There is no greater mind in the Church of England, no greater mind, I am disposed to think, in the English nation. His intellect has the range of an Acton, his forthrightness is the match of Dr. Johnson’s, and his wit, less biting though little less courageous than Voltaire’s, has the illuminating quality, if not the divine playfulness, of the wit of Socrates.
But he lacks that profound sympathy with the human race which gives to moral decisiveness the creative energy of the great fighter. A lesser man than Erasmus left a greater mark on the sixteenth century.
The righteous saying of Bacon obstinately presents itself to our mind and seems to tarry for an explanation: “The nobler a soul is, the more objects of compassion it hath.”
KNOX, REV. RONALD
ARBUTHNOTT; b. 17th Feb., 2888; 4th s. of the Rt.
Rev. E.A. Knox, Bishop of Manchester. Ethuc.: Eton (1st
Scholarship); Balliol College, Oxford (1st Scholarship). Hertford
Scholarship, 1907; Second in Honour Moderations, 1908; Ireland and
Craven Scholarship, 1908; 1st in Litt. Hum., 1910; Fellow and
Lecturer at Trinity College, Oxford, 1910; Chaplain, 1912;
Resigned, 1917; received into the Church of Rome, September, 1917.
[Illustration: FATHER KNOX]
Our new curate preached, a pretty hopefull young man, yet somewhat raw, newly come from college, full of Latine sentences, which in time will weare off.—JOHN EVELYN.
There is a story that when Father Knox was an undergraduate at Oxford he sat down one day to choose whether he would be an agnostic or a Roman Catholic. “But is there not some doubt in the matter?” inquired a friend of mine, to whom I repeated the tale. “Did he really sit down and choose, or did he only toss up?”
The story, of course, is untrue. It has its origin in the delightful wit and brilliant playfulness of the young priest. Everybody loves him, and nobody takes him seriously.
Few men of his intellectual stature have been received with so little trumpet-blowing into the Roman Catholic Church, and none at all, I think, has so imperceptibly retired from the Church of England. For all the interest it excited, the secession of this extremely brilliant person might have been the secession of a sacristan or a pew-opener. He did not so much “go over to Rome” as sidle away from the Church of England.
But this secession is well worth the attention of religious students. It is an act of personality which helps one to understand the theological chaos of the present-time, and a deed of temperament which illumines some of the more obscure movements of religious psychology. Ronnie Knox, as everybody calls him, the eyes lighting up at the first mention of his name, has gone over to the Roman Catholic Church, not by any means with a smile of cynicism on his face, but rather with the sweat of a struggle still clinging to his soul.