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Students and Colleges, 587.
Retrospect, Monthly, 123, 188,315, 503,
570, 633, 693, 790.
Woman's, a, Thoughts about Women,
JANUARY, 485 8.
George Warrington ; or, adhere shall be go to ?
It was the afternoon before Christmas-day, in a year which must not be more nearly designated than by saying it was in the present century, and among the forties or fifties. The curtains were drawn ; there was a cheerful fire burning in the grate, and burning so briskly, and with so blue a flame, as to indicate the clear frosty weather which, 6 when we were boys,' we always looked for at Christmas. The evening lamp, however, remained unlit, and so the room was in that delicious parlour-twilight, or domestic gloaming, so favourable to peaceful and tender musings, and home-feelings of every kind, while a sense of vagueness and mystery steals over one as the shadows flickering on the walls seem to intimate the nearness of the spiritworld.
Mr. Spencer was sitting in a low easy chair, almost afraid to move, lest he should waken his youngest child, who, after romping with him, as a four-year old darling may, and taking liberties with Papa' which men in the outside world would have looked at with amazement, was now fast asleep in the deepest rosiest sleep imaginable, little dreaming of the eyes that were fixed on her, much less of the paternal feelings which, all alive in that evening hour, were vainly trying to picture the possible future of the dear one that lay in his arms. Mrs. Spencer sat watching her husband and child, and, as a mother lives in a world or sanctuary of her own, into only the forecourt of which it would be possible for even the tenderest of husbands to enter, she, too, had thoughts which cannot be put into words. From her youngest
child her eyes wandered to her eldest boy, Duncan, a youth of some eighteen or nineteen years, who was at home for the vacation, and then rested on her first-born, a daughter, in her twentieth year. The former was kneeling in front of the fire, and looking intently into it; while his sister, unable to read or work till the candles were lit, sitting on the music-stool, and dreaming very likely, as maidenhood will dream, every now and then, scarcely touching the keys, played softly just some favourite bar or two, in a sort of tender musical whisper, and then was silent again. At last Duncan said, in a tone which intimated that, at least, his reverie was ended
'I am so glad Mr. Warrington is coming. The lake is all frozen hard, and there will be capital skating. Won't he enjoy it?'
But neither the remark nor the question elicited any rejoinder. By-and-bye, however, Nora said, and just as if the name had not been so recently mentioned
'I am so glad Mr. Warrington is coming, for I have met with two or three passages in Dante which I can't at all understand, and I know he can make them plain.'
'Do you think he'll mind skating tomorrow, Nora ?' asked Duncan. Christmas-day! I don't know, I'm sure,' said the sister, in reply.
Oh! I should think Christmas-day was no more to him than any other day, now he has left the Church. You know there's no good reason for supposing it to be the birth-day of our Lord.'
'No; but Mr. Warrington may consider it right not to seem even to pour contempt on the religious observances of others, and especially of those among whom his whole life, till recently, has been passed.'
Bosh!' ejaculated Duncan; but instantly added, “No, I did not mean to say that either ; at least, not to you, Nora, for you are a dear good sister; but remember what your favourite Tennyson says
"Cut prejudice against the grain,"
you know, eh? I promise myself a glorious bout to-morrow, I can tell you ; but, of course, Mr. Warrington will please himself.'
* Please himself,' interposed Mrs. Spencer; • I should think he'll study rather how to please others, or else he's more changed than is at all likely
"Well, you know what I mean. He'll do what he thinks right, and so shall I, you know.'
'Duncan, my boy,' said the father, “ let me congratulate you that to do right is with you the same thing as pleasing yourself. Hold hard by that, and you'll ever be our own dear Duncan.'
The boy was silent, but presently said
'I shall get him to examine me in my mathematics, and see if I'm as well up as I should be. What a pity he is not a college-tutor, or something of that sort, he's such a capital fellow at teaching, is not he?'
Because he begins at the beginning of everything, and goes on step by step, and is so thorough,' said Nora.
I suppose, my dear,' said Mrs. Spencer, you'll get Mr. Warrington to take one of the services for you on Sunday ?'
Certainly I shall. It will be indeed a pleasure to some of us, at all events, to hear him.'
* But, I say,' interposed Duncan, “what will some of the deacons say to that? or are they got a little wiser since I have been away?'
There being no answer to this boyish escapade, he presently turned to his sister
1 say, Nora, do you remember Stonehill's cutting out of the vestry without speaking a word the last time Mr. Warrington preached for us, and keeping away from the week-night services for a fortnight or more? What a Solomon! Do you remember?'
As his sister gave him but a monosyllable in reply, he amused himself with whistling a tune in an undertone while drawing in his breath, but presently broke out with another interrogative
What was the reason Mr. Triggs would not let Mr. Warrington preach for him when he was ill, and wanted a supply, and had to send to London for one ? Because he had lived some time in Germany, wasn't it?'
Something of the sort, I believe,' answered the sister, after a pause, and seeing neither Mr. nor Mrs. Spencer replied,
Well, that's what I call enlightenment,' said the youth; that looks like progress and the march of mind, that does, upon my word! Not let a capital fellow like Mr. Warrington preach for him because he's well up in German! What a - he supplied the blank by a sort of half-whistled .fwhphew.'
‘Mr. Warrington has preached in German, hasn't he, papa ?' asked Nora, knowing Mr. Spencer did not relish the weaknesses of his brethren being commented on in his own family.
· I believe he has, my dear.'
* And that Latin sermon of his, addressed “Ad Cleros," did he ever preach it, or only write and print it?' asked Duncan.
• Wrote it only, I suppose; for I don't see what audience he would be likely to have for it, orally delivered.'
• Why, I declare,' exclaimed Duncan, looking at his watch, 'if it is not almost time he was here! He was to come by the half past five train, and it only wants a quarter. I'll be off to the station.'
The boy's announcement and movement roused the whole party. Little Lucy woke out of her sleep. The candles were lighted, the fire replenished, and a few little feminine touches soon put the room into 'apple-pie order,' that everything might contribute to make the reception of the looked-for guest the more cordial and welcome.
We will take advantage of the quarter of an hour which must elapse before his arrival, to give the reader some account of Mr. Warrington, especially seeing he is the chief subject of our narrative.
In his youth he had been a pupil of Arnold's, and was not likely ever to forget that he had been at Rugby. Arnold's enthusiastic love
for Oxford made Warrington decide on that university for himself in preference to the sister one; and so he passed four years as a gentleman commoner of Oriel, having for his college companions some who have since made for themselves a name in the world. After he had taken his degree, which he did with honours, he devoted himself to the study of the law, and everybody augured for him a successful and not improbably a brilliant career.
But after two or three years, a combination of circumstances led him to contemplate resigning the chances of ultimate distinction at the bar. The chief, however, of all the causes that influenced him in this direction might be ranked under the head of religious.'
He did not remember the time when he was without a more or less deep sense of reverence for God. He had been conscientious from his boyhood upward, while his conscientiousness was of that kind which one often wishes were more common among the talkers about conscience; for, while some would have pronounced it identical with
the fear of God,' the less religious of his acquaintance always said that. Warrington had as nice a sense of honour, and was as true a gentleman in all his feelings, as any man in England. Indeed, I remember when Tennyson's . In Memoriam ' first came out, portions of it were being read aloud in a circle in which he was well known, and when the cxth was finished
Not being less, but more than all
Each office of the social hour
To noble manners, as the flower
Or villain fancy fleeting by,
Drew in the expression of an eye,
The grand old name of gentleman,
Defained by every charlatan,
one remarked, “That will do for Warrington.'
There was a gradual deepening of his religious character while at Oxford ; and without identifying himself with either of the religious parties there, the more earnest of each of them enjoyed and valued his intimacy, though without being able to enlist him as a proselyte. I think his theological sympathies were rather with the Evangelicals, while the Puseyites perhaps commanded more of his respect; but, even then, the Broad Church party, had it existed, would possibly have obtained a larger measure of his concurrence than either. He was a Churchman, as a matter of course, from birth and training;