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THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 135, 5 August 1880
THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
THE DISRUPTION: A TALE OP TRYING TIMES. CHAPTER IY— continued. A serious though amicable argumen ensued, which ended as most argument do. in leaving each party in possession of his original opinions. In this case, however, the disputants, though they could not agree, conceived a high opinion of each other’s integrity and candor, which threw them entirely out of sympathy with their aristocratic entertainer and his sycophant M’Quirkie. The latter sat listening to the contest between them, and at the conclusion summed up in the following terms :—“ You are both very earnest for the honor and independence of the Church, but in no other point are you agreed ; you, Mr. Calmsough, are all for conservation, and Mr. Duncanson for her restoration or reform. Now it follows that one of you must be dissatisfied, by the issue of the present agitation whatever it may be, and you speak so warmly on the subject, that I suppose you will make a matter of conscience of your opinions, and only remain attached to the Church on condition of seeing them carried into effect.”
“ That is cutting before the point a little,” replied the aged minister. “ I’m not prepared say what I would do in any event till it be distinctly within view, but I hope to be enabled to do my duty whatever may happen. Have you, may I ask, been able yet to make up your mind as to the course you will follow ?” “ On one point,” replied M’Quirkie, “I have. lam determined, at all hazards, to remain true to the Church as by law established.”
“Or as it maybe re-established ?” inquired Mr. Calmsough. “ Precisely so,” was M’Quirkie’s ready answer, his little eyes twinkling all the time with self-complacency to find himself entrenched on ground so safe, and to observe the approving nod of the Baronet.
“Well, I must say,” remarked James Duncanson, “ I can see no hazard in the case except some risk of character.” “ Risk of character !” interjected Simon M’Quirkie ; “I beg you, Mr. Duncanson, to explain. lam not conscious of having committed myself as you have done, in any way that can lay me open to the charge ®f inconsistency.” “ You certainly,” replied James, “ have been very cautious of committing yourself to anything but unconditional adherence to the Establishment, but it is in that very resolution that I apprehend there is some risk of reputation.” “ Indeed ! then I am perfectly willing to incur the danger. I have uniformly held it desirable that the Church should be put in a position to crush Dissent, and if she be not so placed by legal means I shall be sorry for it; but for all that, I am not to be shaken from my attachment to the venerable institution. ’" The Baronet here held out his hand to Mr. M'Quirkie in token of his cordial approval, and said significantly that it was well there were some young men, such as he, rising up to the ministry who understood the interests both of Church and State, and could be depended on in trying times. Simon received the compliment with as much satisfaction as a miser pockets an approved bill, well knowing that it was a token of more substantial things to come. At this instant a member of the company, whe had hitherto remained a mute but attentive witness of all that passed, rose from his seat, and advanced towards James Duncanson, took him by the hand with a fervour of feeling that made the graspratherinconvenientlyrigid. This personage was a stalwart middle-aged farmer, one of Sir John’s favorite tenants, who had little to say on such subjects as he had heard discussed on this occasion, but nevertheless took a lively interest in them.
“ Ye’re in the right, Mr. Duncanson,” said the farmer, again and again shaking hands with him. “ Ye’re perfectly right, sir, if I ha’e ony skill. 1 have heard a’ that ye’ve been sayin’ to the minister here about the auncient freedom of the Kirk, and what should be stooden up for yet, and the manful stand for it by Cameron, Ren wick, Cargil, and a’the ither worthies; and faith, sir, ye ha’e the right end o’ the tree. I’m but a simple unedyecated man, and can do little to help the cause wi’ words; but if it suld (ever come to clouring crouns*. as it did langsyne, mak’ sure o’ me on your side for ane. ” The company being now a little out of harmony, the propriety of joining the ladies was considerately suggested, and an adjournment to the drawing-room immediately took place.
Can love, with all its charms. Relieve my soul of pain ? Now I must quit thy loving arms. Ne’er, ne’er to meet again ! Ah, no ! a thousand pangs My tortured bosom swell; I feel my darkening fate now hangs On that dread word—Farewell. CAPT. C. GRAY. Mrs. Renshaw was sharp enough sighted to discover very soon the result of the discussions reported in the last chapter. She observed at a glance that Sir John Baldwin during the rest of the evening was cold and reserved to her nephew, and flatteringly complacent to Mr. Simon M’Quirkie. The ladies of the family also saw this, and were sorry for it, but found no opportunity of asking explanations, or using their influence in favour of James Duncanson, which they were much disposed to do. No one ventured to allude to the recent dispute, except the burly, frank-spoken farmer before-mentioned. He introduced the subject by unceremoniously slapping Mrs. Renshaw, on the back, and saying—“ He’s a clever chiel, this nevo o’ yours, mistress. Pegs 1 he’s nane o’ the sneaking gude-for-naething creatures that would sell his birthright for a mess of parridge. There’ll he some out-coming o’ him, or my name’s no Ringan Stimperton. He’s made o’ the true stuff for a minister, and may leeve yet to shed his blude for the gude auld cause o’ Presbytery against Prelacy and a’ the ither priestly abominations.” These were most unwelcome assurances to Mrs. Renshaw, and she resented them, and the free manner in which they were expressed, by drawing herself up in a taciturn pettishness, and glooming, as Ringan afterwards described her appearance, “like a sow playing on a trump.” She made an early retreat, and was accompanied by the students to Whinnyside. All the way she preserved a moody, ominous silence, only replying in monosyllables to any remark addressed to her by either of the young men. M'Quirkie was in a particular chatty humour, for his spirits were elevated to a high pitch by the favourable impression he felt conscious he had made on the Baronet. James Duncanson was also cheerful, but in a different sense. He experienced an unwonted buoyancy and serenity of spirit from the conviction that he had done his duty in rather a trying situation ; and with his mind at rest on a subject on which it had long been wavering, he entertained not a shadow of regret at the course he had followed, but was prepared calmly and manfully to meet the consequences whatever they might he. Once more in her own house, Mrs. Renshaw threw herself down on a chair, and passionately gave vent to her pent up feelings. “ A pretty day’s wark this has been ! ” she exclaimed, without addressing herself to anyone particularly. A hysteric spasm seemed about to choke bar
utterance, but a copious gush of tears brought relief, and set her tongue a-going freely. She railed long and loudly at.her nephew, and at length addressed him thus:—“Ye have flung awa’an opportunity this day ye may ne’er ha’e the like o’ in your life again.” “ Well, aunt,” he replied, “ I cannot see that I’ve done anything of the hind. I am not aware that my position is altered at all for the worse, or that I have lost anything by what passed at the Hall today.” “ Weel, if ye dinna see what ye’ve lost, ye might see it wi’ half an e’e, and without a glimmer o’ the learnin’ ye ha’e gotten thrown awa’ on ye. Ye had as guid a chance as ony young minister in the country, and a far better cbance than a lot o’ them o’ getting a presentation, had ye just had the gumption to keep the fair side o’ Sir John. But that chance ye’ll ne’er ha’e noo, after offendin’ him wi’ your maggotty notions. It’s clean unpossible for you ever to get into his favor again. ” ‘ ‘ And it would not signify though I could,” said Jomes, “for, with the principles I hold, I could not accept of presentation from him or any other patron, though it were offered to me ever so \ freely. ” “ Principles ! haggis bags 1 ” exclaimed the lady. “It wasna to get ony sic bees in your head as ye ca’ principles that I sent ye to the College. I’ve been cheated and imposed upon by the way ye’ve been taucht. It wasna honest o’ Dr. Chaurners, or ony ither doctor in the College, to learn ye principles, it wasna. It was guid learnin’—guid Greek and Latin learnin’—ye were sent to learn, it was, and nane o’ their trash o’ principles.”
In this manner Mrs. Renshaw went on without intermission till her ill-humor became insupportable even to M‘Quirkie, notwithstanding his own unusually happy frame of mind. He accordingly took an early leave, though he had been invited, and half consented, to remain for the night. James Duncanson’s resolution to depart from Whinnyside and renounce all further depen dance on his aunt was irevocably fixed. Accordingly the morning after the scene described above, lie took a formal leave of her, and left the house, taking with him only such furnishings as were portable enough to be carried in his pockets. Strange to say, on this occasion she made no attempt to induce him to remain. She was in a sullen mood, and perhaps expected that her nephew would change his mind after he should have some experience of the hardships and difficulties of following an independent course unprovided with means. The student first bent his steps towards Bumcrook, a little village, where resided his sweetheart, Miss Montgomery. He wished to see her before leaving the neighborhood, to explain to her the alteration of his circumstances and intentions for the future, in so far as he had formed any. But even in this direction there was a cloud mustering against him. Bumcrook lay within Mr. Calmsough’s parish, and the family to which Miss Montgomery belonged, being warmly attached to him as their minister, and he not less warmly attached to them—as he was to all his flock—the reverend gentleman had called the previous evening to inquire for them, in passing through the village on his way home from Baldwin Hall. He was not aware of the intimacy between Agnes and James Duncanson, but incidentally mentioned the young student’s name in speaking of Sir John Baldwin’s dinner party. He launched out in praise of the manliness and honesty with which James had maintained his principles even under the Baronet’, frown, and at the coat of his favor ; but he regretted, at the same time, that so promising a young man should have adopted views which might deprive the Church of his services. Agnes sat blushing and trembling while all this was said, for she knew the sternness of her father’s nature, and apprehended that wliat he heard from the minister would operate to disturb her peace and blight her fondest hopes. She was the favorite, though not the only, daughter of Gideon Montgomery ; and she knew that, though he had no great fortune to give her, he was determined that her hand should only be bestowed on one who could make her a lady, and shed the lustre of superior station on the family. Agnes knew also that her father was bitterly opposed to the movement party in the Church, of which he was a ruling-elder, and that he could not think favorably of any one opposed to him in opinion. She therefore apprehended that Mr. Calmsough’s remarks regarding her lover, though warmly laudatory, would nevertheless raise a serious obstacle to her further correspondence with him ; and she was not mistaken. As Mr. Calmsough proceeded to detail what had taken place at the Hall, old Gideon’s face became clouded and he gave expression to his chagrin in various interruptions of the single-minded speaker, who was unconsciously raising a storm which, had he been aware of, he would much rather have averted.
At the end of the minister’s remarks, Agues looked timidly and tenderly at her father, as if imploring his forbearance, but he did not regard the appeal. In a cold but inflexible manner, he said, “ Perhaps, Mr Calmsough, you are not aware that the young man you speak of is one of Agnes’s admirers; but after what you tell me, I shall take care to make him keep his distance.” “ Indeed,” replied the minister, “ I was not aware of the circumstance, hut I regret to hear you speak so severely. All I have said of him ought rather to make you proud that your daughter is sought after by such an excellent young man. No one can more sincerely wish Miss Agnes well or respect her more than I do, but I cannot desire better fortune to her than that James Duncanson may be her husband. But come, Aggy ! you are not to be ashamed or terrified. Your father will take my view of the subject when he gets time to think of it, and I will yet have the pleasure of tying the knot that is to make you Mrs. Duncanson.” But the young lady was too much agitated to remain longer in the company, and she retired immediately to her own apartment to hide her feelings. Her father, meanwhile, in spite of all Mr. Calmsough could say, renewed his protest against J ames Duncanson, and expressed his determination never to allow him to enter his dwelling or hold any correspondence with his daughter. “No, no,” he said, “no daughter of mine, especially Agnes, shall he thrown away on a manscless, parishless minister. I know no fault worse in a young man designed for the ministry—nothing so likely to keep him down in his profession—as new-fangled notions like what this youth has spoiled his prospects with. Since he is so wise in his own conceit, he must just take his swing ; but I’ll take care that nae bairn of mine shall he preened to his fortunes.” It was in vain that Mr. Calmsough remonstrated and argued against such harshness. Old Gideon became only the more inexorable the longer the subject was discussed, and the more that was said to mollify his obstinacy. Next day when Mr. Duncanson knocked at the door, it was opened by a servant, who had been previously instructed by her master how to act. James received no invitation to enter, and, after being told that he could not see Miss Montgomery, the door was rudely shut in his face. This treatment was as unexpected as it was heart-cutting and cruel. In James’s mind astonishment for a while predominated over other feelings, but it gradually gave way to grief and indignation. “This, then, is the part of the price,” so ran his ruminations, “which I must pay for keeping a good conscience ; for, no doubt the course to which I have
committed myself has become known here, and been condemned. It is the sharpest thorn I have met with, and though I did not hope to find the path of duty smooth, I did not think I should he made to suffer in it quite so soon. But no matter, the die is cast, and I must abide the issue, be it good or ill.” With such reflections did he move away from scenes endeared to him by many a fond association, relieving, or try to relieve, his mind by many a heavy heighho. One consoling thought occurred to him, and rapidly gained the strength of a conviction as he turned it over and over in his mind, and viewed it in all possible lights—namely, that Agnes could not bo a party to the treatment he had received at her father’s door. It was not possible she could. It was not in her nature to be so unfeeling, and so far forgetful of her love and truth. As this conviction settled firmly in his mind, the beautiful words of the forty-third Psalm occurred to him, and he hummed them as he went along : Why art thoa then cast down, my soul— What should discourage thee ? And why, with vexing thoughts, art thou Disquieted in me ?
Without well knowing wherefore, or having any precise purpose in view, the student took the direct road to Edinburgh, and travelled with an energy corresponding to the the excited state of his feelings. In a calmer mood, the low state of Ids finances would have made him pause, and, perhaps, adopt a different course ; for all the money he possessed was the balance of a five-pound note, which he had changed to pay his coach fare and some other matters before he left the city. His entire stock of cash did not amount to much above the half of that trifling sum ; and how he was to obtain more when it should be exhausted could not easily be imagined. He had, indeed, flattered himself with the idea that he could earn a handsome income by private teaching; but he well knew that the summer season, which was setting in, was not the time to seek such employment. Still he went on at a round pace, as if he had a pressure of business impelling him forward, and a well-defined position to step into at his journey’s end.
When he was several miles advanced on the read (for he intended to travel the whole way afoot for the sake of economy), he saw at some distance before him, and proceeding in the same direction, a rustic whose gait and person seemed familiar to his eye. The pedestrian web not walking quite so rapidly as our hero, who accordingly overtook him, and was equally surprised and glad to recognise as his fellow-traveller no other than honest Bobin Afleck. Robin was dressed in his Sunday clothes, and evidently bound on no light or trivial errand. “ Where away, Robin ? ” was Mr. Duncanson’s first salutation to the ploughman;— “Where away, Robin? —you look as if yon were on a journey.” “ I’m gaun till Embro’, Maister Jimes, and ye’re like as ye were gaun there yoursel’. ” “ Indeed I am, Robin ; but I did not anticipate the pleasure of having your company.” “ Aweel, sir, ye see ye ha’ got your ain luck ; for I’m gaun every fit o’ the road and, what’s mair, I’m gaun there to stay.” “Nonsense!—you must be joking, Robin ? ”
“ No, I’m jokin’ nane ; it’s as sure’s death. ”
“ And what, pray, do you intend to do, may I ask ? ” “Ou ay, ye may speer what ye like, and I’ll no tell ye a word o’ a lee. I’m gaun till Embro’ to be a stewdent, like yoursel’. ” “The more fool you, Robin, unless you know better what to make of your learning.” “ 0 fegs, I ken fine what 111 make o’t. I’ll mak mysel’ a vet —veter —veterinary serjeant.” “ A veterinary surgeon, you mean ? ” “Ay, yes—in fack, just a horse-doctor. But that ugly name, veter—veterinary, frights me warst o’ a’. I’m no fear’t but it wad be a daft-like thing for a body no to be fit to gi’e their ain trade it’s learn’d name. But I’ll be hang’d if I’ll ever be able.” “ But this is not the season for attendance at the veterinary ckisses. You’ve mistaken the time by half a year.” “ I’m no sae far mistae’n, Maister Jimes. I ken this is no the time for the public classes, but I want to get some lessons in a private way before the College opens ; for I’m but a rough clowt yet, and need a heap o’ clippin an’ calmin’ before I can gang decently in the traces wi’ them that’s been in trainin’ already.” “ Well, Robin, there’s some wisdom in your plan, if you can carry it out. But what means have you to enable you to become a student?—what has induced you to think of it ?—and how con you get so suddenly clear of my aunt’s service ? ” [to be continued.]
THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 135, 5 August 1880
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