George Leatrim

Susanna Moodie
George Leatrim, by Susanna

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Title: George Leatrim
Author: Susanna Moodie

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'One of the most terrible instances of dishonesty I ever knew,' said a
lady friend to me, 'happened in my own family, or, I should say, in one
of its relative branches. You were staying last summer at Westcliff; did
you hear Dr. Leatrim preach?'
'Yes; my friends resided about a mile from the parsonage, and were

constant in their attendance at his church. The Doctor was one of the
principal attractions of the place--one of the most eloquent men I ever
heard in the pulpit.'
'Did you ever meet him in company?'
'Never. I was told that he seldom went into society, and lived quite a
solitary life; that some great domestic calamity had weaned him
entirely from the world; that his visits were confined to the poor of his
parish, or to those who stood in need of his spiritual advice; that since
the death of his wife and only son, he had never been seen with a smile
upon his face. To tell you the truth, I was surprised to hear sermons so
full of heavenly benevolence and love breathed from the lips of such an
austere and melancholy-looking man.'
'Ah, my poor uncle!' sighed my friend; 'he has had sorrows and trials
enough to sour his temper and break his heart. He was not always the
gentle, earnest Christian you now see him, but a severe,
uncompromising theologian of the old school, and looked upon all
other sects who opposed his particular dogmas as enemies to the true
faith. A strict disciplinarian, he suffered nothing to interfere with his
religious duties, and exercised a despotic sway in the church and in his
family. He married, early in life, my father's only sister, and made her
an excellent husband; and if a certain degree of fear mingled with her
love, it originated in the deep reverence she felt for his character.
'He was forty years of age when the Earl of B----, who was a near
relation, conferred upon him the living of Westcliff. The last incumbent
had been a kind, easy-going old man, who loved his rubber of whist
and a social chat with his neighbours over a glass of punch, and left
them to take care of their souls in the best manner they could,
considering that he well earned his 700 pounds per annum by preaching
a dull, plethoric sermon once a week, christening all the infants,
marrying the adults, and burying the dead. It was no wonder that Dr.
Leatrim found the parish, as far as religion was concerned, in a very
heathenish state.
'His zealous endeavours to arouse them from this careless indifference

gave great offence. The people did not believe that they were sinners,
and were very indignant with the Doctor for insisting upon the fact. But
he spared neither age nor sex in his battle for truth, and fought it with
most uncompromising earnestness. Rich or poor, it was all the same to
him; he spoke as decidedly to the man of rank as to the humblest
peasant in his employ.
'His eloquence was a vital power; the energy with which he enforced it
compelled people to listen to him; and as he lived up to his professions,
and was ever foremost in
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