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A Singular Plea

From the January 1884 Sword and Trowel


IF ANY MAN was ever entitled to the appellation of "Christian gentleman" it was the late Dr. John Hunter. From the casual circumstance of living for many years a few doors from him, I had exceptional opportunities of enjoying his genial society, his wise counsels, his hearty hospitality, and, I may add, affectionate friendship. By a wide circle his memory will never cease to be revered and cherished. His was a nature overflowing with the milk of human kindness. Indeed, the demands of his extremely poor parishioners were yearly more exacting and overwhelming, just because they became more and more cognizant of that frailty which leaned to virtue's side—his irresistible benevolence—which at times felt itself unable to withstand what might be called "impudent" claims. One specimen I recollect hearing from his own lips, and told in his own inimitable way. A few mornings before, a woman came begging for pecuniary help. Even he was amazed, and, indeed, indignant at her presumption, as she had been one of his parochial plagues; had not only been personally offensive and hostile to himself, but had done what she could to foster an inimical feeling among the neighbors. On going to his outer lobby, where the unabashed applicant was, he stated, as firmly as his kindly nature would admit (and yet he could assume a stern look too), that she knew well she was the very last who had any claim upon him. Decidedly refusing her, he bade her peremptorily to go away. Her reply was ready—"Sir, you are mistaken, I have a claim upon you." "I should like to know, my good woman, what that claim is. You have done nothing all the years I have known you but to try and do me wrong. Tell me your claim." "Sir, I am your enemy!" The plea was novel, irresistible. At once the hand was in the depths of the kindly man's pocket, and something bright reflected its pedigree from the Sermon on the Mount.—From Dr. J. R. Macduff's "Parish of Taxwood."

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