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Sunday, 6 January 2013

ESAH Sunday Series: Church stories

From Edward Henry Reeve's commonplace book of 1881.

Divine Services at Dedham

The Captain, without being a divine, was, like his father Abraham Reeve a man of strong natural piety.  He had more real divinity in him than half of the professed divines.  Everybody about him went to Church, and behaved properly while there.  He himself went with all his family twice a day to Dedham Church – a measured mile from the house – and what a storm there would be if any of his party forgot themselves and went in noisily.  Tiptoe tread was the way to enter Church.  I have heard my father say he thought he should never have heard the last of it on one occasion when he dropped his hat as he went in.  “What about, Sir?” said the Captain.  The Captain, however, saw no harm in devising little schemes for keeping the young people quiet during the sermon.  He would draw little pictures of a man and his dog etc to interest them.  (We must remember that sermons were then measured by the hour, and if not quality, quantity at any rate was expected. – Ed.).


Captain Reeve used to be much amused with the story of a rustic who, on hearing a donkey set up braying just as the preacher was beginning his discourse at some village church, exclaimed in lusty tones: “Now, gentlemen, one at a time if you please”.

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