‘But how did you obtain it?’ said I.

‘Some years ago a travelling painter came into this neighbourhood, and my jolly host, at the request of his wife, consented to sit for his portrait; she highly admired the picture, but she soon died, and then my fat friend, who is of an affectionate disposition, said he could not bear the sight of it, as it put him in mind of his poor wife. I purchased it of him for five pounds - I would not take five thousand for it; when you called that picture a daub, you did not see all the poetry of it.’

We sat down to breakfast; my entertainer appeared to be in much better spirits than on the preceding day; I did not observe him touch once; ere breakfast was over a servant entered - ‘The Reverend Mr. Platitude, sir,’ said he.

A shade of dissatisfaction came over the countenance of my host. ‘What does the silly pestilent fellow mean by coming here?’ said he, half to himself; ‘let him come in,’ said he to the servant.

The servant went out, and in a moment reappeared, introducing the Reverend Mr. Platitude. The Reverend Mr. Platitude, having what is vulgarly called a game leg, came shambling into the room; he was about thirty years of age, and about five feet three inches high; his face was of the colour of pepper, and nearly as rugged as a nutmeg-grater; his hair was black; with his eyes he squinted, and grinned with his lips, which were very much apart, disclosing two very irregular rows of teeth; he was dressed in the true Levitical fashion, in a suit of spotless black, and a neckerchief of spotless white.

The Reverend Mr. Platitude advanced winking and grinning to my entertainer, who received him politely but with evident coldness; nothing daunted, however, the Reverend Mr. Platitude took a seat by the table, and, being asked to take a cup of coffee, winked, grinned, and consented.

In company I am occasionally subject to fits of what is generally called absence; my mind takes flight and returns to former scenes, or presses forward into the future. One of these fits of absence came over me at this time - I looked at the Reverend Mr. Platitude for a moment, heard a word or two that proceeded from his mouth, and saying to myself, ‘You are no man for me,’ fell into a fit of musing - into the same train of thought as in the morning, no very pleasant one - I was thinking of the future.

I continued in my reverie for some time, and probably should have continued longer, had I not been suddenly aroused by the voice of Mr. Platitude raised to a very high key. ‘Yes, my dear sir,’ said he, ‘it is but too true; I have it on good authority - a gone church - a lost church - a ruined church - a demolished church is the Church of England. Toleration to Dissenters! - oh, monstrous!’

‘I suppose,’ said my host, ‘that the repeal of the Test Acts will be merely a precursor of the emancipation of the Papists?’

‘Of the Catholics,’ said the Reverend Mr. Platitude. ‘Ahem. There was a time, as I believe you are aware, my dear sir, when I was as much opposed to the emancipation of the Catholics as it was possible for any one to be; but I was prejudiced, my dear sir, labouring under a cloud of most unfortunate prejudice; but I thank my Maker I am so no longer. I have travelled, as you are aware. It is only by travelling that one can rub off prejudices; I think you will agree with me there. I am speaking to a traveller. I left behind all my prejudices in Italy. The Catholics are at least our fellow-Christians. I thank Heaven that I am no longer an enemy to Catholic emancipation.’

‘And yet you would not tolerate Dissenters?’

‘Dissenters, my dear sir; I hope you would not class such a set as the Dissenters with Catholics?’

‘Perhaps it would be unjust,’ said my host, ‘though to which of the two parties is another thing; but permit me to ask you a question: Does it not smack somewhat of paradox to talk of Catholics, whilst you admit there are Dissenters? If there are Dissenters, how should there be Catholics?’

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.