Young Arthur Vincent is a Dissenting minister beginning his ministry at Salem Chapel in Carlingford. He is intellectual and idealistic - not prepared for a middle class congregation whose social level is that of shopkeepers and tradespeople. He starts out fairly well but goes off track as he becomes enamoured of the beautiful Lady Western, and also involved in the affairs of a mysterious poor gentlewoman. Finally a crisis involving a kidnapping and his sister's disappearance takes him to the breaking point.
Salem Chapel is the fourth of seven works set in the delightful country town of Carlingford.
Biographical and other notes
Margaret Oliphant wrote in her Autobiography: ". . . I knew nothing about chapels, but took the sentiment and a few details from our old church in Liverpool, which was Free Church of Scotland, and where there were a few grocers and other such good folk whose ways with the minister were wonderful to behold." (Autobiography and Letters, 1899, page 84.)
The dramatic events in this novel are reflective of the "Sensation Novel" made popular by Wilkie Collins, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, and others.
British publishing information
Periodical: Blackwood's Magazine Feb 1862 - Jan 1863