James Fenimore Cooper.

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ought to blush to avow it," answered the young
man, discharging the latter obligation by
colouring to his temples ; " but curiosity has
proved so much stronger than manners, that
I have been induced to trespass so far on the
politeness of this gentleman as to gain an
admission to your dwelling, in and about
which more of my time has been passed
than has probably proved agreeable to its in

" I hope the gentleman will not speak of
it," said Aristobulus ; "in this country we live
pretty much in common, and with me it is a
rule when a gentleman drops in, whether
stranger or neighbour, to show him the civility
to ask him to take off his hat."

" It appears to me," said Eve, willing to
change the conversation, " that Templeton
has an unusual number of steeples ; for what
purpose can so small a place possibly require
so many buildings of that nature ?"

"All in behalf of orthodoxy, Miss Eve,"
returned Aristobulus, who conceived himself


to be the proper person to answer such inter
rogatories. " There is a shade of opinion be
neath every one of those steeples."

(f Do you mean, sir, that there are as many
shades of faith in Templeton as I now see
buildings that have the appearance of being
devoted to religious purposes?"

"Double the number, Miss, and some to
spare into the bargain. You see but five meet
ing-houses, besides the county buildings, and
we reckon seven regularly hostile denomina
tions in the village, besides the diversities of
sentiment on trifles. This edifice that you
perceive here, in a line with the chimneys of
the first house, is New St. Paul's, Mr. Grant's
old church ; as orthodox a house in its way
as there is in the diocese, as you may see by
the windows. This is a gaining concern,
though there has been some falling off of late,
in consequence of the clergyman's having
caught a bad cold, which has made him a little
hoarse. I dare say he will get over it, how
ever, and the church ought not to be aban
doned on that account, serious as the matter


may be for the moment. A few of us are
determined to back up New St. Paul's in this
crisis, and I make it a point to go there my
self quite half the time."

" I am glad we have so much of your com
pany," said Mr. Effingham, " for that is our own
church, and in it my daughter was baptized.
But do you divide your religious opinions in
halves, Mr. Bragg?"

" In as many parts, Mr. Effingham, as there
are denominations in the neighbourhod, giv
ing a decided preference to New St. Paul's
notwithstanding, under the peculiar circum
stances, particularly to the windows. The dark,
gloomy-looking building, Miss, far off in the
distance yonder, is the Methodist affair, of
which not much need be said, as methodism has
flourished but little among us since the intro
duction of the New-lights, who have fairly
managed to out-excite them. I believe, how
ever, they stick pretty much to the old doc
trine, which, no doubt, is one great reason of
their present apathetic state, for the people
do love novelties !"


" Pray, sir, what building is this nearly in
a line with New St. Paul's, and which resembles
it a little in colour and form ?"

*' Windows excepted ; it has two rows of
regular square-topped windows, Miss, as you
may observe. That is the first Presbyterian,
or the old standard ; a very good house, and a
pretty good faith too, as times go. I make it
a point to attend there at least once every fort
night, change being so agreeable to the nature
of man. I will say, Miss, that my preference,
however, as far as I have any, is for New St.
Paul's, and I have experienced considerable
regret that these Presbyterians have lately gain
ed a material advantage over us in a very essen
tial point."

" I am sorry to hear that, Mr. Bragg, for
being an Episcopalian myself, and having great
reliance on the antiquity and purity of my
church, I should be sorry to find it put in
the wrong by any other."

" I fear we must give the point up notwith
standing, for these Presbyterians have fairly
outwitted the Church people in that matter."



" And what is the point in which we have
been so signally worsted ? "

" Why, Miss, their new bell weighs quite
a hundred more than that of New St. Paul's,
and has altogether the best sound. I know
very well that this advantage will not avail
them anything to boast of in the last great
account, but it makes a surprising difference in
the state of probation. You see the yellowish-
looking building across the valley, with a heavy
wall around it, and a belfry ? That, in its re
gular character, is the county court-house and
gaol ; but, in the way of religion, it is used
pretty much miscellaneously.""

" Do you really mean, sir, that divine ser
vice is ever actually performed in it, or that
persons of all denominations are occasionally
tried there ?"

" It would be more consistent with truth to
say that all denominations occasionally try the
court-house," said Aristobulus, simpering, " for
I believe, first and last, it has been used in this
way by people of every shade of religion short
of the Jews. The ancient gothic tower in green


wood is the building of the Universalists, and
the Grecian edifice, that is not yet painted, be
longs to the Baptists. The Quakers, I believe,
worship chiefly at home, and the different shades
of the Presbyterians meet, in different rooms,
in private houses, about the place."

" Are there, then, shades of difference in the
denominations themselves, as well as all these
denominations," asked Eve, in unfeigned sur
prise, " and this, too, in a population so
small ?"

" This is a free country, Miss Eve, and
freedom loves variety. Many men, many

" Quite true, sir," said Paul, " but here are
many minds among few men. Nor is this all ;
agreeably to your own account, some of these
men do not exactly know their own minds.
But, can you explain to us what essential
points are involved in all these shades of opi
nion ?"

u It would require a life, sir, to understand
half of them. Some say that excitement is
religion, and others that it is contentment.


One set cries up practice, and another cries out
against it. This man maintains that he will be
saved if he does good, and that man affirms
that if he only does good he will be damned :
a little evil is necessary to salvation with one
shade of opinion, while another thinks a man is
never so near conversion as when he is deep
est in sin."

" Subdivision is the order of the day," ob
served John Effingham ; u every county is to
be subdivided that there may be more county
towns and county officers ; every religion is
decimated, that there may be a greater variety
and a better quality of saints."

Aristobulus nodded his head, and he would
have winked could he have presumed to take
such a liberty with a man he held as much in
habitual awe as John Effingham.

" Monsieur" inquired Mademoiselle Vief-
ville," is there no eglise, no veritable eglise, in
Templeton ?"

u Oh yes, madam, several," returned Aris
tobulus, who would as soon have thought of ad
mitting that he did not understand the meaning


of veritable eglise, as one of the sets he had been
describing would think of admitting that it was
not infallible in its interpretation of Christi
anity ; " several, but they are not to be seen
from this particular spot."

" How much more picturesque would it be,
and even more Christian-like, in appearance at
least," said Paul, " could these good people
consent to unite in worshipping God ! and
how much does it bring into strong relief the
feebleness and ignorance of man, when you
see him splitting hairs about doctrines under
which he has been told, in terms as plain as
language can make it, that he is simply re
quired to believe in the goodness and power of
a Being whose nature and agencies exceed his
comprehension I"

" All very true," cried John Effingham,
" but what would become of liberty of con
science in such a case ? Most men, now-a-
days, understand by faith a firm reliance on
their own opinions."

" In that case, too," observed Aristobulus,
" we should want this handsome display of


churches to adorn our village. There is good
comes of it, for any man would be more likely
to invest his property in a place that has five
churches than where there is only one. As it is,
Templeton has as beautiful a set of churches as
any village I know."

" Say rather, sir, a set of castors, for a
stronger resemblance to vinegar-cruets and
mustard-pots, than is borne by these architec
tural prodigies, eyes never beheld."

" It is, nevertheless, a beautiful thing to see
the high-pointed roof of the House of God
crowning an assemblage of houses, as one is
apt to see in other countries," said Eve,
" instead of a pile of tavern, as is too much the
case in this dear home of ours !"

While this remark was uttered they de
scended the steps that led from the terrace,
and proceeded towards the village. On reach
ing the gate of the Wigwam, the whole party
stood confronted with that offspring of John
Effingham's taste, for so great had been his
improvements on the original production of
Hiram Doolittle, that, externally at least,
that distinguished architect could no longer


have recognised the fruits of his own talents
in the house in question.

" This is certainly carrying out to the full,
John, the conceits of the composite order,"
observed Mr. Effingham drily.

" I shall be sorry, Ned, if you dislike your
house, as it is amended and corrected."

" Oh ! cousin Jack," cried Eve, " it is an
odd jumble of the Grecian and Gothic. One
would like to know your authorities for such a

" What do you think of the facade of the
cathedral of Milan, Miss ?" laying emphasis on
the last word, in imitation of the manner of
Aristobulus. " Is it such a novelty to see the
two styles blended ? Or is architecture so
pure in America, that you think I have com
mitted the unpardonable sin ?"

" Nay, nothing that is out of rule ought
to strike one in a country where imitation
governs in all things immaterial, and originality
unsettles all things sacred and dear."

" By way of punishment for that bold
speech, I wish I had left the old rookery in
the state I found it, that its beauties might


have greeted your eyes instead of this uncouth
pile, which seems so much to offend them.
Mademoiselle Viefville, permit me to ask how
you like that house ?"

" Mais c'est un petit chateau"

" Un chateau Effirtghamise," said Eve,

" Effinghamise, si vous voulez, ma chcre ;
pourtant c'est un petit chateau"

" The general opinion in this part of the
country is," said Aristobulus, " that Mr. John
Effingham has altered the building on the
plan of some edifice in Europe, though I
forget the name of the particular temple; it
is not, however, the Pantheon, nor the temple
of Minerva."

66 I hope at least," said Mr. Effingham,
leading the way up the little lawn, " it will
not turn out to be the Temple of the Winds."



Dorset Street, Fleet Street.



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Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperEve Effingham : or, Home → online text (page 13 of 13)