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Absent: the one essential Print E-mail
By Robert Hugh Benson   
Monday, 25 November 2013

It seemed to Percy Franklin as he drew near Rome, sliding five hundred feet high through the summer dawn, that he was approaching the very gates of heaven, or, still better, he was as a child coming home. For what he had left behind him ten hours before in London was not a bad specimen, he thought, of the superior mansions of hell. It was a world whence God seemed to have withdrawn Himself, leaving it indeed in a state of profound complacency – a state without hope or faith, but a condition in which, although life continued, there was absent the one essential to well-being. It was not that there was not expectation – for London was on tip-toe with excitement. There were rumours of all kinds: Felsenburgh was coming back; he was back; he had never gone. He was to be President of the Council, Prime Minister, Tribune, with full capacities of democratic government and personal sacro-sanctity, even King – if not Emperor of the West. The entire constitution was to be remodelled, there was to be a complete rearrangement of the pieces; crime was to be abolished by the mysterious power that had killed war; there was to be free food – the secret of life was discovered, there was to be no more death--so the rumours ran.... Yet that was lacking, to the priest's mind, which made life worth living.



 

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