then, I could not but yield to his desire, confident there
must be a good reason for it, and so told Mrs Pearson
to show him in.
" Oh, sir, I know you would be vexed if you hadn't
been told," he exclaimed, " and I am sure you will not
be angry with me for troubling you."
" What is the matter, Tom 1 " I said. " I assure you
I shall not be angry with you."
"There's Farmer Brownrigg, at this very moment,
taking away Mr Templeton's table because he won't
pay the church-rate."
" What church-rate ? " I cried, starting up from the
sofa. " I never heard of a church-rate."
Now, before I go farther, it is necessary to explain
some things. One day before I was taken ill, I had had
a little talk with Mr Brownrigg about some repairs of the
church which were necessary, and must be done before
another winter. I confess I was rather pleased ; for I
wanted my people to feel that the church was their
property, and that it was their privilege, if they could
336 ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.
regard it as a blessing to have the church, to keep it in
decent order and repair. So I said, in a by-the-by way,
to my churchwarden, " We must call a vestry before
long, and have this looked to." Now my predecessor
had left everything of the kind to his churchwardens;
and the inhabitants from their side had likewise left the
whole affair to the churchwardens. But Mr Brownrigg,
who, I must say, had taken more pains than might
have been expected of him to make himself acquainted
with the legalities of his office, did not fail to call a
vestry, to which, as usual, no one had responded;
whereupon he imposed a rate according to his own
unaided judgment. This, I believe, he did during my
illness, with the notion of pleasing me by the discovery
that the repairs had been already effected according
to my mind. Nor did any one of my congregation
throw the least difficulty in the churchwarden's way.
And now I must refer to another circumstance in the
history of my parish.
I think I have already alluded to the fact that there
were Dissenters in Marshmallows. There was a little
chapel down a lane leading from the main street of the
village, in which there was service three times every
Sunday. People came to it from many parts of tht
parish, amongst whom were the families of two or three
farmers of substance, while the village and its neigh-
bourhood contributed a portion of the poorest of the
inhabitants. A year or two before I came, their minister
died, and they had chosen another, a very worthy man,
of considerable erudition, but of extreme views, as I
I H K CH I' RCII-R A I R.
heard, upon insignificant points, and moved by a great
dislike to national churches and episcopacy. This, I
say, is what I had made out about him from what 1 had
heard ; and my reader will very probably be inclined to
ask, " But why, with principles such as yours, should
you have only hearsay to go upon? Why did you not
make the honest man's acquaintance? In such a small
place, men should not keep each other at arm's length."
And any reader who says so, will say right. All I have
to suggest for myself is simply a certain shyness, for
which I cannot entirely account, but which was partly
made up of fear to intrude, or of being supposed to
arrogate to myself the right of making advances, partly
of a dread lest we should not be able to get on to-
gether, and so the attempt should result in something
unpleasantly awkward. I daresay, likewise, that the
natural shellim'ss of the English had something to do with
it. At all events, I had not made his acquaintance.
Mr Templeton, then, had refused, as a point of con-
science, to pay the church-rate when the collector went
round to demand it ; had been summoned before a
magistrate in consequence ; had suffered a default ; and,
proceedings being pushed from the first in all the pride
of Mr Brownrigg's legality, had on this very day been
visited by the churchwarden, accompanied by a brokci
from the neighbouring town of Addicehead, and at the
very tune when I was hearing of the fact was suffering
distraint of his goods. The porcine head of the church-
warden was not on his shoulders by accident, nor with-
338 ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.
But I did not wait to understand all this now. It
was enough for me that Tom bore witness to the fact
that at that moment proceedings were thus driven to
extremity. I rang the bell for my boots, and, to the
open-mouthed dismay of Mrs Pearson, left the vicarage
leaning on Tom's arm. But such was the commotion
in my mind, that I had become quite unconscious of
illness or even feebleness. Hurrying on in more terror
than I can well express lest I should be too late, I reached
Mr Templeton's house just as a small mahogany table
was being hoisted into a spring-cart which stood at
the door. Breathless with haste, I was yet able to call
" Put that table down directly."
At the same moment Mr Brownrigg appeared from
within the door. He approached with the self-satisfied
look of a man who has done his duty, and is proud of
it. I think he had not heard me.
" You see I 'm prompt, Mr Walton," he said. " But,
bless my soul, how ill you look ! "
Without answering him for I was more angry with
him than I ought to have been I repeated
" Put that table down, I tell you."
They did so.
H Now," I said, " carry it back into the house."
" Why, sir," interposed Mr Brownrigg, " it 's all
" Yes," I said, " as right as the devil would have it."
" I assure you, sir, I have done everything according
THE CHURCH-RATE. 339
" I 'm not so sure of that I believe I had the right
to be chairman at the vestry-meeting ; but, instead of
even letting me know, you took advantage of my ill-
ness to hurry on matters to this shameful and wicked
I did the poor man wrong in this, for I believe he
had hurried things really to please me. His face had
lengthened considerably by this time, and its rubicund
" I did not think you would stand upon ceremony
about it, sir. You never seemed to care for business."
"If you talk about legality, so will I. Certainly you
don't stand upon ceremony."
" I didn't expect you would turn against your own
churchwarden in the execution of his duty, sir," he said
in an offended tone. " It 's bad enough to have a
meetin'-house in the place, without one's own parson
siding with t'other parson as won't pay a lawful church-
" I would have paid the church-rate for the whole
parish ten times over before such a thing should have
happened. I feel so disgraced, I am ashamed to look
Mr Templeton in the face. Carry that table into the
house again, directly."
"It's my property, now," interposed the broker.
" I 've bought it of the churchwarden, and paid for it."
I turned to Mr Brownrigg.
" How much did he give you for it?" I asked.
" Twenty shillings," returned he, sulkily. " and it
won't pay expenses."
Vf> AWNALS OF A QUIKT N EIG H BOO R HOC O.
* Twenty shillings ! " I exclaimed ; " for a table that
cost three times as much at least ! What do you ex-
pect to sell it for I "
" That 's my business," answered the broker.
I pulled out my purse, and threw a sovereign and a
half on the table, saying
" Fifty per cent, will be, I think, profit enough even
on such a transaction."
" I did not offer you the table," returned the broker.
" I am not bound to sell except I please, and at my
" Possibly. But I tell you the whole affair is illegal
And if you carry away that table, I shall see what the
law will do for me. I assure you I will prosecute you
myself. You take up that money, or I will. It will
go to pay counsel, I give you my word, if you do not
take it to quench strife."
I stretched out my hand. But the broker was before
me. Without another word, he pocketed the money,
jumped into his cart with his man, and drove off, leav-
ing the churchwarden and the parson standing at the
door of the dissenting minister with his mahogany table
on the path between them.
" Now, Mr Brownrigg," I said, " lend rne a hand to
carry this table in again."
He yielded, not graciously, that could not be ex-
pected, but in silence.
"Oh! sir," interposed young Tom, who had stood
by during the dispute, "let me take it You're not
able to lift it."
THE CHURCH-RATE. 341
" Nonsense ! Tom. Keep away," I said. " It is all
the reparation I can make."
And so Mr Brownrigg and I blundered into the little
parlour with our burden not a great one, but I began
to find myself failing.
Mr Templeton sat in a Windsor chair in the middle
of the room. Evidently the table had been carried
away from before him, leaving his position uncovered.
The floor was strewed with the books which had lain
upon it. He sat reading an old folio, as if nothing had
happened. But when we entered he rose.
He was a man of middle size, about forty, with short
black hair and overhanging bushy eyebrows. His mouth
indicated great firmness, not unmingled with sweetness,
and even with humour. He smiled as he rose, but
looked embarrassed, glancing first at the table, then at
me, and then at Mr Brownrigg, as if begging somebody
to tell him what to say. But I did not leave him o
moment in this perplexity.
" Mr Templeton," I said, quitting the table, and hold-
ing out my hand, " I beg your pardon for myself and
rny friend here, my churchwarden" Mr Brownrigg
gave a grunt " that you should have been annoyed
like this. I have '
Mr Templeton interrupted me.
" I assure you it was a matter of conscience with me,"
he said. " On no other ground "
" I know it, I know it," I said, interrupting him in my
turn. " I beg your pardon ; and I have done my best
to make amends for it Offences must come, you know,
342 ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.
Mr Templeton ; but I trust I have not incurred the woe
that follows upon them by means of whom they come,
for I knew nothing of it, and indeed was too ill "
Here my strength left me altogether, and I sat down.
The room began to whirl round me, and I remember
nothing more till I knew that I was lying on a couch,
with Mrs Templeton bathing my forehead, and Mr
Templeton trying to get something into my mouth with
Ashamed to find myself in such circumstances, I tried
to rise ; but Mr Templeton, laying his hand on mine,
" My dear sir, add to your kindness this day, by
letting my wife and me minister to you."
Now, was not that a courteous speech? He went
" Mr Brownrigg has gone for Dr Duncan, and will
be back in a few moments. I beg you will not exert
I yielded and lay still. Dr Duncan came. His car-
riage followed, and I was taken home. Before we
started, I said to Mr Brownrigg for I could not rest
till I had said it
" Mr Brownrigg, I spoke in heat when I came up to
you, and I am sure I did you wrong. I am certain you
had no improper motive in not making me acquainted
with your proceedings. You meant no harm to me.
But you did very wrong towards Mr Templeton. I will
try to show you that when I am well again ; but "
" But you mustn't talk more now," said Dr Duncan.
THE CHURCH-RATE. 343
So I shook hands with Mr Brownrigg, and we parted.
I fear, from what I know of my churchwarden, that he
went home with the conviction that he had done per-
fectly right ; and that the parson had made an apology
for interfering with a churchwarden who was doing his
best to uphold the dignity of Church and State. But
perhaps I may be doing him wrong again.
I went home to a week more of bed, and a lengthened
process of recovery, during which many were the kind
inquiries made after me by my friends, and amongst
them by Mr Templeton.
And here I may as well sketch the result of that
strange introduction to the dissenting minister.
After I was tolerably well again, I received a friendly
letter from him one day, expostulating with me on the
inconsistency of my remaining within the pale of the
Established Church, The gist of the letter lay in these
" I confess it perplexes me to understand how to
reconcile your Christian and friendly behaviour to one
whom most of your brethren would consider as much
beneath their notice as inferior to them in social posi-
tion, with your remaining the minister of a Church in
which such enormities as you employed your private
influence to counteract in my case, are not only pos-
sible, but certainly lawful, and recognized by most ot
its members as likewise expedient"
To this I replied :
344 ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.
" MY DEAR SIR, I do not like writing letters, espe-
cially on subjects of importance. There are a thousand
chances of misunderstanding. Whereas, in a personal
interview, there is a possibility of controversy being
hallowed by communion. Come and dine with me
to-morrow, at any hour convenient to you, and make
my apologies to Mrs Templeton for not inviting her
with you, on the ground that we want to have a long
talk with each other without the distracting influence
which even her presence would unavoidably occasion.
" I am," &c. &c.
He accepted my invitation at once. During dinner
we talked away, not upon indifferent, but upon the
most interesting subjects connected with the poor, and
parish work, and the influence of the higher upon the
lower classes of society. At length we sat down on
opposite sides of the fire ; and as soon as Mrs Pearson
had shut the door, I said,
" You ask me, Mr Templeton, in your very kind letter
" and here I put my hand in my pocket to find it.
" I asked you," interposed Mr Templeton, " how you
could belong to a Church which authorizes things of
which you yourself so heartily disapprove."
" And I answer you," I returned, " that just to such
a Church our Lord belonged."
" I do not quite understand you."
" Our Lord belonged to the Jewish Church."
" But ours is His Church."
" Yes. But principles remain the same. I speak of
Him as belonging to a Church. His conduct would be
the same in the same circumstances, whatever Church
He belonged to, because He would always do right I
want, if you will allow me, to show you the principle
upon which He acted with regard to church-rates."
"Certainly. I beg your pardon for interrupting you."
" The Pharisees demanded a tribute, which, it is
allowed, was for the support of the temple and its wor-
ship. Our Lord did not refuse to acknowledge their
authority, notwithstanding the many ways in which they
had degraded the religious observances of the Jewish
Church. He acknowledged himself a child of the
Church, but said that, as a child, He ought to have
been left to contribute as He pleased to the support
of its ordinances, and not to be compelled after such
" There I have you," exclaimed MrTempleton. " He
said they were wrong to make the tribute, or church-
rate, if it really was such, compulsory."
" I grant it : it is entirely wrong a very unchristian
proceeding. But our Lord did not therefore desert the
Church, as you would have me do. He paid the Monty,
lest He should offend. And not having it of His own,
He had to ask His Father for it ; or, what came to the
same thir;^, make a servant of His Father, namely, a
fish in the sea of Galilee, bring Him the money. And
there 1 have ycu, Mr Temple-ton. It is wrong to compel,
and wrong to refuse, the payment of a church-rate. I
do not say equally wrong : it is much worse to compel
than to refuse."
346 ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.
" You are very generous," returned Mr Templeton.
" May I hope that you will do me the credit to believe
that if I saw clearly that they were the same thing, I
would not hesitate a moment to follow our Lord's ex-
" I believe it perfectly. Therefore, however we may
differ, we are in reality at no strife."
" But is there not this difference, that our Lord was,
as you say, a child of the Jewish Church, which was
indubitably established by God? Now, if I cannot
conscientiously belong to the so-called English Church,
why should I have to pay church-rate or tribute 1 "
"Shall I tell you the argument the English Church
might then use ? The Church might say, ' Then you
are a stranger, and no child ; therefore, like the kings
of the earth, we may take tribute of you. So you see
it would come to this, that Dissenters alone should be
compelled to pay church-rates."
We both laughed at this pushing of the argument to
illegitimate conclusions. Then I resumed :
" But the real argument is that not for such faults
should we separate from each other ; not for such faults,
or any faults, so long as it is the repository of the truth,
should you separate from the Church."
" I will yield the point when you can show me the
same ground for believing the Church of England the
National Church, appointed such by God, that I can
show you, and you know already, for receiving the
Jewish Church as the appointment of God."
" That would involve a long argument, upon which,
THK CHURCH-RATE. 347
though I have little doubt upon the matter myself, I
cannot say I am prepared to enter at this moment.
Meantime, I would just ask you whether you are not
sufficiently a child of the Church of England, having
received from it a thousand influences for good, if iff
no other way, yet through your fathers, to find it no
great hardship, and not very unreasonable, to pay a
trifle to keep in repair one of the tabernacles in which
our forefathers worshipped together, if, as I hope you
will allow, in some imperfect measure God is worshipped,
and the truth is preached in it?"
" Most willingly would I pay the money. I object
simply because the rate i compulsory."
"And therein you have our Lord's example to the
A silence followed ; for I had to deal with an honest
man, who was thinking. I resumed :
" A thousand difficulties will no doubt come up to
be considered in the matter. Do not suppose I am
anxious to convince you. I believe that our Father,
our Elder Brother, and the Spirit that proceedeth from
them, is teaching you, as I believe I too am being taught
by the same. Why, then, should I be anxious to con-
vince you of anything ? Will you not in His good time
come to see what He would have you see ? I am re-
lieved to speak my mind, knowing He would have u?
speak our minds to each other ; but 1 do not want to
proselytize. If you change your mind, you will probably
do so on different grounds from any I give you, on
grounds which show themselves in the course of your
348 ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.
own search after the foundations of truth in regard
perhaps to some other question altogether."
Again a silence followed. Then Mr Templeton
" Don't think I am satisfied," he said, " because I
don't choose to say anything more till I have thought
about it. I think you are wrong in your conclusions
about the Church, though surely you are right in think-
ing we ought to have patience with each other. An' 4
now tell me true, Mr Walton, I 'm a blunt kind oi
man, descended from an old Puritan, one of Cromwell's
Ironsides, I believe, and I haven't been to a university
/ike you, but I 'm no fool either, I hope, don't be
offended at my question : wouldn't you be glad to see
me out of your parish now 1 "
I began to speak, but he went on.
" Don't you regard me as an interloper now one who
has no right to speak because he does not belong to the
Church ? "
" God forbid ! " I answered. " If a word of mine
would make you leave my parish to-morrow, I dare not
say it. I do not want to incur the rebuke of our Lord
for surely the words ' Forbid him not ' involved some
rebuke. Would it not be a fearful thing that one soul,
because of a deed of mine, should receive a less portion
of elevation or comfort in his journey towards his homel
Are there not countless modes of saying the truth ? You
have some of them. I hope I have some. People will
hear you who will not hear me. Preach to them in the
name and love of God, Mr Templeton. Speak that you
THE CHURCH-RATE. 349
do know and testify that you have seen. You and I
will help each other, in proportion as we serve the
Master. I only say that in separating from us you are
in effect, and by your conduct, saying to us, ' Do not
preach, for you follow not with us.' I will not be guilty
of the same towards you. Your fathers did the Church
no end of good by leaving it. But it is time to unite
Once more followed a silence.
" If people could only meet, and look each other in
the face," said Mr Templeton at length, " they might
find there was not such a gulf between them as they had
And so we parted.
Now I do not write all this for the sake of the church-
rate question. I write it to commemorate the spirit in
which Mr Templeton met me. For it is of consequence
that two men who love their Master should recognize
each that the other does so, and thereupon, if not before,
should cease to be estranged because of difference of
opinion, which surely, inevitable as offence, does not
involve the same denunciation of woe.
After this Mr Templeton and I found some oppor-
tunities of helping each other. And many a time ere
his death we consulted together about things that befell.
Once he came to me about a legal difficulty in con-
nexion with the deed of trust of his chapel ; and although
I could not help him myself, I directed him to such help
as was thorough and cost him nothing.
I need not say he never became a churchman, or that
3$0 ANNALS OF A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.
I nevei expected he would. All his memories of a reli-
gious childhood, all the sources of the influences which
had refined and elevated him, were surrounded with
other associations than those of the Church and her
forms. The Church was his grandmother, not his
mother, and he had not made any acquaintance with
her till comparatively late in life.
But while I do not say that his intellectual objections
to the Church were less strong than they had been, I am
sure that his feelings were moderated, even changed
towards her. And though this may seem of no conse-
quence to one who loves the Church more than the
brotherhood, it does not seem of little consequence to
me who love the Church because of the brotherhood of
which it is the type and the restorer.
It was long before another church-rate was levied in
Marshmallows. And when the circumstance did take
place, no one dreamed of calling on Mr Templeton for
his share in it. But, having heard of it, he called him-
self upon the churchwarden Mr Brownrigg still and
offered the money cheerfully. And Mr Brownrigg re-
fused to take it till he had consulted me! I told him to
call on Mr Templeton, and say he would be much
obliged to him for his contribution, and give him 4
receipt for it
JERHAPS my reader may be sufficiently inter-
ested in the person, who, having once begun
to tell his story, may possibly have allowed
his feelings, in concert with the comfortable
confidence afforded by the mask of namelessness, to run
away with his pen, and so have babbled of himself more
than he ought may be sufficiently interested, I say, in
my mental condition, to cast a speculative thought upon
the state of my mind, during my illness, with regard to
Miss Oldcastle and the stranger who was her mother's
guest at the Hall. Possibly, being by nature gifted, as
I have certainly discovered, with more of hope than is
usually mingled with the other elements composing the
temperament of humanity, I did not suffer quite so
much as some would have suffered during such an ill-
ness. But I have reason to fear that when I was light-
headed from fever, which was a not uncommon occur-
35* ANNALS Or A QUIET NEIGHBOURHOOD.
rence, especially in the early mornings during the worst
of my illness when Mrs Pearson had to sit up with me,
and sometimes an old woman of the village who was
generally called in upon such occasions I may have
talked a good deal of nonsense about Miss Oldcastle.
For I remember that I was haunted with visions of mag-
nificent conventual ruins which I had discovered, and
which, no one seeming to care about them but myself,
I was left to wander through at my own lonely will.
Would I could see with the waking eye such a grandeur
of Gothic arches and " long-drawn aisles " as then arose
upon my sick sense ! Within was a labyrinth of passages
in the walls, and " long-sounding corridors," and sudden
galleries, whence I looked down into the great church
aching with silence. Through these I was ever wander-
ing, ever discovering new rooms, new galleries, new