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Chapter IV. - Our First Sunday

Sunday morning, bright and hot, and every one down in good time. After breakfast the household came, and we had prayers. The Major read impressively part of the beautiful English service, and we went to the “fir brae” while the horses were, got ready.

The drive down the glen was exceedingly pleasant. At the inn door we caught John Eraser and his daughters just leaving for church, so walked with them, discoursing of John’s flocks and herds, and of our own doings. I rather think Fred told the little demure daughter all about his fishing, although it was Sunday.

John said they expected a “strange minister” (any one except the incumbent is so called by the parishioners) to preach, and he could not vouch for the “discoorse.” However, we had an excellent sermon in that small Highland kirk—earnest, simple, and of moderate length. I was pleased that our English friends escaped hearing one of the elaborate discourses still too common in our Church, and which seem composed with a purpose of raising doubts among the elders, and setting the young to sleep; and, instead of being bored with fifthly, I shall now proceed to prove, we had a plain Christianlike sermon, to comfort the good, and make bad men ashamed. All thought and said, Amen, with the worthy pastor; and, on walking back, Ward remarked that the clean, homely aspect of the mothers and children, the strong wiry men, and the venerable patriarch in the pulpit, brought to his mind the old covenanting stories.

It was such fine weather, that when we^came to the inn, we agreed to walk home.. So the carriage was sent off and we had lunch, and, after some chat with the kindly family, set off for a quiet walk through the glen.

It was pleasant sauntering along in the still Sunday afternoon, a quiet which seemed intensified by the soft piping of the little hill birds and the murmur of the burn.

On arriving at the Lodge, we chose what books we wanted from the Major’s well-selected case, and sought some secluded corner till dinner.

When dining, Ward disapproved of the crimped salmon, which he thought corky; but he lives to be wiser and a prominent hand at the process of crimping, when a good fish is caught and a cold spring at hand.

On talking after dinner about different forms of worship, Ward and I were mutually liberal; he saying, that such service as we had to-day was good for any Christian, wise or simple; while I owned that much of the English service might be with benefit engrafted into ours.

“I suppose, Major,” I remarked, “that in your travels you attend any church, Greek or Scotch?”

“Freely, except the Roman Catholic.”

“Ho! ho!” exclaimed Ward; “you dislike the Papists.”

“By no means, Hope; but the system, as opposed to freedom, civil and religious. I regard my Popish and Protestant brethren alike, save Irish priests perhaps; for such men as Fendlon, in past times, and poor fancy-tossed Newman, in our own, must have the reverence of any one not a bigot.”

“Well, I confess myself a bigot,” Ward said, “and anathematize the whole concern, lay and clerical, except the Sisters: they are perfect. Still I would demur at wedding a Papist girl, with the beauty of Venus and Ardenmohr for a dowery.”

“Ma foi! I think I should venture, under such persuasions, and, mayhap, try conversion,” I said.

“Yes, and find yourself vainly attempting to make a rigid Protestant out of a simple Papist, be spied in all your doings,—your wife, perhaps, the chief spy; or, if loyal to your hearth, the victim of priestly pumping and family persecution. Shun ceite galere altogether, my boy: to one like you, doubledealing would be misery.”

“Really, Hope,” I said, “you must go to Ireland and lecture.”

“Not my metier at all; nobody likes friendly discussion better, and I detest controversy, even if it did good, which it never does. Time alone makes change where there is fixed principle or prejudice; indeed, if conscience led Major Duncan and you to shave your crowns, and shun salmon-fishing, I should hardly dispute your notions.”

“So you have found, by experience, that the close communication of Catholic and Protestant does not politically smooth their angles?”

“Nor ever will; it sharpens them. Pity Cromwell did not complete his Irish schemes.”

“Then, Ward,” said the Major laughingly, “you hardly expect much from the Irish Church doings ?”

“Nothing: a single thought might prove that. All other religions are content to let alone, and be let alone—Jews, Greeks, or Protestants; but the whole policy of Popery is absolutismover States and over individuals: the idea of satisfying this grasping spirit of rule with scraps from the Protestant larder is beautifully absurd.”

“ But what could the Legislature do, with Protestants and Papists alike crying out injustice, and politicians gambling on these alleged wrongs?” “They might have said: "Your religion is atenmity with our whole policy, and yet we do not persecute, we ignore, Popery. Protestants are the wealth, strength, and enterprise of the country: which could do as well, perhaps better, without you.”

“But in Ireland Papists are a majority, and dislike Protestant rules.”

“Nor do Seven Dials and Clerkenwell like a Protestant police, in these quiet and cleanly districts; but the police are for the decent subjects thereabouts, and a Protestant Church was for the like reason in Connemara—eh, Major?”

“Q. E. D.! By Jove, Ward, you are a marvel!” “By the way, Hope,” I said, “what of Agnes? Have you heard of her lately? She was rigid enough.” “Oh! yes, she is in a convent at Bouen; the poor nuns will hardly find her to be a sister of mercy!" “Come, come, you two,’’ the Major said; “do be decently charitable even to monks and acrid maids. Protestants are not always guileless.”

“I trow not,” replied Ward. “Even stupid Protestants may show much cunning, and quite hold their own in the great scramble for place and pence, which is pompously called the battle of life.”

“I do declare, Ward, you are a perfect cynic this quiet Sunday evening, and that grave Abbott ^aiding and abetting you; it is not a pleasant feeling, surely.”

“Well,” said Ward, “I do allow that thought of trickery or meanness does put my back up, be it policy or Popery : and, my good fellow, you first put the truck on the rails.”

“Then I confess also, confiteor mea culpa; shall we go to bed?”

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