Father Sill of Kent

I

SHORTLY after noon on a pleasant day in late September, 1906, eighteen boys, ranging from eight years old to seventeen, got off the train at a microscopic railway station in an almost equally tiny New England village and walked a dusty mile to a dilapidated farmhouse. There a towheaded Episcopal clergyman was waiting for them, dressed in the white habit of the monastic Order of the Holy Cross. He was thirty-two years old and possessed unbounded enthusiasm for life, an utter faith in God, and something less than three hundred dollars. His name was Frederick Herbert Sill. The village was Kent in Connecticut.

Three months before that opening, Father Sill had secured his handful of boys, from families of good traditions but with no money to speak of; and he had engaged three masters to teach them — young men who had, it may be, more daring than shrewd judgment. He had promised them a living out of it, perhaps; as for himself, he was vowed to perpetual poverty.

On a visit to Kent in June, to hear the confession of a lady stranded in mid-Connecticut, Father Sill had seen a rundown farmhouse close by the Housatonic, had rented the ramshackle place for forty dollars a month, and had employed a colored woman as cook and her son as waiter, dishwasher, and houseman. For a fortnight they and their employer had been engaged in a not too successful attempt to clean out the accumulated dirt due to years of discouraged housekeeping.

After this abbreviated preparation, the good monk stood in the front yard and greeted his curiously assorted youngsters with affection. ‘Welcome to Kent School, lads,’ said he. ‘There are, it is true, no beds for you to sleep on. The ones we ordered have not come. But there are mattresses on the floor.’ They looked on him with trust and confidence (the inspiring of which in boys has always been his most valuable asset), were glad they were there, and began to settle in. ‘At last the school is a going reality,’ said he. Just then the houseboy came to announce that the cook was ill with a violent headache and had gone to bed. There would be no one to get the dinner. Thereupon the boy slipped, fell violently, and sprained his ankle. They had no servants at all! ‘Well, something has to be done about this,’ said Father Sill. He put up a hasty but fervent prayer and prepared the evening meal himself. ‘I had never cooked before,’ he says, ‘but somehow I made some cornoysters.’ The boys, seeing the Headmaster willing to work and gay, said, ‘Come on. We’ll serve, wash up afterwards, and clean the rooms tomorrow.’

They did it; and Kent boys have been doing the same ever since. The ‘selfhelp system’ was in being. ‘It all came about,’ says Father Sill, ‘from having had a particular situation to deal with and having handled it forthwith. People tell me the self-help system is a great educational idea; I myself am sure of it. It makes in boys for democracy, selfreliance, and a keeping close to the realities of life. Besides, it saves the school money — in these latter days over $40,000 every year in servants’ wages, which is the equivalent of the interest on a million of endowment. From every point of view, it seems a grand success. But I never planned it; it happened along, and I saw the point.

‘As a matter of fact,’ he concludes, as one who reveals a great secret, ‘I never have planned out anything in advance at Kent. I have just tried to face up to what presented itself before me, to use such common sense as God has given me, to Hit the job hard, and to say my prayers.’

Dinner over that evening, the boys after prayers were sent to bed. Then, for the first time, Father Sill sat down with His three young masters — not one of them had any pedagogic experience to guide or misguide him — and decided the course of study to be pursued. ‘What was the use,’ he asks, looking back across thirty-five years, ‘of our fumbling around with such matters until first we had some boys to teach and their peculiar and personal needs to supply?’ As the masters smoked and worked out schedules, before them appeared the student body in pajamas. Said the spokesman, ‘We have come down to say that anything you may decide, Father, will suit us; and we shall do our best to back you up.’ Whereupon masters and boys gave three rousing cheers for Father Sill and three more for Kent School, and took to their mattresses. Father Sill knelt down and thanked his Lord in heaven for this new family, and offered himself to God on its behalf, after which he slept serenely till the dawn. Then he arose, as his Order requires, at half-past five for the Divine Office. And it was the evening and the morning of the first day.

The problems of the new school were only beginning. Its housing was impossible; and Father Sill began to look with longing eyes upon a property, for sale but not to let, nearer the town and on one of the loveliest bends of that most beautiful of New England rivers, the gentle Housatonic. He called upon the owner, a farmer anxious to be rid of the place. ‘How much?’ he asked. The reply was sternly put: ‘More than you’ve got, anyway.’ For the pre-Revolutionary house and four hundred acres of woodland and pasture, the price was $6000, half cash and half mortgage. Father Sill remembered his unpaid grocery bill and an overdraft at the bank. ‘How much down for a three months’ option?’ ‘Fifty dollars.’ He crossed the river into town, borrowed fifty dollars from the unpaid groceryman, got a lawyer to draw the contract of option free, and the deal was done. ‘Then I had to get that $3000,’ as he tells it; ‘and so with God’s help and by violent begging I got it; but the money was not all in my hands till the very day the option was to expire. It works out that way. You have to do what simply must be done. Then say your prayers, work till you are all in, beg shamelessly, though never for yourself, and pray some more. The thing gets done.’

The method seems to have worked at Kent. In 1906, Father Sill had three masters, eighteen boys, and $300 capital. Ten years later he had nine masters, 137 boys, and a plant worth $120,000. Today Kent has twenty-four masters, 305 boys, and an equipment conservatively valued at $1,500,000. In getting this together he worked alone until 1919, when a committee of fathers began to help; and even since then almost all of the work of administration, finance, promotion, as well as all the discipline and some of the teaching, has been laid upon his shoulders. That in his mid-sixties he is a physically broken man is hardly to be wondered at. He himself is not surprised, nor particularly regretful. It is enough to have believed, to have adventured, to have achieved.

II

This man who made Kent, and who is probably the American schoolmaster most widely known in this country and in England, spent a formative boyhood in the very centre of New York City, socially and geographically, during what has been called ‘the gay nineties,’ and that not without reason. His father was vicar, from 1865 to 1910, of St. Chrysostom’s Chapel of Trinity Parish, which he founded in a room over a beer saloon at the close of the Civil War, in what then was a semi-countryside, ‘way uptown on Thirty-ninth Street.’ By the time he died the town had gone thundering up Manhattan Island and the church was surrounded by theatres, office buildings, department stores, next to no domiciles.

In the eighties and nineties, when Fred was growing up, St. Chrysostom’s was as interesting a religious centre as New York possessed. To the east of it lived almost everyone who was anybody socially or financially; to the west of it was the first of those two districts successively called ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ — slums inhabited by the poor, the new immigration, the about-to-burst-forth proletariat. St. Chrysostom’s was one of the few Episcopal churches in New York which had no class prejudices. In its pews and at its rectory met rich and poor, employees and employers and those who were neither (some of whom lived off their money and others by their wits). There the lad learned to be unimpressed either by pretense of affluence or by alleged inferiority of workers, to take a human being as a human being, to like almost everybody. It still remains one of his most engaging traits. The millionaire father of a prospective student and the laborer called in to mend the pump are just two men to Father Sill. He jokes with both with equal zest, nor has he moderated his frequent bursts of temper in the interest of one or the other. He loves them alike and stands on ceremony with neither. Life for him is too short for distinctions based on accidents like money.

In an expansive home the rector, Thomas Henry Sill, — happy, eager, overflowingly friendly, always ready to take a chance, and no manager, — was looked after by his competent, practical wife, a lady of Huguenot stock, daughter of that popular physician, Dr. John Miller. There were six children, of whom Fred was the third. It is characteristic of the family that when Fred was about to be born his mother told the rector one Tuesday morning he must go at once — there was no telephone — for the doctor and the nurse, but the rector said she must wait awhile, since he was due in the church to say Matins. Mrs. Sill let him go, and sent a cabman to fetch the needed assistance.

Young Fred was taught his letters by his grandmother. He received no teaching else till he was nine. At twelve he ‘went to Dr. Holden’ at Trinity School and then to the Halsey School, to get better brushed up for Columbia College, which he entered at sixteen. All that time and during college days he lived at home. He thinks and says that if there were today more homes like his to grow up in there would be no need for boarding schools, but that ‘mostly there aren’t.’ He learned from his father how to dare and take risks; from his mother, how to manage money and how to control by exercise of will; from his brothers and sisters, how to give and take; and from the city whose streets he roamed, what the world is like.

Music fascinated the lad. John D. Prince had made the choir at St. Chrysostom’s famous all over town; and frequently the stars from the Metropolitan Opera House, lately built across the street, came in to help. Everyone sang or played; Fred did both, the former as a choirboy, the latter on a fiddle. Deafness and the coaching of crews have dulled a bit the sweetness of his singing voice these latter years. As for the violin, there has been at Kent small time to keep that up; but once, when the school dance orchestra lost its violinist to the infirmary, the Headmaster stepped into the breach and played till midnight, that his boys and their guests might dance. He said afterwards that he found it most convenient. From the band platform he could see if any danced too closely, and with his fiddle bow could rap them as they came round.

In 1890 off he went to Columbia, then downtown, where he managed, in five years instead of four, to satisfy the minimum requirements of the faculty and to have a hilariously good time. Most of the energy he possessed — and he had a great deal in his tiny body — went into other than academic pursuits. He edited the Spectator; he coxed the crew (weight 104); he went to Europe. A dandy in dress, he was much admired by the young ladies, but remained himself heart-free. No party was complete without that gayest of undergraduates, Frederick Sill. Those crew days at Poughkeepsie, and the dinners when the race was done!

What was he to do, now that the reluctant, professors had at last given him a degree? Business, industry, banking, all looked promising; and Mrs. Sill had hopes that one of her three sons might make a little money. Henry was on his way to a Cornell professorship; James was soon to be a priest; Fred would be ‘more practical.’ He went tramping that summer with an old friend, Harrington Littell, later to be Bishop of Honolulu. He tells the story thus: ‘Harrington asked me what I was going to do, and I said I did not know. He said that he was going to General Seminary to be a priest, and why did I not come too; and I said, “It is worth a try, anyway.” That’s the way I found vocation.’ His father was pleased.

Pater — that is what Kent has called him for years — had up to that time had a conventional religious upbringing. He is quite sure, as he looks back across the years, that he has never had a single doubt about the complete truth of the doctrines of the Christian faith. This seems primarily due to his being one of those whom William James has called ‘the healthy-minded.’ There is not, and never has been, any sense of alienation between himself and God; nor is there in his make-up much of the numinous or mystical. Doubt is a thing he has run across, chiefly in old Kent boys who have come back to him for spiritual counsel; but he himself has never experienced it. He has no great respect for it. ‘I have found,’ he says, ‘that doubt usually comes from having too high an opinion of your own importance.’ Given that sort of bent, the incarnational doctrines he learned from his father seem to him, as they did when first he heard them, entirely sensible.

But devotion to God as practised at St. Chrysostom’s bored him, notwithstanding. It was essentially respectable and conventional in expression. Morning Prayer he found uninteresting, and Holy Communion, too, when decorated with interminable anthem settings of the Victorian variety. It all seemed a bit stodgy to this vigorous young man, nowhere near as straightforward as the doctrine of which it was supposed to be a liturgical expression. This feeling that the Episcopal Church was a little musty gave him pause about entering her ministry; but during his first year in theological college he met a man who removed his hesitation by revealing to him a simple and direct type of religion of which he had only vaguely heard up to that time — Anglo-Catholicism. The man was James Otis Sargent Huntington, then ministering to the very poor in a slum parish, proclaiming social reform and the single tax, and about to start an Anglican monastic order.

‘What attracted me to Father Huntington,’ says Pater, ‘were three things. First, he showed me how beautiful a thing worship can be when fuss and formality are removed from that ancient simplicity which is the Mass. Secondly, the man took praying and meditation with such seriousness that he did it systematically, with a concentrated mind. Thirdly, he was one hundred per cent priest, and would let no worldly ties interfere, of marriage or of any other sort. He meant business in a way that won me.’ Young Sill said little of all this at home; and so it came with a shock to his family that, two years after his ordination, he joined the new Order which Father Huntington had just established. It then consisted of three professed fathers; a man named Shirley Hughson was its first novice; Pater was second.

‘Whatever I am I owe chiefly under God to my Order,’ insists Father Sill. The vigorous rule, by relieving him of attention to worldly amenities and by making minor decisions unnecessary, released his astonishing vitality in full power. He was fortunate, too, in the type of order that he joined, for it never has been cloistered, not even in desire. Its rule, while Benedictine in devotional rigor, combines with that basic strain a freedom almost as great as that of Saint Philip Neri’s Oratory. This union of freedom and authority was due to the insight of the founder, who felt that only by both of these in balance can human problems ever be solved. The authority Father Sill needed and throve under; the freedom made possible his doing at Kent a type of work which the Order had not foreseen as within its province.

The Holy Cross Fathers intended to spend their time in preaching, mostly of parochial missions. In that sort of work Father Sill was peculiarly effective. His absolute faith, his gaiety, and his tolerant understanding of all sorts of people combined to win souls, particularly those of men. But as he went about he was struck more and more with the plight of boys whose people were good citizens but who had to live in neighborhoods unfit for lads to grow up in; whose public schools were inadequate but whose funds were far too limited to permit attendance at the fashionable and expensive private schools which were the only alternative. He felt a call of God to take care of some of those boys. At first Father Huntington would not hear of it; but Pater can be very persistent, and so finally, while the two were preaching a Lenten mission at the Cathedral in St. Louis, he received permission to try.

To take advantage of this consent, Pater had been preparing for weeks. He had ready a list of everyone he knew, fifteen hundred names, many well-off, many leaders in New York; and he had a letter ready for the printer. Off it went the next day, ‘lest the Superior change his mind,’ the answers to be sent to him at the Mother House. He got back Easter Week and rushed to his mailbox, expecting hundreds of contributions. He had modestly asked for $250,000. He found six answers, and the contributions amounted to $300. ‘Well,’ he said to himself, after some time before the Blessed Sacrament, ‘if the Lord wants me to make a school with three hundred dollars, I will do it.’ And he did.

III

What are the chief characteristics of the man who thus has made much out of nothing? I have asked many people who know him: masters, pupils, former pupils, parents, his fellow monks, the heads of other schools. The general agreement is that Pater is a bit of a genius, and that the genius is fivefold.

First of all, there is his astonishing energy. For over forty years he has been at his morning prayers by half-past five and, after no rest during the day, has gone to bed at nearly midnight, every moment doing something, week in and week out. He has never been too busy to see a boy at any time about anything the boy has thought important. Nearly every evening has been devoted to sitting in his study and talking, talking, talking to the boys who thronged it. Interruptions, even irruptions, distress him not at all. He has known no privacy. He has raised the money, supervised admissions, coached the crew, visited every sick boy two or three times a day, taught Religion and sometimes English, handled all discipline, kept the staff of teachers under control. He knows each one of his three hundred boys and most of his alumni by their first names and can tell you all about them without referring to notes. He has been chaplain and done the preaching. During most of the school’s history he has been its business manager, purchasing agent, and dietitian. He has found time for interschool conferences, headmasters’ meetings. He has organized a student-exchange system between English and American schools. How has such a pressure of work been handled? Probably it could not have been done were it not that Pater is supplied with a constant secretion for energy such as few men possess. This enables him to attack any problem aggressively, and continually to extend an unlimited outgiving interest to people, which last is probably the most difficult task in a hard world.

Secondly, everyone remarks his love of people, all people, people just because they are people. He does not understand them all. Introspectiveness in others, especially in boys, bothers him. He finds it mysterious, not normal. The questioning type of mind is equally alien to him. But he loves such people just the same; and they know it even when he exasperates them. He would gladly lay down his life for them all. Imagine a schoolmaster telling his boys, if they get into any trouble on holiday or after graduation, to call him at once on the telephone at his expense! They take him at his word. His long-distance reverse charges run to hundreds of dollars a year. A boy can hardly help loving with almost fanatical devotion an older man who always, invariably, cares.

Thirdly, there is Pater’s continued youthfulness, which exists side by side with a shrewdly adult ability to handle men and money. It is not wholly a virtue, and he knows it. He is fond of retailing a comparison once made between him and another headmaster who must be nameless, a man noted for pomposity and lack of humor. ‘Soand-So and Sill,’ it was said, ‘are both inadequate to run a school, but for opposite reasons. So-and-So never was a boy, and Sill never grew up.’ Pater is indeed much like a seventeen-year-old lad in his playfulness, in occasional bursts of vulgarity, in a lack of neatness in respect to clothing, boots, and hair, in an often undue sensitiveness to criticism, in a quality of pleasant brag. More important, he sees problems with a childlike simplicity which makes for work but not always for wisdom. Nowhere is he more a boy than at sports. Victory elates him; defeat sends him into the depths; he doubts if referees are fair. All these juvenile qualities endear him to his students. He is not a father to them, but an older brother. As a sixth-former is to a third-former, so is Pater to a sixthformer. And as for the alumni, they chuckle as they remember his boyish enthusiasms, and love him much as they love the memory of days forever gone.

Fourthly, he is lacking in self-consciousness. He simply does not matter to himself. Failure does not discourage him. As for success, he tells his boys, ‘Aim at success; but never think you are successful.’ He is not given to resentment when facts are not in accord with his presuppositions. Vainglory is incompatible with an utter opportunism. God he respects; people he loves, and often roundly abuses; puzzles he solves, or tries to; he has never had time to remember himself. Only twice do members of his family recall his seeming to boast. Once was when he was a little lad, blackberrying. He filled his pail far ahead of the others and then cried to his father, ‘Isn’t Freddy a great boy?’ But his eyes were on the berries. The other time was after the prize day last June, when his work as Head was over. He sat in the twilight. ‘I’ve not done so badly,’ he said. ‘Look — a million and a half of property, and all those boys.’ He was not thinking of himself. Pater’s will drives hard, the harder for a sound humility.

Lastly, and most of all, he does believe in God, trusts Him utterly. Deity to Pater means Jesus. He is no mystic, searching hard for God in the shadows. God he is sure came to earth and found him long ago, and still dwells near within the Sacrament. To see him saying Mass, with all his boys around him, is to understand how ingenuous is the Catholic Religion. When a paralytic stroke hit home and he lay an utter invalid, he insisted on seeing the old boys who came back. He could scarcely speak; but he would lift his one good hand a bit and mutter, ‘Hello, Jim,’ or ‘Hello, Henry.’ When at last he was a little better, he was wheeled into the chapel, after months of absence, by one of the monks. As they came to the centre aisle and he looked the long way to the altar, with the Presence Light burning there, Pater waved the one good hand and muttered with a deep content, ‘Hello, Jesus.’ It has always been as simple as that!

IV

Full of energy, passionately interested in people, incurably youthful, without self-consciousness, believing in God, Pater has become a figure not only in education but in the contemporary American scene. But what kind of school has he made? A portrait of the man is incomplete without some estimate of that.

Pater himself thinks that the most important feature of Kent is the centrality it gives to God. A boy, he says, is mind plus body multiplied by spirit. It is unfair to that boy to leave Religion out, or to regard it as merely another subject to be taught. Religion is an energizing power or it is worse than nothing. ‘We have now raised in this country,’ he writes, ‘two generations of men and women who are mostly illiterate about Religion. No wonder that our people are filled with pride and self-seeking, our marriages often ending in divorce, our nation riven by class and racial and international prejudices. Let a lad be led to suppose that he has no soul, and the man he becomes will behave accordingly.’

He has found that few of his students come to him other than young heathen. Homes are different today from what they were on Thirty-ninth Street in the nineties. ‘It would help,’ he wrote not long ago, ‘if parents would give their sons a sense of spiritual values, a little trust in the Unseen, a daily routine adjusted to Reality. Parents do want their children to be religious; but they think all that can be left to the schools. Well, Religion taught at school is a poor substitute for Religion caught at home. Still, we must do what we can. What the Head and the masters are religiously, that to some extent the boys will wish to become.’ And again, ‘Boys at school do not get to God primarily by studying the Bible. Our real job is to show by example that Religion is reasonable, an adventure of faith, a thing of joy, a dynamic of moral action, social action.’

Does the Kent method of religious education work? Pater is sure of it, and most of his old boys are inclined to agree. Some of them, however, say that it is occasionally a bit difficult to see past Pater to the God he wishes you to discover; quite a few insist that a more definite moral and doctrinal instruction, especially in the upper forms, would have prevented confusion and heartaches later on; and several have wondered if Pater knows how little connection sometimes exists between what the masters teach in class and what Pater and the School are supposed to stand for religiously. It is perhaps characteristic of the man that, with all his energy and minute surveillance of every detail, he has lived for years under a comforting illusion that his staff think precisely as he does. Occasionally he has discovered otherwise, at which times he has been shocked and often severe; but usually he has taken agreement for granted. The way of life at Kent is certainly religious; but the program of studies seems to many people almost as secular as that of the public schools. Kent is indeed God-centred, because the Head is God-centred — a nexus hard to maintain and perhaps not wholly sufficient.

Pater’s fellow headmasters seem to regard the self-help system as one great discovery at Kent; but it should be termed a rediscovery, and that of a technique not long lost. (One has only to recall Jo’s school in Little Men.) That schoolboys should wash the dishes and sweep the floor and polish the handle of the big front door, that to attend to these things builds self-reliance and selfrespect and a sense of human equality, that to do a job of work well does more for character than pious admonitions — these self-evident truths had actually been well-nigh forgotten by the preparatory schools of the last generation. That it should have been so is evidence of the absurdity of our admired scheme of life. To Father Sill’s plain, practical, Christian common sense, plus the accident of a sick cook, is due its introduction into life at Kent, its imitative readoption in a score of boarding schools, its imminent reëntrance at a good many more.

‘I believed when we began at Kent, and I still believe,’ says Pater, ‘that poverty and hard work are good for boys, especially for those from luxurious homes. In my Order even the Father Superior does his share of daily chores in the household; simplicity and hard work are equally good in schools. Boys welcome self-reliance. I have yet to see a Kent boy resent doing the job assigned him, or angry if called down when inspection showed it badly done.’

Could such a system be grafted on to older, conventional schools? ‘Certainly,’ he replies; ‘and they will all have to come to it for necessary economy, if for no other reason. Endowments bring less and less, and there are fewer and fewer well-off people able to pay fat fees. But if I were asked to put such a system in, I should begin with the Headmaster, go on to the masters, then get at the boys. Unless the Head and his associates are willing themselves to go in for self-help, having no servants, doing all their own chores but the cooking, eating in a common dining room, they can hardly have the nerve to ask the boys to do it. Convert the staff, and you may have self-help in any school. But mind you, “ self-help ” does not mean poor boys working on “scholarships” while rich boys take it easy. Nothing can be worse for developing citizens of a democracy!’

The other headmasters find the adjustment of fees at Kent worth noting. Some of them like it; more of them do not. There is no fixed charge. Every year the school estimates the cost of maintenance, operation, and depreciation on a per capita basis. That becomes the average fee. Parents are then informed, and asked to state what they can afford to pay. Some can pay nowhere near the $875 which is now the average fee; some wish to pay much more. The parent fixes his own payment, and Kent invariably accepts the parent’s judgment. No mention of fees is ever made until the boy has been accepted. All boys are treated exactly alike, whether the fee paid is nothing a year, which is the minimum, or $2000 a year, which is the highest yet offered. No secret is made about what is paid. The boys talk such matters over with entire freedom. ‘We get,’ says Pater, ‘from all according to their ability; and we give according to need — which means that we give to every boy precisely the same service and affection. That is Christian, is it not?’

As for new educational theory or novelties in teaching practice, they interest Pater not at all. As he sees things, his school exists solely to develop fine, upstanding, God-fearing lads, to get them into college and to enable them to stay in once they have arrived. This conservatism may be carried too far. It is a common complaint among old Kent boys that in school they were not taught how to discuss problems — or how to explore ideas. ‘If you asked a question, there was the answer, all neat and compact, in a book, or in Pater’s wisdom as he sat in his study, kindly, eager, available, and always sure. Life, alas, is not as easy as that.’ Progressive education may be suspect; but is there not something to be said for the Socratic method? Be that as it may, Kent has gone in for no pedagogic experiments. It has kept intellectual eyes on the College Entrance Examination Board and discouraged roving glances. That is what the customers ask; and it has not occurred to Pater that the customers may not in this respect be making sufficient demands.

As a matter of fact, Kent has been a good school because from the start, until now it has been Pater on one end of a log and some small boys on the other. The log has grown more complex. It is now matured into Georgian buildings round about a Norman church whose many bells ring gladly across the twilight sky; but Pater still has been found always on every inch of the log, nor has he permitted anyone, not even his two-dozen masters, to get between him and the lads. This has been very fine indeed, albeit exhausting to Pater; but what of Kent now that he is out? No successor can possibly be so eccentrically sane and so tireless. There are few such fellows born. The influence of Pater will last a good long time; but his methods will gradually but almost certainly be modified, probably by way of delegation of authority, possibly by reforming the school on something like the English house system. A man can be big brother to forty or fifty lads; only a superman can be that to three hundred. Pater himself foresees great changes. ‘Let my successor be himself,’ he says, ‘and let no one interfere. I never permitted anyone to interfere with me.’

V

Pater is still at Kent, mostly in the infirmary but always at dinner in hall. He watches the school as it goes on its way. His energetic body rests. Most grievous of all physical hindrances, he can no longer say Mass. He does much thinking these days. On the whole, he is inclined to be optimistic. In June he talked freely about the future to a visitor who loves him. He said: —

‘The world is in for some terrible times. What can you expect when people forget God? The revolutionary peace will be perhaps more trying even than what precedes it. It is going to be a different world, but not too bad a one. Of course there will not be any people left who have much of any money. Either we are going to pay the war debts, by a taxation that will put the wealthy out of existence, or else we are not going to pay them but inflate instead, which will equally destroy affluence. Yes, the selfhelp schools are the wise ones. Hard times? A new world? Well, what of it? There will be new problems. I have always enjoyed problems. Whatever our future form of government, we shall always need men with character to run things. If we private-school people can turn out such men, I have no fears for our future. If we cannot, off with our heads!

‘The Church is in for a good jolting, which will do it good. Reunion may come out of it, if we can prevent denominations from making concordats and suchlike, trying to get organic union before people’s minds and hearts are in harmony — a foolish business, it seems to me. What will the Church of the future be like? Well, I rather think it will be a bit like Kent School Chapel, simple and honest, and friendly and beautiful, where people render worship without self-consciousness and where our Lord is understanding and patient, even when the Old Man loses his temper. Yes, I honestly do think it may be very much like that. I hope so, anyway.’