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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Callista and Agellius
By John Henry Newman (1801–1890)
 
From ‘Callista’

FOR an instant tears seemed about to start from Callista’s eyes, but she repressed the emotion, if it was such, and answered with impetuosity:—“Your Master!—who is your Master? what know I of your Master? what have you ever told me of your Master? I suppose it is an esoteric doctrine which I am not worthy to know; but so it is: here you have been again and again, and talked freely of many things, yet I am in as much darkness about your Master as if I had never seen you. I know he died; I know too that Christians say he lives. In some fortunate island, I suppose; for when I have asked, you have got rid of the subject as best you could. You have talked about your law and your various duties, and what you consider right, and what is forbidden, and of some of the old writers of your sect, and of the Jews before them; but if, as you imply, my wants and aspirations are the same as yours, what have you done towards satisfying them? what have you done for that Master towards whom you now propose to lead me? No!” she continued, starting up: “you have watched those wants and aspirations for yourself, not for him; you have taken interest in them, you have cherished them, as if you were the author, you the object of them. You profess to believe in One True God, and to reject every other; and now you are implying that the Hand, the Shadow of that God, is on my mind and heart. Who is this God? where? how? in what? O Agellius, you have stood in the way of him, ready to speak of yourself, using him as a means to an end.”  1
  “O Callista,” said Agellius in an agitated voice, when he could speak, “do my ears hear aright? do you really wish to be taught who the true God is?”  2
  “No; mistake me not,” she cried passionately: “I have no such wish. I could not be of your religion. Ye gods! how have I been deceived! I thought every Christian was like Chione. I thought there could not be a cold Christian. Chione spoke as if a Christian’s first thoughts were good-will to others; as if his state were of such blessedness, that his dearest heart’s wish was to bring others into it. Here is a man, who, so far from feeling himself blest, thinks I can bless him; comes to me,—me, Callista, an herb of the field, a poor weed, exposed to every wind of heaven, and shriveling before the fierce sun,—to me he comes to repose his heart upon. But as for any blessedness he has to show me, why, since he does not feel any himself, no wonder he has none to give away. I thought a Christian was superior to time and place; but all is hollow. Alas, alas! I am young in life to feel the force of that saying with which sages go out of it, ‘Vanity and hollowness!’ Agellius, when I first heard you were a Christian, how my heart beat! I thought of her who was gone; and at first I thought I saw her in you, as if there had been some magical sympathy between you and her; and I hoped that from you I might have learned more of that strange strength which my nature needs, and which she told me she possessed. Your words, your manner, your looks, were altogether different from others who came near me. But so it was: you came, and you went, and came again; I thought it reserve, I thought it timidity, I thought it the caution of a persecuted sect: but oh my disappointment, when first I saw in you indications that you were thinking of me only as others think, and felt towards me as others may feel; that you were aiming at me, not at your God; that you had much to tell of yourself, but nothing of him! Time was I might have been led to worship you, Agellius: you have hindered it by worshiping me.”  3
 
 
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