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up or down for their conversational power, wit and brilliancy. They make no sensations, astonish no natives; but being “ dear blessed men,” they get good salaries. Their very appearance—so ministerlike-clothes well brushed-black walking sticks, with silver knobs; hair combed with inimitable neatness, and religiously parted in the middle, [and years ago combed straight down over the forehead, almost into the eyes.] No wonder they get and retain a high status! We allow these to be good men; we never question the sincerity of their piety; we sincerely wish them continued prosperity and happiness: but we are not able at present to perceive in what important respects they are better than any other good men, whose clothes will not bear much brushing, lest they should become threadbare; whose walking sticks are less expensive, whose hair being rebellious, in spite of all combing, goes where it likes; and whose status (thanks to the Pharisees) excites neither envy nor admiration.
MRS PICKHOLES-MRS. SCRATCHWELL-MRS. CANDOUR.
CERTAIN ladies were at the evening party where the minister let off the anecdotes so much objected to by Mrs. Croakem. These ladies shall now be introduced. It is a lovely morning, and the loquacious Mrs. Pickholes is determined to “put on her things,” and make a few neighbourly calls.
Her pious feelings having been very much wounded by the humorous conversation of the minister at the house of Mr. Cheerful the previous evening, she thinks she must talk about it in confidence to somebody or other, and in her own peculiar way. She gives a ladyfied rat tat tat at the door of her much loved friend Mrs. Scratchwell. The London servant girl introduces her into the little sitting room, saying, in a half whisper, “ Please mum, Missus won't be long; she seed you from the dining room window, and says, says she, Lor, if there aint Mrs. Pickholes coming !- Betty I am sich a fright! I do declare I must go and change my dress.' So if you please mum to wait a little, she won't be long." Sitting rooms are sometimes waiting rooms, and so far as my own experience goes, the time of waiting is proportioned to the real or supposed dignity of the heads of the establishment. For a Bishop I have waited three minutes,
taken dinner with his Lordship, and spent at least two hours in friendly conversation. For a London tradesman, I have waited half an hour, and then been told by the servant that “Master and Missus were pertikilarly engaged, and I must call another time.” Perhaps these things cannot be helped, but they are rather queer, and seem to have a dash of eccentricity in them. Mrs. Pickholes, however, being a special friend, and often bringing savoury news, had not to wait long. The two ladies met one another with a cordial greeting. Mrs. Scratchwell began the conversation by an apology for detaining her friend so long, observing that it was all the fault of the servants, “who," says she, "are so negligent
, and lazy as to keep everything in a litter till one knows not when to be ready for company. You can't think, my dear Mrs. Pickholes, how greatly I am tried. Servants in these days are the plague of opes life. Really our ministers ought to give us some sympathizing sermons, and show servants their duty.”
Mrs. Pickholes.—“Well, my dear, I for one can sympathize with you. I am sadly annoyed with my housemaid, Mary. She has great privileges. I allow her to go every Sunday afternoon to hear our pious local preachers; but though, she says, she likes them much, she thinks it hard she can't get out now and then in a morning or evening, to hear the regular ministers. I tell her this cannot be; but alas ! troubles are not confined to domestic life, we have them in the churches, and some of our ministers, instead of removing, often increase them.”
Mrs. Scratchwell.--" You don't say so ! dear me, what has happened? You are very much excitedyou seem subject to some painful emotion-pray discharge your grief, and let me know the worst of it.”
Mrs. Pickholes.." You know how dear the cause is to my
heart.” Mrs. Scratchwell.-"To be sure it is, my love.”
Mrs. Pickholes.- “Well then, to let it go no farther, and not to bring my name in, by any means, it is just this :— Last night I was one of the party at Mr. Cheerful's; we had an immense amount of conversation; but it was so miscellaneous, and we had so many anecdotes, that I felt myself miserable."
Mrs. Soratchwell.—"Ah, my dear sister, these light and trifling anecdotes are a sad proof of a worldly spirit.” [This lady here interrupts herself, and calls out angrily to the servant, ‘Betty, if you don't shut that drawing room window, you insolent rebel, you shall pack up your boxes, and leave my house this very night.” Betty, of course, shuts the window.'] “ And now my dear Mrs. Pickholes, you will proceed : Excuse my interruption-my concern for Betty's salvation strongly excites me."
Mrs. Pickholes.--"Well, I was observing that this conversation did not suit me. We had some divinity, it is true, and we had history and biography, some discussions about languages,—the state of public affairs, and I can hardly tell what else; and there was certainly some cleverness in the minister,—but some of his facts and anecdotes and narratives, were
so ludicrous, that the company, from time to time, were convulsed with irrepressible laughter; and what aggravated the humour anil levity of the thing was, he himself never laughed at all! Ah! thought I, this is awful work, no wonder the churches prosper so little,* when ministers, instead of reminding us whate'er we do, where'er we be, we are travelling to the grave,' let off anecdotes, and divert us with their eccentricities."
Mrs. Scratchwell.—“This account, my dear Mrs. Pickholes, fills me with deep concern. A man of this sort ought to be got rid of. I am astonished at the bad taste of that family as to the kind of ministers they invite to their social parties. I understand this eccentric person is a mighty attraction in many circles of professors, but for my part, give me the company of dear Mr. Somnifick, whose serious and quiet aspect is in itself as good as a sermon, and whose conversation, though disposing impatient listeners to go to sleep, always assists my meditations on the troubles and trials of this miserable world. Let your merry parties slight him as they may, he is a dear blessed man, and worth a million of those who are given to eccentricity. Laughing, indeed and amongst professors ? Ah! what will become of us ?”
[Note.-It would be well for Mrs. Scratchwell to understand that the men given to eccentricity, whom
* And yet the churches, then under the care of this humorous minister, were prospering more than they had done for many previous years.