6 October 2018

Jalland continues

"I direct and appoint ... that the eight Divinity Lecture Sermons shall be preached ... to confute all heretics and schismatics ... upon the authority of the writings of the primitive fathers ...". So directed the Revd John Bampton, sometime Canon of Salisbury, when he founded his series of lectures to be given in every alternate year. Jalland, in the Preface to his 1942 Bampton lectures (you can read them on the Internet Archive), expresses "his very deep gratitude" to the friends who have helped him: Nipper Williams (who served at S Thomas's); Leslie Cross; Tom Parker; Eric Kemp; Gregory Dix ... all of them names to conjure with.

On the morning of Monday, July 18, 1870, as the early glow of dawn was slowly spreading across the sky of North Italy, an express train which had left Rome at half past seven o'clock the previous evening, was clanking on its way across the plains of Lombardy. For some weeks past the stifling heat of summer in the papal capital had been quite unbearable, and as the train neared the frontier of Piedmont, the fresh wind blowing down from the mountains must have reached the weary travellers like a breath of new life. Awakened by the glimmering daylight and the cool of dawn, Monsignor Felix Dupanloup, bishop of Orleans, felt in the pocket of his douillette and drew out his breviary. As he turned over its pages to find his places for the current feast of St Camillus of Lellis, his companion, Monsignor Louis Haynald, archbishop of the metropolitan see of Kalocsa, in Hungary, who was occupying the opposite corner of the compartment, leaned forward in the direction of his fellow-bishop. 'Monseigneur', he said, 'nous avons fait une grande faute'. The bishop of Orleans looked up, paused for a moment, and then, gently raising his hand, showed that he had already begun the recitation of his Office.

In my view, that is one of the all-time great beginnings to a book, fit to stand beside anything in the corpus of the divine Jane, and more striking than du Maurier's haunted Cornish house at Mandalay. How Jalland completed his Bampton lectures, I plan to reveal.


1 comment:

Tony V said...

My favourite book beginning is, of course, 'It was a dark and stormy night,' but Jalland's certainly ranks right up there. For those who can't wait for Fr H's exciting conclusion, the whole set of lectures is available here.