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THE proximate origin of the foregoing slight article, and probably the
remoter origin of the next following one, was this: Some years ago, a
day of .prayer and humiliation, on account of a bad harvest, was ap-
pointed by the proper religious authorities; but certain clergymen of the
Church of England, doubting the wisdom of the demonstration, declined
to join in the services of the day. For this act of nonconformity they
were severely censured by some of their brethren. Rightly or wrongly,
my sympathies were on the side of these men; and, to lend them a help-
ing hand in their struggle against odds, I inserted the foregoing chapter
in the little book mentioned on the title-page. Some time subsequently
I received from a gentleman of great weight and distinction in the scien-
tific world, and, I believe, of perfect orthodoxy in the religious one, a
note directing my attention to an exceedingly thoughtful article on
Prayer and Cholera in the Pall Mall Gazette. My eminent correspondent
deemed the article a fair answer to the remarks made by me in 1861.
I also was struck by the temper and ability of the article, but I could
not deem its arguments satisfactory, and, in a short nOte to the editor of
the Pall Mall Gazette, I ventured to state so much. This letter elicited
some very able replies, and a second leading article was also devoted to
the subject. In answer to all, I risked the publication of a second letter,
.and soon afterward, by an extremely courteous note from the editor, the
discussion was closed.

Though thus stopped locally, the discussion flowed in other directions.
Sermons were preached, essays were published, articles were written,
while a copious correspondence occupied the pages of some of the re-
ligious newspapers. It gave me sincere pleasure to notice that the dis-.
cussion, save in a few cases where natural coarseness had the upper
hand, was conducted with a minimum of vituperation. The severity
shown was hardly more than sufficient to demonstrate earnestness, while
gentlemanly feeling was too predominant to permit that earnestness to
contract itself to bigotry or to clothe itself in abuse. It was probably
the memory of this discussion which caused another excellent friend of
mine to recommend to my perusal the exceedingly able work which in
the next article I have endeavored to review.

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