Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh: Ch. 83

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During this same absence what had Mrs Goodhew and old Miss Wright taken to doing but turning towards the east while repeating the Belief?  Theobald disliked this even worse than chanting.  When he said something about it in a timid way at dinner after service, Charlotte said, “Really, papa dear, you must take to calling it the ‘Creed’ and not the ‘Belief’”; and Theobald winced impatiently and snorted meek defiance, but the spirit of her aunts Jane and Eliza was strong in Charlotte, and the thing was too small to fight about, and he turned it off with a laugh.  “As for Charlotte,” thought Christina, “I believe she knows everything.”  So Mrs Goodhew and old Miss Wright continued to turn to the east during the time the Creed was said, and by-and-by others followed their example, and ere long the few who had stood out yielded and turned eastward too; and then Theobald made as though he had thought it all very right and proper from the first, but like it he did not.  By-and-by Charlotte tried to make him say “Alleluia” instead of “Hallelujah,” but this was going too far, and Theobald turned, and she got frightened and ran away.

And they changed the double chants for single ones, and altered them psalm by psalm, and in the middle of psalms, just where a cursory reader would see no reason why they should do so, they changed from major to minor and from minor back to major; and then they got “Hymns Ancient and Modern,” and, as I have said, they robbed him of his beloved bands, and they made him preach in a surplice, and he must have celebration of the Holy Communion once a month instead of only five times in the year as heretofore, and he struggled in vain against the unseen influence which he felt to be working in season and out of season against all that he had been accustomed to consider most distinctive of his party.  Where it was, or what it was, he knew not, nor exactly what it would do next, but he knew exceedingly well that go where he would it was undermining him; that it was too persistent for him; that Christina and Charlotte liked it a great deal better than he did, and that it could end in nothing but Rome.  Easter decorations indeed!  Christmas decorations—in reason—were proper enough, but Easter decorations! well, it might last his time.

This was the course things had taken in the Church of England during the last forty years.  The set has been steadily in one direction.  A few men who knew what they wanted made cats’ paws of the Christmas and the Charlottes, and the Christmas and the Charlottes made cats’ paws of the Mrs Goodhews and the old Miss Wrights, and Mrs Goodhews and old Miss Wrights told the Mr Goodhews and young Miss Wrights what they should do, and when the Mr Goodhews and the young Miss Wrights did it the little Goodhews and the rest of the spiritual flock did as they did, and the Theobalds went for nothing; step by step, day by day, year by year, parish by parish, diocese by diocese this was how it was done.  And yet the Church of England looks with no friendly eyes upon the theory of Evolution or Descent with Modification.

My hero thought over these things, and remembered many a ruse on the part of Christina and Charlotte, and many a detail of the struggle which I cannot further interrupt my story to refer to, and he remembered his father’s favourite retort that it could only end in Rome.  When he was a boy he had firmly believed this, but he smiled now as he thought of another alternative clear enough to himself, but so horrible that it had not even occurred to Theobald—I mean the toppling over of the whole system.  At that time he welcomed the hope that the absurdities and unrealities of the Church would end in her downfall.  Since then he has come to think very differently, not as believing in the cow jumping over the moon more than he used to, or more, probably, than nine-tenths of the clergy themselves—who know as well as he does that their outward and visible symbols are out of date—but because he knows the baffling complexity of the problem when it comes to deciding what is actually to be done.  Also, now that he has seen them more closely, he knows better the nature of those wolves in sheep’s clothing, who are thirsting for the blood of their victim, and exulting so clamorously over its anticipated early fall into their clutches.  The spirit behind the Church is true, though her letter—true once—is now true no longer.  The spirit behind the High Priests of Science is as lying as its letter.  The Theobalds, who do what they do because it seems to be the correct thing, but who in their hearts neither like it nor believe in it, are in reality the least dangerous of all classes to the peace and liberties of mankind.  The man to fear is he who goes at things with the cocksureness of pushing vulgarity and self-conceit.  These are not vices which can be justly laid to the charge of the English clergy.