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THE CHIMNEY CORNER.

THE DISRUPTION: A TALE OF TRYING TIMES, CHAPTER XXlV— continued. “ Hooly, Laird, hooly. Though I’m but a puir tenant o’ yours, I ha’e something to mind far abune the clods o’ the valley. And wi’ your leave, let me say, as lang as I bring my rent oot o’ the Stiffriggs mailin, I baud mysel’ accoontable to nae man for what I turn my thochts to. And it’ll neither be for tile-drainin’ nor guano that I’ll gi’e up the freedom o’ the Kirk o’ Scotland, or cease to contend against pawtronage and Eraustianism in a’ shapes and forms.” “ True, true, Ringan—perfectly true; but you ought to use your freedom with discretion. You should take time to consider if patronage be really such a bad thing as you call it, and if you are not kicking against a very just and salutary system.” “ Time to consider ! The only thing worth considerin’ is hoo to get soonest • quat o’t. Hav’na I had its pernicious effecks every day o’ my life stinkin’ under my vera nose ? and hoo can the system be onything to me but an abomination ? Consider truly ! Troth I ha’e nae need to consider muckle aboot pawtronage.” “ I understand what you mean, Ringan, but you ought not to condemn the system for one unfortunate appointment Our worthy friend Mr. Calmsough here was put in by patronage, as well as Dr. Snapperdudgeon.” “ Haud ye there, Sir John, and alloo me to put you in mind that the parish petitioned for Mr. Calmsough, so. his appointment canna properly be said to ha’e been an act o’ pawtronage; but Dr. Snapperdudgeon’s settlement was a forced ane and just a fair sample o’ the system.” “ I must beg, my friends,” interposed Mr. Calmsough, “ that you will refrain from personal allusions, for though I am flattered by your good opinion, I do not wish to be complimented at the expense of my neighbour. Surely the merits of patronage may be discussed without special reference to individuals. For my own part, I approve of the system, because I think its general tendency is in favour of peace and good order, but I will not let my judgment be biassed by particular instances, either good or bad; there must be exceptions in every system.”

“ Spoken like yourself, Mr Calmsough,” said Sir John. “If our antipatronage and Non-intrusion neighbors would follow your excellent example, there would, at this moment, be no danger of the venerable Church of Scotland.”

Under your favor, Laird,” said Stiffriggs, “ the venerable Kirk o’ Scotland is in nae danger. The Establishment is in danger to be sure —the height 0’ danger—but the Establishment is no the Kirk, gude be thankit!” “ Come now, Mr. Stimperton,” exclaimed the Laird, “ You are spinning your distinctions too fine. If the Establishment is not the Church of Scotland, pray what is or can be, the Church of Scotland ?—tell me that.”

“ I grant ye, Laird,” replied Ringan, “that the Kirk o’ .'•■'Gotland is established ; but the establishment is no the Kirk. The Kirk o’ Scotland was the Kirk o’ Scotland —the national Kirk—before it was established, it’ll be the national Kirk lang after it has ceased to be established. Tak’ ye my word for that, Sir John.” “ I’ll take no man’s word for anything of the sort,” said Sir John; ‘T can conceive of no national Church but an established one; and depend on it, my good friend, there will be an end to the nationality of the Church —an end to its efficiency, it’s unity and all that it is most valued for by the Christian people of Scotland, the day when its connection with the State is cut asunder, if that black day should ever come.”

“ I wish it were the morn,” rejoined the sturdy farmer; “ for I’m sure the goodly tree that John Knox planted in the land will never flourish till ance it be free o’ the poisonous creepers that have twined themsel’s round its stately trunk, and crushed its sappiest branches.

“You are poetical, Ringan,” said the Laird, in rather a jeering tone. “Weel,” answered Ringan, “if I be pottical its because I’m speaking the truth. There’s naething sae pottical as the truth, ye ken. The Psalms of Davit are abune a’ ither pottery, just because they’re the even down truth, every word o’ them.” “So then Mr. Stimperton, your object is not to reform the Establishment, but to break it up altogether? ” . “ No, I never said that yet Laird; but it’s because I dinna see ony chance o’ reform in’t worth the speaking o’, that I wish the gude old Kirk o’ Scotland to be dune wi’ the endooments, and a’ the trammels they impose on her.”

“ Well, I’ll tell you what will be the consequence if the Church ever be so infatuated as to fling up the endowments, and shake off her state connection. She will become a beast of prey in the land—a public scourge—a vampire—an insatiable mercenary—a fomentor of animosities—a sower of dissention in communities and households —a den of superstition and hypocrisy -—a community of dupes and knaves. The spirit of charity will depart from among us, and all the bitterness of theological strife take the place of heart-felt religion. All this I venture to predict, though I am neither a prophet nor a son of of a prophet.” “Timeabootis fair play, Sir fohn; and I’ll tak’ my turn o’ predicting noo, if ye like. Here then is my set o’t If the Kirk o’ Scotland remain under the Eraustian bonds laid on her by the Court o’ Session—if she submit to be controlled in her ain affairs by the ceevil Government —if she surrender the veto, and bow her neck to the yoke :o’ pawtronage—if she let hirelings continue to occupy her pulpits for a bit o’ bread—dyvors that wad digrace the sodger trade, let abe the sanctuary —if she continues to berry puir folk for her support, and let the gentry keep unrighteous possession o’ the tiends (tak’ ye that, Laird !) —then, I say, she will become a bye-word and a reproach; her candlestick will be removed. ——”

“ Her fiddlestick!” “She will sit in darkness and desolation—her best people will forsake her,

and she will be like a dead tree cumbering the land. But if she has the virtue to come out of her bondage and leave the flesh pots o’ Egypt, her latter days will be more glorious than the first. There’s my prophecy, Sir John; and them that live ither ten years will see whether you or me has come nearest the truth.”

During the rhapsody, Old Gideon Montgomery sat grinding his teeth, and hardly able to control his rage; but Mr. Calmsough threw oil on the troubled waters by remarking mildly—- “ It appears to me, friends, that it is an extreme view of the case to suppose either that the Church of Scotland will remain as she is, of renounce her Plstablishment privileges. Something between these extremes is, I think, much more likely to happen. The Legislature may probably yet concede a modification of patronage, and draw a more marked line between the provinces of flie ecclesiastical and civil judicatures, and thus remove the grievances most complained of; or should this not happen, a partial, not a general, secession from the Estabrishment may take place, and thus leave the Church in peace and harmony, though for a time weakened in strength. These are my views, friends; and, so far am I from apprehending evil from the present crisis, I anticipate that great good will come out of it, both to the Church and country at large.” “Very, well, Mr. Calmsough,” said Sir John “ spoken like yourself again ; very well spoken, indeed. And as you are a clergyman, your opinions are entitled to more consideration than those of us laymen ; but why are our young clerics here sitting silent ? Surely they should have something to say on such a subject.” “ Ay, ye may say that, Laird,” said Mrs. -Renshaw, “or what’s the use o’ their learning ? ” Stiffriggs too seemed very much disappointed that Mr. Duncanson did not back him in the argument; and though he did not say much, the student perceived, or thought he perceived, this feeling in his looks, and was unhappy in the idea that he was no longer independent. He, however, excused himself on the score that it would hardly be using the ladies handsomely to enter into controversy in their presence. M'Quirkie sheltered himself under the same plea, but it was evident to all the company that he was, for once m his life, out of countenance, and fain would hav been anywhere else than where he was. When the company broke up both Stiffriggs and Mrs. Renshaw unfortunately renewed their grumbling to the student, that he had not taken part in the discussion. His aunt .complained that he had not seized the‘opportunity to show his learning—for she had still a strong wish that he should gain the favor of Sir John Baldwin and Stiffriggs. lamented that he had not stood up for his principles'when they were impugned and traduced in his hearing. Though these remarks were made without any tone of unkindness, the young man felt them as bitter reproaches, seeing they proceeded from friends who had laid him under obligations, and might conceive they had thereby acquired a right to influence his conduct. His feelings were too keen and his imagination too vivid to allow him to consider the matter calmly to perceive that there was nothing exacted from him on the ground of favors conferred, and that the remarks he felt so poignantly might just as probably have been made had there been no obligations in the case. At all events he gradually wrought himself up to the conviction, that to retain what he had that day received from his aunt and the worthy farmer would ill agree

With his proud, independent stomach,

and before he reached his lodgings he had resolved to return the money. “ Why should I,” he said to himself, “ put myself in the position of a slave, even to the kindest friends, by accepting of aid from them which I may do without ? The season is at hand when I shall have a good chance for private teaching; I shall earn my bread by my own industry, and be indebted to nobody.” As he resolved on this magnanimous conclusion, he searched his pocket for the bundle of bank notes, but searched in vain. They had been abstracted in the crowd while he was engaged in protecting Miss Montgomery, and thus the light-fingered fraternity had got their revenge on him for depriving some of the members of that dexterous brotherhood a richer prixe. CHAPTER XXV. “You may tell that to the marines, for the sailors won t believe it.” ANON. How rich the trappings, *ow they’re unfurl’d, And glittering in the sun ! triumphant entries Of conquerors, and coronation pomps, In glory scarce exceed. Great of people Retard th’ unwieldly show ; whilst from the casements And house-tops, ranks behind ranks, close wedg’d, Hang bellying o'er. BLAIR. The loss of a hundred pounds was a very serious matter to Mr. Uuncanson in any point of view, but it was greatly aggravated by the peculiar circumstances which rendered, or at least appeared to him to render, it necessary that he should conceal his misfortune from his friends. On reflecting anxiously on the subject, which he did through many a sleepless hour —while Robin A fleck lay snoring beside him in enviable obliviousness of of all but perhaps Jean Brown —the hapless student reasoned himself into the conviction that there was nothing for him but to submit to bis loss in silence.

From over sensitiveness and mistaken delicacy he unfortunately adopted the resolution of concealing his loss from all to whom he ought to have been unreserved on the subject, both for the sake of his own character and as the best .means . of recovering the money. This’ deviation from open, straightforward conduct, placed him for the first time in his life in a decidedly false position, and proved to him the cause of much' subsequent difficulty and mortification. He, however, saw the propriety of making known his loss to the authorities, for though he had little or no hope of getting any good thereby, he felt that the step was necessary to prevent reflections. With this view he paid an early visit on the following morning to the Police Office, and stated his case to the Lieutenant in attendance. This official was naturally a good deal struck with the student’s statement. The amount of his loss, his evident reluctance to give it publicity, and his

unwillingness to communicate particulars requisite for the detection of the depredators —all these circumstances appeared to him to be extremely suspicious, and he did not .hesitate to say so. He remarked over and over again —‘*This is a strange case, a very strange case indeed.” Pressing his enquiries closely he said—“ You surely must know at least what bank the notes which were taken off you belonged to ? ” “ Really I do not,” replied Mr. Duncanson ; adding—“ But if it is of much consequence that this should be known, I may possibly be able to ascertain it from the people from whom I received the money.” “ Consequence ! —it is of the very greatest consequence.” “ I don’t wish to trouble my friends on the subject; and if no search can be made for the money without bringing them forward, I would rather let the case drop.” “Oh you would, would you ? But I would rather not. In fact, the case must be probed to the bottom. How am I to know that you came honestly by the money yourself any more than the pickpockets who took it from you, if you make a mystery about it ? No, no ! young gentlemen, this won’t do. Just say at once who you got the money from, and all about it, and we’ll look after the business in a regular manner. You seem to be a very respectable sort of person, and I don’t doubt but you can give a satisfactory account of your transactions; so, just, if you please, speak to the point.” “ This is a very extraordinary manner of treating a complaint of robbery, surely. I have told you all I know myself about the case—where and when I suspect my pocket was picked, and the amount of money taken off me. If this is not enough to furnish any clue for the detention of the thieves, I am willing to submit to the loss I have suffered without saying another word on the subject. I have particular reasons for preferring that it should rest as it is rather than that other parties should be brought forward whose evidence, after all, might not be of any material service ; and I don’t see how any one has a right to dictate another course me. As to your insinuation in regard to to the suspicions I myself may lie under by not explaining more than I have done, I despise it. It will be time enough to suspect me when I am accused.” “Very well, sir, take your own way —only you must leave us your address, in case the cash should be found, or any other person should come forward as the real loser.” The reluctance with which Mr. Duncanson complied with this request increased the suspicions of the police officer, who, at no trouble to conceal what he thought, made the sensitive student feel keenly the misery of standing in a false position. “So you’re going off,” said the man in authority, “ without leaving any information to trace your money by ? Well, master, the .more fool you, if the cash was really your own. You need not be so thin-skinned about thepnatter, suppose it might not be the best of company or the best of places you were in at the time. Bless your soul! if you knew the cases we hear in this place daily, you would think nothing of it, but make a clear statement of the whole business at once.” (To be continued—commenced on July 26. )

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18800925.2.13

Bibliographic details

THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 157, 25 September 1880

Word Count
2,705

THE CHIMNEY CORNER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 157, 25 September 1880

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