|She echoed his gesture.
"Probably I'm not alone among my brethren," he went on, and
then: "But what is one to do?"
With her hands she acted her sense of his difficulty.
"One may be precipitate," he said. "There's a kind of loyalty
and discipline that requires one to keep the ranks until one's
course of action is perfectly clear. One owes so much to so many.
One has to consider how one may affect--oh! people one has never
He was lugging things now into speech that so far had been
scarcely above the threshold of his conscious thought. He went on
to discuss the entire position of the disbelieving cleric. He
discovered a fine point.
"If there was something else, an alternative, another religion,
another Church, to which one could go, the whole case would be
different. But to go from the church to nothingness isn't to go
from falsehood to truth. It's to go from truth, rather badly
expressed, rather conservatively hidden by its protections, truth
in an antiquated costume, to the blackest lie--in the world."
She took that point very brightly.
"One must hold fast to 'iligion," she said, and looked
earnestly at him and gripped fiercely, pink thumbs out, with her
beautiful hands held up.
That was it, exactly. He too was gripping. But while on the
outside the Midianites of denial were prowling for these clinging
souls, within the camp they were assailed by a meticulous
orthodoxy that was only too eager to cast them forth. The bishop
dwelt for a time upon the curious fierceness orthodoxy would
sometimes display. Nowadays atheism can be civil, can be
generous; it is orthodoxy that trails a scurrilous fringe.
"Who was that young man with a strong Irish accent--who
contradicted me so suddenly?" he asked.
"The dark young man?"
"The noisy young man."
"That was Mist' Pat'ick O'Go'man. He is a Kelt and all that.
Spells Pat'ick with eva so many letters. You know. They say he
spends ouas and ouas lea'ning E'se. He wo'ies about it. They all
t'y to lea'n E'se, and it wo'ies them and makes them hate England
moa and moa."
"He is orthodox. He--is what I call orthodox to the
A deep-toned gong proclaimed breakfast over a square mile or so
of territory, and Lady Sunderbund turned about mechanically
towards the house. But they continued their discussion.
She started indeed a new topic. "Shall we eva, do 'ou think,
have a new 'iligion--t'ua and betta?"
That was a revolutionary idea to him.
He was still fending it off from him when a gap in the shrubs
brought them within sight of the house and of Mrs. Garstein
Fellows on the portico waving a handkerchief and crying
"I wish we could talk for houas," said Lady Sunderbund.
"I've been glad of this talk," said the bishop. "Very glad."
She lifted her soft abundant skirts and trotted briskly across
the still dewy lawn towards the house door. The bishop followed
gravely and slowly with his hands behind his back and an
unusually peaceful expression upon his face. He was thinking how
rare and precious a thing it is to find intelligent friendship in
women. More particularly when they were dazzlingly charming and
pretty. It was strange, but this was really his first woman
friend. If, as he hoped, she became his friend.
Lady Sunderbund entered the breakfast room in a gusty abundance
like Botticelli's Primavera, and kissed Mrs. Garstein Fellows
good-morning. She exhaled a glowing happiness. "He is wondyful,"
she panted. "He is most wondyful."
"Mr. Hidgeway Kelso?"
"No, the dee' bishop! I love him. Are those the little sausages
I like? May I take th'ee? I've been up houas."
The dee' bishop appeared in the sunlit doorway.
The bishop felt more contentment in the London train than he
had felt for many weeks. He had taken two decisive and relieving
steps. One was that he had stated his case to another human
being, and that a very charming and sympathetic human being, he
was no longer a prey to a current of secret and concealed
thoughts running counter to all the appearances of his outward
life; and the other was that he was now within an hour or so of
Brighton-Pomfrey and a cigarette. He would lunch on the train,
get to London about two, take a taxi at once to the wise old
doctor, catch him over his coffee in a charitable and
understanding mood, and perhaps be smoking a cigarette publicly
and honourably and altogether satisfyingly before three.
So far as Brighton-Pomfrey's door this program was fulfilled
without a hitch. The day was fine and he had his taxi opened, and
noted with a patriotic satisfaction as he rattled through the
streets, the glare of the recruiting posters on every vacant
piece of wall and the increasing number of men in khaki in the
streets. But at the door he had a disappointment. Dr.
Brighton-Pomfrey was away at the front--of all places; he had
gone for some weeks; would the bishop like to see Dr. Dale?
The bishop hesitated. He had never set eyes on this Dr. Dale.
Indeed, he had never heard of Dr. Dale.
Seeing his old friend Brighton-Pomfrey and being gently and
tactfully told to do exactly what he was longing to do was one
thing; facing some strange doctor and going slowly and
elaborately through the whole story of his illness, his vow and
his breakdown, and perhaps having his reaction time tested and
all sorts of stripping and soundings done, was quite another. He
was within an ace of turning away.
If he had turned away his whole subsequent life would have been
different. It was the very slightest thing in the world tipped
the beam. It was the thought that, after all, whatever
inconvenience and unpleasantness there might be in this
interview, there was at the end of it a very reasonable prospect
of a restored and legitimate cigarette.
CHAPTER THE FIFTH - THE FIRST VISION
Dr. DALE exceeded the bishop's worst apprehensions. He was a
lean, lank, dark young man with long black hair and irregular,
rather prolonged features; his chin was right over to the left;
he looked constantly at the bishop's face with a distinctly
sceptical grey eye; he could not have looked harder if he had
been a photographer or a portrait painter. And his voice was
harsh, and the bishop was particularly sensitive to voices.
He began by understanding far too much of the bishop's illness,
and he insisted on various familiarities with the bishop's heart
and tongue and eye and knee that ruffled the bishop's soul.
"Brighton-Pomfrey talked of neurasthenia?" he asked. "That was
his diagnosis," said the bishop. "Neurasthenia," said the young
man as though he despised the word.
The bishop went on buttoning up his coat.
"You don't of course want to break your vows about drinking and
smoking," said the young man with the very faintest suggestion of
derision in his voice.
"Not if it can possibly be avoided," the bishop asserted.
"Without a loss, that is, of practical efficiency," he added.
"For I have much to do."
"I think that it is possible to keep your vow," said the young
man, and the bishop could have sworn at him. "I think we can
manage that all right."
The bishop sat at the table resting his arm upon it and
awaiting the next development of this unsatisfactory interview.
He was on the verge of asking as unpleasantly as possible when
Brighton-Pomfrey would return.
The young man stood upon Brighton-Pomfrey's hearth-rug and was
evidently contemplating dissertations.
"Of course," he said, as though he discussed a problem with
himself, "you must have some sort of comfort. You must get out of
this state, one way or another."
The bishop nodded assent. He had faint hopes of this young
man's ideas of comfort.
Dr. Dale reflected. Then he went off away from the question of
comfort altogether. "You see, the trouble in such a case as this
is peculiarly difficult to trace to its sources because it comes
just upon the border-line of bodily and mental things. You may
take a drug or alter your regimen and it disturbs your thoughts,
you may take an idea and it disturbs your health. It is easy
enough to say, as some do, that all ideas have a physical
substratum; it is almost as easy to say with the Christian
Scientist that all bodily states are amenable to our ideas. The
truth doesn't, I think, follow the border between those opposite
opinions very exactly on either side. I can't, for instance, tell
you to go home and pray against these uncertainties and despairs,
because it is just these uncertainties and despairs that rob you
of the power of efficient prayer."
He did not seem to expect anything from the bishop.
"I don't see that because a case brings one suddenly right up
against the frontier of metaphysics, why a doctor should
necessarily pull up short at that, why one shouldn't go on into
either metaphysics or psychology if such an extension is
necessary for the understanding of the case. At any rate if
you'll permit it in this consultation...."
"Go on," said the bishop, holding on to that promise of
comfort. "The best thing is to thrash out the case in your own
way. And then come to what is practical."
"What is really the matter here--the matter with you that is
--is a disorganization of your tests of reality. It's one of a
group of states hitherto confused. Neurasthenia, that
comprehensive phrase--well, it is one of the neurasthenias.
Here, I confess, I begin to talk of work I am doing, work still
to be published, finished first and then published.... But I go
off from the idea that every living being lives in a state not
differing essentially from a state of hallucination concerning
the things about it. Truth, essential truth, is hidden. Always.
Of course there must be a measure of truth in our working
illusions, a working measure of truth, or the creature would
smash itself up and end itself, but beyond that discretion of the
fire and the pitfall lies a wide margin of error about which we
may be deceived for years. So long as it doesn't matter, it
doesn't matter. I don't know if I make myself clear."
"I follow you," said the bishop a little wearily, "I follow
you. Phenomena and noumena and so on and so on. Kant and so
forth. Pragmatism. Yes."
With a sigh.
"And all that," completed Dr. Dale in a voice that suggested
mockery. "But you see we grow into a way of life, we settle down
among habits and conventions, we say 'This is all right' and
'That is always so.' We get more and more settled into our life
as a whole and more and more confident. Unless something happens
to shake us out of our sphere of illusion. That may be some
violent contradictory fact, some accident, or it may be some
subtle change in one's health and nerves that makes us feel
doubtful. Or a change of habits. Or, as I believe, some subtle
quickening of the critical faculty. Then suddenly comes the
feeling as though we were lost in a strange world, as though we
had never really seen the world before."
The bishop was reluctantly interested. "That does describe
something--of the mental side," he admitted. "I never believe
in concealing my own thoughts from an intelligent patient," said
Dr. Dale, with a quiet offensiveness. "That sort of thing belongs
to the dark ages of the 'pothecary's art. I will tell you exactly
my guesses and suppositions about you. At the base of it all is a
slight and subtle kidney trouble, due I suggest to your going to
Princhester and drinking the local water--"
"But it's excellent water. They boast of it."
"By all the established tests. As a matter of fact many of our
best drinking waters have all sorts of unspecified qualities.
Burton water, for example, is radioactive by Beetham's standards
up to the ninth degree. But that is by the way. My theory about
your case is that this produced a change in your blood, that
quickened your sensibilities and your critical faculties just at
a time when a good many bothers--I don't of course know what
they were, but I can, so to speak, see the marks all over you--
came into your life."
The bishop nodded.
"You were uprooted. You moved from house to house, and failed
to get that curled up safe feeling one has in a real home in any
"If you saw the fireplaces and the general decoration of the
new palace!" admitted the bishop. "I had practically no control."
"That confirms me," said Dr. Dale. "Insomnia followed, and
increased the feeling of physical strangeness by increasing the
bodily disturbance. I suspect an intellectual disturbance."
"There was," said the bishop.
"You were no longer at home anywhere. You were no longer at
home in your diocese, in your palace, in your body, in your
convictions. And then came the war. Quite apart from everything
else the mind of the whole world is suffering profoundly from the
shock of this war--much more than is generally admitted. One
thing you did that you probably did not observe yourself doing,
you drank rather more at your meals, you smoked a lot more. That
was your natural and proper response to the shock."
"Ah!" said the bishop, and brightened up.
"It was remarked by Tolstoy, I think, that few intellectual men
would really tolerate the world as it is if it were not for
smoking and drinking. Even novelists have their moments of
lucidity. Certainly these things soothe the restlessness in men's
minds, deaden their sceptical sensibilities. And just at the time
when you were getting most dislodged--you gave them up."
"And the sooner I go back to them the better," said the bishop
brightly. "I quite see that."
"I wouldn't say that," said Dr. Dale....
"That," said Dr. Dale, "is just where my treatment of this case
differs from the treatment of "--he spoke the name reluctantly
as if he disliked the mere sound of it--"Dr. Brighton-Pomfrey."
"Hitherto, of course," said the bishop, "I've been in his
"He," said Dr. Dale, "would certainly set about trying to
restore your old sphere of illusion, your old familiar sensations
and ideas and confidences. He would in fact turn you back. He
would restore all your habits. He would order you a rest. He
would send you off to some holiday resort, fresh in fact but
familiar in character, the High lands, North Italy, or
Switzerland for example. He would forbid you newspapers and order
you to botanize and prescribe tranquillizing reading; Trollope's
novels, the Life of Gladstone, the works of Mr. A. C. Benson,
memoirs and so on. You'd go somewhere where there was a good
Anglican chaplain, and you'd take some of the services yourself.
And we'd wash out the effects of the Princhester water with
Contrexeville, and afterwards put you on Salutaris or Perrier. I
don't know whether I shouldn't have inclined to some such
treatment before the war began. Only--"
Dr. Dale's face betrayed a sudden sombre passion. "It won't do
now," he said in a voice of quiet intensity. "It won't do now."
He remained darkly silent for so long that at last the bishop
spoke. "Then what," he asked, "do you suggest?
"Suppose we don't try to go back," said Dr. Dale. "Suppose we
go on and go through."
"I know it's doubtful, I know it's dangerous," he went on, "but
I am convinced that now we can no longer keep men's minds and
souls in these feathered nests, these spheres of illusion. Behind
these veils there is either God or the Darkness.... Why should we
not go on?"
The bishop was profoundly perplexed. He heard himself speaking.
"It would be unworthy of my cloth," he was saying.
Dr. Dale completed the sentence: "to go back."
"Let me explain a little more," he said, "what I mean by 'going
on.' I think that this loosening of the ties of association that
bind a man to his everyday life and his everyday self is in nine
cases out of ten a loosening of the ties that bind him to
everyday sanity. One common form of this detachment is the form
you have in those cases of people who are found wandering unaware
of their names, unaware of their places of residence, lost
altogether from themselves. They have not only lost their sense
of identity with themselves, but all the circumstances of their
lives have faded out of their minds like an idle story in a book
that has been read and put aside. I have looked into hundreds of
such cases. I don't think that loss of identity is a necessary
thing; it's just another side of the general weakening of the
grip upon reality, a kind of anaemia of the brain so that
interest fades and fails. There is no reason why you should
forget a story because you do not believe it--if your brain is
strong enough to hold it. But if your brain is tired and weak,
then so soon as you lose faith in your records, your mind is glad
to let them go. When you see these lost identity people that is
always your first impression, a tired brain that has let go."
The bishop felt extremely like letting go.
"But how does this apply to my case?"
"I come to that," said Dr. Dale, holding up a long large hand.
"What if we treat this case of yours in a new way? What if we
give you not narcotics but stimulants and tonics? What if we so
touch the blood that we increase your sense of physical
detachment while at the same time feeding up your senses to a new
and more vivid apprehension of things about you?" He looked at
his patient's hesitation and added: "You'd lose all that craving
feeling, that you fancy at present is just the need of a smoke.
The world might grow a trifle--transparent, but you'd keep
real. Instead of drugging oneself back to the old contentment--"
"You'd drug me on to the new," said the bishop.
"But just one word more!" said Dr. Dale. "Hear why I would do
this! It was easy and successful to rest and drug people back to
their old states of mind when the world wasn't changing, wasn't
spinning round in the wildest tornado of change that it has ever
been in. But now--Where can I send you for a rest? Where can I
send you to get you out of sight and hearing of the Catastrophe?
Of course old Brighton-Pomfrey would go on sending people away
for rest and a nice little soothing change if the Day of Judgment
was coming in the sky and the earth was opening and the sea was
giving up its dead. He'd send 'em to the seaside. Such things as
that wouldn't shake his faith in the Channel crossing. My idea is
that it's not only right for you to go through with this, but
that it's the only thing to do. If you go right on and right
through with these doubts and intimations--"
"You may die like a madman," he said, "but you won't die like a
The bishop sat reflecting. What fascinated and attracted him
was the ending of all the cravings and uneasinesses and
restlessness that had distressed his life for over four years;
what deterred him was the personality of this gaunt young man
with his long grey face, his excited manner, his shock of black
hair. He wanted that tonic--with grave misgivings. "If you
think this tonic is the wiser course," he began. "I'd give it you
if you were my father," said Dr. Dale. "I've got everything for
it," he added.
"You mean you can make it up--without a prescription."
"I can't give you a prescription. The essence of it--It's a
distillate I have been trying. It isn't in the Pharmacopeia."
Again the bishop had a twinge of misgiving.
But in the end he succumbed. He didn't want to take the stuff,
but also he did not want to go without his promised comfort.
Presently Dale had given him a little phial--and was holding
up to the window a small medicine glass into which he was pouring
very carefully twenty drops of the precious fluid. "Take it
only," he said, "when you feel you must."
"It is the most golden of liquids," said the bishop, peering at
"When you want more I will make you more. Later of course, it
will be possible to write a prescription. Now add the water--
"It becomes opalescent. How beautifully the light plays in it!
The bishop dismissed his last discretion and drank.
"Well?" said Dr. Dale.
"I am still here," said the bishop, smiling, and feeling a
joyous tingling throughout his body. "It stirs me."
The bishop stood on the pavement outside Dr. Brighton-Pomfrey's
house. The massive door had closed behind him.
It had been an act of courage, of rashness if you will, to take
this draught. He was acutely introspective, ready for anything,
for the most disagreeable or the most bizarre sensations. He was
asking himself, Were his feet steady? Was his head swimming?
His doubts glowed into assurance.
Suddenly he perceived that he was sure of God.
Not perhaps of the God of Nicaea, but what did these poor
little quibblings and definitions of the theologians matter? He
had been worrying about these definitions and quibblings for four
long restless years. Now they were just failures to express--
what surely every one knew--and no one would ever express
exactly. Because here was God, and the kingdom of God was
manifestly at hand. The visible world hung before him as a mist
might hang before the rising sun. He stood proudly and
masterfully facing a universe that had heretofore bullied him
into doubt and apologetics, a universe that had hitherto been
opaque and was now betrayed translucent.
That was the first effect of the new tonic, complete
reassurance, complete courage. He turned to walk towards Mount
Street and Berkeley Square as a sultan might turn to walk among
But the tonic was only beginning.
Before he had gone a dozen steps he was aware that he seemed
more solid and larger than the people about him. They had all a
curious miniature effect, as though he was looking at them
through the wrong end of an opera glass. The houses on either
side of the street and the traffic shared this quality in an
equal measure. It was as if he was looking at the world through