« VorigeDoorgaan »
sort of licensee, the village inn could easily develop into one of the most charming features of English rural life.
There is no doubt of the practicability of this much to be desired transformation of the public-house. There is no doubt, either, of the popularity which would await it: Continental experience, and initial experiments at home, alike demonstrate this. All that is wanted to start the transformation is the awakening of public interest, the diversion of misplaced and miscalled
temperance' sentiment, a broader view on licensing benches, the removal of a few useless restrictions from the Statute Book, a change in the methods and extent of taxation, and an end of confiscatory attacks upon the trade to whose enterprise the carrying out of the improvements will necessarily be entrusted. For we must not forget that the transformation would involve the owners of public-houses in some capital outlay, and though the actual work of improvement must be left to voluntary enterprise, there is this that the State can do: it can ease the fiscal burden for the purpose of encouraging enterprise and enabling the needed capital to be raised, and it can overhaul, and largely eliminate from the Statute Book, the restrictions which in times past it has imposed, and which, with the change in the character of the tavern, will become more than ever unnecessary and harmful. So much, indeed, will be only an act of reparation which the State owes to the public and the publican for its past foolishness; but in doing this rather negative work the State will, for the first time in its licensing history, be really taking a part in true temperance reform.
F. E. SMITH.
A CATHOLIC LAYMAN
IN Lord Tennyson's recently published Tennyson and His Friends, a brief chapter is devoted to Sir John Simeon, the close and chosen friend of many of the gifted and enlightened men in days when, indeed, there were giants upon the earth. I propose in the following pages to amplify the little that chapter tells of my father and his circle.
Sir John Simeon was born in 1815, the eldest son of Sir Richard Simeon, of Grazeley, Berkshire, and of St. John's in the Isle of Wight. His mother was Louisa, daughter and heiress of Sir Fitzwilliam Barrington, of Barrington Hall in Essex. His grandfather was senior Master in Chancery, and Comptroller of the private fortune and estates of George the Third during the time of his mental illness. The baronetcy goes back to an ancient date, as it was first created by James the First. At that time the Simeons lived in Oxfordshire, where they held large estates besides town property in Oxford, where 'Simeon Street' still exists. Their chief place was at Pyrton, and there Elizabeth Simeon, as may now be seen in the parish register, was married to John Hampden. The family would seem to bave been always Catholic, as Sir Edward Simeon was the founder of the Mission at Oxford and of the little Church of St. Lawrence, the only Catholic Church there at the time of the Oxford Movement. The Oxfordshire property was sold in 1717, but later on, through my grandmother, the family came near to acquiring all the Barrington estates in Essex, as well as those in the Isle of Wight. Unfortunately, the want of the signature by one of the witnesses to a will upset their claim to the Essex property, but their title to the Isle of Wight estates could not be alienated, by virtue of Swainston being a royal manor, including Carisbrooke Castle and its manorial rights.'
King Egbert granted the Manor of Swainston to the Bishops of Winchester, who ceded it with legal forms to Edward the First, and the property has come down direct to the present owner through Margaret Plantagenet, Countess of Salisbury, daughter
? All that now remain to the Crown are the Castle of Carisbrooke and Parkburst Forest.
of the Duke of Clarence, of our schoolroom butt of malmsey memory. She married Sir Richard Pole, and was the mother of Henry Lord Montague, of Cardinal Pole, and of a daughter Winifred, who married Sir Francis Barrington. When her brother, Edward Earl of Warwick, was declared a traitor and had his lands forfeited, 'It pleased the King (Henry the Eighth) that she might inherit as the sister and next-of-blood to his state and dignity, and so be styled Countess of Sarum.' She carried the Princess Mary to her baptism in the Greyfriars Church at Greenwich, and was afterwards appointed Lady Governess of the Princess and her household.
Cardinal Pole had incurred Henry the Eighth's displeasure, and a price was set on his head ; under these circumstances he elected to reside abroad. The King vented his anger on the remaining members of his family, and his mother, Lady Salisbury, then over seventy years of age, was imprisoned in the Tower for two years. Henry finally signed the warrant for her execution. 'Early in the morning of the 27th of May 1541 the news was brought to this venerable lady that she was to die that very day--a highhanded proceeding, as she had never been put to trial. She walked with a firm step from her prison cell to the place of execution on East Smithfield Green, which was then within the precincts of the Tower. No scaffold had been erected : there was but a low block or log of wood. The Countess devoutly commended her soul to God, and asked the bystanders to pray for the King, the Queen, Prince Edward, and the Princess Mary, her beloved godchild, to whom she sent her last blessing. She was then commanded to lay her head upon the block, which she did. The regular executioner being busy in the North a wretched and blundering youth (garçonnau) had been chosen to take his place, who literally hacked her head and shoulders to pieces in the most pitiful manner. This is Chapuys' account. Mr. Gairdner says it is evidently more trustworthy than that of Lord Herbert of Cherbury, who is responsible for the well-known story, that when told to lay her head on the block the Countess replied “So should traitors do, and I am none." The executioner still insisting, she still refused, and,“ turning her grey head every way, she bid him if he would have her head get it as he could, and thus she was literally hacked to death." 2 Her last words were “Blessed are they who suffer persecution for righteousness' sake." The Blessed Margaret thus wore a crown more brilliant than those of earth.
· Readers of Harrison Ainsworth's Tower of London will remember the doggerel of Mauger, the headsman, referring to the Countess of Salisbury :
Salisbury's Countess, she would not die
It was a grand end for a kingly race, for Margaret was the last in direct descent of the line of Plantagenet.'
I now pass from my distinguished ancestress to my grandfather, Sir Richard Simeon. Educated at Eton in days very different from the present, he determined never to send his sons there. Nevertheless, Eton turned him out a sufficient scholar to educate his eldest boy entirely until he was twelve years old, when he handed him over to a private tutor. After two or three years in France my father matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, in 1834. Three years later he took his degree, passing out with a creditable second class in Classics. In 1849 he was elected for the Isle of Wight, his father, who had become its first representative on the island being made a Parliamentary division of a county under the Reform Act of 1832, having resigned the seat in his favour.
I do not think that the disturbing influences of the Oxford Movement, or Newman's personal ascendency, had very much to do with my father's conversion. Besides, it must be remembered that the man-of-the-world Liberalism of the Church of England alarmed Newman long before he himself made the election to become a Catholic, and that for some years he exerted himself strenuously to prevent people from straggling in the direction of Rome. Anyhow, my father never referred his own change of religion to that awakening of the minds of Churchmen which is associated with Tracts for the Times, and of which we have just been so vividly reminded by Mr. Wilfrid Ward. Indeed, my impression is that the dialectical controversies of that periodthe sometimes over-ingenious manipulations of first principles, the reservations, the hyper-meanings or hyper-whittling down of meanings, the shadings, as it were, of what seemed to him cardinal colours, can hardly have commended themselves to his type of mind or to his notions of essentials.
The ability of the controversialists : their sincerity, the keenness and closeness of their critical sword-play were abundantly recognised by intelligent people; but as one of the least extravagant and most single-hearted of Catholic laymen, my father stuck to broad issues.
His admiration of Dr. Newman's writings was not for their polemical or dogmatic skill. This was not their appeal for him any more than it was for Dean Stanley,+ and he had little sympathy with what Mr. Ward, in an admirable preface to his absorbing book, defines as one of the Cardinal's most characteristic contentions-namely, that apparent inconsistencies may often be
Dom Bede Camm's Lives of the English Martyrs. “.. Newman's writings belong not to provincial dogma but to the literature of all time.'
justified by reasoning from special aspects or exceptional circumstances. Thus, on a celebrated occasion my father insisted upon Newman taking the full responsibility, spirit and letter, of what he had written. This is so fully treated in Mr. Ward's book that I need not refer to it further, except as an illustration of his love of the open and the straightforward.5
His own secession from the Anglican Church was due to quite other and simpler causes. Perhaps sub-consciously he may have dreamed dreams and seen visions of a return to the Faith and to the traditions of his predecessors, long before the Dominus illuminatio mea came in the Cathedral at Mayence. I dare say that Oxford and its memories of great priests and fine scholars, its beauty, its medievalism, may have had some share in the gradual insistence of new religious opinions. It may also be that, like many others, as he surveyed the troublesome jars and acrimonies of Nonconformists, Church people and Persuasions, his thoughts went back to the days when one Church took charge of the souls of one united people and represented for them the authority appointed by Heaven. But be this as it may, it was not until much later, in 1847, that the cardinal point of time was reached. My father was abroad, his mother became very ill and he was summoned home. Delayed on his way at Mayence, he went into the Cathedral very early in the morning. There he experienced for the first time the dominating reality of the power, the faith and piety of the ancient worship. He always said to my mother : 'I went into that church a Protestant and came out of it a Catholic.' The intimation was distinct, and it was accepted.
My father was received into the Catholic Church in the spring of 1851 under the guidance of his friend, Manning, whose conversion had only shortly preceded his own. Among other friends who like himself had found their ground of belief untenable, were my godfather, James Hope Scott, Lord Emly, and Sir Stephen De Vere and his brother Aubrey.
Inevitably this was a wrench from many ties and associations. Apart from its more solemn and spiritual aspects, a secession-or a conversion, as I prefer to call it-was in many ways a more serious step at that time than it became a little later on, or than it is now. In those days it seems to have upset one's relations to
* Life of Cardinal Newman, by Wilfrid Ward, vol. iii. p. 290.
• Mozley appears to have undergone a somewhat similar experience. In his Reminiscences of Oriel and the Oxford Movement, he says, “ Either on principle or for lack of opportunity I had never before entered a Catholic Chapel since some friends took me to Moorfields Chapel in 1821 I think. So what I now saw (in Normandy) would come upon me with all the force of novelty, and it imme. diately had a great fascination for me. This was truly worship. There was the sense of a Divine Presence : all hearts were moved as one. The freedom with which the people seated themselves here and there seemed to speak of a rude antiquity.'