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was sufficiently evident and obvious, and better known through the world than the opinions and sentiments of their best philosophers; and that, if there were some mysteries in the Christian religion which were not communicated to every one, it was no other thing than what was common in the several sects of their own philosophy. But to return. They looked
upon the Lord's-day as a time to be celebrated with great expressions of joy, as being the happy memory of Christ's resurrection, and accordingly restrained whatever might savour of sorrow and sadness. Fasting on that day they prohibited with the greatest severity, accounting it utterly unlawful, as Tertullian informs us. It was a very bitter censure that of Ignatius (or of whosoever that epistle was, for certainly it was not his), that whoever fasts on a Lord's-day is a murderer of Christ. However, it is certain that they never fasted on those days, no, not in the time of Lent itself; nay, the Montanists, though otherwise great pretenders to fasting and mortification, did yet abstain from it on the Lord's-day. And, as they accounted it a joyful and good day, so they did whatever they thought might con tribute to the honour of it. No sooner was Constantine come over to the church, but his principal care was about the Lord's-day. He commanded it to be solemnly observed, and that by all persons whatsoever, He made it to all a day of rest; that men might have nothing to do but to worship God, and be better instructed in the Christian faith, and spend their whole time without any thing to hinder them in prayer and devotion, according to the custom and discipline of the church. And for those in his army, who yet remained in their paganism and infidelity, he commanded them upon Lord’s-days to go out into the fields, and there pour out their souls in hearty prayers to God; and, that none might pretend their own inability to the duty, he himself composed and gave them a short form of prayer, which he enjoined them to make use of every Lord's-day: so careful was he that this day should not be dishonoured or misemployed, even by those who were yet strangers and enemies to Christianity. He moreover ordained that there should be no courts of judicature open upon this day, no suits or trials at law; but that for any works of mercy,
such as emancipating and setting free of slaves or servants, this might be done. That there should be no suits nor demanding debts upon this day was confirmed by several laws of succeeding emperors; and that no arbitrators, who had the umpirage of any business lying before them, should at that time have power to determine to take up litigious causes, penalties being entailed upon any that transgressed herein. Theodosius the Great, anno 386, by a second law ratified one which he had passed long before, wherein he expressly prohibited all public shows upon the Lord's-day, that the worship of God might not be confounded with those profane solemnities. This law the younger Theodosius some years after confirmed and enlarged, enacting, that on the Lord's-day (and some other festivals there mentioned) not only Christians, but even Jews and heathens, should be restrained from the pleasure of all sights and spectacles, and the theatres be shut up
in every place; and whereas it might so happen that the birthday or inauguration of the emperor might fall upon that day, therefore to let the people know how infinitely he preferred the honour of God, before the concerns of his own majesty and greatness, he commanded that, if it should so happen, that then the imperial solemnity should be put off, and deferred till another day.
I shall take notice but of one instance more of their great observance of this day, and that was their constant attendance upon the solemnities of public worship. They did not think it enough to read and pray and praise God at home, but made conscience of appearing in the public assemblies, from which nothing but sickness and absolute necessity did detain them: and if sick, or in prison, or under banishment, nothing troubled them more than that they could not come to church, and join their devotions to the common services.
If persecution at any time forced them to keep a little close, yet no sooner was there the least mitigation, but they presently returned to their open duty, and publicly met all together. No trivial pretences, no light excuses, were then admitted for any one's absence from the congregation, but, according to the merit of the cause, severe censures were passed upon them. The synod of Illiberis provided that if any man dwelling in a city (where usually churches were nearest hand) should for three Lord's-days absent himself from the church, he should for some time be suspended the communion, that he might appear to be corrected for his fault.
268.-SOME ACCOUNT OF THE GREAT LAW-SUIT BE
TWEEN THE PARISHES OF ST. DENNIS AND
FROM KNIGHT'S QUARTERLY MAGAZINE. The parish of St. Dennis is one of the most pleasant parts of the county in which it is situated. It is fertile, well wooded, well watered, and of an excellent air. For many generations the manor had been holden in tail-male by a worshipful family, who have always taken precedence of their neighbours at the races and the sessions.
In ancient times the affairs of this parish were administered by a Court Baron, in which the freeholders were judges; and the rates levied by select vestries of the inhabitant householders. But at length these good customs fell into disuse. The lords of the manor indeed still held courts for form's sake, but they -or their stewards had the whole management of affairs. They demanded services, duties, and customs to which they had no just title. Nay, they would often bring actions against their neighbours for their own private advantage, and then send in the bill to the parish. No objection was made, during many years to these proceedings, so that the rates became heavier and heavier; nor was any person exempted from these demands, except the footmen and gamekeepers of the squire and the rector of the parish. They indeed were never checked in any excess.
They would come to an honest labourer's cottage, eat his pancakes, tuck his fowls into their pockets, and cane the poor man himself. If he went up to the great house to complain, it was hard to get the speech of Sir Lewis; and indeed his only chance of being righted was to coax the squire's pretty housekeeper, who could do what she pleased with her master. If he ventured to intrude
the lord of the manor without this precaution, he gained nothing by his pains. Sir Lewis indeed would at first receive him with a civil face; for, to give him his due, he could be a fine gentleman when he pleased. Good day, my friend,” he would say, " what situation have you in my family?” “Bless your honour,” says the poor fellow, “ I am not one of your honour's servants; I rent a small piece of
ground, your honour.” “Then, you dog," quoth the squire, “what do you mean by coming here? Has a gentleman nothing to do but hear the complaints of clowns ? Here! Philip, James, Dick, toss this fellow in a blanket; or duck him, and set him in the stocks to dry.”
One of these precious lords of the manor inclosed a deer park; and, in order to stock it, he seized all the pretty pet fawns that his tenants had brought up, without paying them a farthing, or asking their leave. It was a sad day for the parish of St. Dennis. Indeed, I do not believe that all his oppressive exactions and long bills enraged the poor tenants so much as this cruel measure.
Yet for a long time, in spite of all these inconveniences, St. Dennis was a very pleasant place. The people could not refrain from capering if they heard the sound of a fiddle. And, if they were inclined to be riotous, Sir Lewis had only to send for Punch, or the dancing-dogs, and all was quiet again. But this could not last for ever; they begun to think more and more of their condition; and, at last, a club of foul-mouthed good-for-nothing rascals was held at the sign of the Devil, for the purpose of abusing the squire and the parson. The doctor, to own the truth, was old and indolent, extremely fat and greedy. He had not preached a tolerable sermon for a long time. The squire was still worse; so that, partly by truth and partly by falsehood, the club set the whole parish against their superiors. The boys scrawled caricatures of the clergyman upon the church door, and shot at the landlord with pop-guns as he rode a hunting.
even whispered about that the lord of the manor had no right to his estate, and that, if he were compelled to produce the original title deeds, it would be found that he only held the estate in trust for the inhabitants of the parish.
In the meantime the squire was pressed more and more for money. The parish would pay no more.
The rector refused to lend a farthing. The Jews were clamorous for their money; and the landlord had no other resource than to call together the inhabitants of the parish, and to request their assistance. They now attacked him furiously about their grievances, and insisted that he should relinquish his oppressive powers. They insisted that his footmen should be kept in order, that the parson should pay his share of the rates, that the children of the parish should be allowed to fish in the trout streams, and to gather blackberries in the hedges. They at last went so far
as to demand that he should acknowledge that he held his estate only in trust for them. His distress compelled him to submit. They, in return, agreed to set him free from his pecuniary difficulties, and to suffer him to inhabit the manor house, and only annoyed him from time to time by singing impudent ballads under his window.
The neighbouring gentlefolks did not look on these proceedings with much complacency. It is true that Sir Lewis and his ancestors had plagued them with law-suits, and affronted them at county-meetings. Still they preferred the insolence of a gentleman to that of the rabble, and felt some uneasiness lest the example should infect their own tenants.
A large party of them met at the house of Lord Cæsar Germain. Lord Cæsar was the proudest man in the county. His family was very ancient and illustrious, though not particularly opulent. He had invited most of his wealthy neighbours. There was Mrs. Kitty North, the relict of poor Squire Peter, respecting whom the coroner's jury had found a verdict of accidental death, but whose fate had nevertheless excited strange whispers in the neighbourhood. There was Squire Don, the owner of the great West Indian property, who was not so rich as he had formerly been, but still retained his pride, and kept up his customary pomp; so that he had plenty of plate but no breeches. There was Squire Von Blunderderbussen, who had succeeded to the estates of his uncle, old Colonel Frederic von Blunderbussen of the Hussars. The colonel was a very singular old fellow; he used to learn a page of Chambaud's Grammar, and to translate Télémaque every morning, and he kept six French masters to teach him to parley-voo. Nevertheless he was a shrewd clever man, and improved his estate with so much care, sometimes by honest and sometimes by dishonest means, that he left a very pretty property to his nephew.
Lord Cæsar poured out a glass of Tokay for Mrs. Kitty. “ Your health, my dear madam, I never saw you look more charming. Pray what think
you of these doings at St. Dennis's ?” “ Fine doings! indeed !” interrupted Von Blunderbussen, “I wish that we had my old uncle alive, he would have had some of them up to the halberts. He knew how to use a cat-o'-nine-tails. If things go on in this way, a gentleman will not be able to horsewhip an impudent farmer, or to say a civil word to a milkmaid."