads in order; and lastly the Proctors. Meanwhile, you see the head of the preacher slowly mounting up the steps; when he gets in, he shuts-to the door, looks at the organ-loft to catch the psalm, and the voices strike up."

Sheffield laughed, and then said, "Well, I confess I agree with you in your instance. The preacher is, or is supposed to be, a person of talent: he is about to hold forth; the divines, the students of a great University, are all there to listen. The pageant does but fitly {10} represent the great moral fact which is before us; I understand this. I don't call this fudge; what I mean by fudge is, outside without inside. Now I must say, the sermon itself, and not the least of all the prayer before it—what do they call it?"

"The bidding prayer," said Reding.

"Well, both sermon and prayer are often arrant fudge. I don't often go to University sermons, but I have gone often enough not to go again without compulsion. The last preacher I heard was from the country. Oh, it was wonderful! He began at the pitch of his voice, 'Ye shall pray'. What stuff! 'Ye shall pray'; because old Latimer or Jewell said, 'Ye shall praie,' therefore we must not say, 'Let us pray'. Presently he brought out," continued Sheffield, assuming a pompous and up-and-down tone, "'especially for that pure and apostolic branch of it established'—here the man rose on his toes, 'established in these dominions'. Next came, 'for our Sovereign Lady Victoria, Queen, Defender of the Faith, in all causes and over all persons, ecclesiastical as well as civil, within these her dominions, supreme'—an awful pause, with an audible fall of the sermon-case on the cushion; as though nature did not contain, as if the human mind could not sustain, a bigger thought. Then followed, 'the pious and munificent founder,' in the same twang, 'of All Saints' and Leicester Colleges'. But his chef-d'oeuvre was his emphatic recognition of 'all the doctors, both the proctors,' as if the numerical antithesis had a graphic power, and threw those excellent personages into a charming tableau vivant." {11}

Charles was amused at all this; but he said in answer, that he never heard a sermon but it was his own fault if he did not gain good from it; and he quoted the words of his father, who, when he one day asked him if so-and-so had not preached a very good sermon, "My dear Charles," his father had said, "all sermons are good". The words, simple as they were, had retained a hold on his memory.

Meanwhile they had proceeded down the forbidden High Street, and were crossing the bridge, when, on the opposite side they saw before them a tall, upright man, whom Sheffield had no difficulty in recognising as a bachelor of Nun's Hall, and a bore at least of the second magnitude. He was in cap and gown, but went on his way, as if intending, in that extraordinary guise, to take a country walk. He took the path which they were going themselves, and they tried to keep behind him; but they walked too briskly, and he too leisurely, to allow of that. It is very difficult duly to delineate a bore in a narrative, for the very reason that he is a bore. A tale must aim at condensation, but a bore acts in solution. It is only on the long-run that he is ascertained. Then, indeed, he is felt; he is oppressive; like the sirocco, which the native detects at once, while a foreigner is often at fault. Tenet occiditque. Did you hear him make but one speech, perhaps you would say he was a pleasant, well-informed man; but when he never comes to an end, or has one and the same prose every time you meet him, or keeps you standing till you are fit to sink, or holds you fast when you wish to keep an engagement, or hinders you listening to important {12} conversation—then there is no mistake, the truth bursts on you, apparent dirę facies, you are in the clutches of a bore. You may yield, or you may flee; you cannot conquer. Hence it is clear that a bore cannot be represented in a story, or the story would be the bore as much as he. The reader, then, must believe this upright Mr. Bateman to be what otherwise he might not discover, and thank us for our consideration in not proving as well as asserting it.

Sheffield bowed to him courteously, and would have proceeded on his way; but Bateman, as became his nature, would not suffer it; he seized him. "Are you disposed," he said, "to look into the pretty chapel we are restoring on the common? It is quite a gem—in the purest style of the fourteenth century. It was in a most filthy condition, a mere cow-house; but we have made a subscription, and set it to rights."

"We are bound for Oxley," Sheffield answered; "you would be taking us out of our way."

"Not a bit of it," said Bateman; "it's not a stone's throw from the road; you must not refuse me. I'm sure you'll like it."

He proceeded to give the history of the chapel—all it had been, all it might have been, all it was not, all it was to be.

"It is to be a real specimen of a Catholic Chapel," he said; "we mean to make the attempt of getting the Bishop to dedicate it to the Royal Martyr—why should not we have our St. Charles as well as the Romanists?—and it will be quite sweet to hear the vesper-bell tolling over the sullen moor every evening, in all {13} weathers, and amid all the changes and chances of this mortal life."

Sheffield asked what congregation they expected to collect at that hour.

"That's a low view," answered Bateman; "it does not signify at all. In real Catholic churches the number of the congregation is nothing to the purpose; service is for those who come, not for those who stay away."

"Well," said Sheffield, "I understand what that means when a Roman Catholic says it; for a priest is supposed to offer sacrifice, which he can do without a congregation as well as with one. And, again, Catholic chapels often stand over the bodies of martyrs, or on some place of miracle, as a record; but our service is 'Common Prayer,' and how can you have that without a congregation?"

Bateman replied that, even if members of the University did not drop in, which he expected, at least the bell would be a memento far and near.

"Ah, I see," retorted Sheffield, "the use will be the reverse of what you said just now; it is not for those that come, but for those who stay away. The congregation is outside, not inside; it's an outside concern. I once saw a tall church-tower—so it appeared from the road; but on the sides you saw it was but a thin wall, made to look like a tower, in order to give the church an imposing effect. Do run up such a bit of a wall, and put the bell in it."

"There's another reason," answered Bateman, "for restoring the chapel, quite independent of the service. {14} It has been a chapel from time immemorial, and was consecrated by our Catholic forefathers."

Sheffield argued that this would be as good a reason for keeping up the Mass as for keeping up the chapel.

"We do keep up the Mass," said Bateman; "we offer our Mass every Sunday, according to the rite of the English Cyprian, as honest Peter Heylin calls him; what would you have more?"

Whether Sheffield understood this or no, at least it was beyond Charles. Was the Common Prayer the English Mass, or the Communion-service, or the Litany, or the sermon, or any part of these? or were Bateman's words really a confession that there were clergymen who actually said the Popish Mass once a week? Bateman's precise meaning, however, is lost to posterity; for they had by this time arrived at the door of the chapel. It had once been the chapel of an almshouse; a small farm-house stood near; but, for population, it was plain no "church accommodation was wanted". Before entering, Charles hung back, and whispered to his friend that he did not know Bateman. An introduction, in consequence, took place. "Reding of St. Saviour's—Bateman of Nun's Hall;" after which ceremony, in place of holy water, they managed to enter the chapel in company.

It was as pretty a building as Bateman had led them to expect, and very prettily done up. There was a stone altar in the best style, a credence table, a piscina, what looked like a tabernacle, and a couple of handsome brass candlesticks. Charles asked the use of the piscina—he did not know its name—and was told that {15} there was always a piscina in the old churches in England, and that there could be no proper restoration without it. Next he asked the meaning of the beautifully wrought closet or recess above the altar; and received for answer, that "our sister churches of the Roman obedience always had a tabernacle for reserving the consecrated bread". Here Charles was brought to a stand: on which Sheffield asked the use of the niches; and was told by Bateman that images of saints were forbidden by the canon, but that his friends, in all these matters, did what they could. Lastly, he asked the meaning of the candlesticks; and was told that, Catholicly-minded as their Bishop was, they had some fear lest he would object to altar lights in service—at least at first; but it was plain that the use of the candlesticks was to hold candles. Having had their fill of gazing and admiring, they turned to proceed on their walk, but could not get off an invitation to breakfast, in a few days, at Bateman's lodgings in the Turl.

Chapter 1-3

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