steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

Tom Butler's Schooldays - Part 19: The Church

A weekly change from the inside walls was the Sunday Divine Service at the Church, and the Foundation provided every boy with a Bible and Prayer Book bound together. The Church adjoined the School. There was something dubious about this gratification. Everything in the service was conducted in a tedious manner. We knelt on hard wooden benches without any support before or behind, which was painful to the kiddies, especially during the Litany. I never fainted, but the fear that I should faint made me nervous and sometimes lads did faint owing to the severity. There was a Deputy Grecian Monitor, D., sitting in the Church in front of Ward XV, who used to say, "Kneel up" to any lad who showed a sign of fatigue. He told us that he was a High Churchman, and that those who showed signs of fatigue were like Dissenters. "Dissenters" he explained, "are fat persons who do not kneel at prayer." But this foolish youth forgot to observe that he himself did not kneel at all, but sat comfortably in Church in a seat with a back to it. The name of the Incumbent of the Church was the Rev. Michael Gibbs. He was a great authority on the subject of Queen Anne's Bounty. When I had ceased to be a Blue Coat boy, and had become a clergyman I heard him give a lecture at a Ruri-decanal meeting on this subject. Several of his hearers were clergymen of great learning, but after he had spoken, no one ventured to say a word or ask a question. ...

We went to Church also on other days in the week on important Holy Days, and for services of national importance. Among the latter was the 5th of November thanksgiving for the escape from the Gunpowder Treason and the arrival of King William and the 30th January, a Fast of the execution of "the Blessed King Charles the First", in the service for which there is a fabricated Psalm of various scripture texts. This Psalm, though extremely laughable, excites admiration for its ingenuity. It reminds me of an insect cleverly concocted out of the parts of several insects by some entomologists who wished to play a prank on a learned professor. They asked him to name it. He looked at it for a few seconds through a microscope, and said, without smiling, "The name of it is Humbug."
Tags: family history, tom butler's schooldays
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