His Birth and other Misfortunes
By Edward Jenkins
CRITIC.—I never read a more improbable story in my life.
AUTHOR.—Notwithstanding, it may be true.
PART I. WHAT GINX DID WITH HIM. I. Ab initio II. Home, sweet Home! III. Work and Ideas IV. Digressive, and may be skipped without mutilating the History V. Reasons and Resolves VI. The Antagonism of Law and Necessity VII. Malthus and Man VIII. The Baby's First Translation
PART II. WHAT CHARITY AND THE CHURCHES DID WITH HIM. I. The Milk of Human Kindness, Mother's Milk, and the Milk of the Word II. The Protestant Detectoral Association III. The Sacrament of Baptism IV. Law on Behalf of Gospel V. Magistrate's Law VI. Popery and Protestantism in the Queen's Bench VII. A Protestor, but not a Protestant VIII. "See how these Christians love one another" IX. Good Samaritans, and Good-Samaritan Twopences X. The Force—and a Specimen of its Weakness XI. The Unity of the Spirit and the Bond of Peace XII. No Funds—no Faith, no Works XIII. In transitu
PART III. WHAT THE PARISH DID WITH HIM. I. Parochial Knots—to be untied without Prejudice II. A Board of Guardians III. "The World is my Parish" IV. Without Prejudice to any one but the Guardians V. An Ungodly Jungle VI. Parochial Benevolence—and another Translation
PART IV. WHAT THE CLUBS AND POLITICIANS DID WITH HIM. I. Moved on II. Club Ideas III. A thorough-paced Reformer—if not a Revolutionary IV. Very Broad Views V. Party Tactics—and Political Obstructions to Social Reform VI. Amateur Debating in a High Legislative Body
PART V. WHAT GINX'S BABY DID WITH HIMSELF. The Last Chapter
PART I. WHAT GINX DID WITH HIM.
The name of the father of Ginx's Baby was Ginx. By a not unexceptional coincidence, its mother was Mrs. Ginx. The gender of Ginx's Baby was masculine.
On the day when our hero was born, Mr. and Mrs. Ginx were living at Number Five, Rosemary Street, in the City of Westminster. The being then and there brought into the world was not the only human entity to which the title of "Ginx's Baby" was or had been appropriate. Ginx had been married to Betsy Hicks at St. John's, Westminster, on the twenty-fifth day of October, 18—, as appears from the "marriage lines" retained by Betsy Ginx, and carefully collated by me with the original register. Our hero was their thirteenth child. Patient inquiry has enabled me to verify the following history of their propagations. On July the twenty-fifth, the year after their marriage, Mrs. Ginx was safely delivered of a girl. No announcement of this appeared in the newspapers.
On the tenth of April following, the whole neighborhood, including Great Smith Street, Marsham Street, Great and Little Peter Streets, Regent Street, Horseferry Road, and Strutton Ground, was convulsed by the report that a woman named Ginx had given birth to "a triplet," consisting of two girls and a boy. The news penetrated to Dean's Yard and the ancient school of Westminster. The Dean, who accepted nothing on trust, sent to verify the report, his messenger bearing a bundle of baby-clothes from the Dean's wife, who thought that the mother could scarcely have provided for so large an addition to her family. The schoolboys, on their way to the play-ground at Vincent Square, slyly diverged to have a look at the curiosity, paying sixpence a head to Mrs. Ginx's friend and crony, Mrs. Spittal, who pocketed the money, and said nothing about it to the sick woman. THIS birth was announced in all the newspapers throughout the kingdom, with the further news that Her Majesty the Queen had been graciously pleased to forward to Mrs. Ginx the sum of three pounds.
What could have possessed the woman I can't say, but about a twelvemonth after, Mrs. Ginx, with the assistance of two doctors hastily fetched from the hospital by her frightened husband, nearly perished in a fresh effort of maternity. This time two sons and two daughters fell to the lot of the happy pair. Her Majesty sent four pounds. But whatever peace there was at home, broils disturbed the street. The neighbors, who had sent for the police on the occasion, were angered by a notoriety which was becoming uncomfortable to them, and began to testify their feelings in various rough ways. Ginx removed his family to Rosemary Street, where, up to a year before the time when Ginx's Baby was born, his wife had continued to add to her offspring until the tale reached one dozen. It was then that Ginx affectionately but firmly begged that his wife would consider her family ways, since, in all conscience, he had fairly earned the blessedness of the man who hath his quiver full of them; and frankly gave her notice that, as his utmost efforts could scarcely maintain their existing family, if she ventured to present him with any more, either single, or twins, or triplets, or otherwise, he would most assuredly drown him, or her, or them in the water-butt, and take the consequences.
II.—Home, sweet Home!
The day on which Ginx uttered his awful threat was that next to the one wherein number twelve had drawn his first breath. His wife lay on the bed which, at the outset of wedded life, they had purchased secondhand in Strutton Ground for the sum of nine shillings and sixpence. SECOND-HAND! It had passed through, at least, as many hands as there were afterwards babies born upon it. Twelfth or thirteenth hand, a vagabond, botched bedstead, type of all the furniture in Ginx's rooms, and in numberless houses through the vast city. Its dimensions were 4 feet 6 inches by 6 feet. When Ginx, who was a stout navvy, and Mrs. Ginx, who was, you may conceive, a matronly woman, were in it, there was little vacant space about them. Yet, as they were forced to find resting-places for all the children, it not seldom happened that at least one infant was perilously wedged between the parental bodies; and latterly they had been so pressed for room in the household that two younglings were nestled at the foot of the bed. Without foot-board or pillows, the lodgment of these infants was precarious, since any fatuous movement of Ginx's legs was likely to expel them head-first. However they were safe, for they were sure to fall on one or other of their brothers or sisters.
I shall be as particular as a valuer, and describe what I have seen. The family sleeping-room measured 13 feet 6 inches by 14 feet.
Opening out of this, and again on the landing of the third-floor, was their kitchen and sitting-room; it was not quite so large as the other. This room contained a press, an old chest of drawers, a wooden box once used for navvy's tools, three chairs, a stool, and some cooking utensils. When, therefore, one little Ginx had curled himself up under a blanket on the box, and three more had slipped beneath a tattered piece of carpet under the table, there still remained five little bodies to be bedded. For them an old straw mattress, limp enough to be rolled up and thrust under the bed, was at night extended on the floor. With this, and a patchwork quilt, the five were left to pack themselves together as best they could. So that, if Ginx, in some vision of the night, happened to be angered, and struck out his legs in navvy fashion, it sometimes came to pass that a couple of children tumbled upon the mass of infantile humanity below.
Not to be described are the dinginess of the walls, the smokiness of the ceilings, the grimy windows, the heavy, ever-murky atmosphere of these rooms. They were 8 feet 6 inches in height, and any curious statist can calculate the number of cubic feet of air which they afforded to each person.
The other side of the street was 14 feet distant. Behind, the backs of similar tenements came up black and cowering over the little yard of Number Five. As rare, in the well thus formed, was the circulation of air as that of coin in the pockets of the inhabitants. I have seen the yard; let me warn you, if you are fastidious, not to enter it. Such of the filth of the house as could not, at night, be thrown out of the front windows, was there collected, and seldom, if ever, removed. What became of it? What becomes of countless such accretions in like places? Are a large proportion of these filthy atoms absorbed by human creatures living and dying, instead of being carried away by scavengers and inspectors? The forty-five big and little lodgers in the house were provided with a single office in the corner of the yard. It had once been capped by a cistern, long since rotted away—
* * * * *
The street was at one time the prey of the gas company; at another, of the drainage contractors. They seemed to delight in turning up the fetid soil, cutting deep trenches through various strata of filth, and piling up for days or weeks matter that reeked with vegetable and animal decay. One needs not affirm that Rosemary Street was not so called from its fragrance. If the Ginxes and their neighbors preserved any semblance of health in this place, the most popular guardian on the board must own it a miracle. They, poor people, knew nothing of "sanitary reform," "sanitary precautions," "zymotics," "endemics," "epidemics," "deodorizers," or "disinfectants." They regarded disease with the apathy of creatures who felt it to be inseparable from humanity, and with the fatalism of despair.
Gin was their cardinal prescription, not for cure, but for oblivion: "Sold everywhere." A score of palaces flourished within call of each other in that dismal district—garish, rich-looking dens, drawing to the support of their vulgar glory the means, the lives, the eternal destinies of the wrecked masses about them. Veritable wreckers they who construct these haunts, viler than the wretches who place false beacons and plunder bodies on the beach. Bring down the real owners of these places, and show them their deadly work! Some of them leading Philanthropists, eloquent at Missionary meetings and Bible Societies, paying tribute to the Lord out of the pockets of dying drunkards, fighting glorious battles for slaves, and manfully upholding popular rights. My rich publican—forgive the pun—before you pay tithes of mint and cummin, much more before you claim to be a disciple of a certain Nazarene, take a lesson from one who restored fourfold the money he had wrung from honest toil, or reflect on the case of the man to whom it was said, "Go sell all thou hast, and give to the poor." The lips from which that counsel dropped offered some unpleasant alternatives, leaving out one, however, which nowadays may yet reach you—the contempt of your kind.
III.—Work and Ideas.
I return again to Ginx's menace to his wife, who was suckling her infant at the time on the bed. For her he had an animal affection that preserved her from unkindness, even in his cups. His hand had never unmanned itself by striking her, and rarely indeed did it injure any one else. He wrestled not against flesh and blood, or powers, or principalities, or wicked spirits in high places. He struggled with clods and stones, and primeval chaos. His hands were horny with the fight, and his nature had perhaps caught some of the dull ruggedness of the things wherewith he battled. Hard and with a will had he worked through the years of wedded life, and, to speak him fair, he had acted honestly, within the limits of his knowledge and means, for the good of his family. How narrow were those limits! Every week he threw into the lap of Mrs. Ginx the eighteen or twenty shillings which his strength and temperance enabled him continuously to earn, less sixpence reserved for the public-house, whither he retreated on Sundays after the family dinner. A dozen children overrunning the space in his rooms was then a strain beyond the endurance of Ginx. Nor had he the heart to try the common plan, and turn his children out of doors on the chance of their being picked up in a raid of Sunday School teachers. So he turned out himself to talk with the humbler spirits of the "Dragon," or listen sleepily while alehouse demagogues prescribed remedies for State abuses.
Our friend was nearly as guiltless of knowledge as if Eve had never rifled the tree whereon it grew. Vacant of policies were his thoughts; innocent he of ideas of state-craft. He knew there was a Queen; he had seen her. Lords and Commons were to him vague deities possessing strange powers. Indeed, he had been present when some of his better-informed companions had recognized with cheers certain gentlemen,—of whom Ginx's estimate was expressed by a reference to his test of superiority to himself in that which he felt to be greatest within him—"I could lick 'em with my little finger"—as the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister. Little recked he of their uses or abuses. The functions of Government were to him Asian mysteries. He only felt that it ought to have a strong arm, like the brawny member wherewith he preserved order in his domestic kingdom, and therefore generally associated Government with the Police. In his view these were to clear away evil-doers and leave every one else alone. The higher objects of Government were, if at all, outlined in the shadowiest form in his imagination. Government imposed taxes—that he was obliged to know. Government maintained the parks; for that he thanked it. Government made laws, but what they were, or with what aim or effects made, he knew not, save only that by them something was done to raise or depress the prices of bread, tea, sugar, and other necessaries. Why they should do so he never conceived—I am not sure that he cared. Legislation sometimes pinched him, but darkness so hid from him the persons and objects of the legislators that he could not criticise the theories which those powerful beings were subjecting to experiment at his cost. I must, at any risk, say something about this in a separate chapter.
IV.—Digressive, and may be skipped without mutilating the History.
I stop here to address any of the following characters, should he perchance read these memoirs:
You, Mr. Statesman—if there be such; Mr. Pseudo-Statesman, Placeman, Party Leader, Wirepuller; Mr. Amateur Statesman, Dilettante Lord, Civil Servant; Mr. Clubman, Litterateur, Newspaper Scribe; Mr. People's Candidate, Demagogue, Fenian Spouter;
or whoever you may be, professing to know aught or do anything in matters of policy, consider, what I am sure you have never fairly weighed, the condition of a man whose clearest notion of Government is derived from the Police! Imagine one who had never seen a polyp trying to construct an ideal of the animal, from a single tentacle swinging out from the tangle of weed in which the rest was wrapped! How then any more can you fancy that a man to whose sight and knowledge the only part of government practically exposed is the strong process of police, shall form a proper conception of the functions, reasons, operations, and relations of Government; or even build up an ideal of anything but a haughty, unreasonable, antagonistic, tax-imposing FORCE! And how can you rule such a being except as you rule a dog, by that which alone he understands—the dog-whip of the constable! Given in a country a majority of creatures like these, and surely despotism is its properest complement. But when they exist, as they exist in England to-day, in hundreds of thousands, in town and country, think what a complication they introduce into your theoretic free system of government. Acts of Parliament passed by a "freely-elected" House of Commons, and an hereditary House of Lords under the threats of freely-electing citizens, however pure in intention and correct in principle, will not seem to him to be the resultants of every wish in the community so much as dictations by superior strength. To these the obedience he will render will not be the loving assent of his heart, but a begrudged concession to circumstance. Your awe-invested legislature is not viewed as his friend and brother-helper, but his tyrant. Therefore the most natural bent of his workman-statesmanship—a rough, bungling affair—will be to tame you—you who ought to be his Counsellor and Friend. When he finds that your legislative action exerts upon him a repressive and restraining force he will curse you as its author, because he sees not the springs you are working. Should he even be a little more advanced in knowledge than our friend Ginx, and learn that he helps to elect the Parliament to make laws on behalf of himself and his fellow-citizens, he will scarce trust the assembly which is supposed to represent him. Will he, like a good citizen and a politic, accept with dignity and self-control the decision of a majority against his prejudices: or will he not regard the whole Wittenagemote with suspicion, contempt, or even hatred? See him rush madly to Trafalgar Square meetings, Hyde Park demonstrations, perhaps to Lord George Gordon Riots, as if there were no less perilous means of publishing his opinions! There wily men may lead his unconscious intellect, and stir his passions, and direct his forces against his own—and his children's good.
Did it ever occur to you, or any of you, how many voters cannot read, and how many more, though they can read, are unable to apprehend reasons of statesmanship?—that even newspapers cannot inform them, since they have not the elementary knowledge needed for the comprehension of those things which are discussed in them; nay, that for want of understanding the same they may terribly distort political aims and consequences?
Might it not be worth while for you, gentlemen—may it not be your duty to devise ways and means for conveying such elementary instruction by good street-preachers on politics and economy, or even political bible-women or colporteurs, and so to make clear to the understanding of every voter what are the reasons and aims of every act of Legislation, Home Administration, and Foreign Policy? If you do not find out some way to do this he may turn round upon you—I hope he may—and insist on annually-elected parliaments, and thus oblige ambitious state-mongers, in the rivalry of place, to come to him and declare more often their wishes and objects. Other attractions may be found in that solution: such as the untying of some knots of electoral difficulty, and removing incitements to corruption. Ten thousand pounds for one year's power were a high price even to a contractor. Think then whether at any cost some general political education must not be attempted, since there is a spirit breathing on the waters, and how it shall convulse them is no indifferent matter to you or to me. Everywhere around us are unhewn rocks stirred with a strange motion. Leave these chaotic fragments of humanity to be hewn into rough shape by coarse artists seeking only a petty profit, unhandy, immeasurably impudent; or dress them by your teaching—teaching which is the highest, noblest, purest, most efficient function of Government, which ought to be the most lofty ambition of statesmanship—to be civic corner-stones polished after the similitude of a palace.
V.—Reasons and Resolves.
Ginx has been waiting through three chapters to explain his truculence upon the birth of his twelfth child. Much explanation is not necessary. When he looked round his nest and saw the many open mouths about him, he might well be appalled to have another added to them. His children were not chameleons, yet they were already forced to be content with a proportion of air for their food. And even the air was bad. They were pallid and pinched. How they were clad will ever be a mystery, save to the poor woman who strung the limp rags together and Him who watched the noble patience and sacrifice of a daily heroism. Of her own unsatisfied cravings, and the dense motherly horrors that sometimes brooded over her while she nursed these infants, let me refrain from speaking, since if as vividly depicted as they were real, you, Madam, could not endure to read of them. Her poor, unintelligent mind clung tenaciously to the controverted aphorism, "Where God sends mouths he sends food to fill them." Believing that there was a God, and that He must be kind, she trusted in this as a truth, and perhaps an all-seeing eye reading some quaint characters on her simple heart, viewed them not too nearly, but had regard to their general import, for, as she expressed it, "Thank God! they had always been able to get along."
In the rush and tumult of the world it is likely that the summum bonum of nine-tenths of mankind is embraced in that purely negative happiness—to get along. Not to perish: to open eyes, however wearily, on a new morning: to satisfy with something, no matter what, a craving appetite: to close eyes at night under some shadow or shelter: or, it may be, in certain ranks to walk another day free from bankruptcy or arrest: Thank Heaven, they are just able to get along!
Convinced that another infant straw would break his back, Ginx calmly proposed to disconcert physical, moral, and legal relations by drowning the straw Mrs. Ginx clinging to Number Twelve listened aghast. If a mother can forget her sucking child she was not that mother. The stream of her affections, though divided into twelve rills, would not have been exhausted in twenty-four, and her soul, forecasting its sorrow, yearned after that nonentity Number Thirteen. She pictured to herself the hapless strangeling borne away from her bosom by those strong arms, and—in fact she sobbed so that Ginx grew ashamed, and sought to comfort her by the suggestion that she could not have any more. But she knew better.
VI.—The Antagonism of Law and Necessity.
In eighteen months, notwithstanding resolves, menaces, and prophecies, GINX'S BABY was born. The mother hid the impending event long, from the father. When he came to know it, he fixed his determination by much thought and a little extra drinking. He argued thus: "He wouldn't go on the parish. He couldn't keep another youngster to save his life. He had never taken charity and never would. There was nothink to do with it but drown it!" Female friends of Mrs. Ginx bruited his intentions about the neighborhood, so that her "time" was watched for with interest. At last it came. One afternoon Ginx, lounging home, saw signs of excitement around his door in Rosemary Street. A knot of women and children awaited his coming. Passing through them he soon learned what had happened. Poor Mrs. Ginx! Without staying to think or argue, he took up the little stranger and bore it from the room——
"O, O, O, Ginx! Ginx!!"
She would have risen, but a strong power called weakness pulled her back.
* * * * *
The man meanwhile had reached the street.
"Here he comes! There's the baby! He's going to do it, sure enough!" shrieked the women. The children stood agape. He stopped to consider. It is very well to talk about drowning your baby, but to do it you need two things, water and opportunity. Vauxhall Bridge was the nearest way to the former, and towards it Ginx turned.
"Take the child from him!"
The crowd grew larger, and impeded the man's progress. Some of his fellow-workmen stood by regarding the fun.
"Leave us aloan, naabors," shouted Ginx; "this is my own baby, and I'll do wot I likes with it. I kent keep it; an' if I've got anythin' I kent keep, it's best to get rid of it, ain't it? This child's goin' over Wauxhall Bridge."
But the women clung to his arms and coattails.
"Hallo! What's all this about?" said a sharp, strong man, well-dressed, and in good condition, coming up to the crowd; "another foundling! Confound the place, the very stones produce babies. Where was it found?"
CHORUS (recognizing a deputy-relieving officer). It warn't found at all; it's Ginx's baby.
OFFICER. Ginx's baby? Who's Ginx?
GINX. I am.
CHORUS. He's goin' to drown it.
OFFICER. Going to drown it? Nonsense.
GINX. I am.
OFFICER. But, bless my heart, that's murder!
GINX. No 'tain't. I've twelve already at home. Starvashon's sure to kill this 'un. Best save it the trouble.
CHORUS. Take it away, Mr. Smug, he'll kill it if you don't.
OFFICER. Stuff and nonsense! Quite contrary to law! Why, man, you're bound to support your child. You can't throw it off in that way;—nor on the parish neither. Give me your name. I must get a magistrate's order. The act of parliament is as clear as daylight. I had a man up under it last week. "Whosoever shall unlawfully abandon or expose any child, being under the age of two years whereby the life of such child shall be endangered or the health of such child shall have been or shall be likely to be permanently injured (drowning comes under that I think) shall be GUILTY OF a MISDEMEANOR and being convicted thereof shall be liable at the discretion of the court to be KEPT IN PENAL SERVITUDE for the term of three years or to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding two years with or without hard labor."
Mr. Smug, the officer, rolled out this section in a sonorous monotone, without stops, like a clerk of the court. It was his pride to know by heart all the acts relating to his department, and to bring them down upon any obstinate head that he wished to crush. Ginx's head, however, was impervious to an act of parliament. In his then temper, the Commination Service or St. Ernulphus's curse would have been feathers to him. The only feeling aroused in his mind by the words of the legislature was one of resentment. To him they seemed unjust, because they were hard and fast, and made no allowance for circumstances. So he said:
GINX. D—— the act of parliament! What's the use of saying I shan't abandon the child, when I can't keep it alive?
OFFICER. But you're bound by law to keep it alive.
GINX. Bound to keep it alive? How am I to do it? There's the rest on 'em there (nodding towards his house) little better nor alive now. If that's an act of Parleyment, why don't the act of Parleyment provide for 'em? You know what wages is, and I can't get more than is going.
CHORUS. Yes. Why don't Parleyment provide for 'em? You take the child, Mr. Smug.
OFFICER (regardless of grammar). ME take the child! The parish has enough to do to take care of foundlings and children whose parents can't or don't work. You don't suppose we will look after the children of those who can?
GINX. Jest so. You'll bring up bastards and beggars' pups, but you won't help an honest man to keep his head above water. This child's head is goin' under water anyhow!—and he prepared to bolt, amid fresh screams from the Chorus.
VII.—Malthus and Man.
Two gentlemen, who had been observing the excitement, here came forward.
FIRST GENTLEMAN. This is our problem again, Mr. Philosopher.
Mr. PHILOSOPHER (to Ginx). You don't know what to do with your infant, my friend, and you think the State ought to provide for it? I understand you to say this is your thirteenth child. How came you to have so many?
This question, though put with profound and even melancholy gravity, disconcerted Ginx, Officer, and Chorus, who united in a hearty outburst of laughter.
GINX. Haw, Haw, Haw! How came I to have so many? Why my old woman's a good un and——
In fact, after searching his mind for some clever way of putting a comical rejoinder, Ginx laughed boisterously. There are two aspects of a question.
PHILOSOPHER. I am serious, my friend. Did it never occur to you that you had no right to bring children into the world unless you could feed and clothe and educate them?
CHORUS. Laws a' mercy!
GINX. I'd like to know how I could help it, naabor. I'm a married man.
PHILOSOPHER. Well, I will go further and say you ought not to have married without a fair prospect of being able to provide for any contingent increase of family.
CHORUS. Laws a' mercy!
PHILOSOPHER (waxing warm). What right had you to marry a poor woman, and then both of you, with as little forethought as two—a—dogs, or other brutes—to produce between you such a multitudinous progeny—
GINX. Civil words, naabor; don't call my family hard names.
PHILOSOPHER. Then let me say, such a monstrous number of children as thirteen? You knew, as you said just now, that wages were wages and did not vary much. And yet you have gone on subdividing your resources by the increase of what must become a degenerate offspring. (To the Chorus) All you workpeople are doing it. Is it not time to think about these things and stop the indiscriminate production of human beings, whose lives you cannot properly maintain? Ought you not to act more like reflective creatures and less like brutes? As if breeding were the whole object of life! How much better for you, my friend, if you had never married at all, than to have had the worry of a wife and children all these years.
The philosopher had gone too far. There were some angry murmurs among the women and Ginx's face grew dark. He was thinking of "all those years" and the poor creature that from morning to night and Sunday to Sunday, in calm and storm, had clung to his rough affections: and the bright eyes, and the winding arms so often trellised over his tremendous form, and the coy tricks and laughter that had cheered so many tired hours. He may have been much of a brute, but he felt that, after all, that sort of thing was denied to dogs and pigs. Before he could translate his thoughts into words or acts a shrewd-looking, curly-haired stonemason, who stood by with his tin on his arm, cut into the discussion.
STONEMASON. Your doctrines won't go down here, Mr. Philosopher. I've 'eard of them before. I'd just like to ask you what a man's to do and what a woman's to do if they don't marry: and if they do, how can you honestly hinder them from having any children?
The stonemason had rudely struck out the cardinal issues of the question.
PHILOSOPHER. Well, to take the last point first, there are physical and ethical questions involved in it, which it is hard to discuss before such an audience as this.
STONEMASON. But you must discuss 'em, if you wish us to change our ways, and stop breeding.
PHILOSOPHER. Very well: perhaps you are right. But, again, I should first have to establish a basis for my arguments, by showing that the conception of marriage entertained by you all is a low one. It is not simply a breeding matter. The beauty and value of the relation lies in its educational effects—the cultivation of mutual sentiments and refinements of great importance to a community.
STONEMASON. Ay! Very beautiful and refining to Mr. and Mrs. Philosopher, but I'd like to know where the country would have been if our fathers had held to that view of matrimony? Why, ain't it in natur' for all beings to pair, and have young? an' you say we ain't to do it! I think a statesman ought to make something out of what's nateral to human beings, and not try to change their naturs. Besides, ain't there good of another kind to be got out of the relation of parents and children? Did you ever have a child yourself?
GINX (contemplating the Philosopher's physique). HE have a youngster! He couldn't.
CHORUS. Ha! Ha! Ha!
STONEMASON. I don't believe in yer humbuggin' notions. They lead to lust and crime;—I'm told they do in France. If you yourself haven't the human natur in you to know it, I'll tell you, and we can all tell you that as a rule if the healthy desires of natur ain't satisfied in a honest way, they will be in another. You can't stop eating by passin' an act of Parleyment to stop it. And as for yer eddication and cultivation, that makes no difference. We know something here about yer eddicated men;—more than they think. Who is it we meet about the streets late at night, goin' to the gay houses? Some of 'em stand near as high as you, but that don't alter their natur. They have their passions like other men; and eddication don't keep 'em down. Well, if that's the case, how can you ask people of our sort to put on the curb, or make us do it? Are we to live more like beasts than we are now, or do what's worse than murder? I don't see no other way. Among us I tell you, sir, three-fourths of our eddication, is eddication of the heart. We have to learn to be human, kind, self-denyin', and I think this makes better men, as a rule, than head-larnin'; tho' I don't despise that, neither. But you don't suppose head-citizens would fight for their country like men with wives and children behind 'em; why they don't even at home work for daily food like a man with wife and babies to provide for!
The stonemason was above his class—one of those shrewd men that "the people called Methodists" get hold of, and use among the lower orders, under the name of "local preachers;" men who learn to think and speak better than their fellows. The Philosopher testified some admiration by listening attentively, and was about to reply, but the Chorus was tired, and the women would not hear him.
CHORUS. Best get out o' this. We don't want any o' yer filhosophy. Go and get childer' of yer own, &c., &c.
The Philosopher and his friend departed, carrying with them unsolved the problem they had brought.
VIII.—The Baby's First Translation.
The stonemason had been the hero of the moment; now attention centred on our own hero. Ginx hurried off again, but as the crowd opened before him, he was met, and his mad career stayed, by a slight figure, feminine, draped in black to the feet, wearing a curiously framed white-winged hood above her pale face, and a large cross suspended from her girdle. He could not run her down.
NUN. Stop, MAN! Are you mad? Give me the child.
He placed the little bundle in her arms. She uncovered the queer, ruby face, and kissed it. Ginx had not looked at the face before, but after seeing it, and the act of this woman, he could not have touched a hair of his child's head. His purpose died from that moment, though his perplexity was still alive.
NUN. Let me have it. I will take it to the Sisters' Home, and it shall live there. Your wife may come and nurse it. We will take charge of it.
GINX. And you won't send it back again? You'll take it for good and all?
NUN. O, yes.
GINX. Good. Give us yer hand.
A little white hand came out from under her burthen, and was at once half-crushed in Ginx's elephantine grasp.
GINX. Done. Thank'ee, missus. Come, mates, I'll stand a drink.
A few minutes after, the woman of the cross, who had been up to comfort the poor mother, fluttered with her white wings down Rosemary Street, carrying in her arms Ginx's Baby.
PART II. WHAT CHARITY AND THE CHURCHES DID WITH HIM.
I.—The Milk of Human Kindness, Mother's Milk, and the Milk of the Word.
The early days of his residence at the Home of the Sisters of Misery, in Winkle Street, was the Eden of Ginx's Baby's existence. Themselves innocent of a mother's experiences, the sisters were free to give play to their affections in a novel direction, and to assume a sort of spiritual maternity that was lucky for the changeling. He was nestled in kind serge-covered arms: kisses rained upon him from chaste lips. A slight scandal thrilled the convent upon the discovery of his sex, which had of course been a pure matter of conjecture to Sister Pudicitia when she rescued him; but enthusiasm can overcome anything. The awkward questions foreshadowed in the discovery were left to be considered when their growing importance should demand upon them the judgment of the archbishop. Visions of an unusual sanctity to be fostered in the pure regions of the convent, and to be sent on a mission into the world to attest the power of their spiritual discipline, began to haunt the brains of the sequestered nuns. Might not this infant be an embryo saint, destined for a great work in the heretical wilderness out of which he had come? How little healthy food the brains must have had wherein these insane dreams were excited by our innocent baby! Hardly did the sacred spinsters forecast what was in store for them when he should be teething.
But Ginx's Baby was in a religious atmosphere, and that is always surcharged with electricity. His lot must have been above that of any other human being if he could long have remained in such a climate unvisited by thunder. The mother had been permitted to attend at the Home with the same regularity as the milkman, to discharge her maternal duties. Then with the rise of the visionary projects just mentioned the gravest doubts began to agitate the fertile and casuistic mind of the Lady Superior. The holier her ideal St. Ginx of the future, the more to be deplored was any heretical taint in the present. Holy mother! Was it not perhaps eminently perilous to his spiritual purity that an unbeliever like Mrs. Ginx should bring unconsecrated milk into the convent to be administered to this suckling of the Church! In her uneasiness she appealed to Father Certificatus, the conventual confessor. He gave his opinion in the following letter:—
"DEAR SISTER SUSPICIOSA,
"The very grave question you have put to me has given me much anxiety. It could not but do so since it occupied, I knew, so fully your own holy reflections. I pondered it during the night while I repeated one hundred Aves on my knees, and I think the Blessed Virgin has vouchsafed her assistance.
"I understood you to say you thought that the physical health of the infant, so singularly and miraculously thrown upon your care, required the offices of his heretic mother, and yet that you felt how inconsistent it was with the noble future we contemplate for him, that he should receive unorthodox lacteal sustentation. In this you are but following the usage of the Church in all ages, for She has ever enjoined the advantage of infusing Her doctrines into Her children with the mother's milk.
"Three courses only appear to me to be open to us. First, we may try to work upon the mother's feelings, and on behalf of her child induce her to avail herself of the inestimable privileges of the Church in which he is fostered. Secondly, should she repel us—and these lower class heretics are even brutally refractory—we might at least allure her to allow us to make with holy water the sign of the Cross upon the natural reservoirs of infant nourishment each time before she approaches the infant. This, besides overcoming the immediate difficulty and securing for the child a supply of sanctified food, might open the way for the entrance into her own bosom of the milk of the word. Thirdly, should she reject these proposals, I see nothing for it but to forbid her to have access to her infant, and, commending him to the care of the Holy Mother, to feed him with pap or other suitable nourishment, previously consecrated by me in its crude state, and prepared by the most holy hands of your community. Thus we may hope to shield the young soul in its present freshness from contact with carnal elements.
"Your loving Father in, &c., "CERTIFICATUS."
On receiving this letter the Superioress conferred not with flesh and blood, but sent for Mrs. Ginx. That worthy woman was not enchanted with her child's position. I have hinted that her faith was simple, but in proportion to its simplicity it was strongly-rooted in her nature. 'Tis not infrequent to find it so. Lengthy creeds and confessions of faith are apt to extend the strength and fervor of belief over too wide a surface. In the close frame of some single article will be concentrated the whole energy of the soul. The first formula, "Repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ," was maintained with a heat that became less intense, though more distributed, in the insertion of an Athanasian creed. Mrs. Ginx's creed was succinct.
Mrs. GINX'S PRIMARY CREED.
I believe in God, giver of bread, meat, money, and health.
This she maintained, with indifferent ritual and devotional observances. But there was to Mrs. Ginx's faith a corollary or secondary creed, only needed to meet special emergencies.
Mrs. GINX'S SECONDARY CREED.
1. I believe in the Church of England. 2. I believe in Heaven and Hell. 3. (A negative article) I hate Popery, priests, and the Devil.
When her husband made his fatal gift to the nun, this third article of his wife's belief, or unbelief, stirred up and waxed aggressive.
Said the Lady Superior, "My good woman, your child thrives under the care of Holy Mother Church."
"Yes'm, he thrives well," replies Mrs. Ginx, repeating no more of Sister Suspiciosa's sentence, "an' I've 'ad more milk than ever for the darlin' this time, thank God."
"And the Holy Virgin."
"I dunno about her," cries Mrs. Ginx emphatically, perhaps not seeing congruity between a virgin and the subject of thankfulness.
"And the Holy Virgin," repeated the nun, "who interests herself in all mothers. She has thus blessed you that your child may be made strong for the work of the Church. Do you not see a miracle is worked within you to prove Her goodness? This, no doubt, is an evidence to you of Her wish to bless you and take you for Her own. I beseech you listen to Her voice, and come and enter Her fold."
"If you mean the Virgin Mary, mum, I ain't a idolater, beggin' yer parding," says Mrs. Ginx; "an' tho' I wouldn't for the world offend them as has been so kind to my child, an' saved it from that deer little creetur bein' thrown over Wauxhall Bridge—an' Ginx ought to be ashamed of hisself, so he ought—I ain't Papish, mum, and I ain't dispoged, with twelve on 'em there at home all Protestant to the back bone, to turn Papish now, an' so I 'ope an' pray, mum," says Mrs. Ginx, roaring and crying, "you ain't agoin' to make Papish of my flesh an' blood. O dear! O dear!"
The Lady Superior shut her ears; she had raised a familiar spirit and could not lay it. She temporized.
"You know your husband has given the child to us. It will be called the infant Ambrosius."
"Dear, dear!" sighed Mrs. Ginx, "what a name!"
"We wish him to be kept from any worldly taint, and by-and-by his saintliness may gain you forgiveness in spite of your heretical perversity. I cannot permit you to give him unconsecrated milk, and as we wish to treat you kindly, the holy Father Certificatus has allowed me to make an arrangement with you, to which you can have no objection—I mean, that you should let me make the sign of the cross upon your breasts morning and evening before you suckle your infant. You will permit me to do that, won't you?"
Conceive of Mrs. Ginx's reply, clothed in choice Westminster English: it asserted her readiness to cut off her right hand, her feet, to be hanged, drowned, burned, torn to pieces, in fact to withstand all the torments ascribed by vulgar tradition to Roman Catholic ingenuity, and to see her baby "a dead corpse" into the bargain, before she would submit her Protestant bosom to such an indignity.
"No, mum!" she said; "I couldn't sleep with that on my breast;" and cried hysterically.
This lower class heretic WAS "brutally refractory." So thought the Superioress, and so gave Mrs. Ginx notice to come no more. She went home rather jubilant—she was a martyr.
II.—The Protestant Detectoral Association.
Ginx's baby was now fed on consecrated pap. But his mother was not a woman to be silent under her wrongs. From her husband she hid them, because the subject was forbidden. She poured out her complaint to Mrs. Spittal and other Protestant matrons. Thus it came to pass that one day, in Ginx's absence, the good woman was surprised by a visit from a "gentleman." He was small, sharp, rapid, dressed in black. He opened his business at once.
"Mrs. Ginx? Ah! I am the agent of the Protestant Detectoral Association."
Mrs. Ginx wiped her best chair and set it for him.
"By great good fortune the secretary received only half an hour ago intelligence of the shocking instance of Papal aggression of which you have been the victim."
To hear her case put so grandly was honey to Mrs. Ginx.
"Well now," continued the little man, "we are ready to render you every assistance to save your child from the claws of the Great Dragon. I wish to know the exact circumstances—let me see—(opening a large pocket book) I have this memorandum: the child was carried off from his mother's bedside in broad daylight by a nun accompanied by two priests and a large body of Irish: is that a correct version?"
"Law, no, sir, it warn't quite like that," said Mrs. Ginx. "We've 'ad so many on 'em that Ginx was for drownin' the thirteenth"——The little man opened his eyes——
"An' he went and gave it away, sir," said she crying, "to a nun, sir—ah! ah! ah!—they won't let me see the darlin' now, sir—ah! ah! ah! because I won't let Missis Spishyosir mark me with the cross, sir, an' me with as fine a breast o' milk as ever was for 'im, sir—ah! ah! ah!"
"Hem!" said the little man, "that's different from what I understood."
He was quite honest, but who does not know how disappointing it is to find a wrong you wish to redress is not so bad as you had hoped?
However, it looked bad enough, and might be made worse. It was the very case for the Protestant Detectoral Association.
"Would Mr. Ginx not join in an effort to recover his child?"
"No, sir; I should think not: he went an' gave it away."
"I know; but he is a Protestant?"
"I don't think he be much o' anything, sir. I know he hate priests like pison, but he don't care about these things as I do."
"Oh! I see." Writes in his memorandum book—husband indifferent.
"But don't you think he would help you to get the child back again?"
"No, sir. I wouldn't speak of it to him for the world. He'd knock any one down if they was to mention the child to him."
The little man mentally determined not to see Ginx.
"Well; would you like to have your child back?"
"You see, I couldn't bring it 'ere, sir. Ginx won't 'ave it; but I'd like to see it took away from them nunnerys."
"Ha! very well then. We can perhaps manage it for you. You would be content to hand it over to some Protestant Home, where it would be taken care of and you could see it when you liked?"
"O yes, sir," cries Mrs. Ginx, brightening.
"Then we'll have an affidavit and apply for a Habeas Corpus."
It was impossible not to be satisfied with such words as these, whatever they meant and Mrs. Ginx was cheered, while the little man went on his way.
III.—The Sacrament of Baptism.
Mother, or "Mrs." Suspiciosa, fed Ginx's Baby with holy pap. It seemed proper now that he should be christened and formally received into the Church. No small stir was made by this ceremony, for which all the resources of the convent were called into action. The day selected was that sacred to St. Ambrosius. The chapel was decorated with flowers. Mass was celebrated, candles flamed upon the altar surrounding a figure of the Infant Jesus, incense was burning around the baby, sisters and novices knelt in serried rows of virginity
"like doves Sunning their milky bosoms on the thatch."
Mother Suspiciosa carried the infant, clothed in a pure white robe, with a red cross embroidered on its front. In the absence of the natural parent a wax figure of St. Ambrosius did duty for him, and another wax figure stood godfather: but I dare not enter into details of matters that may be looked at as awfully profane, or awfully solemn, by different spectators. These things are a mystery.
I have no hesitation about describing the impious behavior of little Ginx. Whatever swaddled infant could do in the way of opposition, with hands, and legs, and voice, was done by that embryo saint. The incense made him cough and sputter; the lights and singing raised the very devil within him. His cries drowned the prayers. He frightened his conductress by the redness of his face. He ruined the red cross with ejected matter. You would have taken him for an infant demoniac. Mother Suspiciosa, though annoyed, was encouraged. She looked upon this as an evident testimony to little Ginx's value. The devil and St. Michael were contending for his body. At length he was baptized, and carried out. Credat Judaeus. He instantly sank into a deep sleep. It was a miracle: Satan had yielded to the sign of the cross!
IV.—Law on Behalf of Gospel.
In the moment of Sister Suspiciosa's triumph, the enemy was laying his train against her. The little man made his report to the secretary of the Protestant Detectoral Association. This gentleman was well-born and well-bred; moved to work in this "cause" by an honest hatred of superstition, priestcraft, and lies; now giving all his energies to the ambitious design of pulling down the strongholds of Satan. In any other matter he could act coolly, and with deliberation; in this he was an enthusiast. He had a keen Roman nose. He could scent a priest anywhere in the United Kingdom. He could smell Jesuitry in the Queen's drawing-room, a cabinet council or convocation, though he had never been at either. His eye was beyond a falcon's; he saw things that were invisible. It penetrated through all disguises. He knew a secret emissary of the Pope by the cock of his hat, or the color of his stockings. At least, he thought so, and thousands of persons acted on his estimate of himself.
"This case," said he to the little man, when he had concluded his report, "though not in its first incidents so grave as we were led to expect, is, in another point of view, very serious. Here is a man, as you have expressed it, 'indifferent' to his child's life—animal and spiritual. The mother, with a true Protestant heart, and a fine breast of milk, is longing to nurture her child, and to deliver it from the toils of the Papacy. But the husband, what's his name?.... Ginx—Ginx? a very bad name for a case, by the way—GINX'S CASE!—this Ginx has given up his child to the Sisters of Misery. How are we to get it away again, without his cooperation?.... Well, we must try."
The solicitor of the Association was forthwith summoned. When the matter had been laid before him, he expressed doubts, offered and withdrew courses of action, and ended by suggesting that he should take the opinion of counsel.
"Mr. Stigma, I suppose?" said he to the secretary.
"Oh, yes, Sir Adolphus Stigma is one of our principal supporters, and his son's heart is thoroughly with us."
Messrs. Roundhead, Roundhead and Lollard, drew up a case to be submitted to Mr. Stigma. I will only transcribe the latter paragraphs:—
Mr. Ginx being indifferent, and Mrs. Ginx being ready to assist in regaining the custody of her child, to be conveyed to a Protestant Home,
"YOU ARE REQUESTED TO ADVISE:
"1. Whether a summons should be taken out before a magistrate against the Lady Superior of the convent, for enticing away or detaining the infant, under the 56th sect. of 24 and 25 Vict., c. 100 Or,
"2. Whether the proper remedy is by a writ of Habeas Corpus? and, if so, whether it is necessary that the father should be joined in the proceedings or his leave obtained to prosecute them? Or, failing these,
"3. Whether counsel is of opinion that this is a case within Talfourd's Act, and an application might not be made to the Lord Chancellor, or the Master of the Rolls, on the mother's behalf for the custody of her child? And,
"4. To advise generally on behalf of the infant."
Mr. Adolphus Stigma took ten days to consider. Meanwhile, the infant Ambrosius continued to thrive on conventual pap. Then Mr. Stigma wrote his opinion. It was a model for a barrister. You took the advice at your own peril—not his. Therefore I transcribe it.
"I have given to this case my most careful attention; and it is one of great difficulty. Having regard to the questions put to me, I think—
"1. Section 56 of the Act of 24 and 25 Vict., c. 100, appears at first sight to be directed against the stealing and abduction of children for marriage, or other improper purposes. It provides that 'Whosoever shall UNLAWFULLY, either by force or fraud, lead or take away, or decoy, or entice away, or detain any child, &c., with intent to deprive ANY parent, &c., of the possession of such child'—shall be guilty of felony. It is perfectly clear, that in the case before me, the infant was not, 'by force or fraud, led or taken away, or decoyed, or enticed away.' The statute, however, uses the word 'detain;' and this, it appears to me, has much the same force and intention as the previous words. It is to be noted, however, that it is separated from them by the disjunctive 'or;' and, therefore, it might be argued with some plausibility that any act of forceful or fraudulent detention, after notice, by persons who have originally acquired a child's custody in a lawful way, came within the section. The point is new, and of great importance; and if the Protestant Detectoral Association feel disposed to try it, they would do so under favorable circumstances in the present case. Should they decide to do so, a written demand should be served upon the authorities of the convent, by the mother, or some one acting on her behalf, to give up the infant.
"2. The second question is also involved in difficulty. Were the father to be joined in the proceedings, the writ of Habeas Corpus would be the correct remedy. But his probable refusal necessitates the inquiry whether the mother can alone apply for the writ. The general rule of law is, that the father is entitled to the custody and disposition of his children. In Cartlidge and Cartlidge, 31, L. J., P. M. & D. 85, it was held that this rule would not be generally departed from by the Divorce Court; but in Barnes v. Barnes, L. R. I, P. & D. 463, the court made an order, giving the custody of two infant children to the mother, respondent in a suit for a dissolution of marriage, on the ground that the mother's health was suffering from being deprived of their society, and that they were living with a stranger, and not with the father. These cases were, however, in the Divorce Court, and do not apply. But, as there seems to be much ground in the peculiar circumstances here, for arguing that the mother should have the custody of the child, or, at least, that it should not be left to that of persons of a different religion from both parents, an application might be made to the Queen's Bench to try the question.
"3. Should the common law remedies fail, resort may perhaps be had to the powers in Chancery under Talfourd's Act, but on this point I should like to confer with an equity counsel before giving a decided opinion. It has been decided under this Act that the court has power to give the custody of children under seven to the mother. (Shillito v. Collett, 8, W. R. 683-696.) As this infant is but six weeks old it comes within that case.
"4. I have no general advice to give on behalf of the infant.
"ADOLPHUS STIGMA, "9, Plumtree Court."
If none of the courses suggested by Mr. Stigma was very decided, Messrs. Roundhead, Roundhead and Lollard were not sorry to have three strings to their bow. The Detectoral Association were good clients; most of their funds went into their lawyers' pockets. It was part of their policy to be litigious. Thereby the world was kept alive to the existence of Papacy within its bosom. Who shall say the Association were wrong? Some healthy daylight was occasionally let in upon the mysteries of Jesuitism, and there are people who think that worth while at the risk of a chance injustice. Though the Devil should not get his due, few would give him any sympathy.
The solicitor at once instructed Mr. Dignam Bailey, Q.C., to apply with Mr. Stigma to a magistrate for a summons. Mr. Bailey, Q.C., was not chosen for his partialities. In religious matters he was a perfect Gallio; but he was like St. Paul in one particular, he could be all things to all men.
The personnel of the magistrate to whom Mr. Dignam Bailey, Q. C., (with him Mr. Adolphus Stigma), applied in the case of re an infant, exparte Ginx, is not material to this history. He was like his fellow stipendiaries—mild as to humor, vigilant in his duties, opinionated in his views, resenting the troublesome intrusion into his court of a barrister, apt to treat him with about one-eighth of the courtesy extended to the humblest junior by the Queen's Bench, and curiously unequal both with himself and his brother magistrates in adjusting punishment. It will be most convenient to insert the report of the Daily Electric Meteor:—
"Mr. Dignam Bailey, Q.C., (with whom was Mr. Adolphus Stigma), applied for a summons against Mary Dens, commonly called Sister Suspiciosa, of the convent of the Sisters of Misery, in Winkle Street, for abducting and detaining a male child of John Ginx and Mary his wife.
"Mr. D'ACERBITY. On whose behalf do you apply?
"The learned counsel stated that he was instructed by the Protestant Detectoral Association to apply on behalf of the mother. The case was also watched by the solicitors of the Society for Preventing the Suppression of Women and Children.
"Mr. D'ACERBITY. Does the father join in the application?
"Mr. BAILEY. No, sir.
"Mr. D'ACERBITY. Why? He ought to be joined if living.
"Mr. BAILEY. Perhaps you will allow me, sir, to state the case. The circumstances are peculiar. The fact is——
"Mr. D'ACERBITY. I cannot understand why the father should not be represented if the child has been abducted. Where was it taken from?
"Mr. Bailey proceeded to state that the child had been taken by a nun from No. 5, Rosemary Street, without the mother's consent, and was now imprisoned in the convent. The father appeared to be indifferent, or to have given a sort of general acquiescence. This was Mrs. Ginx's thirteenth child, around whom gathered the concentrated affections
"Mr. D'ACERBITY (interrupting the learned gentleman). We have no time for sentiment here, Mr. Bailey. If the father consented, can you call it abduction? It looks like reduction. (Laughter.)
"Mr. Bailey called attention to the consolidated statutes of criminal law, and said he was going for illegal detention rather than abduction, and argued at great length from section 56. At the conclusion of the argument, after refusing to hear Mr. Stigma,
"Mr. D'Acerbity said that the case clearly did not come within the section, and he was afraid the learned counsel knew it. The father had been a consenting party, on the counsel's own statement, to the child's removal, and no suggestion had been made that he had withdrawn his consent. He should refuse a summons.
"Mr. Bailey endeavored to address the magistrate but was stopped.
"Mr. D'ACERBITY. I have no more to say. You can apply to the Queen's Bench. I have no sympathy with you whatever."
Mr. D'Acerbity's law was good, but—what has justice to do with "sympathies?" Surely the day after this report appeared the magistrate must have had a letter from the Home Secretary?
VI-Popery and Protestantism in the Queen's Bench.
The application to the magistrate was far from satisfactory. There had not even been an exposure, and the Windmill Bulletin gayly bantered the Detectoral Association. Meanwhile had happened the grand christening, of which a circumstantial account was in the hands of the council of the Detectoral Association shortly after the ceremony had been performed. Here was a monstrous indignity to a Protestant child! The account was at once printed, together with a verbatim report of the application to the magistrate as well as one of "a conversation held with the mother by an agent of the Association." Board-men paraded the great thoroughfares carrying this appeal:—
PROTESTANT DETECTORAL ASSOCIATION.
NO POPERY! Abduction Of an Infant! Assault on the Liberty of the Subject! Mysterious and Awful Proceedings! Baptism of a Protestant Child in a Convent!
OUTRAGE Upon the Nation by Foreign Mercenaries! Every Father and Mother is Invited to Co-operate in Maintaining the PROTESTANT RELIGION, The Sanctity of Home, and the Inviolability of BRITISH FREEDOM!
If there was no coherency in this production, it should be noted how little that is of the essence of popular appeal. The metropolis was in an uproar. Meetings were held, subscriptions poured in, dangerous crowds collected in Winkle Street. When Mr. Dignam Bailey, Q. C., went down to Westminster, to move the Court of Queen's Bench, multitudes besieged it. Protestant champions and Papal ecclesiastics vied in their efforts to get seats. The writ had gone from judge's chambers returnable to the full court. Sister Suspiciosa, bearing the infant Ambrosius, and supported by two novices and Father Certificatus, had been smuggled into court through mysterious passages in its rear. Mrs. Ginx also, brought from Rosemary Street by the little man who provided her with a bonnet trimmed with orange-colored ribbons, sat staring with red eyes at her child, now enveloped in a robe that was embroidered with little crosses.
Why need I tell you, how dead silence fell upon the Court after the stir caused by the entrance of the judges; how everybody knew what was coming when a master beneath the bench rose, and called out, "Re Ginx, an infant, Exparte Mary Ginx!" How the Chief Justice, fresh and rosy-looking, then blew his nose in a delicate mauve-colored silk handkerchief: how he tried and discarded half-a-dozen pens, amid breathless silence; how in his blandest manner he said: "Who appears for the Respondent?" and Mr. Dignam Bailey, Q. C., and Mr. Octavius Ernestus, Q. C., rose together to say that Mr. Ernestus did!
Mr. Ernestus was a Catholic. He was assisted by half-a-dozen counsel. He riddled the affidavits on the other side, and read voluminous ones on his own; bitterly animadverted upon the absence of an affidavit by the father; held up to the scorn of a civilized world the course pursued towards his meek and gentle clients by the "fanatical zealots of the Protestant Detectoral Association;" in moving tones referred to the shrinking of "quiet recluses, from the gaze of a rude, unsympathizing world;" cited cases from the time of Magna Charta, down; called upon the Court to vindicate Protestant justice, ending his peroration with the aphorism of Lord Mansfield, Fiat justitia ruat caelum.
One cannot do Justice to Mr. Dignam Bailey's argument, when after lunch he rose to reply. He was logical and passionate, vindictive and pathetic by turns. He inveighed against the Lady Superior, against her attorneys, against Father Certificatus, against Ginx,—"craven to his heaven-born rights of political and religious freedom,"—against the Roman Catholic religion, the Pope, the Archbishop of Westminster, the Virgin Mary. The Court knew, and every one else knew, that this was pure pyrotechny, and Mr. Bailey knew that best of all; but, though the Bench is swift to speak, slow to hear, it felt obliged, in a case of this public interest, to sit by, and be witnesses of the exhibition. Mr. Bailey concluded by a play on the aphorism cited by his learned friend. "He would say that if such justice were to be done, as his friend had urged, the Kingdom of Heaven in England would rush to its fall."
The Court at once decided that, as the father had confided the custody of the infant to the Sisters of Misery, and did not appear to desire that it should be withdrawn, they, disregarding the religious clouds in which the subject had been too carefully involved on both sides, gave judgment for the defendant, with costs.
As they passed out of Court, Mr. Stigma said to his clients, "Quite as I anticipated; you remember I told you so in my Opinion."
VII.—A Protestor, but not a Protestant.
The infant Ambrosius and his conductors could scarcely reach the convent in safety. The building showed few windows to the street, but they were all broken. What might have happened in a few days, but that Ginx's Baby took the matter into his own hands, none can say.
The treatment to which the little saint was subjected soured his temper. His kind nurses had choked him twice a day with incense, and now he had inhaled for seven hours the air of the Queen's Bench. On his return to the convent he was hastily fed, and carried to the chapel to give thanks for the victory of the day. Wrapped in a handsome chasuble, they laid him on the steps of the altar. In the most solemn part of the service he coughed, and grew sick. The chasuble was bespattered. When the officiating priest, to save that garment, took the child in his arms, he nefariously polluted the sacerdotal vestments and the altar steps. Then he kicked toward the altar itself, roared lustily, and finally went into convulsions in Sister Suspiciosa's arms. Like most women, the Lady Superior required her enthusiasm to be fed with success. She began to think that she had been cozened: Ginx's Baby was too evidently a spiritual miscarriage. He must, like the rest of his family, be, indeed, "Protestant to the backbone." Father Certificatus agreed with her. His robes and best chasuble were befouled.
"Let us not risk a repetition of this conduct," said he; "let the child be given up. He is baptized, and cannot be severed from the Church. He will return after many days."
Next morning the solicitors of the Protestant Detectoral Association received a letter from their opponents. In this they said that—presuming Messrs. Roundhead, Roundhead, and Lollard, intended to apply to the Master of the Rolls, the authorities of the convent had decided, after having vindicated themselves in the Queen's Bench, to give up the child, which would be, for twenty-four hours, at the order and disposal of the Association, and afterwards of his parents. "We are instructed by our clients," they added, "to ask you to bear in mind that the child has been admitted, and is a member of the Catholic Church, owing allegiance to the Holy Father at Rome, a bond from which only the Papal excommunication can absolve him."
VIII.—"See how these Christians love one another."
A mass-meeting of Protestants had been summoned for three o'clock on the day designated in the letter of the Papist attorneys, to be held in the Philopragmon Hall. That was the favorite centre of countless movements, both well-meant and well-executed, and of others as futile as they were foolish. Yet one could not say that a larger proportion of the latter were connected with the Hall than existed in as many other human enterprises of any sort. The concession of the Romanists at first dashed the managers of the demonstration. Their grievance was gone. Still there remained topics for a meeting: they would rejoice over victory, and consult about the future of the Protestant Baby.
The Secretary was an old hand at these meetings. He planned to import into this one a sensation. Ginx's Baby, brought from the convent, stripped of his papal swathings and enveloped in a handsome outfit presented by an amiable Protestant Duchess, was placed in a cradle with his head resting on a Bible. I am afraid he was quite as uncomfortable as he had ever been at the convent. When, at the conclusion of the chairman's speech, in which he informed the audience of their triumph, this exhibition was deftly introduced upon the platform, the huzzas, and clappings, and waving of handkerchiefs were such as even that place had never seen. The child was astounded into quietness.
Mr. Trumpeter took the chair—believed by many to be, next to the Queen, the most powerful defender of the faith in the three kingdoms. I never could understand why the newspapers reported his speeches—I cannot.
When he had done, Lord Evergood, "a popular, practical peer, of sound Protestant principles," as the Daily Banner alliteratively termed him next morning, rose to move the first resolution, already cut and dried by the committee—
"That the infant so happily rescued from the incubus of a delusive superstition, should be remitted to the care of the Church Widows' and Orphans' Augmentation Society, and should be supported by voluntary contributions."
Before Lord Evergood could say a word murmurs arose in every part of the hall. He was a mild, gentlemanly Christian, without guile, and the opposition both surprised and frightened him. He uttered a few sentences in approval of his proposition and sat down.
An individual in the gallery shouted—"Sir! I rise to move an amendment!"
Cheers, and cries of "Order! order! Sit down!" &c.
The Chairman, with great blandness, said: "The gentleman is out of order; the resolution has not yet been seconded. I call upon the Rev. Mr. Valpy to second the resolution."
Mr. Valpy, incumbent of St. Swithin's-within, insisted on speaking, but what he said was known only to himself. When he had finished there was an extraordinary commotion. On the platform many ministers and laymen jumped to their feet; in the hall at least a hundred aspirants for a hearing raised themselves on benches or the convenient backs of friends.
The Chairman shouted, "Order! ORDER, gentlemen! This is a great occasion; let us show unanimity!"
There seemed to be an unanimous desire to speak. Amid cheers, cries for order, and Kentish fire, you could hear the Rev. Mark Slowboy, Independent, the Rev. Hugh Quickly, Wesleyan, the Rev. Bereciah Calvin, Presbyterian, the Rev. Ezekiel Cutwater, Baptist, calling to the chair.
A lull ensued, of which advantage was taken by Mr. Stentor, a well-known Hyde Park orator, who bellowed from a friend's shoulders in the pit, "Mr. Chairman, hear ME!" an appeal that was followed by roars of laughter.
What was the matter? Why the proposal to hand over the baby to an Anglican refuge stirred up the blood of every Dissenter present. It was lifting the infant out of the frying-pan and dexterously dropping him into the fire. But the chairman was accustomed to these scenes. He stayed the tumult by proposing that a representative from each denomination should give his opinion to the audience. "Whom would they have first?"
The loudest cries were for Mr. Cutwater, who stood forth—a weak, stooping, half-halting, little man, with a limp necktie, and trousers puffy at the knees—but with honest use of them, let me say. It is quite credible that if Dr. Watts's assertion be true that—
"Satan trembles when he sees The weakest saint upon his knees,"
that arch-enemy was unusually perturbed when Ezekiel Cutwater was upon his. On these he had borne manly contests with evil. Two things—yea, three—were rigid in Ezekiel's creed; fire would never have burned them out of him: hatred of Popery, contempt of Anglican priestcraft and apostolic succession, and adhesion to the dogma of adult baptism and total immersion. Whoso should not join with him in these let him be Anathema Maranatha.
His eye kindled as he looked at the seething audience. "Sir," said he, "I beg to move an amendment to the motion of the noble lord. (Cheers.) That motion proposes to transfer to the care of the Established Church this tender and unconscious infant (bending over Ginx's baby), just snatched from the toils of a kindred superstition. (Oh, oh, hisses and cheers.) I withdraw the expression; I did not mean to be offensive. (Hear.) This is a grand representative meeting—not of the English Church, not of the Baptist Church, not of the Wesleyan Church—but of Protestantism. (Cheers and Kentish fire.) In such an assembly is it right to propose any singular disposition of a representative infant? This is now the adopted child, not of one, but of all denominations. (Cheers.) Around his, or her—I am not sure which—cherubic head circle the white-winged angels of various Churches, and on her or him, whichever it may be——"
The Chairman said that he might as well say that he had authentic information that it was HIM.
"Him then—concentrate the sympathies of every Protestant heart. Let us not despoil the occasion of its greatness by exhibiting a narrow bigotry in one direction! Let us bring into this infantile focus the rays of Catholic unity. (Loud cheering and Kentish fire.) To me, for one, it would be eminently painful to think—what doubtless would occur if the motion is adopted—that within a week of his entrance into the asylum of the society named in it, this diminutive and unknowing sinner should go through the farce of a supposititious admission into the Church of Christ. (Oh!) Yes! I say a farce, whether you regard the age of the acolyte or the indifferent proportion of water with which it would be performed. (Uproar, oh, oh! and some cheering from the Baptist section.) But I will not now further enter into these things," said Mr. Cutwater, who knew his cue perfectly well, "I can hold these opinions and still love my brethren of other denominations. I move, as an amendment, that a committee, consisting of one minister and one layman to be selected from each of the Churches, be appointed to take charge of the physical well-being and mental and spiritual training of the infant."
By this proposition, which was received with enthusiasm, Ginx's Baby was to be incontinently pitched into an arena of polemical warfare. Every one was willing that a committee should fight out the question vicariously; and, therefore, when Mr. Slowboy seconded the amendment, it was carried with loud acclamations.
But they were not yet out of the wood. On proceeding to nominate members of the committee, the Unitarians and Quakers claimed to be represented. The platform and the meeting were by the ears again. It was fiercely contended that only Evangelical Christians could have a place in such a work, and many of the nominees declared that they would not sit on a committee with—well, some curious epithets were used. The Unitarians and Quakers took their stand on the Catholic principles embodied in the amendment, and on the fact that Ginx's Baby had now "become national Protestant property." Mr. Cutwater and a few others, moved by the scandal of the dispute, interfered, and the committee was at length constituted to the satisfaction of all parties. It was to be called "The Branch Committee of the Protestant Detectoral Union for promoting the Physical and Spiritual Well-being of Ginx's Baby."
A fourth resolution was adopted, "That the subject should be treated in the Metropolitan pulpits on the next Sabbath, and a collection taken up in the various churches for the benefit of the infant." This promised well for Master Ginx's future.
The meeting had lasted five hours, and while they were discussing him the child grew hungry. In the tumult every one had forgotten the subject of it, and now it was over, they dispersed without thought of him. But he would not allow those near him at all events to overlook his presence.
Some, foreseeing that awkwardness was impending, slipped away; while three or four stayed to ask what was to be done with him.
"Hand him over to the custody of the Chairman," said a Mr. Dove.
"I should be most happy," said he, smoothly, "but Mrs. Trumpeter is out of town. Could your dear wife take him, Mr. Dove?"
Mr. Dove's wife was otherwise engaged.
The Secretary was unmarried—chambers at Nincome's Inn.
In the midst of their distress a woman who had been hanging about the hall near the platform, came forward and offered to take charge of him, "for the sake of the cause." Every one was relieved. After her name and address had been hastily noted, the Protestant baby was placed in her arms. My Lord Evergood, the Chairman, the clergy, the Secretary, and the mob went home rejoicing. Some hours after, Ginx's Baby, stripped of the duchess's beautiful robes, was found by a policeman, lying on a doorstep in one of the narrow streets, not a hundred yards behind the Philopragmon. By an ironical chance he was wrapped in a copy of the largest daily paper in the world.
IX.—Good Samaritans, and Good-Samaritan Twopences.
At every breakfast-table in town next morning the report of the great Protestant meeting was read, and a further report, in leaded type, of the discovery of Ginx's Baby at a later period of the evening by a policeman. A pretty comment on the proceedings! The Good Samaritan put his patient on his ass and carried him to an inn; while the priest and the Levite, though the latter looked at him, at least let him alone. To have called a public meeting to discuss his fate before deserting him, would have been a refinement of inhumanity. The committee were rather ashamed when they met. Instant measures were taken to recover the child and place him in good hands. The duchess again provided baby-clothes. The next Sunday sermons were preached on his behalf in a score of chapels. The collections amounted to L 800, a sum increased by donations and subscriptions to the handsome total of L 1360 10s. 3 1/2d.
It will be seen hereafter what the committee did with the baby, but I happen to have an account of what became of the funds. They were spent as follows, according to a balance sheet never submitted to the subscribers:—
Pounds s. d. Committee-rooms............. 45 0 0 2 Secretaries employed by the Committee................ 120 0 0 Agents, canvassing, &c.......... 88 6 2 Printing Notices, Placards, Pamphlets, a "Daily Bulletin of Health," "Life of Ginx's Baby," "Protestant Babyhood, a Tale," "The Cradle of an Infant Martyr," "A Snatched Brand," and other Works issued by the Committee...... 596 13 5 Advertisements of Meetings, Sermons, &c............... 261 1 1 Legal Expenses............... 77 6 8 Stationery................ 35 10 0 Postage, Firing, and Sundries....... 27 19 2 ———————— Total Pounds 1251 16 6
This left L 108 13s. 9 1/2d. for the baby's keep. No child could have been more thoroughly discussed, preached and written about, advertised, or advised by counsel; but his resources dwindled in proportion to these advantages. Benevolent subscribers too seldom examine the financial items of a report: had any who contributed to this fund seen the balance sheet they might have grudged that so little of their bounty went to make flesh, bone, and comfort for the object of it. A cynic would tell them that to look sharply after the disposal of their guerdon was half the gift. Their indifference was akin to that satirized by the poet—
"Prodigus et stultus dedit quae spernit et odit."
In an age of luxury we are grown so luxurious as to be content to pay agents to do our good deeds for us; but they charge us three hundred per cent. for the privilege.
X.—The Force—and a Specimen of its Weakness.
Ginx's baby had been discovered by a policeman swaddled in a penny paper, distressingly familiar to metropolitan travellers by rail. To omit the details of his treatment at the hands of that great institution, "The Force," would be invidious. The member thereof who fell in with him was walking a back street, sighting doors with his bull's-eye. He was provided with massive boots, so that a thief could hear him coming a hundred yards off; he was personally tall and unwieldy, and a dexterous commissioner had invented a dress designed to enhance these qualities—a heavy coat, a cart-horse belt, and a round cape. He had been carefully drilled not to walk more than three miles an hour. He was not a little startled when the rays of his lamp fell upon a struggling newspaper, out of which, as from a shell, came mysterious cries. He took up a corner of the paper and peeped in upon the face of Ginx's Baby; then he occupied a quarter of an hour in embarrassing reflections. A nearly naked child crying in the cold ought to be housed as soon as possible, but X 99 was ON HIS BEAT, and those magic words chained him to certain limits. This, of course, was the rule under a former commissioner, and every one knows that such absurd strategy has been abolished in the existing regime. At that time, however, each watchman had his beat, to leave which was neglect of duty, except with a prisoner, and then it was neglect of all the householders within the magic compass. Had X 99 heard the baby crying across the street, which was part of the beat of X 101, he would have passed on with a cheery heart, for the case would have been beyond his jurisdiction. Unhappily the baby was on his beat, and he was delivered from the temptation of transferring it to the other by the appearance of X 101's bull's-eye not far off. What was he to do? The station was a mile away—the inspector would not arrive for an hour—and it would be awkward, if not undignified, to carry on his rounds a shouting baby wrapped in the largest daily paper. If he left it where it was, and it perished, he might be charged with murder. He was at his wits' end—but having got there, he resolved on the simplest process, namely to carry it to the station. No provision was made by the regulations of the force to protect a beat casually deserted even for a proper purpose. Hence, while X 99 was absent on his errand of mercy, the valuable shop of Messrs. Trinkett and Blouse, ecclesiastical tailors, was broken into, and several stoles, chasubles, altar-cloths and other decorative tapestries were appropriated to profane uses.
At the station the baby was disposed of according to rule. Due entry was first made in the night-book by the superintendent of all the particulars of his discovery. Some cold milk was then procured and poured down the child's throat. Afterwards, wrapped in a constable's cape, he was placed in a cell where, when the door was locked, he could not disturb the guardians of the peace.
The same night, in the next cell, an innocent gentleman, seized with an apoplexy in the street but entered in the charge-sheet as drunk and incapable, died like a dog.
XI.—The Unity of the Spirit and the Bond of Peace.
When the committee met, every one discovered his incongruity with the rest. Each was disposed to treat Ginx's Baby in a different way—in other words, each wished to reflect the views of his particular sect on the object of their charity. They were a new "Evangelical Alliance," agreed only in hatred to Popery.
Finding at their first meeting that the discussion needed to be brought into a focus, the committee appointed three of their number to draw up a minute of the matters to be argued. This committee reported that there arose, respecting the child, the following questions:—
"I. As touching the body:
a. Wherewithal he should be fed and clothed?
b. In what manner and fashion that should be done?
II. As touching the mind and spirit:
a. Whether he should be educated? If so,
b. What were to be the subjects of instruction?
c. What creed, if any, should be primarily taught?
d. Should he be further baptized? If so,
1. Into what communion?
2. By what ceremonial?"
This programme, it appeared to its concoctors, embraced everything that concerned Ginx's Baby except his death by the act of God or the Queen's enemies. No sooner was the report made than adopted. Then a member, eager for the fray, moved the postponement of the first division of questions until the others had been determined. Why should apostles of truth trouble themselves to serve tables? These were very subordinate questions to them—though, I think, of first importance to Ginx's Baby. It was decided to discuss little Ginx's future before considering his present.
The ball was opened by the Venerable Archdeacon Hotten, who, amid much excitement, contended that from the earliest buddings of thought in an infant mind religion should be engrafted upon it; there could be no education worth the name that was not religious. That with the A should be taught the origin, and with the Z the final destiny and destruction, of evil. To separate education from religion was to clip the wings of the heavenly dove. He asserted that the committee ought at once to have the child baptized in Westminster Abbey, though he was rather of opinion that the previous baptism was canonically valid; that he should be taught the truths of our most holy faith, and since there could be no faith without a creed, and the only national creed was that of the Church of England, the baby should be handed over to the care of a clergyman, and then be sent to a proper religious school. He need not say that he excluded Rugby under its then profane management.
The Church was, however, divided against itself, for the Dean of Triston said he would give more latitude than his very reverend brother. You ought not to define in an infant mind a rigid outline of creed. In fact, he did not acknowledge any creed, he was not obliged to by law and was disinclined to by his reason. He would rather allow the inner seeds of natural light—the glorious all-pervading efflorescence of the Deity in all men's hearts, to grow within the young spirit. The Dean was assuredly vague and far less earnest than his brother cleric.
The "Rev." Mr. Bumpus, Unitarian, met the suggestions of the Archdeacon with the scorn they merited. It was impossible to apply to a representative child of an enlightened age theories so long exploded. The Dean had certainly come nearer the truth with that broad sympathy for which he was noted. He himself proposed that the child should be made a model nursling of the liberalism of a new era. Old things were passing away;—all things had become new. Creeds were the discarded banners of a mediaeval past, fit only to be hung up in the churches, and looked at as historic monuments; never more to be flaunted in the front of battle! The education of the day was that which taught a man the introspection whereby he recognized the Divine within himself—under any aspect, under any tuition, whether of Brahma, Confucius, or Christ. Truth was kaleidoscopic, and varied with the media through which it was viewed. As for the child, every aspect of truth and error should be allowed to play upon his mind. Let him acquire ordinary school learning for fifteen years, and then send him to the London University.
Here the Chairman, and half-a-dozen members of the committee, protested that the said University was a school of the devil, and several interchanges of discourtesy took place.
Mr. Shortt, M. P., begged to suggest, as a matter of business, that for the present the child was not capable of receiving any ideas whatever, and might die, or prove to be dumb, or an idiot, and so require no education. Ought they not to postpone this discussion until the subject was old enough to be worth consideration?
It was Mr. Shortt's habit to show his practical vein by business-like obstructions of this kind. He had been able a score of times to demonstrate to the House of Commons how silly it was to consider probabilities. In fact, he was opposed heart and soul to prophetic legislation; he would live, legislatively, from hand to mouth.
But the committee would not allow Mr. Shortt to run away with the bone of contention.
The Rev. Dr. M'Gregor Lucas, of the National Caledonian Believers, had been silent too long to contain himself further. This man needs some particular description whenever his name is made public. Nay, for this he lives, and by it, some think. At all events, he appears to be equally eager for rebuke and applause; they both involve notoriety, and notoriety is sure to pay. Few absurdities had been overlooked by his shallow ingenuity. Simply to have invested his limited mental endowments in trying to make the world believe him a genius, would have been only so like what many thousands are doing as to have absolved him from too harsh a judgment; but he traded in perilous stuff. Cheap prophecy was his staple. It was his wont to give out about once in five years, that the world would shortly come to an end, and, like Mr. Zadkiel, he found people who thought their inevitable disappointment a proof of his inspiration. Had you heard the honeyed words dropping from his lips, you would have taken him for a Scotch angel, and, consequently, a rarity. Could such lips utter harsh sayings, or distil vanities? Show him a priest, and you would hear! The Pope was his particular born foe; Popery his enemies' country—so he said. It was safe for him to stand and throw his darts. No one could say whether they hit or did not; while most spectators had the good will to hope that they did. How he would have lived if Daniel and St. John had dreamed no dreams, one cannot conjecture. As it was, they provided the doctor with endless openings for his fancy. Since no one could solve the riddle of their prophecies, it was certain that no one could disprove his solutions. Yet these came so often to their own disproof by lapse of time, that I can only think that the good doctor hoped to die before his critical periods came, or was so clever as to trust the infallibility of human weakness.
I describe Dr. Lucas at so great a length, because it will be easier and more edifying to the reader to conceive what he said, than for me to recount it. He showed the Baby to be one of seven mysteries. He was in favor of teaching him at once to hate idolatry, music, crosses, masses, nuns, priests, bishops, and cardinals. The "humanities," the Shorter Catechism, the Confession of Faith, and "The whole Duty of Man," would, in his opinion, be the books to lay the groundwork in the child's mind of a Christian character of the highest type.
Mr. Ogle, M. P., here vigorously intervened. Said he:—
"I can't, with all deference, agree to any of these suggestions. They involve hand-to-hand fighting over this baby's body. No one of us is entitled to take charge of him. Else why did we all unite to rescue him from the nunnery? He will be torn to pieces among contending divines! I think a purely secular education is all that as a committee we should aim at. We have, but just withdrawn the child from the shadow of a single ecclesiastical influence—would you transfer it to another? Every Protestant denomination is contributing to his support, how can you devote their gifts to rearing him for one? You would have no peace; better at once treat him as the man of Benjamin treated his wife, cut him up into enough pieces to send to all the tribes of Israel, summoning them to the fight. I say we have nothing to do with this just now; let him be educated in a secular academy, and let each sect be free to send its agents to instruct him out of school hours as they please."
The Rev. Theodoret Verity, M.A., rose in anger.
"Surely, sir, you cannot seriously propound such a scheme! Would you leave this precious waif to be buffeted between the contending waves of truth and error, in the vague hope that by some lucky wind he might finally be cast upon a rock of safety? I protest against all these educational heresies—they are redolent of brimstone. Truth is truth, or there is none at all. If there be any, it is our duty to impart it to this immortal at the outset of his existence. Secular education! What do you mean by it? Who shall sever one question from another, and call one secular and the other religious? Is not every relation and every truth in some way or other connected with religion?" &c. &c. Mr. Verity has been saying the same thing any time these forty years.
"Forgive me," replied Mr. Ogle, "if I say that this is very vague talking. I have not proposed to sever one question from another. I only propose to do in a different way that which is being done now by the most rigid of Mr. Verity's friends. It is impossible to comprehend what is meant by such a statement as that every truth is somehow connected with religion. It may be that the notion—if it really is not, as I suspect it to be, mere verbiage and clap-trap, used by certain fools to mislead others—means that there is some such coherency between all truths as there is, for instance, between the elements of the body. I would admit that, but is not blood a different and perfectly severable thing from bone? Each has its place, office, relation. But who would say that one could not be regarded by a physicist in the largest variety of its aspects apart from the other? Yet the physicist comes back again to consider with respect to each its relations to all the rest! The separate study has rather prepared him for more profound insight into those relations. Thus it is with the body of truth. In spite of Mr. Verity I affirm that there are truths that have not in themselves any element of religion whatever. The forty-seventh proposition of Euclid will be taught by a Jesuit precisely as it is taught in the London University; geography will affirm certain principles and designate places, rivers, mountains—that no faith can remove and cast into unknown seas. These subjects and others are taught in our most bigoted schools in separate hours and relations from religion. What then do you mean by affirming that there can be no secular education of this child—apart from religious teaching? We are not likely to agree, if I may judge from what I have seen, on any one method of religious instruction for it, therefore I wish first to fix common bounds within which our common benevolence may work. Well, we all go to the Bible. We agree that between its covers lies religious truth somewhere. If you like let him have that—and let him have some kindly and holy influences about him in the way of practice and example, such as many of our sects can supply many instances of. Give him no catechism—let him read a creed in our daily life. The articles of faith strongest in his soul will be those which have crystallized there from the combined action of truth and experience, and not as it were been pasted on its walls by ecclesiastical bill-posters. 'What is truth?' he must ask and answer for himself, as we all must do before God. Don't mistake me; I hope I am not more indifferent to religion than any here present—but I differ from them on the best method of imbuing the mind and heart with it. Surely we need not, we cannot—it would be an exquisite absurdity—pass a resolution in this committee that the child is to be a Calvinist! Who then would agree to secure him from any taint of Arminian heresy in years to come? Dare you even resolve that he shall be a Christian and a Protestant! I would not insure the risk. But, with so many of Christ's followers about me, surely, surely without providing any ecclesiastical mechanism, there will be testified to him simply how he may be saved. Your prayers, your visits, your kindly moral influence and talk, your living example of a goodness derived not from dogmas but from affectionate following of a holy pattern and trust in revealed mercies, your pointing to that pattern and showing the daily passage of these mercies will prompt his search after the truth that has made you what you are. Let some good woman do for him a mother's part, but choose her for her general goodness and not for the dogmas of her church. The simpler her piety the better for him I should say!"