The Winding-up

Yes, reader, we must settle accounts now. I have only briefly to narrate the final fates of some of the personages whose acquaintance we have made in this narrative, and then you and I must shake hands, and for the present separate.

Let us turn to the curates—to the much-loved, though long neglected. Come forward, modest merit! Malone, I see, promptly answers the invocation; he knows his own description when he hears it.

No, Peter Augustus, we can have nothing to say to you; it won’t do. Impossible to trust ourselves with the touching tale of your deeds and destinies. Are you not aware, Peter, that a discriminating public has its crotchets; that the unvarnished truth does not answer; that plain facts will not digest! Do you not know that the squeak of the real pig is no more relished now than it was in days of yore? Were I to give the catastrophe of your life and conversation, the public would sweep off in shrieking hysterics, and there would be a wild cry for sal-volatile and burnt feathers. ‘Impossible!’ would be pronounced here; ‘Untrue!’ would be responded there; ‘Inartistic!’ would be solemnly decided. Note well! Whenever you present the actual, simple truth, it is somehow always denounced as a lie; they disown it, cast if off, throw it on the parish, whereas the product of your own imagination, the mere figment, the sheer fiction, is adopted, petted, termed pretty, proper, sweetly natural; the little spurious wretch gets all the comfits—the honest, lawful bantling all the cuffs. Such is the way of the world, Peter; and as you are the legitimate urchin—rude, unwashed, and naughty— you must stand down.

Make way for Mr. Sweeting.

Here he comes, with his lady on his arm, the most splendid and the weightiest woman in Yorkshire— Mrs. Sweeting, formerly Miss Dora Sykes. They were married under the happiest auspices, Mr. Sweeting having been just inducted to a comfortable living, and Mr. Sykes being in circumstances to give Dora a handsome portion. They lived long and happily together, beloved by their parishioners and by a numerous circle of friends.

There! I think the varnish has been put on very nicely.

Advance, Mr. Donne

This gentleman turned out admirably—far better than either you or I could possibly have expected, reader. He, too, married a most sensible, quiet, lady-like little woman. The match was the making of him; he became an exemplary domestic character and a truly active parish-priest (as a pastor he, to his dying day, conscientiously refused to act). The outside of the cup and platter he burnished up with the best polishing-powder; the furniture of the altar and temple he looked after with the zeal of an upholsterer, the care of a cabinet-maker. His little school, his little church, his little parsonage, all owed their erection to him; and they did him credit: each was a model in its way; if uniformity and taste in architecture had been the same thing as consistency and earnestness in religion, what a shepherd of a Christian flock Mr. Donne would have made! There was one art in the mastery of which nothing mortal ever surpassed Mr. Donne—it was that of begging. By his own unassisted efforts he begged all the money for all his erections. In this matter he had a grasp of plan, a scope of action, quite unique; he begged of high and low—of the shoeless cottage-brat and the coroneted duke; he sent out begging-letters far and wide—to old Queen Charlotte, to the princesses her daughters, to her sons the royal dukes, to the Prince Regent, to Lord Castlereagh, to every member of the Ministry then in office; and what is more remarkable, he screwed something out of every one of these personages. It is on record that he got five pounds from the close-fisted old lady, Queen Charlotte, and two guineas from the royal profligate, her eldest son. When Mr. Donne set out on begging expeditions, he armed himself in a complete suit of brazen mail; that you had given a hundred pounds yesterday was, with him, no reason why you should not give two hundred to-day; he would tell you so to your face, and, ten to one, get the money out of you; people gave to get rid of him. After all, he did some good with the cash; he was useful in his day and generation.

Perhaps I ought to remark, that on the premature and sudden vanishing of Mr. Malone from the stage of Briarfield parish (you cannot know how it happened, reader; your curiosity must be robbed to pay your

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