Lancashire Idylls (1898) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 169 pages of information about Lancashire Idylls (1898).

And there came on the young pastor a spirit of power, and of love, and of a new mind, and he slept.

IV.

THE OLD PASTOR.

On the following morning Mr. Penrose set out to call on the old pastor at the house of Dr. Hale, conjuring up as he went pictures of the man whom he knew only by report, and, as he deemed, exaggerated report too.  To Rehoboth people Mr. Morell was a prodigy—­a veritable prophet of the Most High; and his successor’s sojourn was not a little embittered by the disparaging contrasts so frequently drawn between the old order and the new.  To be for ever told the texts from which Mr. Morell used to preach, to hear in almost every house some pet saying or scrap of philosophy wont to fall from his lips, to be asked, if not bidden, by the deacons to tread in the footprints of one who was believed to wear the seven-league boots, became intolerable; and had not discretion guarded the speech of Mr. Penrose, many a time his language of retort would have been strange to covenanted lips.  Often, too, he asked himself what manner of man he must be who nursed and reared this narrow sect of the hills—­a sect setting judgment before mercy, and law before love—­a sect narrowing salvation to units, and drawing the limit line of grace around a fragment of mankind.

On his arrival at Dr. Hale’s, however, a surprise greeted him, and as he responded to the old pastor’s outstretched hand, he knew he met with one in whom firm gentleness and affable dignity were the chief charm of character.  There was not, as he anticipated, coarse, crass assertiveness—­a semi-cultured man whose narrow creed joined hands with barren intelligence.  Far otherwise; he stood before one whose presence commanded reverence, one at whose feet he felt he must bow.

Mr. Morell was tall and erect, with a fine Greek head whose crown of snowy hair lent dignity to a face sunny with the light of kindness, while every line of expression, those soul-inscriptions written by the years on the plastic flesh, told of thought and culture.  The accent, too, was finished, and every gesture betrayed refinement and ease.

At first the conversation was restrained, for both men instinctively felt that between them lay a gulf which it would be difficult to bridge; but, as Dr. Hale played well the part of middleman, the ministers were drawn out towards each other, and in a little while struck mutual chords in one another’s hearts.

During the morning the two men talked of art, of philosophy, and of history, the discussion of these calling out a light of intelligence and rapture on the old man’s face.  When, however, the graver questions of theology were broached, his voice became hard and inflexible, a shadow fell, and the radiancy of the man and scholar became lost in the gloom of the divine.

Whenever Mr. Penrose ventured to hint on some phase of the broader theology, the old man was provoked to impatience; and when he went so far as to quote Browning, and declare that—­

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Lancashire Idylls (1898) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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