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“Well, Lady Templedale, on the former head, the less I say perhaps the better, as I am too short-sighted to be a very accurate, even if I were a very attentive observer. As to our services, I will readily admit that, in a small country chapel, they will show somewhat like the performance of Richard III. and his battles, which we witnessed together last year in the barn at the Glanford Fair. Certainly, we were not very much impressed by the scenic effects ; but yet, in my mind, Shakspeare required no apology, saving perhaps that he had written for another stage.”
“So I suppose, my dear, that we are not to judge of a Catholic service unless we can see it at St. Peter's ?”
"Not exactly; but our ceremonial is unquestionably best adapted to our great and ever open Cathedrals and Churches, crowded by the faithful of every degree, where the gigantic aisles and vaults could not be pervaded by any human voice, and where the heart of the remotest and humblest present is yet taught to thrill with each successive act and symbol of the general worship.”
“Well, but, my dear, could not all this be rationalized a little for the selecter assemblages ?”
“ Perhaps so, Lady Templedale; but the task would be a fearful one indeed! I will not inquire whether, when we should have so rationalized our services, to use your own expression, as to suit the taste of a congregation of Newtons, we would have rendered the form of our Catholic worship much more congenial to the Divine Mind: at all events, should we not have removed it very much further from the apprehension of the Poor in Spirit, who, on this account alone, are declared to be Blessed ? Remember, besides, what duties and what difficulties are entailed upon the Head of the Catholic Church. If once the authority and prestige of ancient, unaltered, and uniform observance are cast aside; if the conflicting prejudices, or even requirements of communities so diverse, are to be consulted, where is the concession to end, and what will become of the symbolized Unity to which we so reverent] adhere ?"
“We manage pretty well without all that, my dear.” “No, my dear Lady Templedale, to speak
frankly, I do not think you do. Your Church having relinquished her Catholic for her National character, was, no doubt, free to shape her Observances, as well as her Doctrines, according to the local dictates of human wisdom. What have been the results, in these realms alone? They have been rejected by Scotland; they have been imposed by constraint alone upon Ireland ; in England herself, they have not satisfied your numerous dissenting sects. And yet, what sacrifices have you not made to meet the popular clamour ? Do you remember, Conny, when we went together to the afternoon service at Westminster Abbey ? Even you, who are far too wise to waste much regret upon artistic and imaginary grievances, were a little staggered. In the centre of the majestic and time-honoured aisle, a little modern edifice, erected for the convenience of a score of casual worshippers, and even these only detained throughout the service by an innocent stratagem. Surely, this cannot have been the missionthis the appointed audience! You should have levelled the noble pile, dear Lady Templedale, when you despoiled it of both, for it stands in fearful judgment against you.”
“We are not the least alarmed, are we, Conny ?" resumed Lady Templedale. “We are quite satisfied with the rational services that we can find elsewhere, if not there."
“ Rational again!” replied Cécile, smiling. “You will have more numerous congregations when man will be framed of intellect alone. Our appeal is not to human reason, but to human nature, and hence the universal response.”
“You can hear that of England, my dear, at all events, for it is audible enough. She may be persuaded, but she will not be beguiled, and rather than see her churches converted into theatres, she will close them herself.”
“It is a needless precaution, Lady Templedale. You will have no Protestant Raffaelle to sully their walls; no reformed Bossuet to overexalt the imagination of the weak-minded.”
“Very possibly, my dear ; but we shall have none the less a Church strong in the confidence and in the affections of a loyal and determined
“She is strong, we know it,” replied Cécile, thoughtfully; "strong in the holy and venerable character of her ministers ; stronger still in the
support of the passions and prejudices which called her into existence. And yet, Lady Templedale, there is a firmer and a surer foundation, even humanly speaking, than the power and the pride of a nation.”
“What may that be, my dear ?”
“The universal aspiration of Christendom for its appointed unity. Which is the rock, Lady Templedale, and which is the sand ? The days are gone by, when each isolated community could live for itself alone, in a fool's paradise of imaginary perfection. Europe is no longer a distant and unknown land. While every day, while every hour, increases our connection and communion with her, upon every other point, are we to remain eternally divided, estranged, and hostile there where it is most natural and most essential that we should be agreed ?"
“You should have thought of that at Rome, my dear, before the extremity of your folly and of your arrogance rendered this estrangement inevitable.”
“Ah!” replied Cécile, sadly, “you cannot feel more deeply upon that point than I do ; but how far more bitterly still would I grieve,