"In order to achieve a noble object--the gathering of the stragglers into the fold."
"You announce boldly that this old mother of ours is in a moribund condition, in order that you may gather in as many of her scattered children as possible to stand at her bedside? Ah, my dear Holland! the moribund brings together the wolves and the vultures and all unclean, hungry things to try and get a mouthful off those prostrate limbs of hers--a mouthful while her flesh is still warm. I tell you this--I who have from time to time during the last fifty years heard the howl of the hyena, seen the talons of the vulture at the door of her chamber. They fancied that the end could not be far off, that no more strength was left in that aged body that lay prone for the moment. But I have heard the howling wane into the distance and get lost in the outer darkness when the old Church roused herself and went forth to face the snarling teeth--the eager talons. There is life in this mighty old mother of ours still. New life comes to her, not as it did to the fabled hero of old, by contact with the earth, but by communing with heaven. The bark of the wolf, the snarl of the hyena, may be heard in the debate which the Government have encouraged in the House of Commons on the Church. Philistia rejoices. Let the movers in this obscene tumult look to themselves. Have they the confidence of the people even as the Church has that confidence? Let them put it to the test. I tell you, George Holland, the desert and the ditch, whose vomit those men are who now move against us in Parliament, shall receive them once more before many months have passed. The Church on whom they hoped to prey shall witness their dispersal, never again to return. I know the signs. I know what the present silence throughout the country means. The champion of God and the Church has drawn his breath for the conflict. His teeth are set--his weapon is in his hand --you will see the result within a year. We shall have a government in power, a government whose power will not be dependent on the faddists and the self-seekers--the ignorant, the blatant bellowers of pitiful platitudes, the platform loafers who call themselves labor-leaders, but whom the real laborers repudiate. Mark my words, their doom is sealed; back to the desert and the ditch! My dear Holland, pardon this digression. I feel that I need say nothing more to you than I have already said. The surprise system of therapeutics is not suited to the existing ailments of the Church. Caution is what is needed if you would not defeat your own worthy object, which, I know, is to give fresh vitality to the Church."
"That is certainly my object, my lord; only let me say that--"
"My dear Holland, I will not let you say anything. I asked you to come here this morning in order that you might hear me. That is all that is necessary for the present. Perhaps, upon some future occasion, I may have the privilege of hearing you in a discourse of some greater length than that which I have just inflicted upon you. I have given you my candid opinion of your writings, and you know that is the opinion of a man who has but one object in life--you know that it is the opinion of an old man who has seen the beginning and the end of many movements in society and in the Church, and who has learned that the Church, for all her decrepitude, is yet the most stable thing that the world has seen. I have to thank you for coming to me, Holland."
"Your lordship has spoken to me with the greatest kindness," said George Holland, as his spiritual father offered him his hand.
In a few minutes he was in his hansom once more.
I KNOW THAT IT DOESN'T MATTER MUCH TO GOD WHAT A MAN THINKS ABOUT HIMSELF OR HIS SOUL.
For the next hour and a half the Rev. George Holland had an opportunity of considering his position as a clergyman of the Church of England, and as one whose chief desire was to advance the interests of the Church. His bishop had assumed that he had been single-minded in his aims--that his sole object in writing that book and that paper had been to cure the complaint from which the old Church was suffering. His lordship had done him justice where Phyllis had done him a gross injustice. What would Phyllis have said he wondered, if she had heard that concession, made not under pressure, but voluntarily by probably the highest authority in the world, to his, George Holland's, singleness of aim?