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SHEPPERTON CHURCH was a very which a collector of small rents, difdifferent - looking building five-and- ferentiated by the force of circumtwenty years ago. To be sure, its stances into an organist, will accomsubstantial stone tower looks at you pany the alacrity of your departure through its intelligent eye, the clock, after the blessing, by a sacred minuet with the friendly expression of for- or an easy “ Gloria.” mer days; but in everything else Immense improvement! says the what changes! Now, there is a wide well-regulated mind, which uninterspan of slated roof flanking the old mittingly rejoices in the New Police, steeple ; the windows are tall and the Tithe Commutation Act, the symmetrical; the outer doors are penny-post, and all guarantees of resplendent with oak-graining, the human advancement, and has inner doors reverentially noiseless moments when conservative-reformwith a garment of red baize; and ing intellect takes a nap, while imagthe walls, you are convinced, no ination does a little Toryism by the lichen will ever again effect a settle- sly, revelling in regret that dear, old, ment on—they are smooth and in- brown, crumbling, picturesque ineffinutrient as the summit of the Rev. ciency is everywhere giving place to Amos Barton's head, after ten years spick-and-span new-painted, new, of baldness and supererogatory soap: varnished efficiency, which will yield Pass through the baize doors and endless diagrams, plans, elevations, you will see the nave filled with well- and sections, but alas ! no picture. shaped benches, anderstood to be Mine, I fear, is not a well-regulated free seats ; while in certain eligible mind': it has an occasional tendercorners, less directly under the fire of ness for old abuses ; it lingers with a the clergyman's eye, there are pews certain fondness over the days of reserved for the Shepperton genti- nasal clerks and topbooted parsons, lity. Ample galleries are support, and has a sigh for the departed ed on iron pillars, and in one of shades of vulgar errors. So it is not them stands the crowning glory, the surprising that I recall with a fond very clasp or aigrette of Shepperton sadness Shepperton church as it was church - adornment-namely, an or- in the old days, with its outer coat gan, not very much out of repair, on of rough stucco, its red-tiled roof, its VOL. LXXXI.
heterogeneous windows patched with company with a bassoon, two keydesultory bits of painted glass, and bugles, a carpenter understood to its little flight of steps with their have an amazing power of singing wooden rail running up the outer “counter, and two lesser musical wall, and leading to the school- stars, he formed the complement of children's gallery.
& choir regarded in Shepperton as Then inside, what dear old quaint- one of distinguished attraction, ocnesses! whic I began to look at casionally known to draw hearers with delight even when I was so from the next parish. The innovacrude a member of the congregation, tion of hymn-books was as yet unthat my nurse found it necessary to dreamed of; even the New Version provide for the reinforcement of my was regarded with a sort of melandevotional patience by smuggling choly tolerance, as part of the combread-and-butter into the sacred edi- mon degeneracy in a time when fice. There was the chancel, guarded prices had dwindled, and a cotton by two little cherubims looking un- gown was no longer stout enough to comfortably squeezed between arch last a lifetime; for the lyrical taste and wall, and adorned with the es- of the best heads in Shepperton had cutcheons of the Oldinport family, been formed on Sternhold and Hopwhich showed me inexhaustible pos- kins. But the greatest triumphs of sibilities of meaning in their blood- the Shepperton choir were reserved red hands, their death’s-heads and for the Sundays when the slate ancross - bones, their leopards' paws, nounced an ANTHEM, with a digniand Maltese
There were fied abstinence from particularisainscriptions on the panels of the tion, both words and music lying far singing gallery, telling of benefac- beyond the reach of the most ambitions to the poor of Shepperton, with tious amateur in the congregation : an involuted elegance of capitals an anthem in which the key-bugles and final flourishes, which my alpha- always ran away at a great pace, betic erudition traced with ever-new while the bassoon every now and delight. No benches in those days; then boomed a flying shot after them. but huge roomy pews, round which As for the clergyman, Mr. Gilfil, devout church-goers sat during “les- an excellent old gentleman, who sons,” trying to look anywhere else smoked very long pipes and preached than into each other's eyes. No low very short sermons, I must not partitions allowing you, with a speak of him, or I might be tempted dreary absence of contrast and mys- to tell the story of his life, which tery, to see everything at all mo- had its little romance, as most lives ments ; but tall dark panels, under have between the ages of teetotum whose shadow I sank with a sense and tobacco. And at present I am of retirement through the Litany, only concerned with quite another sort of to feel with more intensity my burst clergyman—the Rev. Amos Barton, into the conspicuousness of public who did not come to Shepperton unlife when I was made to stand up til long after Mr. Gilfil had departed on the seat during the psalms or the this life-until after an interval in singing.
which Evangelicalism and the CathAnd the singing was no mechani- olic Question had begun to agitate the cal affair of official routine ; it had a rustic mind with controversial dedrama. As the moment of psalmody bates. A Popish blacksmith had approached, by some process to me produced a strong Protestant reacas mysterious and untraceable as the tion by declaring that, as soon as the opening of the flowers or the break. Emancipation Bill was passed, he ing-out of the stars, a slate appeared should do a great stroke of business in front of the gallery, advertising in in gridirons; and the disinclination bold characters the psalm about to of the Shepperton parishioners gebe sung, lest the sonorous announce- nerally to dim the unique glory of ment of the clerk should still leave St. Lawrence, rendered the Church the bucolic mind in doubt on that and Constitution an affair of their head. Then followed the migration business and bosoms. A zealous of the clerk to the gallery, where, in evangelical preacher had made the old sounding-board vibrate with curate of Shepperton, rather more quite a different sort of elocution than twenty years ago. from Mr. Gilfil's ; the hymn - book What was thought of this problem, had almost superseded the Old and and of the man who had to work it New Versions, and the great square out, by some of the well-to-do inhabpews were crowded with new faces itants of Shepperton, two years or from distant corners of the parish, more after Mr. Barton's arrival among -perhaps from dissenting chapels. them, you shall hear, if you will ac
You are not imagining, I hope, that company me to Cross Farm, and to Amos Barton was the incumbent of the fireside of Mrs. Patten, a childless Shepperton. He was no such thing. old lady, who had got rich chiefly by Those were days when a man could the negative process of spending nohold three small livings, starve a thing. Mrs. Patten's passive accumucurate a-piece on two of them, and lation of wealth, through all sorts of live badly himself on the third. It "bad times," on the farm of which was so with the Vicar of Shepperton; she had been sole tenant sioce her a vicar given to bricks and mortar, husband's death, her epigrammatic and thereby running into debt far neighbour, Mrs. Hackit, sarcastically away in a northern county — who accounted for by supposing that “sixexecated his vicarial functions towards pences grew on the bents of Cross Shepperton by pocketing the sum of Farm ;" while Mr. Hackit, expressing thirty - five pounds ten per annum, his views more literally, reminded his the net surplus remaining to himn wife that “money
breeds money." from the proceeds of that living, after Mr. and Mrs. Hackit, from the neighthe disbursement of eighty pounds as bouring farm, are Mrs. Patten's guests the annual stipend of his curate. this evening ; so is Mr. Pillgrim, the And now, pray, can you solve me the doctor from the nearest market-town, following problem? Given a man who, though occasionally affecting with a wife and six children : let aristocratic airs, and giving late dinhim be obliged always to exhibit ners with enigmatic side dishes and himself when outside his own door poisonous port, is never so comfortin a suit of black broadcloth, such as able as when he is relaxing his prowill not undermine the foundations fessional legs in one of those excellent of the Establishment by a paltry farmhouses where the mice are sleek plebeian glossiness or an unseemly and the mistress sickly. And he is whiteness at the edges ; in a snowy at this moment in clover. cravat, which is a serious investment For the flickering of Mrs. Patten's of labor in the hemming, starching, bright fire is reflected in her bright and ironing departments; and in a copper tea-kettle, the home-made hat which shows no symptom of tak- muffins glisten with an inviting sucing to the hideous doctrine of expe- culence, and Mrs. Patten's niece, a diency, and shaping itself according single lady of fifty, who has refused to circamstances ; let him have a the most inelegible offers out of devoparish large enough to create an ex- tion to her aged aunt, is pouring the ternal necessity for abundant shoe- rich cream into the fragrant tea with leather, and an internal necessity for a discreet liberality. abundant beef and mutton, as well Reader I did you ever taste such a as poor enough to require frequent cap of tea as Miss Gibbs is this mopriestly consolation in the shape of ment handing to Mr. Pillgrim ? Do shillings and sixpences; and, lastly, you know the dulcet strength, the let him be compelled, by his own animating blandness of tea sufficiently pride and other people's, to dress his blended with real farmhouse cream ? wife and children with gentility from No—most likely you are a miserable bonnet-strings to shoe-strings. By town-bred reader, who think of cream what process of division can the sum as a thinnish white fluid, delivered of eighty pounds per annum be made in infinitesimal pennyworths down to yield a quotient which will cover area steps ; or perhaps, from a prethat man's weekly expenses? This sentiment of calves' brains, you'rewas the problem presented by the frain from any lacteal addition, and position of the Rev. Amos Barton, as rasp your tongue with unmitigated
bohea. You have a vague idea of a Janet Gibbs, who, she knows, exmilch cow as probably a white-plaster pects a large legacy, and whom she animal standing in a butterman's is determined to disappoint. Her window, and you know nothing of money shall all go in a lump to a disthe sweet history of genuine cream,, tant relation of her husband's, and such as Miss Gibbs': how it was this Janet shall be saved the trouble of morning in the udders of the large pretending to cry, by finding that she sleek beasts, as they stood lowing a is left with a miserable pittance. patient entreaty under the milking- Mrs. Patten has more respect for shed; how it fell with a pleasant her neighbour Mr. Hackit than for rhythm into Betty's pail, sending a most people. Mr. Hackit is a shrewd delicious incense into the cool air; substantial man, whose advice about how it was carried into that temple crops is always worth listening to, of moist cleanliness, the dairy, where and who is too well off to want to it quietly separated itself from the borrow money. meaner elements of milk, and lay in And now that we are snug and mellowed whiteness, ready for the warm with this little tea-party, while skimming-dish which transferred it it is freezing with February bitterto Miss Gibbs' glass cream-jug. If I ness outside, we will listen to what am right in my conjecture, you are they are talking about. anacquainted with the highest pos- So,” said Mr. Pillgrim, with his sibilities of tea; and Mr. Pillgrim, mouth only half empty of muffin, who is holding that cup in his hand, "you had a row in Shepperton has an idea beyond you.
church last Sunday. I was at Jem Mrs. Hackit declines cream; she Hood's, the bassoon-man's, this mornhas so long abstained from it with an ing, attending his wife, and he swears eye to the weekly butter-money, that he'll be revenged on the parson—a abstinence, wedded to habit, has be- confounded, methodistical, meddlegotten aversion. She is a thin woman some chap, who must be putting his with a chronic liver-complaint, which finger in every pie. What was it all would have secured her Mr. Pillgrim's about ?” entire regard and unreserved good “0, a passill o' nonsense,” said word, even if he had not been in awe Mr. Hackit, sticking one thumb beof her tongue, which was as sharp as tween the buttons of his capacious his own lancet. She has brought waistcoat, and retaining a pinch of ber knitting—no frivolous fancy knit- snuff with the other—for he was but ting, but a substantial woollen stock- moderately given to the cups that ing ; the click-click of her knitting- cheer but not inebriate," and had veedles is the running accompani- already finished his tea ; " they bement to all her conversation, and in gan to sing the wedding psalm for a her utmost enjoyment of spoiling a new-married couple, as pretty & friend's self-satisfaction, she was psalm an' as pretty a tune as any's in never known to spoil a stocking. the prayer-book. It's been sung for
Mrs. Patten does not admire this every new-married couple since I was excessive click clicking activity, a boy. And what can be better? Quiescence in an easy-chair, under Here Mr. Hackit stretched out his the sense of compound interest per- left arm, threw back his head, and petually accumulating, has long broke into melody-seemed an ample function to her, and she does her malevolence gently.
4* O what a happy thing it is,
And joyful for to see, She is a pretty little old woman of Brethren to dwell together in eighty, with a close cap and tiny flat Friendship and unity.' white curls round her face, as natty and unsoiled and invariable as the But Mr. Barton is all for th' hymns, waxen image of a little old lady under and a sort o' music as I can't join in a glass case; once a lady's-maid, and at all." married for her beauty. She used to “ And so," said Mr. Pillgrim, recalladore her husband, and now she ing Mr. Hackit from lyrical reminisadores her money, cherishing a quiet cences to narrative," he called out blood-relation's hatred for her niece, Silence ! did he? when he got into the
pulpit; and gave a hymn out himself beginning, when I went into service, to some meeting-house tune ?"
I alys did my duty by my employers. “Yes," said Mrs. Hackit, stooping I was a good wife as any's in the towards the candle to pick up a stitch, county-never aggravated my hus" and turned as red as a turkey-cock. band. The cheese-factor used to say I often say, when be preaches about my cheese was al’ys to be depended meekness, he gives himself a slap in on. I've known women
as their the face. He's like me-he's got a cheeses swelled a shame to be seen, tem per of his own."
when their husbands had counted on " Rather a low-bred fellow, I think, the cheese-money to make their Barton," said Mr. Pillgrim, who hated rent; and yet they'd three gowns to the Rererend Amos for two reasons my one. If I'm not to be saved, I because he had called in a new doc- know a many as are in a bad way. tor, recently settled in Shepperton; But it's well for me as I can't go
to and because, being himself a dabbler 'church any longer, for if th' old in drugs, he had the credit of having singers are to be done away with, cured a patient of Mr. Pillgrim's. there'll be nothing left as it was in " They say his father was a dissent- Mr. Patten's time; and what's more, ing shoemaker; and he's half a dis- I hear you've settled to pull the senter himself. Why doesn't he preach church down and build it up new ?" extempore in that cottage up here, of Now the fact was that the Rev. a Sunday evening ?”
Amos Barton, on his last visit to Mrs. “ Tchaw!"—this was Mr. Hackit's Patten, had urged her to enlarge favourite interjection—" that preach- her promised subscription of twenty ing without book's no good, only when pounds, representing to her that she a man has a gift, and has the Bible was only a steward of her riches, and at his fingers' ends. It was all very that she could not spend them more well for Parry-he'd a gift ; and in for the glory of God than by giving a my youth I've heard the Ranters out heavy subscription towards the re
doors in Yorkshire go on for an building of Shepperton church hoor or two on end, without ever practical precept which was not likely sticking fast a minute.
There was to smooth the way to her acceptance one clever chap, I remember, as used of his theological doctrine. Mr. to say, 'You're like the wood-pigeon ; Hackit, who had more doctrinal enit says do, do, do all day, and never lightenment than Mrs. Patten, had sets about any work itself.'_That's been a little shocked by the heathen. bringing it home to people. But our ism of her speech, and was glad of parson's no gift at all that way; he can the new turn given to the subject by preach as good a sermon as need be this question, addressed to him as beard when he writes it down. But churchwarden, and an authority in all when he tries to preach wi'out book, parocial matters. he rambles about, and doesn't stick “Ah," he answered, "the
par: to 's text; and every now and then son's boddered us into it at last, and he founders about like a sheep as we're to begin pulling down this has cast itself, and can't get on'ts spring. But we haven't got money legs again. You wouldn't like that, enough yet. I was for waiting till Mrs. Patten, if you was to go to we'd made up the sum, and, for my church now?"
part, I think the congregation's fell " Eh, dear," said Mrs. Patten, fall- off 'o late ; though Mr. Barton says ing back in her chair, and lifting up that's because there's been no room her little withered hands, “what for the people when they've come. would Mr. Gilfil say, if he was worthy You see, the congregation got so large to know the changes as have come in Parry's time, the people stood in about in the church in these ten th' aisles; but there's never any crowd years? I don't understand these new now, as I can see. sort of doctrines. When Mr. Barton “Well," said Mrs. Hackit, whose comes to see me, he talks about good-nature began to act now that it nothing but my sins and my need was a little in contradiction with the omarcy. Now, Mr. Hackit, I've dominant tone of the conversation, never been & sinner. From the fust “ I like Mr. Barton. I think he's a