We should be wise, then, to examine the mind, and only the mind, of this remarkable prelate, and to concern ourselves hardly at all with the beauty of his life or the bewitchments of his character; for our purpose is to arrive at his value for religion, and to study his personality only in so far as it enables us to understand his life and doctrine.
Dr. Gore lives in a small and decent London horse which at all points in its equipment perfectly expresses a pure taste and a wholly unstudied refinement. Nothing there offends the eye or oppresses the mind. It is the dignified habitation of a poor gentleman, breathing a charm not to be found in the house of a rich parvenu. He has avoided without effort the conscious artistry of Chelsea and the indifference to art of the unaesthetic vulgarian. As to the manner of his life, it is reduced to an extreme of simplicity, but his asceticism is not made the excuse for domestic carelessness. A sense of order distinguishes this small interior, which is as quiet as a monk’s cell, but restful and gracious, as though continually overlooked by a woman’s providence.
Here Dr. Gore reads theology and the newspaper, receives and embraces some of his numerous disciples, discusses socialism with men like Mr. Tawney, church government with men like Bishop Temple, writes his books and sermons, and on a cold day, seated on a cushion with his feet in the fender and his hands stretched over a timorous fire, revolves the many problems which beset his peace of mind.
[Footnote 4: Concerning modernising tendencies, Father Ronald Knox says, “I went to a meeting about it in Margaret Street, where crises in the Church are invested with a peculiar atmosphere of delicious trepidation.”]
Somewhere, in speaking of the Church’s attitude towards rich and poor, he has confessed to carrying about with him “a permanently troubled conscience.” The phrase lives in his face. It is not the face of a man who is at peace with himself. If he has peace of mind, it is a Peace of Versailles.
One cannot look at that tall lean figure in its purple cassock, with the stooping head, the somewhat choleric face, the low forehead deeply scored with anxiety, the prominent light-coloured and glassy eyes staring with perplexity under bushy brows, which are as carefully combed as the hair of his head, the large obstinate nose with its challenging tilt and wide war-breathing nostrils, the broad white moustache and sudden pointed beard sloping inward; nor can one listen to the deep, tired, and ghostly voice slowly uttering the laborious ideas of his troubled mind with the somewhat painful pronunciation of the elocutionist (he makes chapell of Chapel); nor mark his languorous movements and the slow swaying action of the attenuated body; one cannot notice all this without feeling that in spite of his great courage and his iron tenacity of purpose, he is a little weary of the battle, and sometimes even perhaps conscious of a check for the cause which is far dearer to him than his own life.