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AMATEUR HEATHEN., Ashburton Guardian, 8 April 1880
(Nau York Times.) The small boy who has been well and piously brought up hates the heathen, though policy compels him to conceal his feelings. He envies the heathen small boy, and at the same time looks upon him as a selfish and remorseless absorber of Christian pennies. This is natural and inevitable. The small boy is told that his heathen contemporary goes constantly bare-footed, wears very little clothing, is never washed, never goes to school, and is never taught anything that is good and useful. Moreover, the heathen small boy lives in a country where tigers and other delightful wild beasts abound, and where the exciting spectacle of a widow burning to death in company with her husband’s corpse —an attraction which no circus in this country has had the enterprise to offer —is simply exhibited free. Of course the small boy of Christian lands envies the blessed lot of his heathen brother, and would give worlds had he too been born a heathen. Now, when the envious small boy is compelled to give 50 per cent, of his pennies to the heathen, he feels that it is both unreasonable and unjust, and his anger burns against the heathen small boy, who, although rolling in every kind of heathen luxury, meanly absorbs the scant wealth of small boys who have the misfortune to be born in Christian countries. He cannot avoid noticing that the grownfolks who think that he should give one half of his pennies to the heathen, do not divide their own property in that way, and he never drops a copper in the collector’s box without feeling that he is the victim of moral black-mailing. Now and then there arises a small boy with a gigantic intellect, and a degree of courage which marks him as a born leader of his race. It is the exceptional small boy of this variety who heads expeditions against the Indians and organises gangs of juvenile highwaymen. That these enterprises do not meet with success is due to forces beyond his control, but they display the greatness of his intellect and the boldness of his character. Of this type of small boy is Master Jaggars, of North Meriden, Conn., -who lately devised an ingenious and entirely novel scheme for arresting the flow of American copper coins} towards the heathen pockets of juvenile Indians. Some two months since Master daggers, who had painfully accumulated the sum of 25 cents, with a view to an expected circus, was compelled to consecrate 15 cents to the hated small boys of India. It was this last of a long series of pecuniary outrages that determined him to take a bold stand against missionary assessments, and he therefore summoned a mass meeting of small boys on Sunday afternoon at Deacon Pratt’s barn, ostensibly with a view to rats, but really to propose a plan of defence against heathen encroachments. Master Jaggars made a moving speech, in which he glowingly described the luxury in which the heathen small boy wallows ; “ He ain’t washed, and he can wear just as little cloze as heserrainter. There ain’t no school for him, nor no Sunday, you bet. He can go swimmin’ every day, and can just lay off on the bank and see the crocodiles scoop in washerwomen and such. Then his back yard is chuck full of tigers and hippomusses, and no end of snakes, and he can steal his dad’s gun and shoot ’em out of the back window. This is the chap that rakes in all our money, and I say it’s mor’n we ought to stand. Now, I move that we all turn heathen ourselves: The folks can’t make us wash and go to school if were heathen, and the other boys will have to put up their money for us." It is needless to say that this speech was received with tumultuous applause.
Howls of execration went up as the luxuries of the hated heathen were described, and the proposal to adopt heathenism as a profession was unanimously supported. A slight temporary opposition was manifested by Master Sabin, who maintained that, in order to become heathen, they must first have their eyes put out—a theory that was founded upon a misinterpretation of “ the heathen in his blindness.”
The objector, however, was soon convinced of his error, and expressed thereupon a hearty desire to become'? heathen. The details of the scheme were all arranged by Master Jaggars. A plaster bust of Mr. J. S. Tilden was decided to be ugly enough to servo as an idol, and the amateur heathen placed it on an empty barrel in the barn, and bowed down to it with much gravity. They discarded all their clothing except a towel twisted around the waist, and blackened their entire bodies with burnt cork. There could be no doubt that they were very successful heathens in appearance, and, as it was late in the afternoon, they resolved to spend the night in the barn ; to breakfast on the spoils of Deacon Pratt’s orchard, and to attend Sunday school in a body, in order to collect tribute from the Christian boys. The Sunday school opened as usual the next morning, although the absence of eleven boys created a good deal of remark. Soon after the exercises had begun, the teachers were astounded at the entrance of Master Jaggars and his ten associate heathen. It is only fair to say that the heathen behaved themselves with as much propriety as their professional duties wmuld permit. Master Jaggars advanced to the superintendent, and remarked : “If you please, sir, we’ve all turned heathen. There ain’t ,no foolin’ about it. We’ve got a first-class old idol, and we don’t believe in nothing no more. So, if you please, sir, will you please tell them Christian boys to fork over half of all the money they’ve got, and to remember how blessed it is to consecrate it to real genuine heathen. ” There is no instance on record in which s heathen has been converted as quickly as w r as Master Jaggars. The superintendent held him by one ear, and at the tenth stroke of the cane Master Jaggars renounced his heathenism, and promised to smash his idol and return to the Christian faith without a moment's delay. The other heathen, alarmed by the fate of their leader, went to the barn, washed themselves, resumed their clothing, and went home with sober countenances, singing missionary hymns. The North Meriden revival of heathenism was a disastrous failure, but nevertheless the boldness and originality of the scheme devised by Master Jaggars must command our wonder and admiration.
AMATEUR HEATHEN., Ashburton Guardian, 8 April 1880
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