The Ayrshire Legatees (Chapter 6, page 1 of 14)


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Chapter 6

On Sunday morning, before going to church, Mr. Micklewham called at the
manse, and said that he wished particularly to speak to Mr. Snodgrass.
Upon being admitted, he found the young helper engaged at breakfast, with
a book lying on his table, very like a volume of a new novel called
Ivanhoe, in its appearance, but of course it must have been sermons
done up in that manner to attract fashionable readers. As soon, however,
as Mr. Snodgrass saw his visitor, he hastily removed the book, and put it
into the table-drawer.

The precentor having taken a seat at the opposite side of the fire, began
somewhat diffidently to mention, that he had received a letter from the
Doctor, that made him at a loss whether or not he ought to read it to the
elders, as usual, after worship, and therefore was desirous of consulting
Mr. Snodgrass on the subject, for it recorded, among other things, that
the Doctor had been at the playhouse, and Mr. Micklewham was quite sure
that Mr. Craig would be neither to bind nor to hold when he heard that,
although the transgression was certainly mollified by the nature of the
performance. As the clergyman, however, could offer no opinion until he
saw the letter, the precentor took it out of his pocket, and Mr.
Snodgrass found the contents as follows:-

LETTER XVI

The Rev. Z. Pringle, D.D., to Mr. Micklewham, Schoolmaster and
Session-Clerk, Garnock
LONDON.

DEAR SIR--You will recollect that, about twenty years ago, there was a
great sound throughout all the West that a playhouse in Glasgow had been
converted into a tabernacle of religion. I remember it was glad tidings
to our ears in the parish of Garnock; and that Mr. Craig, who had just
been ta'en on for an elder that fall, was for having a thanksgiving-day
on the account thereof, holding it to be a signal manifestation of a new
birth in the of-old-godly town of Glasgow, which had become slack in the
way of well-doing, and the church therein lukewarm, like that of
Laodicea. It was then said, as I well remember, that when the Tabernacle
was opened, there had not been seen, since the Kaimslang wark, such a
congregation as was there assembled, which was a great proof that it's
the matter handled, and not the place, that maketh pure; so that when you
and the elders hear that I have been at the theatre of Drury Lane, in
London, you must not think that I was there to see a carnal stage play,
whether tragical or comical, or that I would so far demean myself and my
cloth, as to be a witness to the chambering and wantonness of
ne'er-du-weel play-actors. No, Mr. Micklewham, what I went to see was an
Oratorio, a most edifying exercise of psalmody and prayer, under the
management of a pious gentleman, of the name of Sir George Smart, who is,
as I am informed, at the greatest pains to instruct the exhibitioners,
they being, for the most part, before they get into his hands, poor
uncultivated creatures, from Italy, France, and Germany, and other
atheistical and popish countries.

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