Summary (Masterplots: Revised Category Edition, British Fiction Series)
As a young man just out of divinity school at the University of Glasgow and recently accepted for the ministry, the Reverend Micah Balwhidder was appointed to the charge of the established Presbyterian Church in the village of Dalmailing in western Scotland. Because he had been appointed by a great landowner, without their approval, the people of Dalmailing tried to prevent Mr. Balwhidder from taking his post. On the Sunday Mr. Balwhidder was installed, the officiating ministers had to enter the church through a window, because the door had been nailed fast. Nor did they try to go to the church without a guard of soldiers.
Immediately after being installed, Mr. Balwhidder began a series of visits to his parishioners, as he believed a good Calvinistic clergyman should do. He was rebuffed at door after door, until Thomas Thorl, the minister’s most outspoken opponent, relented and accepted him. The rest of the parish followed within a matter of weeks. Soon after the excitement died down, Mr. Balwhidder married his first wife Betty Lanshaw, a cousin with whom he had grown up; he believed strongly that a minister should be married to accomplish his best work.
During the first few years of his ministry in the 1760’s, Mr. Balwhidder fought earnestly against two habits among his parishioners, smuggling and drinking. He felt that both were sinful. In the end, however, he became reconciled to tea as a beverage, for he thought it better for his...
(The entire section is 1215 words.)
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