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Painted Windows eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 153 pages of information about Painted Windows.

CHAPTER VI

MISS MAUDE ROYDEN

     . . . their religion, too (i.e. the religion of women), has a mode
     of expressing itself, though it seldom resorts to the ordinary
     phrases of divinity.

Those “nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love,” by which their influence is felt through every part of society, humanising and consoling wherever it travels, are their theology.  It is thus that they express the genuine religion of their minds; and we trust that if ever they should study the ordinary dialect of systematised religion they will never, while pronouncing its harsh gutturals and stammering over its difficult shibboleths, forget their elder and simpler and richer and sweeter language._—­F.D.  MAURICE.

Pushkin said that Russia turned an Asian face towards Europe and a European face towards Asia.

This acute saying may be applied to Miss Royden.  To the prosperous and timid Christian she appears as a dangerous evangelist of socialism, and to the fiery socialist as a tame and sentimental apostle of Christianity.  As in the case of Russia, so in the case of this interesting and courageous woman; one must go to neither extremity, neither to the bourgeoisie nor to the apacherie, if one would discover the truth of her nature.

Nor need one fear to go direct to the lady herself, for she is the very soul of candour.  Moreover, she has that charming spirit of friendliness and communication which distinguished La Bruyere, a philosopher “always accessible, even in his deepest studies, who tells you to come in, for you bring him something more precious than gold or silver, if it is the opportunity of obliging you.”

Certainly Miss Royden does not resemble, in her attitude towards either God or the human race, that curious religieuse Mdme. de Maintenon, who having been told by her confessor in the floodtime of her beauty that “God wished her to become the King’s mistress,” at the end of that devout if somewhat painful experience, replied to a suggestion about writing her memoirs, “Only saints would find pleasure in its perusal.”

Miss Royden’s memoirs, if they are ever written, would have, I think, the rather unusual merit of pleasing both saints and sinners; the saints by the depth and beauty of her spiritual experience, the sinners by her freedom from every shade of cant and by her strong, almost masculine, sympathy with the difficulties of our human nature.  Catherine the Great, in her colloquies with the nervous and hesitating Diderot, used to say, “Proceed; between men all is allowable.”  One may affirm of Miss Royden that she is at once a true woman and a great man.

It is this perfect balance of the masculine and feminine in her personality which makes her so effective a public speaker, so powerful an influence in private discourse, and so safe a writer on questions of extreme delicacy, such as the problem of sex.  She is always on the level of the whole body of humanity, a complete person, a veritable human being, neither a member of a class nor the representative of a sex.

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