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to one “ who did no sin;" who was tempted in all. points like as we are, yet without sin ; - to one, who emphatically declared himself “ the way, and the truth, and the life," and who, in all his words and works, so clearly proved himself to be the true light which should light every one that cometh into the world ? Surprised, therefore, as I was at these open declarations of persons who professed to found their belief upon Scripture, which, to my apprehension, spoke a very different language, I endeavoured to make out the object which the Unitarian scheme proposed, which, after a little enquiry, I found to be briefly this : — That Jesus Christ was a mere human teacher, sent by God to instruct mankind in a short, easy code of laws which had reference to little beyond human convenience; and more fully to confirm a doctrine which all civilized nations had previously embraced, of a future state of existence. As the works which developed this scheme were, to me, quite unintelligible, before I renounced it, I determined to obtain the assistance of some Socinian teacher with whom I might converse, and from whom I might gain the information I required. It was some time before I had the
fortune to fall in with such a person; but, at length, I met with one, plain and simple in his manners, whose conduct and countenance bespoke the sincerity of his heart, and who had every other claim to my attention and respect. The circumstance of our meeting was brought about in the following manner.
The little town in the county of Essex in which I resided, boasted of possessing a select body of politicians, who, with those of the surrounding neighbourhood, formed themselves into a sort of society for the attainment of a knowledge of all passing events of a foreign and domestic nature; and the chamber where they collected their information and kept their journals, was called the News Room. country town there is commonly no higher source of gratification, to be purchased at a small expence, than by becoming a subscriber to an institution of this kind. It brings together not only the staid and steady residents of the place, but collects at different times, the chiefs of the whole neighbourhood. It is here that the inflated politician, whose sole occupation is not merely to gain information of events which the ordinary vehicles of intelligence
make known to all, but to dive also into the secret designs of his own country and of foreign states, amuses himself and his hearers" by attacking the different measures of government, and setting up, in preference, the plans of his own quid-nunc community, with all the ease and satisfaction imaginable. To form, however, the most correct notion of the utility and comfort of this little establishment, one must resort to it at the moment of that general excitement which is produced by the arrival of the mail. The silent monotony of the place is then awakened by the asthmatic winding of the postman's horn as he proceeds through the main street towards the post-office, on a one-eyed, animated-hair-trunk of a pony, forced for the last mile into the involuntary shuffle of a canter. The post-master, as he hears it, leaps from his shop-board, and
“ Standing on slippers, which his nimble haste
Has falsely thrust upon contrary feet,"
receives the shrivelled, solitary bag, and, freighted with the charge, rushes into the corner of his shop, which from being separated from it by a partition of string and paper, is dignified by the
title of " the office;" and there with the door fastened, and the blind of the little window drawn, he sorts its motley contents. In the street without, stands the anxious lover, or the nervous shop-keeper, waiting, with ill-dissembled patience, the moment when the blind shall be withdrawn and the wicket opened, from whence he is to receive an affirmative or negative reply to his enquiry of “ Any letters for me?” and when he who is disappointed wishes the previous moment could be recalled, that he might be in the enjoyment of anticipations now blighted ; and he who receives the expected despatch, makes up for its want of interest by an air and manner calculated to impose a notion of its importance upon those who gaze at him. At the same moment are seen toddling from their dormitories two or three crawling recipients of gout and gravel, making their way to the room to hold discourse with others of the like infirmities and passions upon the popular topics of the day.
I had been seated at the window looking into the street for half an hour, when Mr. Singleton, whose history I knew, but whose acquaintance I had not made, entered it with the same intention that I had, of waiting for the delivery of the letters. As, upon inspection, he found no papers very new, and no other persons present, he challenged my conversation by rapping the barometer, and remarking that the glass had fallen; a circumstance with which I was already acquainted, having, on my first entrance, ascertained the case, by precisely the same experiment. Then after turning over the newspapers again, he observed that there was nothing new; a fact, also, that had struck me on doing the same thing; and he was just on the point of making a third remark, when the post-horn sounded, and he went out to observe what I have already described.
Mr. Singleton was one of those, who, having passed the greater part of their lives in business, retire to the country to enjoy that ease and immunity from labour which a well-earned fortune lead them to anticipate ; and who, like the generality of those who have existed in the active bustle of the world, and think the otium cum dignitate a consequent upon leaving trade, had been bitterly disappointed in his expectations. Habit is, indeed, a second nature; and he who, having, until the age of fifty, been continually