chapter  4
9 Pages

Meeting the Third.

The morning of Monday was half over. Aglionby stood in the sale-room of the warehouse, which at the moment was empty. He had disposed satisfactorily of large amounts of goods already, and now for the first time he found a leisure moment, in which to take up a newspaper, and glance over it. It was the advanced Liberal journal of Irkford, the Daily Chronicle. In a conspicuous place at the head of a column, in the middle of the paper, was a letter to the editor, entitled ‘Education in Denominational Schools.’ This letter was signed ‘Pride of Science,’ as if with a defiant challenge to the rival ‘Pride of Ignorance.’ Aglionby’s eyes gleamed as he glanced down the columns, and his most disagreeable smile stole over his face. The letter was from his own pen, and was not the first, by several, with which he had enriched the columns of that journal, on that and kindred topics. He was not aware, himself, of the attention which these letters had attracted. He knew that generally they called forth angry replies, accusing him of wishing to undermine the whole fabric of respectability; to explode the secure foundations of society, and cause anarchy to be crowned: and to these fulminations he delighted to reply with a pitiless, slashing acerbity; an intuitive stabbing of the weak points in his opponent’s armour, which must have made those enemies writhe. He had never yet paused to ask himself whether his course of action in the matter were noble or not. He detected abuses, and those abuses flourishing rankly under a system which he thoroughly disliked; and he hastened to expose them, and to hold up them and their perpetrators to ridicule; dangling them before such a public as chose to take an interest in his proceedings, and scourging them well, with whipping words and unsparing hand. His letter this morning was a pungent one. He had written it, on the Thursday night before, in a bitter mood, and the bitterness came out very clearly in the composition. He had made a point of investigating the proceedings and system at several denominational schools, and had collected some significant facts, which he had used with considerable cleverness to bring a good deal of discredit on the clerical and denominational party. 39