“Miss Temple,” interposed Mr Masterton, “it is to oblige those who are his sincere friends, that Mr Newland has laid aside his dress. I quarrel with no creed—every one has a right to choose for himself, and Mr Newland has perhaps not chosen badly, in embracing your tenets. Let him continue steadfast in them. But, fair young lady, there is no creed which is perfect, and, even in yours, we find imperfection. Our religion preaches humility, and therefore we do object to his wearing the garb of pride.”
“Of pride, sayest thou? hath he not rather put off the garb of humility, and now appeareth in the garb of pride?”
“Not so, young madam: when we dress as all the world dress, we wear not the garb of pride; but when we put on a dress different from others, that distinguishes us from others, then we show our pride, and the worst of pride, for it is the hypocritical pride which apes humility. It is the Pharisee of the Scriptures, who preaches in high places, and sounds forth his charity to the poor; not the humility of the Publican, who says, ‘Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.’ Your apparel of pretended humility is the garb of pride, and for that reason have we insisted that he discards it, when with us. His tenets we interfere not with. There can be no religion in dress; and that must indeed be weak in itself, which requires dress for its support.”
Susannah was astonished at this new feature of the case, so aptly put by the old lawyer. Mrs Cophagus looked at her husband, and Cophagus pinched my arm, evidently agreeing with him. When Mr Masterton had finished speaking, Susannah waited a few seconds, and then replied, “It becomes not one so young and weak as I am, to argue with thee, who art so much my senior. I cannot cavil at opinions which, if not correct, at least are founded on the holy writings; but I have been otherwise instructed.”
“Then let us drop the argument, Miss Susannah, and let me tell you, that Japhet wished to resume his Quaker’s dress, and I would not permit him. If there is any blame, it is to be laid to me; and it’s no use being angry with an old man like myself.”
“I have no right to be angry with anyone,” replied Susannah.
“But you were angry with me, Susannah,” interrupted I.
“I cannot say that it was anger, Japhet Newland: I hardly know what the feeling might have been; but I was wrong, and I must request thy forgiveness;” and Susannah held out her hand.
“Now you must forgive me too, Miss Temple,” said old Masterton, and Susannah laughed against her wishes.
The conversation then became general. Mr Masterton explained to Mr Cophagus what he required of him, and Mr Cophagus immediately acceded. It was arranged that he should go to town by the mail the next day. Mr Masterton talked a great deal about my father, and gave his character in its true light, as he considered it would be advantageous to me so to do. He then entered into conversation upon a variety of topics, and was certainly very amusing. Susannah laughed very heartily before the evening was over, and Mr Masterton retired to the hotel, for I had resolved to sleep in my own bed.