In his epilogue to Montague, Or, Is This Religion? (1833), the Anglican clergyman Charles Benjamin Tayler justifies writing a religious novel with the brave assertion that "I will not allow this story of mine to be a religious novel" (263), which is the sort of thing likely to make a native Southern Californian like myself say, duuuude. (Even academics are allowed to have non-academic knee-jerk responses on occasion.) As religious novels go, this one is primarily notable for the bait-and-switch with its protagonists (first mother, then son), its unwise decision to name the exemplary Christians "Temple," and its horror at the dreaded evils of playing cards. That being said, at least one of the novel's preoccupations does interest me, and that's its obsession with performativity. Indeed, one of the reasons that Tayler was doing his best to pretend that his religious novel wasn't one, all evidence to the contrary, was that religious fiction itself was subject to the charge of modeling a certain type of Protestant theatre--offering its readers supposedly Christian "plots" (just as romances were accused of doing), popularizing language or gestures meant to signify inner belief, and so on. Montague, then, is all about playing whack-a-mole with "evangelical" signifiers. Maria Graham, the jumped-up grocer's daughter who will marry into the aristocracy, shifts from superficial Christianity as a teenager to an entirely formalized belief as an adult: refusing to "search and examine her own heart and life, to see if the fruits of the Spirit were springing up there," she instead "began to think much of externals, and to measure herself by others, and to compare herself with others..." (45). Her evangelicalism, which manifests itself in much sermon-shopping and missionary work, is not just worldly, but effectively mechanical, investing a particular kind of social action (appearing at given churches or specific lectures, having particular people over to the house) with illusory transformative power. Maria's son Montague, anticipating Brocklehurst's deceitful brat (the one who figures out that psalms are the best method of getting treats), had, by age twelve, "read the Scriptures several times through," was able to "pray extempore," and could trill hymns to his parents' content (53). In other words, all of these "objective" proofs of his sanctity substitute for saving faith, which he soon proves not to have; the extemporaneous prayer in particular is meant to be a dog-whistle, indicating that the family supposedly values spontaneous expressions of faith (as opposed to relying on "forms" such as the Prayer Book) when, in fact, it really celebrates verbal facility. (Montague, despite his acquirements, is not really the ideal evangelical child.) Most of the novel's characters suffer from the same problem, ranging from the thieving evangelical with whom Montague finds himself associated with at college, to the old woman who complains that a well-meaning aristocratic home visitor cannot pray "experimentally" (i.e., extemporaneously) (162). By contrast, we are meant to admire the Temples' insistence that true Christianity only manifests itself in concrete action, whether self-sacrificing charity or moral discipline. As Mr. Temple warns the old woman, "You talk too much" (162). In fact, the novel's difficulty is precisely avoiding the charge that it, too, is talking too much. Anglicanism, I think, here functions as the necessary mode of discipline that prevents excessive babble (or ought to), whether through the prayer book or the clergyman's authority.