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bers of the firm, whom he did not commonly see at their parties, except when a juvenile ball was given, or round about a Christmas tree, dropping bon-bons. Though their pew was the largest in the church, it was not more roomy than they required. particularly as the ladies occupied much more space with their spreading silks and muslins than their mere persons required. As to Mrs. Barsac and her eldest daughter, they took up room ugh for four reasonable women. Perhaps it was to do due honour to Dean Wyndham's discourse that they were attired with more than usual splendour upon the present occasion, but certainly poor slender Reuben, whose lot it was to get wedged in between them, almost disappeared between the gorgeous shawls, floating veils, and pompous petticoats, that hemmed him in upon either side. Mrs. Barsac vouchsafed him some attention, and extended her superb prayer-book now and then to accommodate him, but her daughter seemed unconscious of his proximity, arranging her dress when she sat down, without the slightest reference to his existence, and when she stood up, eclipsing him altogether. Opposite to him sat the fair Blanche and her brown sister, divided by their purse-proud and pompous father, dressed in a light blue frock, with a forest of geraniums in his button-hole. It was a goodly sight to see Barsac at his devotions; he performed them in such an exemplary, determined, imposing manner; so loud in his share of the responses, that the services of a clerk might have been dispensed with in whatever parish he resided, and ostentatiously observant of every little ceremony and genuflexion which usage or the rubric required. The grandest thing of all was bis bow at a certain passage in the creed.' Mr. Barsac always prepared himself for this solemn act by a previous arrangement of his countenance and disposition of his person; he drew himself up to his full height, threw back the breast of his coat with the enormous bouquet, and bowed in the manner of a man who seemed to feel that he was conferring an honour upon the Christian religion, rather than humbly expressing his reverence for its truths.
But even Barsac sank into insignificance, when the principal actor of the day, the mighty Dean, marched from his stall to the pulpit, preceded by the officious verger, perspiring under the weight of a huge silver mace. If Dr. Wyndham was a giant in his ordinary clothes, you may fancy what a man-mountain he was in his canonical raiment. It needed no great effort of fancy to conceive that there was not only a dean but a whole chapter
beneath a surplice which might certainly have made a set of shirts for the entire corporation, down to the minor canons.
This huge body of divinity had no sooner mounted the pulpit than Mrs. Barsac. requested Reuben to change places with Blanche, in order that she might have a better view of the preacher. Barsac made a like exchange with two of his younger children, and similar movements took place all over the cathedral, proving the great interest excited by the expectation of a sermon from a tlieologian of such renown. Reuben would have willingly made a much greater sacrifice for the gratification or convenience of Blanche, but, in fact, although it would have pleased him to see as well as hear his grandfather preaching, he was glad to emerge from the ladies' dresses, and by the new arrangement he had Blanche opposite to him still, which was a very fair compensation for the face of old Dr. Wyndham. A pin might have been heard to drop as the Dean in his loud, dry, grating voice gave out his text, and commenced his discourse, which was, in fact, a pamphlet more than a sermon, consisting of an undoubtedly eloquent, but unnecessarily violent, denunciation of the doctrine of political expediency, the fiercest anathemas against the statesmen of the day, who were supposed to be governed by it, and tremendous warnings to the nation to beware of permitting the corner-stone of its Protestant constitution to be removed a single inch from its place, out of any false complaisance to Romish errors or sophistical ideas of toleration. The only change the Dean's harsh, monotonous voice underwent, was when he came to utter these awful comminations, when it fell into a kind of hoarse growl, like that of a bear apprehensive of a design against her cubs, or a mastiff prepared to defend his bone. Many parts of the sermon were ably and acutely reasoned, supporting the Dean's reputation thoroughly; but the contrast of argument, sometimes as fine as Mechlin lace, with language often as coarse as Norwich drugget, was exceedingly curious and occasionally almost diverting. In fact he kept his audience alternately admiring the force of his positions, and scandalised by the scurrility of his language; they would, indeed, have been divided in their judgments of the discourse upon the whole, had he not wound it all up with a peroration upon the value and dignity of principle, as opposed to expediency, so beautiful, as well as vehement, that all the previous blemishes of his composition were forgotten, and he dismissed his hearers, not only with the highest possible opinion of his ability in the pulpit, but with a profound and consolatory conviction that there was at least one man in the Church whom no temptation of wealth or rank could seduce from the path of duty. The Barsacs were variously affected throughout the sermon, or rather expressed in a variety of ways the feelings with which it impressed them. Mrs. Barsac intimated by numerous little gestures, intended to be critical, sometimes to her husband, sometimes to one or other of her daughters, that she had never in her life heard a discourse that so entranced her. Barsac kept nodding at the preacher at the close of every passage, to testify his approbation of every syllable. Miss Barsac looked particularly cross, which was perhaps a mood rather in unison with the general tone of the Dean's observations. The brunette paid the usual respectful attention, but nothing more; in fact she was not much of a theologian, and nothing of a politician at all; very few brunettes are, and not many blondes either. Blanche seemed to be an exception, for she kept her deep, quiet, devout eyes rivetted on the pulpit from first to last, never suffering them to wander to any object nearer the earth, not even once upon Reuben, who sat directly over against her, marvelling at her intense interest in subjects which had but little interest for himself, and of which he had indeed at that period but very imperfect and confused notions.
After the service, as they stood in a group at one of the doors, waiting for the Dean, who had some ccclesiastical business to transact and to disencumber himself of his robes, when everybody had said everything that was to be said in admiration of the sermon, Mr. Barsac said something aside to Mrs. Barsac, who immediately addressed Reuben, and made him as happy as a king by inviting him to their family dinner.
They still waited for the Dean; not impatiently, however, for he was a man whom the Barsacs considered it an honour to dance attendance on, which was fortunate, as he was not likely to hurry himself upon their account. There was no carriage waiting for them, for it was a rule with the Barsacs to walk to church when the weather was propitious. The distance was nothing, and they managed to go to church on foot with as much parade and ostentation, as if they had gone in a coach-and-six. At length the Dean joined them; he instantly seized Mrs.
and commenced walking at his usual great pace, taking no more notice of Reuben than of the sparrows that were hopping in the streets. Barsac and his daughter Blanche fell into the second line, followed by the rest of the party in open
order, Reuben not very well knowing to which division to attach himself, but keeping as near Blanche as he possibly could. Mrs. Barsac would have said twenty handsome things of the sermon, if the Dean had allowed her to speak at all
, but he knew perfectly well what she had got to say, so that his vanity was no loser; and baving just as little doubt on his mind that Barsac was heaping on incense as fast he could behind his back, he gave himself just as little trouble to catch the precise words in which the consequential merchant was expressing his sentiments.
" It is commonly remarked,” said the Dean, after he had said more than enough in commendation of his own discourse, “ that an author is not the best judge of his own compositions ; I don't know how it may be with other men, but the remark does not hold in my case. I was never yet wrong in my opinion of any work of my own.
When I write a good book, or compose a good sermon, I know it ; when I write a bad thing, or a weak thing, I know it also. No critic can criticise me better than I can criticise myself. No living author has been the subject of such ridiculous criticism as I have. My best works bave been abused by the reviewers, and, on the other hand, there are some of those fellows always ready to tell the public that any trash bearing my name is worthy of being written in cuneiform characters on pyramids."
“I believe, sir," said Barsac," you have written very little, if anything, that is not."
“ I have written trash in my time,” said the Dean, “like other men; not so much, perhaps, as
or my Lord Bishop of but I have written trash in my time, as arrant trash as ever was printed.”
“What you call trash, Dean, would make the character and the fortune of any other man in the Church !"
Perhaps you are not very wrong in that,” said the Dean; “I know very well there's a difference between my trash and other men's trash. What is your dinner hour ?"
“Five, sir, on Sundays," replied Mrs. Barsac, blandly and obsequiously, to this abrupt question.
"Why five ?" demanded the Dean.
“Dinner shall be at any hour you please, Dean," cried Barsac, who was even more supple than his wife. “ Would you preier six, or shall we say seven ?".
“As you have named five to your company, let it be five,” answered the Dean; “ don't consider me in your domestic ar
rangements. Never change your hour to please anybody. It's unfair to your cook, and it's unjust to your company."
“I am sorry to say,” said Barsac nervously, we have no company to meet you to-day, sir, only our own family, with the exception of our young friend here, and, possibly, my brotherin-law, Mr. Brough."
" Where was Brough to-day?-where was your master ?" demanded the Dean, turning sharply round upon Reuben, whom he now honoured with his notice for the first time. Nothing was more usual with Dr. Wyndham than to put a question like this, and instantly change the conversation, without caring, or seeming to care, whether it was answered or not. While Reuben was endeavouring to explain or excuse the absence of his schoolmaster, by stating that it was not the custom of the school to attend divine service at the cathedral, the Dean was proposing a visit to the buildings in which he and Mr. Barsac were concerned, by way of filling up the interval between luncheon and dinner. The walk was too much for Mrs. Barsac and her eldest daughter. The rest of the party, however, as soon as luncheon was over, sallied forth again, and had not proceeded far before they were joined by the glossy Mr. Brough, who approached the Dean with something almost servile in his manner. The Dean, who had now taken Blanche under his arm, never looked at him, or, rather, he looked through him, as if he had been a ghost. This was to punish Mr. Brough for not having been at the cathedral to hear his sermon, and it evidently did punish him, for h; was visibly abashed, and falling into the rear, began to converse in a very subdued tone with Barsac, who increased his brother-in-law's confusion by telling him aloud all he had lost, and assuring him that the loss was totally irreparable, as it was out of all human probability that so splendid a specimen of pulpit eloquence would ever again be heard in England.
Possibly the Dean did not hear this flourishing speech of the merchant, although it was intended that he should, for he was now mounted on one of his favourite hobbies, and talking at a prodigious rate of granite and limestone, the timber of different countries, and building materials of every kind. He seemed to Reuben to be boring Blanche excessively. They were now arrived at Wyndham Terrace, which was in a state of considerable forwardness. The square, not yet named, was adjacent to it. The ground was laid out, the foundations of the houses laid, but only one house had been erected, and even that was little more than