His having lived six months in Ashpit Place was a case in point. Things were possible to him which to others like him would be impossible. If such a man as Towneley were told he must live henceforth in a house like those in Ashpit Place it would be more than he could stand. Ernest could not have stood it himself if he had gone to live there of compulsion through want of money. It was only because he had felt himself able to run away at any minute that he had not wanted to do so; now, however, that he had become familiar with life in Ashpit Place he no longer minded it, and could live gladly in lower parts of London than that so long as he could pay his way. It was from no prudence or forethought that he had served this apprenticeship to life among the poor. He had been trying in a feeble way to be thorough in his work: he had not been thorough, the whole thing had been fiasco; but he had made a little puny effort in the direction of being genuine, and behold! in his hour of need it had been returned to him with a reward far richer than he had deserved. He could not have faced becoming one of the very poor unless he had had such a bridge to conduct him over to them as he had found unwittingly in Ashpit Place. True, there had been drawbacks in the particular house he had chosen, but he need not live in a house where there was a Mr Holt and he should no longer be tied to the profession which he so much hated; if there were neither screams nor scripture readings he could be happy in a garret at three shillings a week, such as Miss Maitland lived in.

As he thought further he remembered that all things work together for good to them that love God; was it possible, he asked himself, that he, too, however imperfectly, had been trying to love Him? He dared not answer Yes, but he would try hard that it should be so. Then there came into his mind that noble air of Handel's: `Great God, who yet but darkly known,' and he felt it as he had never felt it before. He had lost his faith in Christianity, but his faith in something - he knew not what, but that there was a something as yet but darkly known which made right right and wrong wrong - his faith in this grew stronger and stronger daily.

Again there crossed his mind thought of the power which he felt to be in him, and of how and where it was to find its vent. The same instinct which had led him to live among the poor because it was the nearest thing to him which he could lay hold of with any clearness came to his assistance here too. He thought of the Australian gold and how those who lived among it had never seen it though it abounded all around them: `There is gold everywhere,' he exclaimed inwardly, `to those who look for it.' Might not his opportunity be close upon him if he looked carefully enough at his immediate surroundings? What was his position? He had lost all. Could he not turn his having lost all into an opportunity? Might he not, if he too sought the strength of the Lord, find, like St Paul, that it was perfected in weakness?

He had nothing more to lose; money, friends, character, all were gone for a very long time if not for ever; but there was something else also that had taken its flight along with these. I mean the fear of that which man could do unto him. Cantabit vacuus. Who could hurt him more than he had been hurt already? Let him but be able to earn his bread, and he knew of nothing which he dared not venture if it would make the world a happier place for those who were young and lovable. Herein he found so much comfort that he almost wished he had lost his reputation even more completely - for he saw that it was like a man's life which may be found of them that lose it and lost of them that would find it. He should not have had the courage to give up all for Christ's sake, but now Christ had mercifully taken all, and lo! it seemed - as though all were found.

As the days went slowly by he came to see that Christianity and the denial of Christianity after all met as much as any other extremes do; it was a fight about names - not about things; practically the Church of Rome, the Church of England, and the free-thinker have the same ideal standard and meet in the gentleman; for he is the most perfect saint who is the most perfect gentleman. Then he saw also that it matters little what profession, whether of religion or irreligion, a man may make provided only he follows it out with charitable inconsistency, and without insisting on it to the bitter end. It is in the uncompromisingness with which dogma is held and not in the dogma or want of dogma that the danger lies. This was the crowning point of the edifice; when he had got here he no longer wished to molest even the Pope. The Archbishop of Canterbury might have hopped about all round him and even picked crumbs out of his hand without running risk of getting a sly sprinkle of salt. That wary prelate himself might perhaps have

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