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Page 98

19. XIX.

A week later, and Kavanagh was installed in
his little room in the church-tower. A week
later, and the carrier-pigeon was on the wing.
A week later, and Martha Amelia's anonymous
epistolary eulogies of her relative had ceased
for ever.

Swiftly and silently the Summer advanced,
and the following announcement in the Fairmeadow
Advertiser proclaimed the hot weather
and its alleviations:—

“I have the pleasure of announcing to the
Ladies and Gentlemen of Fairmeadow and its
vicinity, that my Bath House is now completed,
and ready for the reception of those who are
disposed to regale themselves in a luxury peculiar
to the once polished Greek and noble Roman.


Page 99

“To the Ladies I will say, that Tuesday of
each week will be appropriated to their exclusive
benefit; the white flag will be the signal;
and I assure the Ladies, that due respect shall
be scrupulously observed, and that they shall
be guarded from each vagrant foot and each
licentious eye.

Edward Dimple.”

Moreover, the village was enlivened by the
usual travelling shows,—the wax-work figures
representing Eliza Wharton and the Salem
Tragedy, to which clergymen and their families
were “respectfully invited, free on presenting
their cards”; a stuffed shark, that had eaten
the exhibitor's father in Lynn bay; the menagerie,
with its loud music and its roars of rage;
the circus, with its tan and tinsel,—its faded
columbine and melancholy clown; and, finally,
the standard drama, in which Elder Evans, like
an ancient Spanish Bululú, impersonated all the
principal male characters, and was particularly
imposing in Iago and the Moor, having half his
face lamp-blacked, and turning now the luminous,
now the eclipsed side to the audience, as the
exigencies of the dialogue demanded.


Page 100

There was also a great Temperance Jubilee,
with a procession, in which was conspicuous a
large horse, whose shaven tail was adorned with
gay ribbons, and whose rider bore a banner with
the device, “Shaved in the Cause”! Moreover,
the Grand Junction Railroad was opened
through the town, running in one direction to the
city, and in the other into unknown northern
regions, stringing the white villages like pearls
upon its black thread. By this, the town lost
much of its rural quiet and seclusion. The inhabitants
became restless and ambitious. They
were in constant excitement and alarm, like
children in story-books hidden away somewhere
by an ogre, who visits them regularly every
day and night, and occasionally devours one of
them for a meal.

Nevertheless, most of the inhabitants considered
the railroad a great advantage to the
village. Several ladies were heard to say that
Fairmeadow had grown quite metropolitan; and
Mrs. Wilmerdings, who suffered under a chronic
suspension of the mental faculties, had a vague
notion, probably connected with the profession
of her son, that it was soon to become a sea-port.


Page 101

In the fields and woods, meanwhile, there were
other signs and signals of the Summer. The
darkening foliage; the embrowning grain; the
golden dragon-fly haunting the blackberry-bushes;
the cawing crows, that looked down from the
mountain on the corn-field, and waited day after
day for the scarecrow to finish his work and
depart; and the smoke of far-off burning woods,
that pervaded the air and hung in purple haze
about the summits of the mountains,—these were
the avant-couriers and attendants of the hot

Kavanagh had now completed the first great
cycle of parochial visits. He had seen the
Vaughans, the Archers, the Churchills, and also
the Hawkinses and the Wilmerdingses, and many
more. With Mr. Churchill he had become
intimate. They had many points of contact
and sympathy. They walked together on leisure
afternoons; they sat together through long Summer
evenings; they discoursed with friendly
zeal on various topics of literature, religion,
and morals.

Moreover, he worked assiduously at his sermons.
He preached the doctrines of Christ.
He preached holiness, self-denial, love; and his


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hearers remarked that he almost invariably took
his texts from the Evangelists, as much as
possible from the words of Christ, and seldom
from Paul, or the Old Testament. He did not
so much denounce vice, as inculcate virtue;
he did not deny, but affirm; he did not lacerate
the hearts of his hearers with doubt and disbelief,
but consoled, and comforted, and healed
them with faith.

The only danger was that he might advance
too far, and leave his congregation behind him;
as a piping shepherd, who, charmed with his
own music, walks over the flowery mead, not
perceiving that his tardy flock is lingering far
behind, more intent upon cropping the thymy
food around them, than upon listening to the
celestial harmonies that are gradually dying away
in the distance.

His words were always kindly; he brought
no railing accusation against any man; he dealt
in no exaggerations nor over-statements. But
while he was gentle, he was firm. He did not
refrain from reprobating intemperance because
one of his deacons owned a distillery; nor war,
because another had a contract for supplying the
army with muskets; nor slavery, because one


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of the great men of the village slammed his
pew-door, and left the church with a grand air,
as much as to say, that all that sort of thing
would not do, and the clergy had better confine
itself to abusing the sins of the Hindoos, and
let our domestic institutions alone.

In affairs ecclesiastical he had not suggested
many changes. One that he had much at heart
was, that the partition wall between parish and
church should be quietly taken down, so that all
should sit together at the Supper of the Lord.
He also desired that the organist should relinquish
the old and pernicious habit of preluding with
triumphal marches, and running his fingers at
random over the keys of his instrument, playing
scraps of secular music very slowly to make
them sacred, and substitute instead some of the
beautiful symphonies of Pergolesi, Palestrina, and
Sebastian Bach.

He held that sacred melodies were becoming
to sacred themes; and did not wish, that, in his
church, as in some of the French Canadian
churches, the holy profession of religion should
be sung to the air of “When one is dead 't is for
a long time,”—the commandments, aspirations for
heaven, and the necessity of thinking of one's salvation,


Page 104
to “The Follies of Spain,” “Louisa was
sleeping in a grove,” or a grand “March of the
French Cavalry.”

The study in the tower was delightful. There
sat the young apostle, and meditated the great
design and purpose of his life, the removal of all
prejudice, and uncharitableness, and persecution,
and the union of all sects into one church universal.
Sects themselves he would not destroy,
but sectarianism; for sects were to him only as
separate converging roads, leading all to the
same celestial city of peace. As he sat alone,
and thought of these things, he heard the great
bell boom above him, and remembered the
ages when in all Christendom there was but one
Church; when bells were anointed, baptized, and
prayed for, that, wheresoever those holy bells
should sound, all deceits of Satan, all danger of
whirlwinds, thunders, lightnings, and tempests,
might be driven away,—that devotion might increase
in every Christian when he heard them,—
and that the Lord would sanctify them with his
Holy Spirit, and infuse into them the heavenly
dew of the Holy Ghost. He thought of the great
bell Guthlac, which an abbot of Croyland gave to
his monastery, and of the six others given by his


Page 105
successor,—so musical, that, when they all rang
together, as Ingulphus affirms, there was no ringing
in England equal to it. As he listened, the bell
seemed to breathe upon the air such clangorous
sentences as,
“Laudo Deum verum, plebem voco, congrego clerum,
Defunctos ploro, nimbum fugo, festaque honoro.”
Possibly, also, at times, it interrupted his studies
and meditations with other words than these.
Possibly it sang into his ears, as did the bells
of Varennes into the ears of Panurge,—“Marry
thee, marry thee, marry, marry; if thou shouldst
marry, marry, marry, thou shalt find good therein,
therein, therein, so marry, marry.”

From this tower of contemplation he looked
down with mingled emotions of joy and sorrow on
the toiling world below. The wide prospect
seemed to enlarge his sympathies and his charities;
and he often thought of the words of Plato:
“When we consider human life, we should view
as from a high tower all things terrestrial; such
as herds, armies, men employed in agriculture, in
marriages, divorces, births, deaths; the tumults
of courts of justice; desolate lands; various
barbarous nations; feasts, wailings, markets; a


Page 106
medley of all things, in a system adorned by contrarieties.”

On the outside of the door Kavanagh had
written the vigorous line of Dante,

“Think that To-day shall never dawn again!”

that it might always serve as a salutation and
memento to him as he entered. On the inside,
the no less striking lines of a more modern
“Lose this day loitering, 't will be the same story
To-morrow, and the next more dilatory.
The indecision brings its own delays,
And days are lost, lamenting o'er lost days.
Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute!
What you can do or think you can, begin it!
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!
Only engage, and then the mind grows heated:
Begin it, and the work will be completed.”

Once, as he sat in this retreat near noon, enjoying
the silence, and the fresh air that visited him
through the oval windows, his attention was arrested
by a cloud of dust, rolling along the road, out
of which soon emerged a white horse, and then
a very singular, round-shouldered, old-fashioned
chaise, containing an elderly couple, both in


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black. What particularly struck him was the
gait of the horse, who had a very disdainful
fling to his hind legs. The slow equipage passed,
and would have been for ever forgotten, had not
Kavanagh seen it again at sunset, stationary at
Mr. Churchill's door, towards which he was
directing his steps.

As he entered, he met Mr. Churchill, just
taking leave of an elderly lady and gentleman in
black, whom he recognized as the travellers in the
old chaise. Mr. Churchill looked a little flushed
and disturbed, and bade his guests farewell with
a constrained air. On seeing Kavanagh, he
saluted him, and called him by name; whereupon
the lady pursed up her mouth, and, after a quick
glance, turned away her face; and the gentleman
passed with a lofty look, in which curiosity,
reproof, and pious indignation were strangely
mingled. They got into the chaise, with some
such feelings as Noah and his wife may be supposed
to have had on entering the ark; the
whip descended upon the old horse with unusual
vigor, accompanied by a jerk of the reins that
caused him to say within himself, “What is the
matter now?” He then moved off at his usual
pace, and with that peculiar motion of the hind


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legs which Kavanagh had perceived in the

Kavanagh found his friend not a little disturbed,
and evidently by the conversation of the departed

“That old gentleman,” said Mr. Churchill,
“is your predecessor, Mr. Pendexter. He
thinks we are in a bad way since he left us. He
considers your liberality as nothing better than
rank Arianism and infidelity. The fact is, the
old gentleman is a little soured; the vinous fermentation
in his veins is now over, and the
acetous has commenced.”

Kavanagh smiled, but made no answer.

“I, of course, defended you stoutly,” continued
Mr. Churchill; “but if he goes about the
village sowing such seed, there will be tares
growing with the wheat.”

“I have no fears,” said Kavanagh, very

Mr. Churchill's apprehensions were not, however,
groundless; for in the course of the week it
came out that doubts, surmises, and suspicions of
Kavanagh's orthodoxy were springing up in many
weak but worthy minds. And it was ever after
observed, that, whenever that fatal, apocalyptic


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white horse and antediluvian chaise appeared
in town, many parishioners were harassed with
doubts and perplexed with theological difficulties
and uncertainties.

Nevertheless, the main current of opinion was
with him; and the parish showed their grateful
acknowledgment of his zeal and sympathy, by
requesting him to sit for his portrait to a great
artist from the city, who was passing the Summer
months in the village for recreation, using his
pencil only on rarest occasions and as a particular
favor. To this martyrdom the meek Kavanagh
submitted without a murmur. During the progress
of this work of art, he was seldom left
alone; some one of his parishioners was there to
enliven him; and most frequently it was Miss
Martha Amelia Hawkins, who had become very
devout of late, being zealous in the Sunday
School, and requesting her relative not to walk
between churches any more. She took a very
lively interest in the portrait, and favored with
many suggestions the distinguished artist, who
found it difficult to obtain an expression which
would satisfy the parish, some wishing to have it
grave, if not severe, and others with “Mr. Kavanagh's
peculiar smile.” Kavanagh himself was


Page 110
quite indifferent about the matter, and met his
fate with Christian fortitude, in a white cravat and
sacerdotal robes, with one hand hanging down
from the back of his chair, and the other holding
a large book with the fore-finger between its
leaves, reminding Mr. Churchill of Milo with his
fingers in the oak. The expression of the face
was exceedingly bland and resigned; perhaps a
little wanting in strength, but on the whole satisfactory
to the parish. So was the artist's price;
nay, it was even held by some persons to be
cheap, considering the quantity of back-ground he
had put in.