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appearance which he made; and after performing his part as chaplain with his usual seriousness, he sat down to breakfast with the ladies.
As soon as the tea was poured out, Miss Clinton began her manoeuvres, and worked round so successfully, as to arrive at the point of discussion before the second dish of tea was handed round: and having finished her part by speaking of the duty of Christians to conform to the world in all unimportant points, Miss Esther was commencing her part of the drama, when Mr. Eliot, though still unconscious of any attack upon himself, took up the subject, though with his usual gentleness, and pointed out the great danger of dwelling upon a sentiment of this kind, especially as it was difficult to say what were and what were not essentials; intimating, at the same time, that Christians in general seemed to carry their conformity to the world abundantly too far.
This remark threw the sisters a little out. However, considering the point they had in view of much too great importance to allow them to be easily diverted from it, they at length, with much circumlocution, and considerable fear and trembling, succeeded in making the old gentleman understand that the world would not approve the colour of his waistcoat.
As soon as this hint was given, Mr. Eliot took in at once the whole purport of the morning's conversation, and told them that, if they would take the trouble of sending for a tailor, he would not only have a new waistcoat, but a new suit of clothes, if they pleased. "But," added he, with a smile which concealed some painful feelings, "if I am so much admired by the world as you would yesterday have made me believe, what am I to think of that world, if it is ready even to quarrel with its idol about a matter so unimportant as the colour of a waistcoat?"
The ladies were silent: upon which, the old gentleman, rising to go to his apartments for the purpose of completing the arrangement of his books and papers, said to himself, "O my country! my country! how little Christian simplicity do I see in thee! Thy ways, notwithstanding the temperature of thy pale azure skies, make me almost long to be in my choppered bungalow
again, and among my native converts, where I might hear the moaning of the ringdoves in the high bamboo woods, mingling with the simple hymns of praise adapted to the ancient melodies of the Hindoos."
Occupied with these thoughts, a tear started in the eyes of the old man as he shut himself up in his apartment: but in the solitude of his chamber this simple Christian soon found comfort from many sweet promises of Scripture, and was speedily favoured in his own mind with the most satisfactory evidence, that the Lord bestows perfect peace on those who love and honour him, in whatever situation or circumstances they may be found on earth. The old gentleman was very busy during this day in arranging his little matters; and the next day being Sunday, he accompanied his cousins to the place of worship, where he enjoyed the ministry of a truly pious and devoted servant of the Lord. The intervals between divine service were spent by him in prayer, reading, and meditation; and he concluded the day by conducting the family devotions: so that upon the whole he enjoyed himself much during the whole of this Sabbath.
The next morning, a hint was given him, not without much circumlocution, that as he had made his appearance at church the day before, he might expect several visitors during the course of the morning. These two things being put together, rather puzzled the old gentleman, who had entirely forgotten the English custom in this respect. However, he made no enquiries; but told the ladies that he was always ready to see any friend who might choose to honour him with their company. Accordingly, towards one o'clock, the ladies sent up their servant to see if the drawing-room was in exact order; and about a quarter of an hour afterwards, the younger Miss Clinton came up, ushering in the minister with whose discourses Mr. Eliot had been so greatly pleased the day before, together with a young gentleman of about twenty-one, by name George Phillips, a youth of extremely sweet and prepossessing manners, and one who was at the present time under the tuition of Mr. Sandford, the minister above mentioned. With these gentlemen Mr. Eliot enjoyed an hour's truly pious and agreeable intercourse, and was led by them to some interesting conversation respecting the state of religion in India. But during this conversation, not one word of undue flattery or praise of Mr. Eliot fell from the mouth of these Christian gentlemen, though their manner towards the excellent Mr. Eliot was that of the most profound and sincere respect.
While the gentlemen were thus delightfully engaged, eagerly discoursing on what the Lord was doing for his poor people abroad, several shrill voices were heard upon the stairs, among which one was distinctly marked exclaiming, "And where is he? I am all agitation. Where is this dear old gentleman?" A moment after which, Mrs. Essington entered with an air all impatience, and without ceremony rushed forward with her hand extended to Mr. Eliot, at the same time pouring forth such a profusion of compliments, that the astonished old gentleman evidently drew back confounded, though he failed not to bow with his usually respectful and modest air. "Is there no one here," said Mrs. Essington, "to perform the ceremony of introduction 1 Miss Clinton, Miss Esther, how you forget yourselves," she added, turning to the ladies, "I am very angry at your slowness. You have compelled me, all impatient as I was, to shock this gentleman by my over forwardness in introducing myself. Come, come; since none of you will speak for me, I am under the necessity of introducing myself. My name is Essington; and for the two years last past, I have been dying, absolutely dying, to see Mr. Eliot. I should have been here on Saturday or Sunday, but these hard-hearted ladies would not suffer it; and now I am come, they leave me to say all for myself.
"Well but now," added she, sitting down, "now we are met, you must tell me, Mr. Eliot, indeed you must tell me, how you left all those dear good creatures in India, all the good people in the jungles! Ay, jungle; that is the word. O that delightful account in the magazine! Dear Mr. Eliot, do tell us all about it: how could you part with them 1 how could they part with you? Well, but it is a perpetual feast for you to think how you have laboured among the heathen, and how many are and will be the better for your exertions! Ah! what a privilege! What an honour to have been employed in such a work! You have lived to some purpose, Mr. Eliot; you are a happy man. What sweet reflections you will have on your death-bed! I absolutely envy you."
During this time, the old gentleman remained perfectly silent, but eyeing, with mixed wonder and curiosity, the fair, faded, fashionable creature, who thus addressed him with such a mixture of vanity, thoughtlessness, and good intention. Such, however, was her incessant and tiresome volubility, that no opportunity offered itself of turning aside this amazing torrent of folly and flattery; so that Mr. Eliot was compelled to sit quietly and hear it all, till the two gentlemen withdrew, and another party of visitors arrived, who added to the confusion of the good man's ideas by echoing and re-echoing all Mrs. Essington had said in his commendation, all which was only heightened and inflamed by the few disparaging sentences which he contrived to introduce as it were edgeways at certain momentary pauses.
But what astonished the old gentleman above all things, was, that these ladies interspersed their discourse with texts of Scripture, religious phrases, and allusions to the most important and awful doctrines of Christianity; and all with a rapidity, ease, and levity, which would not have been misplaced in a ball-room or a theatre.
After what Mr. Eliot considered as a very long time, these ladies arose and took their leave. Upon which the old gentleman, taking up his hat, and making his escape by a back-door, passed down a private street, and presently found himself in the skirts of the town; where though he was at this time surrounded only by mean houses and poor people, yet such was his dread of being again encountered by any of the fair flatterers from whom he had just made his escape, that he did not feel at ease till he found himself quite clear of every habitation of man.
He had entered upon a fine gravel road, bordered on one side with a paling, which, from its extent and the lofty trees which hung over it, conveyed the idea of its being the paling of a park belonging to some nobleman's seat; and on the other, by a deep dingle, thickly shaded with coppice. The dash of waterfalls distinctly met the ear from the depths of this dell.
In this road, thus shaded on the right and left, no sound of the human voice or step was to be heard; and nothing interrupted the deep silence of the place, except the murmur of the waterfall, the rustling of leaves as they were gently agitated by the light breeze, together with the song of the thrush and blackbird far away in the woods. The quiet and solemn beauty of this scene were particularly affecting at this moment to the mind of Mr. Eliot; insomuch that he could not help repeating with particular warmth and feeling the following stanzas of that beautiful hymn of Cowper:—
"Far from the world, O Lord, I flee,
From strife and tumult far,
His most successful war.
"The calm retreat, the silent shade,
With prayer and praise agree,
For those who follow thee.
"There if thy Spirit touch the soul,
And grace her mean abode,
She communes with her God!
"There, like the nightingale, she pours
Her solitary lays,
Nor thirsts for human praise."
When Mr. Eliot had pursued this road some little way, he arrived at a spot where'a low stile in the hedge on the side of the dingle, and a ladder against the park-paling on the other side of the road, pointed out a pathway, probably from one village to another. He hesitated a moment between these; and then, turning to the side of the park, he mounted the ladder, and descending on the inside presently found himself beneath the shade of a grove of oak, chesnut, and beech, between the shafts of which treeshis eye reached many a sunny glade, in which deer and herds of black cattle were feeding in perfect repose.