BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND.
53. CHAPTER LIII.
It is but a shallow haste which concludeth insincerity from what
outsiders call inconsistency--putting a dead mechanism of "ifs"
and "therefores" for the living myriad of hidden suckers whereby
the belief and the conduct are wrought into mutual sustainment.
Mr. Bulstrode, when he was hoping to acquire a new interest in Lowick,
had naturally had an especial wish that the new clergyman should be one
whom he thoroughly approved; and he believed it to be a chastisement
and admonition directed to his own shortcomings and those of the nation
at large, that just about the time when he came in possession of the
deeds which made him the proprietor of Stone Court, Mr. Farebrother
"read himself" into the quaint little church and preached his first
sermon to the congregation of farmers, laborers, and village artisans.
It was not that Mr. Bulstrode intended to frequent Lowick Church
or to reside at Stone Court for a good while to come: he had
bought the excellent farm and fine homestead simply as a retreat
which he might gradually enlarge as to the land and beautify as
to the dwelling, until it should be conducive to the divine glory
that he should enter on it as a residence, partially withdrawing
from his present exertions in the administration of business,
and throwing more conspicuously on the side of Gospel truth the weight
of local landed proprietorship, which Providence might increase by
unforeseen occasions of purchase. A strong leading in this direction
seemed to have been given in the surprising facility of getting
Stone Court, when every one had expected that Mr. Rigg Featherstone
would have clung to it as the Garden of Eden. That was what poor
old Peter himself had expected; having often, in imagination,
looked up through the sods above him, and, unobstructed by.
perspective, seen his frog-faced legatee enjoying the fine
old place to the perpetual surprise and disappointment of other survivors.