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    An Enlightened Clergyman

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    Chapter 6
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    At various places in Suffolk (as elsewhere) penny readings take
    place "for the instruction and amusement of the lower classes".
    There is a little town in Suffolk called Eye, where the subject of
    one of these readings was a tale (by Mr. Wilkie Collins) from the
    last Christmas Number of this Journal, entitled "Picking up Waifs at
    Sea". It appears that the Eye gentility was shocked by the
    introduction of this rude piece among the taste and musical glasses
    of that important town, on which the eyes of Europe are notoriously
    always fixed. In particular, the feelings of the vicar's family
    were outraged; and a Local Organ (say, the Tattlesnivel Bleater)
    consequently doomed the said piece to everlasting oblivion, as being
    of an "injurious tendency!"

    When this fearful fact came to the knowledge of the unhappy writer
    of the doomed tale in question, he covered his face with his robe,
    previous to dying decently under the sharp steel of the
    ecclesiastical gentility of the terrible town of Eye. But the
    discovery that he was not alone in his gloomy glory, revived him,
    and he still lives.

    For, at Stowmarket, in the aforesaid county of Suffolk, at another
    of those penny readings, it was announced that a certain juvenile
    sketch, culled from a volume of sketches (by Boz) and entitled "The
    Bloomsbury Christening", would be read. Hereupon, the clergyman of
    that place took heart and pen, and addressed the following terrific
    epistle to a gentleman bearing the very appropriate name of Gudgeon:

    STOWMARKET VICARAGE, Feb. 25, 1861.

    SIR,--My attention has been directed to a piece called "The
    Bloomsbury Christening" which you propose to read this evening.
    Without presuming to claim any interference in the arrangement of
    the readings, I would suggest to you whether you have on this
    occasion sufficiently considered the character of the composition
    you have selected. I quite appreciate the laudable motive of the
    promoters of the readings to raise the moral tone amongst the
    working class of the town and to direct this taste in a familiar and
    pleasant manner. "The Bloomsbury Christening" cannot possibly do
    this. It trifles with a sacred ordinance, and the language and
    style, instead of improving the taste, has a direct tendency to
    lower it.

    I appeal to your right feeling whether it is desirable to give
    publicity to that which must shock several of your audience, and
    create a smile amongst others, to be indulged in only by violating
    the conscientious scruples of their neighbours.

    The ordinance which is here exposed to ridicule is one which is much
    misunderstood and neglected amongst many families belonging to the
    Church of England, and the mode in which it is treated in this
    chapter cannot fail to appear as giving a sanction to, or at least
    excusing, such neglect.

    Although you are pledged to the public to give this subject, yet I
    cannot but believe that they would fully justify your substitution
    of it for another did they know the circumstances. An abridgment
    would only lessen the evil in a degree, as it is not only the style
    of the writing but the subject itself which is objectionable.

    Excuse me for troubling you, but I felt that, in common with
    yourself, I have a grave responsibility in the matter, and I am most
    truly yours,

    T. S. COLES.
    To Mr. J. Gudgeon.

    It is really necessary to explain that this is not a bad joke. It
    is simply a bad fact.
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