Chapter 3.

{182} SHEFFIELD had some friends residing at Chalton, a neighbouring village, with a scholar of St. Michael's, who had a small cure with a house on it. One of them, indeed, was known to Reding also, being no other than our friend White, who was going into the schools, and during the last six months had been trying to make up for the time he had wasted in the first years of his residence. Charles had lost sight of him, or nearly so, since he first knew him; and at their time of life so considerable an interval could not elapse without changes in the character for good or evil, or for both. Carlton and Charles, who were a good deal thrown together by Sheffield's frequent engagements with the Chalton party, were just turning homewards in their walk one evening when they fell in with White, who had been calling at Mr. Bolton's in Oxford, and was returning. They had not proceeded very far before they were joined by Sheffield and Mr. Barry, the curate of Chalton; and thus the party was swelled to five.

"So you are going to lose Upton?" said Barry to Reding; "a capital tutor; you can ill spare him. Who comes into his place?" {183}

"We don't know," answered Charles; "the Principal will call up one of the Junior Fellows from the country, I believe."

"Oh, but you won't get a man like Upton," said Carlton; "he knew his subject so thoroughly. His lecture in the Agricola, I've heard your men say, might have been published. It was a masterly, minute running comment on the text, quite exhausting it."

"Yes, it was his forte," said Charles; "yet he never loaded his lectures; everything he said had a meaning, and was wanted."

"He has got a capital living," said Barry; "a substantial modern house, and by the rail only an hour from London."

"And 500l. a year," said White; "Mr. Bolton went over the living, and told me so. It's in my future neighbourhood; a very beautiful country, and a number of good families round about."

"They say he's going to marry the Dean of Selsey's daughter," said Barry; "do you know the family?—Miss Juliet, the thirteenth, a very pretty girl."

"Yes," said White, "I know them all; a most delightful family; Mrs. Bland is a charming woman, so very ladylike. It's my good luck to be under the Dean's jurisdiction; I think I shall pull with him capitally."

"He's a clever man," said Barry; "his charges are always well written; he had a high name in his day at Cambridge."

"Hasn't he been lately writing against your friends here, White?" said Sheffield. {184}

"My friends!" said White; "whom can you mean? He has written against parties and party leaders; and with reason, I think. Oh, yes; he alluded to poor Willis and some others."

"It was more than that," insisted Sheffield; "he charged against certain sayings and doings at St. Mary's."

"Well, I for one cannot approve of all that is uttered from the pulpit there," said White; "I know for a fact that Willis refers with great satisfaction to what he heard there as inclining him to Romanism."

"I wish preachers and hearers would all go over together at once, and then we should have some quiet time for proper University studies," said Barry.

"Take care what you are saying, Barry," said Sheffield; "you mean present company excepted. You, White, I think, come under the denomination of hearers?"

"I!" said White; "no such thing. I have been to hear him before now, as most men have; but I think him often very injudicious, or worse. The tendency of his preaching is to make one dissatisfied with one's own Church."

"Well," said Sheffield, "one's memory plays one tricks, or I should say that a friend of mine had said ten times as strong things against our Church as any preacher in Oxford ever did."

"You mean me," said White, with earnestness; "you have misunderstood me grievously. I have ever been most faithful to the Church of England. You never heard me say anything inconsistent with the {185} warmest attachment to it. I have never, indeed, denied the claims of the Romish Church to be a branch of the Catholic Church, nor will I—that's another thing quite; there are many things which we might borrow with great advantage from the Romanists. But I have ever loved, and hope I shall ever venerate, my own Mother, the Church of my baptism."

Sheffield made an odd face, and no one spoke. White continued, attempting to preserve an unconcerned manner: "It is remarkable," he said, "that Mr. Bolton—who, though a layman, and no divine, is a sensible, practical, shrewd man—never liked that pulpit; he always prophesied no good would come of it."

The silence continuing, White presently fell upon Sheffield. "I defy you," he said, with an attempt to be jocular, "to prove what you have been hinting; it is a great shame. It's so easy to speak against men, to call them injudicious, extravagant, and so on. You are the only person—"

"Well, well, I know it, I know it," said Sheffield; "we're only canonizing you, and I am the devil's advocate."

Charles wanted to hear something about Willis; so he turned the current of White's thoughts by coming up and asking him whether there was any truth in the report he had heard from Vincent several weeks before; had White heard from him lately? White knew very little about him definitely, and was not able to say whether the report was true or not. So far was certain, that he had returned from abroad and was living at home. Thus he had not committed himself {186} to the Church of Rome, whether as a theological student or as a novice; but he could not say more. Yes, he had heard one thing more; and the subject of a letter which he had received from him corroborated it—that he was very strong on the point that Romanism and Anglicanism were two religions; that you could not amalgamate them; that you must be Roman or Anglican, but could not be Anglo-Roman or Anglo-Catholic. "This is what a friend told me. In his letter to myself," White continued, "I don't know quite what he meant, but he spoke a good deal of the necessity of faith in order to be a Catholic. He said no one should go over merely because he thought he should like it better; that he had found out by experience that no one could live on sentiment; that the whole system of worship in the Romish Church was different from what it is in our own; nay, the very idea of worship, the idea of prayers; that the doctrine of intention itself, viewed in all its parts, constituted a new religion. He did not speak of himself definitely, but he said generally that all this might be a great discouragement to a convert, and throw him back. On the whole, the tone of his letter was like a person disappointed and who might be reclaimed; at least, so I thought."

"He is a wiser, even if he is a sadder man," said Charles: "I did not know he had so much in him. There is more reflection in all this than so excitable a person, as he seemed to me, is capable of exercising. At the same time there is nothing in all this to prove that he is sorry for what he has done." {187}

"I have granted this," said White; "still the effect of the letter was to keep people back from following him, by putting obstacles in their way; and then we must couple this with the fact of his going home."

Charles thought awhile. "Vincent's testimony," he said, "is either a confirmation or a mere exaggeration of what you have told me, according as it is independent or not." Then he said to himself: "White, too, has more in him than I thought; he really has spoken about Willis very sensibly: what has come to him?"

The paths soon divided; and while the Chalton pair took the right hand, Carlton and his pupils turned to the left. Soon Carlton parted from the two friends, and they reached their cottage just in time to see the setting sun.

Chapter 2-4

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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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