Sunday, April 04, 2010

01May1872, Religious Discussion at Dinner

LONDON, May Day, Wednesday, 1872.
—Drum at the Gladstones'. We were parted for dinner : F. going to the Speaker, I to the Admiralty. Old Mr. Villiers took me in, and was highly agreeable till he plunged into the Education question (as to which he is a bitter League man) and thence into the most sacred religious subjects. I am in constant astonishment at the utter ignorance, of most educated people that one happens to hear talk on the matter, of ordinary historical theology. Mr. Villiers appears to think that there never was a time before Popery or Protestantism ; and yet one wd. fancy the very words wd remind one that to be popish one must have set up a pope, and to be protestant one must have had the pope to protest against. How then abt this country (for instance) before there was either the one state of things or the other ? This bewildered view naturally draws down upon one's head comfortable tirades against venerable doctrines, such as the "Real Presence." Mr. V. has no knowledge whatever of any meaning having ever attached to that doctrine except Transubstantiation, and of all painful things to have the subject started in this spirit, in the midst of a dinner party ! Of course I cd only be entirely dumb, and try to fight for the poor Church on less sacred battlefields.

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