Samuel Butler: The Way of All Flesh

54. CHAPTER LIV (continued)

"The present London Rectors are hopeless people to deal with. My own is one of the best of them, but the moment Pryer and I show signs of wanting to attack an evil in a way not recognised by routine, or of remedying anything about which no outcry has been made, we are met with, 'I cannot think what you mean by all this disturbance; nobody else among the clergy sees these things, and I have no wish to be the first to begin turning everything topsy-turvy.' And then people call him a sensible man. I have no patience with them. However, we know what we want, and, as I wrote to Dawson the other day, have a scheme on foot which will, I think, fairly meet the requirements of the case. But we want more money, and my first move towards getting this has not turned out quite so satisfactorily as Pryer and I had hoped; we shall, however, I doubt not, retrieve it shortly."

When Ernest came to London he intended doing a good deal of house-to-house visiting, but Pryer had talked him out of this even before he settled down in his new and strangely-chosen apartments. The line he now took was that if people wanted Christ, they must prove their want by taking some little trouble, and the trouble required of them was that they should come and seek him, Ernest, out; there he was in the midst of them ready to teach; if people did not choose to come to him it was no fault of his.

"My great business here," he writes again to Dawson, "is to observe. I am not doing much in parish work beyond my share of the daily services. I have a man's Bible Class, and a boy's Bible Class, and a good many young men and boys to whom I give instruction one way or another; then there are the Sunday School children, with whom I fill my room on a Sunday evening as full as it will hold, and let them sing hymns and chants. They like this. I do a great deal of reading--chiefly of books which Pryer and I think most likely to help; we find nothing comparable to the Jesuits. Pryer is a thorough gentleman, and an admirable man of business--no less observant of the things of this world, in fact, than of the things above; by a brilliant coup he has retrieved, or nearly so, a rather serious loss which threatened to delay indefinitely the execution of our great scheme. He and I daily gather fresh principles. I believe great things are before me, and am strong in the hope of being able by and by to effect much.

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