Chapter the first the dream chapter the second the wear and tear of episcopacy chapter the third insomnia



Download 1.42 Mb.
Page21/21
Date conversion03.05.2016
Size1.42 Mb.
1   ...   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21
"But I thought always that was what hurt you most, my breach

with the church."


"Things are so different now," she said.
Her heart dissolved within her into tender possessiveness.

There came flooding into her mind the old phrases of an ancient

story: "Whither thou goest I will go... thy people shall be my

people and thy God my God.... The Lord do so to me and more also

if aught but death part thee and me."
Just those words would Lady Ella have said to her husband now,

but she was capable of no such rhetoric.


"Whither thou goest," she whispered almost inaudibly, and she

could get no further. "My dear," she said.


(18)

At two o'clock the next morning Scrope was still up. He was

sitting over the snoring gas fire in his study. He did not want

to go to bed. His mind was too excited, he knew, for any hope of

sleep. In the last twelve hours, since he had gone out across the

park to his momentous talk with Lady Sunderbund, it seemed to him

that his life had passed through its cardinal crisis and come to

its crown and decision. The spiritual voyage that had begun five

years ago amidst a stormy succession of theological nightmares

had reached harbour at last. He was established now in the sure

conviction of God's reality, and of his advent to unify the lives

of men and to save mankind. Some unobserved process in his mind

had perfected that conviction, behind the cloudy veil of his

vacillations and moods. Surely that work was finished now, and

the day's experience had drawn the veil and discovered God

established for ever.


He contrasted this simple and overruling knowledge of God as

the supreme fact in a practical world with that vague and

ineffective subject for sentiment who had been the "God" of his

Anglican days. Some theologian once spoke of God as "the friend

behind phenomena"; that Anglican deity had been rather a vague

flummery behind court and society, wealth, "respectability," and

the comfortable life. And even while he had lived in lipservice

to that complaisant compromise, this true God had been here, this

God he now certainly professed, waiting for his allegiance,

waiting to take up the kingship of this distraught and

bloodstained earth. The finding of God is but the stripping of

bandages from the eyes. Seek and ye shall find....


He whispered four words very softly: "The Kingdom of God!"
He was quite sure he had that now, quite sure.
The Kingdom of God!
That now was the form into which all his life must fall. He

recalled his vision of the silver sphere and of ten thousand

diverse minds about the world all making their ways to the same

one conclusion. Here at last was a king and emperor for mankind

for whom one need have neither contempt nor resentment; here was

an aim for which man might forge the steel and wield the scalpel,

write and paint and till and teach. Upon this conception he must

model all his life. Upon this basis he must found friendships and

co-operations. All the great religions, Christianity, Islam, in

the days of their power and honesty, had proclaimed the advent of

this kingdom of God. It had been their common inspiration. A

religion surrenders when it abandons the promise of its

Millennium. He had recovered that ancient and immortal hope. All

men must achieve it, and with their achievement the rule of God

begins. He muttered his faith. It made it more definite to put it

into words and utter it. "It comes. It surely comes. To-morrow I

begin. I will do no work that goes not Godward. Always now it

shall be the truth as near as I can put it. Always now it shall

be the service of the commonweal as well as I can do it. I will

live for the ending of all false kingship and priestcraft, for

the eternal growth of the spirit of man...."
He was, he knew clearly, only one common soldier in a great

army that was finding its way to enlistment round and about the

earth. He was not alone. While the kings of this world fought for

dominion these others gathered and found themselves and one

another, these others of the faith that grows plain, these men

who have resolved to end the bloodstained chronicles of the

Dynasts and the miseries of a world that trades in life, for

ever. They were many men, speaking divers tongues. He was but one

who obeyed the worldwide impulse. He could smile at the artless

vanity that had blinded him to the import of his earlier visions,

that had made him imagine himself a sole discoverer, a new

Prophet, that had brought him so near to founding a new sect.

Every soldier in the new host was a recruiting sergeant according

to his opportunity.... And none was leader. Only God was

leader....
"The achievement of the Kingdom of God;" this was his calling.

Henceforth this was his business in life....


For a time he indulged in vague dreams of that kingdom of God

on earth of which he would be one of the makers; it was a dream

of a shadowy splendour of cities, of great scientific

achievements, of a universal beauty, of beautiful people living

in the light of God, of a splendid adventure, thrusting out at

last among the stars. But neither his natural bent nor his mental

training inclined him to mechanical or administrative

explicitness. Much more was his dream a vision of men inwardly

ennobled and united in spirit. He saw history growing reasonable

and life visibly noble as mankind realized the divine aim. All

the outward peace and order, the joy of physical existence finely

conceived, the mounting power and widening aim were but the

expression and verification of the growth of God within. Then we

would bear children for finer ends than the blood and mud of

battlefields. Life would tower up like a great flame. By faith we

reached forward to that. The vision grew more splendid as it grew

more metaphorical. And the price one paid for that; one gave sham

dignities, false honour, a Levitical righteousness, immediate

peace, one bartered kings and churches for God.... He looked at

the mean, poverty-struck room, he marked the dinginess and

tawdriness of its detail and all the sordid evidences of

ungracious bargaining and grudging service in its appointments.

For all his life now he would have to live in such rooms. He who

had been one of the lucky ones.... Well, men were living in

dug-outs and dying gaily in muddy trenches, they had given limbs

and lives, eyes and the joy of movement, prosperity and pride,

for a smaller cause and a feebler assurance than this that he had

found....


(19)

Presently his thoughts were brought back to his family by the

sounds of Eleanor's return. He heard her key in the outer door;

he heard her move about in the hall and then slip lightly up to

bed. He did not go out to speak to her, and she did not note the

light under his door.


He would talk to her later when this discovery of her own

emotions no longer dominated her mind. He recalled her departing

figure and how she had walked, touching and looking up to her

young mate, and he a little leaning to her....


"God bless them and save them," he said....
He thought of her sisters. They had said but little to his

clumsy explanations. He thought of the years and experience that

they must needs pass through before they could think the fulness

of his present thoughts, and so he tempered his disappointment.

They were a gallant group, he felt. He had to thank Ella and good

fortune that so they were. There was Clementina with her odd

quick combatant sharpness, a harder being than Eleanor, but

nevertheless a finespirited and even more independent. There was

Miriam, indefatigably kind. Phoebe too had a real passion of the

intellect and Daphne an innate disposition to service. But it was

strange how they had taken his proclamation of a conclusive

breach with the church as though it was a command they must, at

least outwardly, obey. He had expected them to be more deeply

shocked; he had thought he would have to argue against objections

and convert them to his views. Their acquiescence was strange.

They were content he should think all this great issue out and

give his results to them. And his wife, well as he knew her, had

surprised him. He thought of her words: "Whither thou goest--"


He was dissatisfied with this unconditional agreement. Why

could not his wife meet God as he had met God? Why must Miriam

put the fantastic question--as though it was not for her to

decide: "Are we still Christians?" And pursuing this thought, why

couldn't Lady Sunderbund set up in religion for herself without

going about the world seeking for a priest and prophet. Were

women Undines who must get their souls from mortal men? And who

was it tempted men to set themselves up as priests? It was the

wife, the disciple, the lover, who was the last, the most fatal

pitfall on the way to God.


He began to pray, still sitting as he prayed.
"Oh God!" he prayed. "Thou who has shown thyself to me, let me

never forget thee again. Save me from forgetfulness. And show

thyself to those I love; show thyself to all mankind. Use me, O

God, use me; but keep my soul alive. Save me from the presumption

of the trusted servant; save me from the vanity of authority....
"And let thy light shine upon all those who are so dear to

me.... Save them from me. Take their dear loyalty...."


He paused. A flushed, childishly miserable face that stared

indignantly through glittering tears, rose before his eyes. He

forgot that he had been addressing God.
"How can I help you, you silly thing?" he said. "I would give

my own soul to know that God had given his peace to you. I could

not do as you wished. And I have hurt you!... You hurt

yourself.... But all the time you would have hampered me and

tempted me--and wasted yourself. It was impossible.... And yet

you are so fine!"


He was struck by another aspect.
"Ella was happy--partly because Lady Sunderbund was hurt and

left desolated...."


"Both of them are still living upon nothings. Living for

nothings. A phantom way of living...."


He stared blankly at the humming blue gas jets amidst the

incandescent asbestos for a space.


"Make them understand," he pleaded, as though he spoke

confidentially of some desirable and reasonable thing to a friend

who sat beside him. "You see it is so hard for them until they

understand. It is easy enough when one understands. Easy--" He

reflected for some moments--" It is as if they could not exist -

- except in relationship to other definite people. I want them

to exist--as now I exist--in relationship to God. Knowing

God...."
But now he was talking to himself again.


"So far as one can know God," he said presently.
For a while he remained frowning at the fire. Then he bent

forward, turned out the gas, arose with the air of a man who

relinquishes a difficult task. "One is limited," he said. "All

one's ideas must fall within one's limitations. Faith is a sort

of tour de force. A feat of the imagination. For such things as

we are. Naturally--naturally.... One perceives it clearly only

in rare moments.... That alters nothing...."
End of The Project Gutenberg Etext of Soul of a Bishop, by H. G. Wells
Mr. WELLS has also written the following novels:

LOVE AND MR. LEWISHAM

KIPPS

MR. POLLY



THE WHEELS OF CHANCE

THE NEW MACHIAVELLI

ANN VERONICA

TONO BUNGAY

MARRIAGE

BEALBY


THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS

THE WIFE OF SIR ISAAC HARMAN

THE RESEARCH MAGNIFICENT

MR. BRITLING SEES IT THROUGH


The following fantastic and imaginative romances:

THE WAR OF THE WORLDS

THE TIME MACHINE

THE WONDERFUL VISIT

THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU

THE SEA LADY

THE SLEEPER AWAKES

THE FOOD OF THE GODS

THE WAR IN THE AIR

THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON

IN THE DAYS OF THE COMET

THE WORLD SET FREE


And numerous Short Stories now collected in

One Volume under the title of

THE COUNTRY OF THE BLIND
A Series of books upon Social, Religious and

Political questions:

ANTICIPATIONS (1900)

MANKIND IN THE MAKING

FIRST AND LAST THINGS (RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY)

NEW WORLDS FOR OLD

A MODERN UTOPIA

THE FUTURE IN AMERICA

AN ENGLISHMAN LOOKS AT THE WORLD

WHAT IS COMING?

WAR AND THE FUTURE

GOD THE INVISIBLE KING


And two little books about children's play, called:

FLOOR GAMES and LITTLE WARS


End of The Project Gutenberg Etext of Soul of a Bishop, by H. G. Wells
1   ...   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21


The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2016
send message

    Main page