"I was anxious to give you my opinion as early as possible," resumed the bishop, "and that is, that what you have just published--the book and the /Zeit Geist/ article--reflect--yes, in no inconsiderable measure--what I have long thought."
"I am flattered, indeed, my lord."
"You need not be, Holland. I believe that there are a large number of thinking men in the Church who are trying to solve the problem with which you have so daringly grappled--the problem of how to induce intellectual men and women to attend the services of the church. I'm afraid that there is a great deal of truth in what you say about the Church herself bearing responsibility for the existence of this problem."
"There is no setting aside that fact, my lord."
"Alas! that short-sighted policy has been the Church's greatest enemy from the earliest period. You remember what St. Augustine says? Ah, never mind just now. About your book--that's the matter before us just now. I must say that I don't consider the present time the most suitable for the issue of that book, or that article in the /Zeit Geist/. You meant them to be startling. Well, they are startling. There are some complaints--nervous complaints--that require to be startled out of the system; that's a phrase of Sir Richard's. He made use of it in regard to my neuralgia. 'We must surprise it out of the system,' said he, 'with a large dose of quinine.' The phrase seemed to me to be a very striking one. But the Church is not neurotic. You cannot apply the surprise method to her system with any chance of success. That is wherein the publication of your article seems to me to be--shall we call it premature? It is calculated to startle; but you cannot startle people into going to church, my dear Holland, and that is, of course, the only object you hope to achieve. Your book and your article were written with the sole object of bringing intelligent people to church. But it occurs to me, and I think it will occur to you also, that if the article be taken seriously,--and it is meant to be taken seriously,--it may be the means of keeping people away from the Church rather than bringing them to church. It may even be the means of alienating from that fond, if somewhat foolish old mother of ours, many of her children who are already attached to her. I trust I don't speak harshly."
"Your lordship speaks most kindly; but the truth--"
"Should be spoken as gently as possible when it is calculated to wound, Holland; that is why I trust I am speaking gently now. Ah, Holland! there are the little children to be considered as well as the Scribes and Pharisees. There are weaker brethren. You have heard of the necessity for considering the weaker brethren."
"I seem to have heard of nothing else since I entered the Church; all the brethren are the weaker brethren."