Excerpt from Matrimony
Henry, the eighth of his royal name, the God-hater, was not yet born. The church was still free and everywhere the centre of life and iove; and the priests, bearing the courtesy title of Sir, were then the fathers of their people. Imagina tion could not easily exaggerate the glories of that church, the splendor or pathos of its ceremonies. The magnificence of its architecture may be guessed by the sight of the Abbey at Westminster, a small, mean building in comparison with the Abbey Churches of Reading, Glastonbury, Fountains, and many another, which were to be destroyed by that incarnation of evil who was to bring a stain upon the throne forever. The age of doubt was far away, nor was there any prophet to fore tell the horrors of the Reformation. There was peace at little Widdecombe in the moor.
Yet in the church was a sound like brawling. Men were very ignorant and earnest. The sun was high above the tors, and each man had his daily toil awaiting, but could not go to it until he had received the blessing and had seen his God made upon the altar. There were voices and mutterings al most savage, and when Sir Robert appeared from the vestry and slowly mounted to the holy place, they broke out. The men were rough, wild' with excitement and some terror, lest their priest should have lost the power to bring God down.
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