Henry John Wrixon.

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asked assistance for the society's humane efforts. The writer
had evidently, thought Frankfort, either a great love of
animals or a great hatred of Rome.

When he called at the office the editor accosted him in
a not unkind tone. ' Very good paper that of yours : plenty
of work in it, and for the matter of that, of wisdom too ; but
not suited. You see we are a people full of prejudices our-
selves, and we only stand a sermon on the Sunday.'

But he continued to take Frankfort's papers, and might
have done so for an indefinite time, with occasional jars,
were it not for an unfortunate mishap that brought matters
to a crisis. It happened thus.

One Saturday afternoon Frankfort went to the office to
see if the editor had left any commission for him, and learned
that he had gone for a day to the country, leaving a note for
him that was marked ' immediate.' Frankfort opened and
read :

Lofty Standard Bearer,
12th May 18

Dear Frankfort I have to hurry off to the country the wife
not very well and cannot get to the office till Monday morning. I
want an article for the Monday on the Annual Puseyite Church
Conference that was opened yesterday. Show them up ; give it to


them hot rake fore and aft ' Priests and Palaver,' ' Papacy
and Water,' 'Catholicism in Calfskin,' 'Bishops and Bunkum,'
' Lawn and Liturgy ' in place of ' Broadcloth and the Bible,' ' the
cunning without the cleverness, the superstition without the prestige
of Rome,' something in that way just to put the subject pungently
before the public. Of course you won't forget our friend the
Sentinel 'the soiled and warped winding-sheet of a mummified
Church,' ' the sinister mouthpiece of an organised hypocrisy ' ; a few
simple words to that effect, just to close up, you know much in a
lively winding-up. You'll have the ' Sabbath ' to work it up.
Faithfully yours, BRASS FINUCANE.

Frankfort was rather perplexed by this note. He was
pleased with the growing confidence shown in him ; but was
disappointed in the subject, and embarrassed by the consider-
ation that for the life of him he could not see why the
Puseyites should not meet to have their say, and even to
sound their trumpet a little, unmolested. But the com-
mission was so important that he dare not stay to raise
scruples about it. There could be no doubt that the
editor's note accurately described the thoughts, or rather
the instincts, of the subscribers to the Lofty Standard Bearer
upon the subject. Something in the direction that he had
indicated was no doubt required in order to soothe their
Christian feelings, which had been much irritated by the
Puseyite demonstration. So that evening he read carefully
all the reports of the enemy's meeting, taking note as he
went along of the weak points and unfavourable aspects of
the demonstration. He thus worked himself up into a state of
some indignation, though all the time he could not help an
uneasy consciousness, which kept grating upon him, that the
True Blues comported themselves at their annual gathering
in a manner just as unreasonable, and more intolerant.
Having collected all the materials for a full article, he
resolved to sleep upon it and to pen a vigorous deliverance
the next morning.

As it turned out, this was an unfortunate resolve. The
Sabbath day dawned a glorious morning, and after his break-
fast, before sitting down to write, he rested a while at the
open window, looking out upon the still scene of the city's
day of rest. The sun shone brightly and warmly upon the
quiet of the streets ; the very housetops looked less dreary in



the glorious light. Family groups passed by, each going to
worship God according to their own custom, in their own
House of Prayer ; the aged, that soon, truly, must for them-
selves explore the inexorable mystery, and the young, still
full of life, all borne along together by that instinct of our
nature that reaches out towards the Unseen towards a
Beyond and towards a Hereafter. And those bells, those
speaking bells, what a spell they cast around, calling men to
pray to God, sounding through the silent air their moving
melody, answering to emotions deep in the heart of man but
hard to express in mortal language ! And those spires
of many churches, all pointing alike to Heaven that
silent Heaven, apparently mute and irresponsive to the
entreaties of men ; but not really so, else whence the
influence that was drawing these crowds to worship and
find comfort in the living God ? And was the favour of
Heaven to descend upon only one of those up -pointing
spires, and curses upon all the rest? And were we to be
less merciful to one another than our Creator was to us all ?
In this way did Frankfort muse as he looked out upon the
church-going people.

As he turned from the window to his desk, he certainly
felt that his survey of the city on this Sabbath morn, brief
though it was, had not improved his tone for writing the
article that Brass Finucane wanted. However, he resolved
to do his best, and that, in this case, was his fiercest. He
wrote away and denounced the too common intolerance of
priesthoods, using up some of the editor's phrases, only
softening them a little. He did not deny the right of any
Church or sect to have what gatherings or celebrations it
pleased, only they should conduct them sensibly. He
analysed and exposed the weakness of some of the speeches,
so as to make out a strong case against the Puseyites, while
at the same time he admitted that a necessary result of free
discussion was that much that was foolish must be spoken.
It so happened that before finishing his task, he turned
to look out again on the bright sunshine, and the church
spires pointing upwards to the peaceful sky. As he did so,
the noble sentiment of Anaxagoras occurred to him, and going
back to his table, he wound up his article (quite forgetting all


about the editor's hint concerning the Sentinel] by saying
that the effect of this hostile din of sects upon the wise man
was, when asked which he belonged to, to make him, like
Anaxagoras, raise his eyes aloft and point to the heavens.

He thought this rather good, and read his article in the
Lofty Standard Bearer on Monday morning with much com-
placency. He went to the office early, as he expected that
the editor might have some further commission for him that
would perhaps demand prompt attention. He found that
Brass Finucane had just returned from his short visit to his
ailing wife. As he stepped into the dingy -looking room
where the thunderbolts were generated, the editor (much
worried by private troubles and public cares) broke out
' This won't do ! I never got such a turn in my life as when
I opened the paper in the train this morning. I heard some
muttering going on between two gentlemen opposite about
something in the Lofty Standard Bearer, and sure enough I
soon saw the cause. Why, if you had altered a few sentences
it would have done for the Sentinel not a single good slash
at them. It won't do it's no use.'

Poor Frankfort was astounded. It now rushed in upon
him that he had rather forgotten the trade aspect of the
subject. But he tried to defend himself, however, in rather
a confused way, for he was borne down by the wrath of the
editor and its probable consequences.

' Well, sir, I confess I am taken quite aback. Surely
I attacked them on many points ; but I could not deny their
right to meet and celebrate their anniversary.'

' Not if you were writing on their side. But you're
writing for our subscribers. We'll lose them all in a month
at that rate. If it was not for the sick wife I'd have waited
and done it myself, or got Gubbins, who has no fads I wish
I had.'

Here the noise of footsteps and talking outside made an
interruption, and with a gentle tap at the door and a mild
push to open it, in walked the Rev. Samuel Croft, of the
Church of England, the editor of the Sentinel a quiet-
looking and quiet-spoken person, but with very red hair and
very thin and compressed lips nevertheless. He was called
the ' Rev. ' rather for business purposes, as he had never


been ordained a priest, and had only done duty for a short
time as a deacon. He was dressed in a compromise suit of
dark but not quite black cloth, with a band round his neck
instead of a secular stand-up collar ; and the coat was of the
short cut-away kind that has a decided strain of the secular,
not to say sporting, element in it. Though he looked so calm,
almost so meek, in outward appearance, he was quite a Red
Indian with his pen : he scalped the person who was the
enemy for the time being, and in performing the operation
he was troubled by no conscientious scruples such as had
weakened the force of poor Frankfort's article. His custom
was to depict the True Blue party and their organ, the Lofty
Standard Bearer, in terms that were always fierce, and
sometimes seemed to be seasoned with positive spite. He
felt much the same pleasure in good round invective that a
surgeon does in a slashing operation ; and when he had in
his leader characterised the proceedings and speeches at some
True Blue gathering as ' civic malevolence reduced to a
system, based, to be sure, on mercenary principles, but also
largely leavened by the inherent and prescriptive rancour of
a decaying party,' he would compress his thin lips with satis-
faction and relax them again into a quiet smile. But it was
all in the way of business, and what he claimed for himself
he fully conceded to his official opponent, the editor of the
Lofty Standard Bearer. Personally he and Brass Finucane
were the best of friends in private, and in fact they often
used to meet of a Saturday to have a quiet evening together,
and, forgetting their wordy contests, to enjoy the company
of a few literary friends.

From the sensible tone of the article Croft saw at once
that something had gone wrong on the staff of his friend, and
he resolved to make an early call, partly to inquire for the wife,
who had so often hospitably entertained him, and partly to
discuss a reduction on the postage of newspapers that they
were trying to get the Post Office authorities to adopt ; but
also, undoubtedly, with a view of learning the particulars of
the disaster in the leading columns.

' Glad to see you, Croft I wanted to have a chat with
you about that postage matter.' Finucane spoke as cheer-
fully as he could at the moment, though he was not able to


clear away the look of vexation cast over his countenance by
the business that he had in hand just before. Croft moved
softly toward the table, rubbing his hands together in an
involved manner, looking at his brother editor and glancing
at Frankfort.

' Ah yes, just looked in as I was passing. How is my
dear Mrs. Finucane ; not worse, I hope you look a

' Oh no, good account. Better and better ; up soon,
I hope/

' Ah well, I'm really pleased ; good news, almost as
pleased as with that admirable leader of yours this morning
on our great Talkee Talkee so fair.' He went on rubbing
his hands still gently together, something that he meant for
a smile stealing over his face, glancing round at Frankfort so
as to avoid looking directly at his brother editor, who he
knew must be dangerously near the point of explosion.
' Admirable, indeed ; so impartial just the sort of thing that
your intelligent readers want. I'd like to '

' Here now, that'll do, Croft ; we know you never get
in a passion you couldn't if you tried but I can't stand
pressure above a certain point. Sit down there sit down.
Mind ye of the story for little boys, how Rothschild made
his money by minding his own '

' business oh certainly,' the rev. gentleman broke

in ' certainly ; but this is my business, Mr. Finucane. I want
to know where I can find this just man ; his conscientious
tone is native-born for the Sentinel ; in fact, he could write
for us both ; capital idea answer himself/ and he laughed
with the self-satisfied laugh of superiority at the picture
which he had drawn, as he took a chair and sat down in
a circumspect manner.

Frankfort felt that his position was getting decidedly
warm, as children say in their games, and that the sooner
he was out of the way the better ; so, with as composed a
good-bye to his chief as he could muster, and having got a
growl in response, he hurried back to his lodgings.

He felt that shock which young people experience when
they first meet the real troubles of life. It was not alone
the particular failure that oppressed him, serious though that


was and unexpected the blow it was the chasm that it
seemed to reveal between the aspirations which he had been
educated up to at college and the actual requirements of the
workaday world. Brass Finucane told him when they met
later in the day that there would be no use in trying to go
on. He did not speak harshly, but said that he could not
risk his circulation by a style of writing that might instruct
people, but which at the same time tacitly rebuked them,
and in no way satisfied their natural party feelings and
antipathies. Perhaps in 'pure literature' he might do
better, but as for public writing, it must be suited to public

We cannot deny to Frankfort some sympathy. At the
University he had been taught to seek truth before all things,
to reason justly, to form and to cherish noble ideals of life
and of man's duty in life. His first contact with the world
seemed to him to reveal a widely different standard from that
which he had been taught to look up to. Was then know-
ledge, eloquence, intellect (the ray from God Himself) to be
only of use for the dirty work of ministering to senseless and
vulgar prejudices that the leaders themselves laughed at in
private ? And what became of the ambition which the
college lectures upon the great men of history roused in
enthusiastic young natures to devote one's life to the service
of mankind ?

But whatever may have been Frankfort's scruples, or
whatever his inspirations, the question now before him was
how he could live. His father's farm was not doing well.
The conditions of farming were not improving, owing to
the enormous development of food imports ; and there were
even fears that the farm would have to go out of cultivation
and, like many others, return to the condition of grass land.
He made vigorous efforts to get literary work from the
newspapers and the humbler class of periodicals, and he did
get some ; but the income from it was so small that he
could barely live upon it, and he had nothing over for the
expenses of continuing his legal training. This was a
depressing blow ; for, however pinched he had been, he
had the support of hope so long as he was working towards
his admission to the profession of the law. If he could only


gain this, a career was opened to him ; and why should he
not ultimately even be Lord Justice-General, as his uncle had
said? This hope had sustained him in many struggles, but now
the prospect of ever reaching the profession was getting fainter
and fainter. With all his poverty, he was desperately proud,
and as he got his ninepenny dinner at the restaurant in a
back street, he felt that he would rather have gone without
it than confess his poverty to any man not even to his kind
uncle in Excelsior. So he suffered in silence from that
shock which so many young men, addressed in universities
as ingenuo magnaeque spei, experience when they find how
different are the conditions of real life from those that they
have dreamed of in the academic shades.

As often happens to men who are blessed or cursed with
an impressionable nature, health began to give way as the
spirits failed. O gold ! gold ! thou visible god or yellow
slave, let us not undervalue thee ! If our poor youth
could have got from somewhere, in some way (as at times
happens in fiction), only a small heap of golden coins each
year, his heart would have been light, his eye bright, his
energies vigorous. With this valiant Mars he could have
fought the world ; success and fame might have been his : he
might have been heard in the Mother of Parliaments, or have
added renown to the Bench of his native land. As it was,
he was paralysed by want, haunted by anxiety. Each
morning, as he lifted his head from his pillow, he felt as if
he were rising into a cloud of trials, dangers, difficulties, and

His uncle had delayed for a while answering the letter in
which Frankfort had announced his failure to secure the
lectureship ; but his reply arrived not long after the unlucky
article had appeared in the Lofty Standard Bearer, and it
found his nephew more ready to fall in with a proposal that
it contained than he would have been a year ago, after he
had left college, flushed with an academic career that, despite
his last failure, had been on the whole striking and success-
ful. His short experience had been sufficient to dis-
illusionise in him the sanguine hope of the college student
that he may find the obstacles of life as easy to grapple with
as the difficulties of the class-room. Mr. Fairlie expressed


regret that he had not succeeded in getting the lectureship ;
but remarked upon the good position that he got as second,
and the high testimonials he had obtained as to his general
standing in the University. He exhorted him if possible to
make good his career in the old land ; but said that, if this
appeared to be too doubtful a chance, there was a very fair
opening now for just such a man as he was in Excelsior.
The William Dorland University was in want of a Professor
in Sociology and Political Economy, and he had little doubt
that he could, with the influence which he possessed with his
old friend the Honourable William Dorland, and with the aid
of the testimonials from the home University, secure it for
him. Mr. Dorland, who was the Silver King of Excelsior,
was the principal founder of the University, and his influence
would decide the appointment. There was a good salary
attached to the position, and the holder of this Chair was
allowed, upon obtaining the sanction of the Board of Over-
seers, to become a candidate for election to the Parliament
of the Province. Mr. Dorland, his uncle wrote, was a very
progressive man, and he had always maintained that it was
not only the right but the duty of learned men to make their
learning available and useful in practical affairs.

This was certainly a tempting offer to Frankfort, and it
appeared the more favourable to him in his present depressed
state. Then the founder of the University appeared to be
a man of such enlightened views not only giving his
substance, his silver, to establish the institution, but laying
down the noble principle that seats of learning should shed
their light upon public life, and not merely bask themselves
selfishly in the sunshine of knowledge. He appeared to wish
to revive what in past times had been the custom of some
Universities, to allow its authorities to take part in State
affairs ; and, without fully working out the details of how this
would operate, it seemed to Frankfort that the need for some
such development in our times was all the greater since the
political world was coming to be governed by numbers and
the general intelligence instead of by wealth and privilege.
Then the salary appeared to him, in his straitened circum-
stances, to be quite a large income, and, joined to what he
could make by his pen in the new land, would enable him to


help his family, and also do what he had much at heart to
do begin, at least, to pay back to his kind relative in
Excelsior the money he had advanced for him. It was, to
be sure, a tempting offer.

But exile was a sad thing too. All the early dreams of
ambition the hope of distinction in his native land perhaps
leaving a great name speaking to the world all gone for
ever, and his career to be worked out among a handful of
people in a strange far-away land ! While his mind was thus
being swayed to and fro between the advantages of comfort-
able exile and the grand but perhaps delusive prospects of a
home career, it so happened that one of the weekly papers
sent him for review a new edition of Thomas Arnold's Life
and Correspondence. It was a labour of love to him to read
and digest the letters of the great schoolmaster, they were
marked by so much originality and breathed such a spirit
of sincerity and truth. He was struck by a passage in one
letter from the Master of Rugby to the Rev. J. Tucker, in
which Arnold expresses a hope that some day he might
be able to emigrate to Swan River, ' if they will make me
schoolmaster there, and lay my bones in the land of kangaroos
and opossums. . . . My notion is that no missionarising is
half so beneficial as to try to pour sound and healthy blood
into a young civilised community ; to make one colony, if
possible, like the ancient colonies, or like New England a
living sucker from the mother country, bearing the same
blossoms and the same fruit.' It was the practice of the
hero, General Gordon, when he was doubtful about what
course he should adopt in any crisis, to open the Bible at
random and take the direction, or apparent direction, of the
first verse that his eye fell upon. It would not be correct
to say that our youth, though he was of an impressionable
nature, was susceptible to such fatalistic methods ; but he
certainly was struck with this passage. It put what he had
to himself styled as ' exile ' in a new light, at least to a man
of high purpose. Might he not better satisfy his ambition,
and also be more useful to the world, going out to the new
land than if he stayed at home ?

And the Province of Excelsior, then in the flush of
early prosperity, was attracting to its shores many of the


enterprising youth of the old land. There was a great open-
ing for well-qualified young men in the professions. The
Hospital at Miranda, the capital of the Province, had sent
home for promising men to fill vacancies in its staff, and
Myles Dillon had some thoughts of applying for the position
of Resident Surgeon. He intended to have a talk with his
friend Frankfort some time about it ; though he was not very
eager regarding it, and was in no hurry to make up his mind.
But the next time they met to spend the evening together at
Frankfort's lodgings, the two friends found that they had
mutual speculations about their prospects to indulge in.
They had contemplated a walking tour by themselves in
the summer to the Lakes of Killarney, and Dillon came
in, intending to arrange for it ; but the observant eye
of the young surgeon could not but notice the altered and
worried appearance of his friend, which partly arose from the
conflict within him in making up his mind to face exile.

' What, a bit off, are ye ? Not off our trip, I hope,
though?' he exclaimed, as, struck by his friend's serious look,
he seized him by the wrist and, physician-like, began to feel
his pulse.

' Well,' said Frankfort, not even smiling, but looking
desperately grave, ' I almost think that I am in for a longer
trip than any we have taken yet.'

'Oh, come now, you are not so bad as all that. I
know all about it. You are just a bit run down ; I can set
you up directly. So many decimal points of strychnine
three times a day, generous diet, pleasant walking tour,
complete rest from worry, and a few other simple things
that'll screw you up quick.'

' Good advice, Myles, I know. But I'm really thinking
of going out to Excelsior. Uncle Fairlie thinks that I can
get the appointment of Professor in the famous William
Dorland University there, founded by one of the most
enlightened men in the Province. The salary would set me
up ; I could pay off the uncle, assist the family everything.
But then of course I must give up all ambition bury my
life in the antipodes.'

' Why, that's strange,' said Myles ; ' I had some slight
idea of going there myself


' No, but I am serious, Myles. What I have told you
is fact.'

' So is what I'm saying, too,' answered Myles, looking
grave in his turn. ' I was going to have a talk about it
some time when I have nothing better to do. They have
sent home for a promising surgeon of the new school for the
City Hospital of Miranda, and my old master, Dunleavy of
our College of Surgeons, thinks he can get it for me. He

Online LibraryHenry John WrixonJacob Shumate; or, The people's march (Volume 1) → online text (page 4 of 45)