regard for the religion they professed, they ought to stand by it through thick and thin, proclaiming it to be the only true one, and denouncing all others, in an alliterative style, as dangerous and damnable; whereas, by their present conduct, they were bringing their religion into contempt with the people at large, who would never continue long attached to a Church the ministers of which did not stand up for it, and likewise cause their own brethren, who had a clearer notion of things, to be ashamed of belonging to it. ‘I speak advisedly,’ said he, in continuation; ‘there is one Platitude.’

‘And I hope there is only one,’ said I; ‘you surely would not adduce the likes and dislikes of that poor silly fellow as the criterions of the opinions of any party?’

‘You know him,’ said the man in black, ‘nay, I heard you mention him in the public-house; the fellow is not very wise, I admit, but he has sense enough to know that, unless a Church can make people hold their tongues when it thinks fit, it is scarcely deserving the name of a Church; no, I think that the fellow is not such a very bad stick, and that upon the whole he is, or rather was, an advantageous specimen of the High Church English clergy, who, for the most part, so far from troubling their heads about persecuting people, only think of securing their tithes, eating their heavy dinners, puffing out their cheeks with importance on country justice benches, and occasionally exhibiting their conceited wives, hoyden daughters, and gawky sons at country balls, whereas Platitude - ‘

‘Stop,’ said I; ‘you said in the public-house that the Church of England was a persecuting Church, and here in the dingle you have confessed that one section of it is willing to grant perfect freedom to the exercise of all religions, and the other only thinks of leading an easy life.’

‘Saying a thing in the public-house is a widely different thing from saying it in the dingle,’ said the man in black; ‘had the Church of England been a persecuting Church, it would not stand in the position in which it stands at present; it might, with its opportunities, have spread itself over the greater part of the world. I was about to observe that, instead of practising the indolent habits of his High Church brethren, Platitude would be working for his money, preaching the proper use of fire and faggot, or rather of the halter and the whipping-post, encouraging mobs to attack the houses of Dissenters, employing spies to collect the scandal of neighbourhoods, in order that he might use it for sacerdotal purposes, and, in fact, endeavouring to turn an English parish into something like a Jesuit benefice in the south of France.’

‘He tried that game,’ said I, ‘and the parish said "Pooh, pooh," and, for the most part, went over to the Dissenters.’

‘Very true,’ said the man in black, taking a sip at his glass, ‘but why were the Dissenters allowed to preach? why were they not beaten on the lips till they spat out blood, with a dislodged tooth or two? Why, but because the authority of the Church of England has, by its own fault, become so circumscribed that Mr. Platitude was not able to send a host of beadles and sbirri to their chapel to bring them to reason, on which account Mr. Platitude is very properly ashamed of his Church, and is thinking of uniting himself with one which possesses more vigour and authority.’

‘It may have vigour and authority,’ said I, ‘in foreign lands, but in these kingdoms the day for practising its atrocities is gone by. It is at present almost below contempt, and is obliged to sue for grace IN FORMA PAUPERIS.’

‘Very true,’ said the man in black; ‘but let it once obtain emancipation, and it will cast its slough, put on its fine clothes, and make converts by thousands. ‘What a fine Church!’ they’ll say; ‘with what authority it speaks! no doubts, no hesitation, no sticking at trifles. What a contrast to the sleepy English Church! They’ll go over to it by millions, till it preponderates here over every other, when it will of course be voted the dominant one; and then - and then - ‘ and here the man in black drank a considerable quantity of gin and water.

‘What then?’ said I.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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