I have it on hearsay that I was born on the 12th of October in the year 1875 of Pseudo Christ. I was born dumb; and the first incident of my career was the cutting of my fraenum linguae, that I might speak plainly. The operation, as this volume shews, was a complete success. Of my early life I remember little; chiefly a large garden with, at the end of it, a wood which overlooked the road and afforded vantage for archers. There was war in the land; my cousin Gregor Grant, six years older than myself, and a few other stern exiles, desperately banded against the rest of the neighbourhood. I remember leaping from the top of a sand pit in the character of Sir Garnet Wolseley and nearly transfixing with my father’s alpenstock an astonished navvy who had not properly prepared the trying role of Arabi Pasha, suddenly and without warning assigned to him by our Army Council. I remember too being disarmed and chased by a small Italian boy (the Mc. Callum Mohr) whose bandbox, containing doubtless an exquisite bonnet, I as Greumoch Dhuibh Mc. Alpin had pierced with that same knotty lance. Nor shall I easily forget how we filled the tea-urn at the Brethrens’ tea-fight with old Mr. Sherrall’s castor-oil, to the discomfiture of the faithful, who were too polite to call the attention of the hostess to their interior pangs.
Joyful too was the great tea at Mr. Nunnerley’s where we delayed the prayer meeting one whole hour by plying Mrs. Musty with avalanches of food after everyone else had finished. Ah joy! as piglike she munched on! while the hapless brethren (torn between impatience and politeness) wrung their hands in anguish.
Only my natural reluctance to strike a tragic chord so early in my narrative obliges me to omit some account of the circumstances in which the well-named Mrs. Clapham the fishmonger’s wife was expelled from “fellowship”.
But above all I remember how we soused Leggett’s boy, known as the Living Mushroom from the shape of his hat, in old Ailes’s pig-tub.
And then my father died, and the note changes. To explain, I find myself obliged to give a short account of the Plymouth Brethren, their tenets, character, and history.