On the first day of the new reign an evening paper contained the following passage: "The Grand Council at which the new King made the customary declaration . . . . was held at St. James's Palace at 4.0 p.m.... King Edward . . walked across Ambassador's Court at 3.40 to the State rooms, where the Council was held. He was hatless, and wore morning dress and was attended by . . .
"The King was received in silence by the Council."
(The italics in this and subsequent quotations are ours.)
The next morning the News-Chronicle referred to the new King's attendance at the same meeting as follows; "His firs( official function was the meeting of the Privy Council summoned at St. James's Palace to hear the Royal Declaration. He wore military uniform and his scarlet tunic, heavy with orders, glowed against the sombre palace walls."
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A day later again, the Archbishop of Canterbury was speaking of the late King in the House of Lords. According to all the reports he used substantially these words: "At noon on that day, propped up in his chair . . . he received his last Privy Council Then he made deliberate and repeated efforts, most gallant but most pathetic, to sign his last State paper with his own hand. Then, when the
effort was too great for him, he " We turned up the description of the same scene in a London newspaper of Tuesday, January 21. It contained the following passages over the name of its special representative at Sandringham : "The Privy Councillors . . . did not enter the bedroom where the King lay
in a four-poster bed Slowly the King signed 'George, R.1.'
"Before he returned to London by
train I had a word with Sir Maurice Hankey [Clerk of the Council]. I asked if the King had been able to sign the document of State unaided. 'Yes,' replied Sir Maurice, `His Majesty signed
the document himself,'"
* 4r In this second case no reconciliation between the accounts seems possible. Someone has been drawing on his imagination, In the first ease the fact concerning which the apparent discrepancy exists happens not to be of the slightest
importance. But suppose that it were, and that the accounts had to be taken seriously, is any solution possible without going beyond them? There seems to be quite a simple one.
The News-Chronicle stated that the King was in uniform at the Council. The Star nowhere expressly states that he was in morning dress at the Council. It states that he walked across Ambassador's
Court to it in morning dress. And its note of the time is helpful. The King is said to have walked across to the State rooms at 3.40, but the Council was held at 4 p.m. He had twenty minutes in which to change in the State rooms.
lt is true that the Star's account passes from the King's walk across the court to his reception by the Council without referring to what took place in the interval. But there is nothing in its words actually inconsistent with the other account on the supposition we have made; nor could the Star man have had any reason to suppose that the form into which he cast his story would go so awkwardly with the News-Chronicle's account the next day. And, anyhow, awkwardness is not error.
One of the most obstinate of the alleged discrepancies between the gospels is between the account of the healing of blind Bartimaeus in St. Luke (xviii, 35-43) and the accounts given by St. Matthew (xx, 29-34) and St. Mark (x, 46-52). St. Luke seems to place it before our Lord's entry into Jericho and the others after his departure. A minor complication is that St. Matthew speaks of two blind men. But there is no absolute contradiction here, while there does appear to be one on the other point, and some very unconvincing explanations have been given of it, or else the words of the gospel are construed (even by apologists) at something less than their face value.
It is by construing them with precision that a solution may be found. It can then be seen that St. Luke is the only evangelist who actually describes the blind man hearing the crowd passing and enquiring what it meant. The others simply say that the blind man (or men) sitting by the roadside, " having heard " (past participle in both gospels in the Greek) that it was Jesus, cried out, etc.
it is a simple inference that Bartimaeus first heard the crowd and made his enquiry as our Lord entered Jericho overnight, as St. Luke says; then told a friend and took up a position outside the other gate the next morning and there made his appeal, as St. Matthew and St. Mark say.
It is true that St. Luke's account passes from Bartimaeus's enquiry to his appeal without referring to what took place in the interval, but there is nothing in his words actually inconsistent with the other accounts on the supposition we have made. Nor could he have had any reason to suppose that the form into which he east his story would go so awkwardly with the accounts of other writers. And, anyhow, awkwardness is not error.
But we seem to be repeating ourselves.