The Reverend Joseph Armstrong was rector of Ballindine, and Mrs O’Kelly was his parishioner, and the only Protestant one he had; and, as Mr Armstrong did not like to see his church quite deserted, and as Mrs O’Kelly was, as she flattered herself, a very fervent Protestant, they were all in all to each other.
Ballindine was not a good living, and Mr Armstrong had a very large family; he was, therefore, a poor man. His children were helpless, uneducated, and improvident; his wife was nearly worn out with the labours of bringing them forth and afterwards catering for them; and a great portion of his own life was taken up in a hard battle with tradesmen and tithe-payers, creditors, and debtors. Yet, in spite of the insufficiency of his two hundred a-year to meet all or half his wants, Mr Armstrong was not an unhappy man. At any moment of social enjoyment he forgot all his cares and poverty, and was always the first to laugh, and the last to cease to do so. He never refused an invitation to dinner, and if he did not entertain many in his own house, it was his fortune, and not his heart, that prevented him from doing so. He could hardly be called a good clergyman, and yet his remissness was not so much his own fault as that of circumstances. How could a Protestant rector be a good parish clergyman, with but one old lady and her daughters, for the exercise of his clerical energies and talents? He constantly lauded the zeal of St. Paul for proselytism; but, as he himself once observed, even St. Paul had never had to deal with the obstinacy of an Irish Roman Catholic. He often regretted the want of work, and grieved that his profession, as far as he saw and had been instructed, required nothing of him but a short service on every Sunday morning, and the celebration of the Eucharist four times a-year; but such were the facts; and the idleness which this want of work engendered, and the habits which his poverty induced, had given him a character as a clergyman, very different from that which the high feelings and strict principles which