Hard Cash, by Charles Reade

Chapter 28

Extracts from Jane Hardie’s Diary.

“March 3rd.— In my district again, the first time since my illness, from which I am indeed but half recovered. Spoke faithfully to Mrs. B. about her infidel husband: told her not to try and talk to him, but to talk to God about him. Gave her my tract ‘A quiet heart.’ Came home tired. Prayed to be used to sharpen the sickles of other reapers.

“March 4th.— At St. Philip’s to hear the Bishop. In the midst of an excellent sermon on Gen. i. 2, he came out with the waters of baptism, to my horror: he disclaimed the extravagant views some of them take, then hankered after what he denied, and then partly unsaid that too. While the poor man was trimming his sails, I slunk behind a pillar in the corner of my pew, and fell on my knees, and prayed (a) against the stream of poison flowing on the congregation. Oh, I felt like Jeremiah in his dungeon.

“In the evening papa forbade me to go to church again: said the wind was too cold: I kissed him, and went up to my room and put my head between the pillows not to hear the bells. Prayed for poor (b) Alfred.”

“March 5th.— Sadly disappointed in J. D. I did hope he was embittering the world to her by degrees. But for some time past she writes in ill-concealed spirits.

“Another friend, after seeking rest in the world, is now seeking it in ritualism. May both be drawn from their rotten reeds to the cross

‘And oh this moral may my heart retain,
All hopes of happiness on earth are vain.’”

“March 6th.— The cat is out of the bag. She is corresponding with Alfred: indeed she makes no secret of it. Wrote her a (c) faithful letter. Received a short reply, saying I had made her unhappy, and begging me to suspend my judgment till she could undeceive me without giving me too much pain. What mystery is this?”

March 7th.— Alfred announces his unalterable determination to marry Julia. I read the letter to papa directly. He was silent for a long time: and then said: ‘All the worse for both of them.’ It was all I could do to suppress a thrill of carnal complacency at the thought this might in time pave the way to another union. Even to think of that now is a sin. 1 Cor. vii. 20–4, plainly shows that whatever position (d) of life we are placed in, there it is our duty to abide. A child, for instance, is placed in subjection to her parents; and must not leave them without their consent.”

“March 8th.— Sent two cups of cold water to two fellow-pilgrims of mine on the way to Jerusalem, viz: to E. H., Rom. viii. 1; to Mrs. M., Philipp. ii. 27.

“Prayed for increase of humility. I am so afraid my great success in His vineyard has seduced me into feeling as if there was a spring of living water in myself, instead of every drop being derived from the true fountain.”

“March 9th.— Dr. Wycherley closeted two hours with papa — papa had sent for him, I find. What is it makes me think that man is no true friend to Alfred in his advice? I don’t like these roundabout speakers: the lively oracles are not roundabout.”

“March 10th.— My beloved friend and fellow-labourer, Charlotte D—— ruptured a blood-vessel (x) at three P. M., and was conveyed in the chariots of angels to the heavenly banqueting-house, to go no more out. May I be found watching.

“March 11th.— Dreadfully starved with these afternoon sermons. If they go on like this, I really must stay at home, and feed upon the word.”

“March 12th.— Alfred has written to his trustees, and announced his coming marriage, and told them he is going to settle all his money upon the Dodds. Papa quite agitated by this news: it did not come from Alfred; one of the trustees wrote to papa. Oh, the blessing of Heaven will never rest on this unnatural marriage. Wrote a faithful letter to Alfred while papa was writing to our trustee.”

“March 13th.— My book on Solomon’s Song now ready for publication. But it is so difficult now-a-days to find a publisher for such a subject. The rage is for sentimental sermons, or else for fiction (f) under a thin disguise of religious biography.”

“March l4th.— Mr. Plummer, of whose zeal and unction I had heard so much, was in the town and heard of me, and came to see me by appointment just after luncheon. Such a sweet meeting. He came in and took my hand, and in that posture prayed that the Holy Spirit might be with us to make our conversation profitable to us, and redound to His glory. Poor man, his wife leads him a cat and dog life, I hear, with her jealousy. We had a sweet talk; he admires Canticles almost as much as I do (z): and has promised to take my book and get it cast on the Lord (g) for me.

“March 15th.— To please, one must not be faithful. (h) Miss L., after losing all her relations, and at thirty years of age, is to be married next week. She came to me and gushed out about the blessing of having at last one earthly friend to whom she could confide everything. On this I felt it my duty to remind her she might lose him by death, and then what a blank; and I was going on to detach her from the arm of flesh, when she burst out crying, and left me abruptly; couldn’t bear the truth, poor woman.

“In the afternoon met him and bowed, and longed to speak, but thought it my duty not to: cried bitterly on reaching home.”

“March l7th.— Transcribed all the (i) texts on Solomon’s Song. It seems to be the way He (j) has marked out for me to serve him.”

“March 19th.— Received this letter from Alfred:

‘DEAR JANE— I send you a dozen kisses and a piece of advice; learn more; teach less: study more; preach less: and don’t be in such a hurry to judge and condemn your intellectual and moral superiors, on insufficient information. — Your affectionate brother,

ALFRED.’

A poor return for me loving his soul as my own. I do but advise him the self-denial I myself pursue. Woe be to him if he rejects it.”

“March 20th.— A perverse reply from J. D. I had proposed we should plead for our parents at the Throne. She says she fears that might seem like assuming the office of the mediator: and besides her mother is nearer Heaven than she is. What blindness! I don’t know a more thoroughly unhealthy mind than poor Mrs. (k) Dodd’s. I am learning to pray walking. Got this idea from Mr. Plummer. How closely he walks! his mind so exactly suits mine.

“March 22nd.— Alfred returned. Went to meet him at the station. How bright and handsome he looked! He kissed me so affectionately; and was as kind and loving as could be: I, poor unfaithful wretch, went hanging (m) on his arm, and had not the heart to dash his carnal happiness just then.

“He is gone there.

“March 24th.— Stole into Alfred’s lodging when he was out; and, after prayer, pinned Deuteronomy xxvii. 16, Proverbs xiii. 1, and xv. 5, and Mark vii. 10, upon his bed-curtains.”

“March 25th.— Alfred has been in my room, and nailed Matthew vii. 1, Mark x. 7, and Ezek. xviii. 20, on my wall. He found my diary, and has read it, not to profit by, alas! but to scoff.”

[Specimen of Alfred’s comments. N.B. Fraternal criticism:

A. Nolo Episcopari.

B. It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good.

D. The old trick; picking one text, straining it; and ignoring six. So then nobody who is not born married, must get married.

E. Recipe. To know people’s real estimate of themselves, study their language of self-depreciation. If, even when they undertake to lower themselves, they cannot help insinuating self-praise, be sure their humility is a puddle, their vanity is a well. This sentence is typical of the whole Diary or rather Iary; it sounds Publican, smells Pharisee.

X. How potent a thing is language in the hand of a master: Here is sudden death made humorous by a few incongruous phrases neatly disposed.

F. Excuse me; there is still a little market for the Liquefaction of Holy Writ, and the perversion of Holy Writ; two deathless arts, which meet in your comment on the song you ascribe to Solomon.

Z. More than Mrs. Plummer does, apparently.

G. Apotheosis of the British public. How very like profaneness some people’s piety is!

C. H. Faith, with this school, means anything the opposite of Charity.

I. You are morally truthful: but intellectually mendacious. The texts on Solomon’s Song! You know very well there is not one. No grave writer in all Scripture has ever deigned to cite, or notice, that coarse composition; puellarum deliciae.

J. Modest periphrasis for “I like it.” Motto for this Diary; “Ego, et Deus meus.”

K. In other words, a good, old-fashioned, sober, humble Christian, to whom the daring familiarities of your school seem blasphemies.

M. Here I recognise my sister; somewhat spoiled by a detestable sect; but lovable by nature (which she is for ever abusing); and therefore always amiable, when off her guard.]

“March 28th.— Mr. Crawford the attorney called and told papa his son had instructed him to examine the trust-deed, and to draw his marriage settlement. Papa treated him with the greatest civility, and brought him the deed. He wanted to take it away to copy; but papa said he had better send a clerk here. Poor papa hid his distress from this gentleman, though not from me; and gave him a glass of wine.

“Then Mr. Crawford chatted, and let out Alfred had asked him to advance a hundred pounds for the wedding presents, &c. Papa said he might do so with perfect safety.

“But the moment he was gone, his whole manner changed. He walked about in terrible anger and agitation: and then sat down and wrote letters; one was to uncle Thomas; and one to a Mr. Wycherley; I believe a brother of the doctor’s. I never knew him so long writing two letters before.

“Heard a noise in the road, and it was Mr. Maxley, and the boys after him hooting; they have found out his infirmity: what a savage animal is man, till grace changes him! The poor soul had a stick, and now and then turned and struck at them but his tormentors were too nimble. I drew papa to the window, and showed him, and reminded him of the poor man’s request. He answered impatiently what was that to him? ‘We have a worse case nearer hand. Charity begins at home.’ I ventured to say yes, but it did not begin and end at home.”

“March 31st.— Mr. Osmond here today; and over my work I heard papa tell him Alfred is blackening his character in the town with some impossible story about fourteen thousand pounds. Mr. Osmond very kind and sympathising; set it all down to illusion; assured papa there was neither malice nor insincerity in it. ‘But what the better am I for that?’ said poor papa; ‘if I am slandered, I am slandered.’ And they went out together.

“Papa seems to feel this engagement more than all his troubles, and, knowing by sad experience it is useless to expostulate with Alfred, I wrote a long and faithful letter to Julia just before luncheon, putting it to her as a Christian whether she could reconcile it to her profession to set a son against his father, and marry him in open defiance.

“She replied, 3 P. M., that her mother approved the marriage, and she owed no obedience, nor affection either, to my parent

“3.30. Sent back a line rebuking her for this quibble.

“At 5 received a note from Mrs. Dodd proposing that the correspondence between myself and her daughter should cease for the present.

5.30. Retorted with an amendment that it should cease for ever. No reply. Such are worldlings! Remonstrance only galls them. And so in one afternoon’s correspondence ends one more of my Christian friendships with persons of my own sex. This is the eighth to which a carnal attachment has been speedily fatal.

“In the evening Alfred came in looking very red, and asked me whether it was not self-reliant and uncharitable of me to condemn so many estimable persons, all better acquainted with the circumstances than I am. I replied with the fifth commandment. He bit his lip and said, ‘We had better not meet again, until you have found out which is worthiest of honour, your father or your brother.’ And with this he left abruptly; and something tells me I shall not see him again. My faithfulness has wounded him to the quick. Alas! Prayed for him and cried myself to sleep.”

“April 4th. Met him disguised as a common workman, and carrying a sack full of things. I was so shocked I could not maintain my resolution: I said, ‘Oh, Mr. Edward, what are you doing?’ He blushed a little, but told me he was going to sell some candlesticks and things of his making: and he should get a better price in that dress; all traders looked on a gentleman as a thing made to be pillaged. Then he told me he was going to turn them into a bonnet and a wreath; and his beautiful brown eyes sparkled with affection. What egotistical creatures they must be! I was quite overcome, and said, Oh why did he refuse our offer? Did he hate me so very much that he would not even take his due from my hand? ‘No,’ he said, ‘nobody in our house is so unjust to you as to hate you; my sister honours you, and is very sorry you think ill of her: and, as for me, I love you; you know how I love you.’ I hid my face in my hands; and sobbed out, ‘Oh, you must not; you must not; my poor father has one disobedient child already.’ He said softly, ‘Don’t cry, dear one; have a little patience; perhaps the clouds will clear: and, meantime, why think so ill of us? Consider, we are four in number, of different dispositious, yet all of one mind about Julia marrying Alfred. May we not be right; may we not know something we love you too well to tell you?’ His words and his rich manly voice were so soothing; I gave him just one hand while I still hid my burning face with the other; he kissed the hand I yielded him, and left me abruptly.

“If Alfred should be right! I am staggered now; he puts it so much more convincingly.”

“April 5th. A letter from Alfred, announcing his wedding by special license for the 11th.

“Made no reply. What could I say?

“Papa, on my reading it out left his very breakfast half finished, and packed up his bag and rushed up to London. I caught a side view of his face; and I am miserable. Such a new, such a terrible expression! a vile expression! Heaven forgive me, it seemed the look of one who meditated a crime.

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Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 15:33