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What, o' the woolpack? or the sugar chest?
THERE are few places more favourable to the study of character than an English country church. I was once passing a few weeks at the seat of a friend, who resided in the vicinity of one, the appearance of which particularly struck my fancy. It was one of those rich morsels of quaint antiquity which give such a peculiar charm to English landscape. It stood in the midst of a country filled with ancient families, and contained, within its cold and silent aisles, the congregated dust of many noble generations. The interior walls were encrusted with monuments of every age and style. The light streamed through windows dimmed with armorial bearings, richly emblazoned in stained glass. In various parts of
the church were tombs of knights, and high-born dames, of gorgeous workmanship, with their effigies in coloured marble. On every side the eye was struck with some instance of aspiring mortality; some haughty memorial which human pride had erected over its kindred dust, in this temple of the most humble of all religions.
The congregation was composed of the neighbouring people of rank, who sat in pews, sumptuously lined and cushioned, and furnished with richly gilded prayer-books; of the villagers and peasantry, who filled the back seats, and a small gallery beside the organ; and of the poor of the parish, who were ranged on benches in the aisles.
The service was performed by a snuffling, wellfed vicar, who had a snug dwelling near the church. He was a privileged guest at all the tables of the neighbourhood, and had been the keenest foxhunter in the country; until age and good living had disabled him from doing any thing more than ride to see the hounds throw off, and make one at the hunting dinner.
Under the ministry of such a pastor, I found it impossible to get into the train of thought suitable to the time and place; so having, like many other feeble Christians, compromised with my conscience by laying the sin of my own delinquency at another person's threshold, I occupied