The next morning was worse, and the whole of the long day was insufferable. He endeavoured to escape from his noble friend into the demesne, where he might have explored the fox coverts, and ascertained something of the sporting capabilities of the country; but Lord Cashel would not leave him alone for an instant; and he had not only to endure the earl’s tediousness, but also had to assume a demeanour which was not at all congenial to his feelings. Lord Cashel would talk Church and ultra-Protestantism to him, and descanted on the abominations of the National system, and the glories of Sunday-schools. Now, Mr Armstrong had no leaning to popery, and had nothing to say against Sunday schools; but he had not one in his own parish, in which, by the bye, he was the father of all the Protestant children to be found there—without the slightest slur upon his reputation be it said. Lord Cashel totally mistook his character, and Mr Armstrong did not know how to set him right; and at five o’clock he went to dress, more tired than he ever had been after hunting all day, and then riding home twelve miles on a wet, dark night, with a lame horse.
To do honour to her guest Lady Cashel asked Mr O’Joscelyn, the rector, together with his wife and daughters, to dine there on the second day; and Mr Armstrong, though somewhat afraid of brother clergymen, was delighted to hear that they were coming. Anything was better than another tete-a-tete with the ponderous earl. There were no other neighbours near enough to Grey Abbey to be asked on so short a notice; but the rector, his wife, and their daughters, entered the dining-room punctually at half-past six.
The character and feelings of Mr O’Joscelyn were exactly those which the earl had attributed to Mr Armstrong. He had been an Orangeman , and was a most ultra and even furious Protestant. He was, by principle, a charitable man to his neighbours; but he hated popery, and he carried the feeling to such a length, that he almost hated Papists. He had not, generally speaking, a bad opinion of human nature; but he would not have considered his life or property safe in the hands of any Roman Catholic. He pitied the ignorance of the heathen, the credulity of the Mahommedan, the desolateness of the Jew, even the infidelity of the atheist; but he execrated, abhorred, and abominated the Church of Rome. “Anathema Maranatha ; get thee from me, thou child of Satan—go out into utter darkness, thou worker of iniquity—into everlasting lakes of fiery brimstone, thou doer of the devil’s work—thou false prophet—thou ravenous wolf!” Such was the language of his soul, at the sight of a priest; such would have been the language of his tongue, had not, as he thought, evil legislators given a licence to falsehood in his unhappy country, and rendered it impossible for a true Churchman openly to declare the whole truth.