The Altar Steps eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 477 pages of information about The Altar Steps.

“I hardly know how to thank you, my lord,” said Mark.

“Do you not, my son?” said the Bishop with a smile.  Then his head and neck wagged up and down.  “Thank me by the life you lead as a priest.”

“I will try, my lord,” Mark promised.

“Of that I am sure.  By the way, didn’t you come across a priest at St. Agnes’ Mission House called Mousley?”

“Oh rather, I remember him well.”

“You’ll be glad to hear that he has never relapsed since I sent him to Rowley.  In fact only last week I had the satisfaction of recommending him to a friend of mine who had a living in his gift.”

Mark spent the three months before he went to Silchester at the Rectory where he worked hard at Latin and Greek and the history of the Church.  At the end of August he entered Silchester Theological College.



The theological students of Silchester were housed in a red-brick alley of detached Georgian houses, both ends of which were closed to traffic by double gates of beautifully wrought iron.  This alley known as Vicar’s Walk had formerly been inhabited by the lay vicars of the Cathedral, whose music was now performed by minor canons.

There were four little houses on either side of the broad pavement, the crevices in which were gay with small rock plants, so infrequent were the footsteps that passed over them.  Each house consisted of four rooms and each room held one student.  Vicar’s Walk led directly into the Close, a large green space surrounded by the houses of dignitaries, from a quiet road lined with elms, which skirted the wall of the Deanery garden and after several twists and turns among the shadows of great Gothic walls found its way downhill into the narrow streets of the small city.  One of the houses in the Close had been handed over to the Theological College, the Principal of which usually occupied a Canon’s stall in the Cathedral.  Here were the lecture-rooms, and here lived Canon Havelock the Principal, Mr. Drakeford the Vice-Principal, Mr. Brewis the Chaplain, and Mr. Moore and Mr. Waters the Lecturers.

There did not seem to be many arduous rules.  Probably the most ascetic was one that forbade gentlemen to smoke in the streets of Silchester.  There was no early Mass except on Saints’ days at eight; but gentlemen were expected, unless prevented by reasonable cause, to attend Matins in the Cathedral before breakfast and Evensong in the College Oratory at seven.  A mutilated Compline was delivered at ten, after which gentlemen were requested to retire immediately to their rooms.  Academic Dress was to be worn at lectures, and Mark wondered what costume would be designed for him.  The lectures took place every morning between nine and one, and every afternoon between five and seven.  The Principal lectured on Dogmatic Theology and Old Testament history; the Vice-Principal on the Old and New Testament set books; the Chaplain on Christian worship and Church history; Mr. Moore on Pastoralia and Old Testament Theology; and Mr. Waters on Latin, Greek, and Hebrew.

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The Altar Steps from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.