Charles Dickens

His imagery was all drawn from the sea, and from the incidents of a seaman's life; and was often remarkably good. He spoke to them of 'that glorious man, Lord Nelson,' and of Collingwood; and drew nothing in, as the saying is, by the head and shoulders, but brought it to bear upon his purpose, naturally, and with a sharp mind to its effect. Sometimes, when much excited with his subject, he had an odd way - compounded of John Bunyan, and Balfour of Burley - of taking his great quarto Bible under his arm and pacing up and down the pulpit with it; looking steadily down, meantime, into the midst of the congregation. Thus, when he applied his text to the first assemblage of his hearers, and pictured the wonder of the church at their presumption in forming a congregation among themselves, he stopped short with his Bible under his arm in the manner I have described, and pursued his discourse after this manner:

'Who are these - who are they - who are these fellows? where do they come from? Where are they going to? - Come from! What's the answer?' - leaning out of the pulpit, and pointing downward with his right hand: 'From below!' - starting back again, and looking at the sailors before him: 'From below, my brethren. From under the hatches of sin, battened down above you by the evil one. That's where you came from!' - a walk up and down the pulpit: 'and where are you going' - stopping abruptly: 'where are you going? Aloft!' - very softly, and pointing upward: 'Aloft!' - louder: 'aloft!' - louder still: 'That's where you are going - with a fair wind, - all taut and trim, steering direct for Heaven in its glory, where there are no storms or foul weather, and where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.' - Another walk: 'That's where you're going to, my friends. That's it. That's the place. That's the port. That's the haven. It's a blessed harbour - still water there, in all changes of the winds and tides; no driving ashore upon the rocks, or slipping your cables and running out to sea, there: Peace - Peace - Peace - all peace!' - Another walk, and patting the Bible under his left arm: 'What! These fellows are coming from the wilderness, are they? Yes. From the dreary, blighted wilderness of Iniquity, whose only crop is Death. But do they lean upon anything - do they lean upon nothing, these poor seamen?' - Three raps upon the Bible: 'Oh yes. - Yes. - They lean upon the arm of their Beloved' - three more raps: 'upon the arm of their Beloved' - three more, and a walk: 'Pilot, guiding- star, and compass, all in one, to all hands - here it is' - three more: 'Here it is. They can do their seaman's duty manfully, and be easy in their minds in the utmost peril and danger, with this' - two more: 'They can come, even these poor fellows can come, from the wilderness leaning on the arm of their Beloved, and go up - up - up!' - raising his hand higher, and higher, at every repetition of the word, so that he stood with it at last stretched above his head, regarding them in a strange, rapt manner, and pressing the book triumphantly to his breast, until he gradually subsided into some other portion of his discourse.

I have cited this, rather as an instance of the preacher's eccentricities than his merits, though taken in connection with his look and manner, and the character of his audience, even this was striking. It is possible, however, that my favourable impression of him may have been greatly influenced and strengthened, firstly, by his impressing upon his hearers that the true observance of religion was not inconsistent with a cheerful deportment and an exact discharge of the duties of their station, which, indeed, it scrupulously required of them; and secondly, by his cautioning them not to set up any monopoly in Paradise and its mercies. I never heard these two points so wisely touched (if indeed I have ever heard them touched at all), by any preacher of that kind before.

Having passed the time I spent in Boston, in making myself acquainted with these things, in settling the course I should take in my future travels, and in mixing constantly with its society, I am not aware that I have any occasion to prolong this chapter. Such of its social customs as I have not mentioned, however, may be told in a very few words.