This conflict between the priest and the parson was a kind of prelude in its way, to the great Palaver, or discussion, which was immediately to take place between the redoubtable champions of the rival churches.
CHAPTER XXVIII.—Darby is a Spiritual Ganymede
—Preparations for the Great Discussion, which we do not give—Extraordinary Hope of a Modern Miracle—Solomon like an Angel looking into the Gospel.
On the morning of the appointed day, the walls of Castle Cumber were duly covered with placards containing the points to be discussed, and the names of the speakers on both sides of the question. The roads leading to the scene of controversy were thronged with people of all classes. Private jaunting cars, gigs, and carriages of every description, rolled rapidly along. Clergymen of every creed, various as they are, moved through the streets with eager and hurried pace, each reverend countenance marked by an anxious expression arising from the interest its possessor felt in the result of the controversy. People, in fact, of all ranks and religions, were assembled to hear the leading men on each side defend their own creeds, and assail those of their enemies. The professional men relinquished, for the day, their other engagements and avocations, in order to be present; and invalids, who had not been long out of their sick rooms, tottered down, wrapped in cloaks, to hear this great display of learning and eloquence. Early on the preceding morning, the Catholic Clergy, though without the sanction of their Bishops, formally signified to the committee of the society, their intention of meeting them man to man on the platform. Before the door was open to the crowd at large, the opposing clergymen and the more select friends on both sides were admitted by a private entrance. The gallery was set aside for ladies, who, in Ireland, and we believe everywhere else, form an immense majority at religious meetings.
When the house was thronged to suffocation, none but a man intimately acquainted with the two-fold character of the audience, could observe much more within it, than the sea of heads with which it was studded. The Protestant party looked on with a less devoted, but freer aspect; not, however, without an evident feeling and pride in the number and character of their champions. A strong dash of enthusiasm might be seen in many fair eyes among the females, who whispered to each other an occasional observation concerning their respective favorites; and then turned upon the divine champions, smiles that seemed to have been kindled by the sweet influences of love and piety. Among the Roman Catholic party there was an expression of wonder created by the novelty of the scene; of keen observation, evinced by the incessant rolling of their clear Milesian eyes from one party to another, together with something like pity and contempt for the infatuated Biblemen, as they called them, who