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VILLAGE CHARACTERS.-NO. IV. march before my study window, and OLD GWYN.
passed and re-passed him in all parts The death bell! that sound always of the parish, without knowing who he so impressive, always so affecting ! that was, or in what way occupied. At sound which falls so faintly on the length, from passing in silence and with ear when pacing the life-crowded city; merely a casual glance at each other, but which, in the quiet village, carries we approached to nearer acquaintance its lesson home to the heart— The tolling by nodding ; from nodding, we were of the death bell arrested my attention ;' brought a step nearer by exchanging and with the curiosity of the true vil, the usual salutation of Good morning or lager, whether occupied or vacant, I Good evening; then we came inquired of whose death it was the still with cursory remarks on the weamelancholy announcement ? “ Old ther; and, finally, meeting one day in Gwyn is_gone, was the reply; and a narrow path, we made a mutual halt, at first, I felt astonished, for it was and I discovered that it was my own only a day or two before, that I first fault that we had not been better friends heard of his illness. But recollecting before, and that I was unacquainted the question, “ Are we not here now, with his occupation, (for occupation and gone in a moment ?" 1.drew an Gwyn still had,) and he knew that involuntary sigh, which responded to without it he must, like all other men, the truth of the sentiment. But with have been miserable. Therefore, when that sorrowful general feeling was min- he threw up the reins, he did not sit in gled one of particular respect for the his great arm chair twirling his thumbs, deceased. No more, thought I, shall nor did he devote the day to dreams of his we meet in the moss-grown retreat ; ancient charioteership. No, he became a no more shall the half-contracted verse pedestrian; not, however, an idle stroller, be cut short, no more the absorbing | who with vacant stare looks on the broad meditation be interrupted, by the ab- expanse of blue sky and beautiful green rupt encounter of old Gwyn. The earth, as if it were still a mighty chaos; thought was painful ; for there was and who, when he returns, can render no really something so pleasing in his account of his wanderings-can manner, something so innocent and ex- tell if the sun itself illumined his path ! hilarating in his conversation, that I It was otherwise with Gwyn. If he could never once find it in my heart had been overtaken in a shower, he to quarrel with him for spoiling, my could tell you what part of the heasong, or breaking the thread of solemn
vens it came from ; what time it apmeditation.
peared on the horizon ; how long it was Let me proceed to set down all of in travelling from thence to the nadir; interest respecting old Gwyn which my when the first drop fell; when the last, memory supplies. Before he came into and in what direction it was gone. If our village, which was about twenty it had been a thunder storm, he could years ago, it appears that he had been inform you when the first clap was a coachman. Scorn not the hero of this heard, when the last, which was the humble record ! How many an ob- loudest, and how many there had been ; scure man is more worthy of the his- nor did the flashes of the fierce red toric
page than some even of the princes lightning, from which so many turn of this world! Having saved a little away their eyes with dread, escape unmoney, and married the housekeeper numbered; they were noted down in in the same family in which he had the pages of Gwyn's memory, with a lived, he quitted servitude, and came precision truly wonderful. But Gwyn's hither to live on the united earnings particular business was not with the of his wife and himself, which were skyey influences ;" the earth was his sensibly increased by the bounty of his favourite study, and one to which he late master. He had thus enough to was never tired of recurring. render him comfortable, and was able to It was Gwyn's especial endeavour to entertain a friend occasionally. And discover what was sown in each field, thus situated, he was content and grate- and how it progressed, and whose crops ful.
of wheat or barley flourished best. This Not being an adept in making ac- information acquired, his next step was quaintance with strangers, I, for some to impart it to all who talked with him. time, saw Gwyn march and counter- "Was a hedge. broken down, either by
the unlicensed pilferer of the cottage, 1 Gwyn's sagacity here ; but it was my or by the licensed ravager of the man- own that was at fault. The small sion, you might be sure that Gwyn kitchen garden was so quickly and so would report the trespass to the farmer. completely metamorphosed that I could It was his also to turn out stray cattle have fancied myself in a gay parterre, from the pasture, his to close the gate every thing was so tastefully and junegligently left, or wantonly thrown, diciously arranged. In this case, Gwyn open. Nothing in all his rounds es- had the double satisfaction of seeing caped his notice ; his acute observation my garden improved, and the old man compassed some of the largest matters, benefited by his recommendation. Thus and did not exclude the most minute. harmlessly, and in some measure useI verily believe he could have told fully, spent old Gwyn his days of inwhen such a mole hill was turned up dependence, careless of increasing his in any paddock or field having a path own wealth, and only anxious to serve way through it, or enclosed by a hedge his neighbours to the best of his ability. over or through which he could peep. Frequently did I meet him in the But if Gwyn was great in the field, evening, and listen to his little rural he was still greater in the garden. Not adventures till the sun had disappeared a garden in the village but received in the western sky, (for I could rarely the impress of his feet and the benefit get away before,) with a degree of of his advice. He was a walking “ Gar- pleasure of which my words can render dener's Gazette;" and no one went to but an obscure and feeble image. His him in vain for information connected was a feeling of universal benevolence with planting, sowing, pruning, or any which knew of no restraint or limitation. of the most abstruse of garden mys- Deserved prosperity, shine on whom teries. Weeds were a "favourite aver- it might, delighted him; and his sersion" of his ; and whilst he mildly ob- vices were bestowed with most laudable served, “ These should not be here," the impartiality: expression of his countenance said, very During the twenty years of his perplainly, “ You are an idle fellow," or, ambulations, Gwyn found companions ** You have not acquainted yourself with at intervals; but he outwalked them all. the good labourers of the village.' But In these partnerships, Gwyn was someif I could plead guilty to either of these what peremptory; his companions must accusations, Gwyn could not : to his walk where he led, and do what he industry I have already borne testi- required, or they were no comrades for mony; and his knowledge of the cha- him. “Out of his own well-worn track he racters of the peasantry was extensive turned not for any one; and those who and accurate. Now, our parish is six could not relish it, might shun it: thus, miles in length and five in breadth ; his perambulatory connexions were neia fact important to record, as showing ther close nor permanent; and I was the extent of Gwyn's explorations. often amused with his brief and quaint To obtain a thorough knowledge of histories of his peripatetic friends, some every field in such an area as this, must of whom being spring, summer, or aucost a man some labour; to be able to tumn birds, took their flights at their point out the best field of corn among respective seasons. These companionthem all, required close observation ; to ships, with one exception, lasted on an report all the broken hedges thereon, average about six weeks; the exception, needed constant survey; to drive there about four months. This partner of from all the stray cattle, and shut all Gwyn's strolls, was a widower, and by the neglected gates, must require many trade a blacksmith, and lived opposite a watchful glance and weary step. In to Gwyn. Having accumulated a small all these occupations, however, old Gwyn fortune by the side of his forge, and, was indefatigable; and he had during perhaps, becoming tired of the puff of their exercise contrived, as I before obe his bellows and the din of his hammer, served, so well to study the characters | he yielded both to his son ; and his of our labourers, as to be able at once first subsequent occupation was to wanto point out and recommend the best. der with old Gwyn. He did this very He once directed me to a poor decrepid | steadily for three months ; and after that old man by no means famous for his time, "Gwyn was occasionally seen, as Adam-like skill, and whom none would of old, alone; occasionally, accompanied employ. I confess that I doubted old by his friend. The latter, it appeared,
was undecided, whether to make Gwyn | tion. I should think Frank's Shetland his companion for life, or to re-enter pony must have wondered, if wonder the silken bonds of wedlock. He de- belongs to horses, what could be going cided for the latter alternative; and on. For instead of his regular morning's when I again encountered Gwyn in the exercise, from which he was returned to
daisy-dappled dale,” I could not sup- the paddock or the stable, to graze and press a significant smile. But Gwyn ruminate at pleasure for the rest of the did not return it: he evidently felt his day, he was called for at all hours to trot loss; his looks denoted that he felt the off here and there, where some acquaintfriendship of man to be but a dream. ance must not be overlooked, or some
From that time, Gwyn walked with- one had been nearly forgotten, or some out a companion ; and now, he who very particular friend had requested to walked the parish over and over, is be reminded, the very day before the literally walked over by the parish. In flower was to make its appearance. No accordance with his eccentric wish, he sooner was any thing of the sort recollies buried close by the front gate in lected or suggested, than off went Frank; the pathway of the churchyard, through for his heart was in it." which the gay and the rustic go up Mrs. Rogers the housekeeper and old sabbath after sabbath to worship. Nei- Anthony the gardener were not less ther stone, nor green mound decked busy; the former, in a grand display of with daisies, tells the spot where he her taste and skill in decorating the lies; the plain surface of gravel, made garden saloon, which opened into the smooth by the roller, covers his remains. conservatory, and preparing refreshBut what of this ? He sleeps as soundly, ments for the company; the latter, in and if he was a Christian indeed, as I re-arranging the plants, so as to widen would fain hope he was, he will rise the approach to the plant of distinction; as gloriously from thence, as those who matting (or, as he would have it, “carpetare entombed beneath the gorgeous ing with mats”) the conservatory, and sepulchres that surround his resting disposing the lamps so as to cast the place. Reader, it matters not where most favourable light on the expanding our bones are deposited. Though they blossom. But old Anthony made a point may be committed to the fathomless of being in bed at nine o'clock : he had depths of the ocean, yet will they be never been known to vary from his resummoned from thence at the last great gular rule; and every body in the house day. This is a solemn consideration. concluded, that, when nine o'clock came, Prepare, then, to meet thy God ! Anthony would either take his departure, THE RECORDER. and leave the spectators to enjoy the
sight without him, or that he would drop asleep at his post. No such thing: nine o'clock came, and ten, and eleven; and
there was Anthony, as brisk as a bee, In the days when I was young, there watching the advance of the flower, was a certain flower introduced into the and talking learnedly about the involugardens of the curious, which has now crum, and the pistils, and the petals, become comparatively common; so much and the calyx, and the corolla. At midso, that few persons who can afford to night, the flower was completely opened, have a conservatory, are satisfied with and Anthony's rapture was complete. out possessing the cactus grandiflorus, Soon afterwards, the guests began to drop or night-flowering cactus. But forty years off, and by one o'clock the house was ago, it was a rare thing; and horticultur- cleared; but Anthony was still watching ists thought little of travelling miles to the splendid flower, without a symptom witness the flowering of one. My uncle of drowsiness. Whether he stayed in the possessed one of the earliest specimens conservatory all night, I cannot pretend of this beautiful plant that were brought to say; but when, after a short repose, into England; and as the time of its Frank and I at six o'clock visited flowering approached, invitations were the scene of the last night's attraction, issued to a large circle of acquaintance. there was Anthony, watching the shrinkIndeed, it was considered a matter of ing petals, as they closed to open no courtesy,
with whom my un- more, and moralizing on the transient cle was not on terms of great intimacy, nature of all worldly splendour and deshould be invited to share the gratifica- | lights.
“HIS HEART IS IN IT."
• Well, Anthony,” said Frank, "how I pray what are your hearts set upon, that have you managed to remain awake so led to the remark?” long ?' I thought nothing could keep you “It was not so much, sir, about out of bed after nine o'clock." • Why, ourselves we were speaking, as of Anmaster, you see my heart was in it:' it thony keeping so long awake, to watch was hardly worth while for an old man the flowering of the cactus, which
you like me to set his heart upon a flower ; know is so contrary to his usual habit ; but I did wish to see the opening of he tells us he has not been out of bed at one that was so celebrated, and the ten o'clock for twenty years before.” like of which has never been seen in these “I wish Anthony's early and regular parts. And you know, sir, when one's habits were more generally prevalent heart is in a matter, one does not mind than they are; there would be much getting over a few difficulties to accom- more good done in the world, and much plish it. When we say we cannot do a less mischief: you should not forget, thing, it often means no more than that that if Anthony likes to retire to rest we do not set our minds upon trying to early at night, he is habitually one of do it, and do not care whether or not the first to bid the sun good morning.” the thing is done."
“Oh, yes, uncle; we were not making “ That is very true," said Frank; game of Anthony, I assure you. I hope “ both Samuel and I know, that if we his example of regularity has been of set our minds upon learning any thing, some use to us. We merely observed, the difficulties are sure to be surmounted. how easily he could break through his We try this way, and try that, and per- habit, when induced by a motive with severe till we accomplish it.”
which he felt inclined to comply.” Yes, master; and when your mind “Ay, that's the secret of enterprize, a has been set upon any of your ingenious powerful motive acting upon a willing little contrivances, by way of amusement, mind. I know a worthy man who, from I have heard you sawing and hammer- an uneducated rustic, has risen to be one ing away, by six o'clock in the morning, of the first practical chemists of his day. at it, at it, all day long, hardly liking This man entered a well-known house to be called away to your meals. I have in that line, merely as a drudging porthought to myself, I wish I could make ter. Observation soon awakened native my boys, that are picking stones or genius ; he immediately conceived the weeding the garden, work half as hard design of effecting improvements in some as master Frank ; we should get the work of the most important and difficult promore completely done, and in much less cesses of chemistry, He solicited and time: but then his heart is in it, and I obtained permission to make the atam afraid theirs is not. Even master tempt, though little expectation was enLongley, who I must say is very dif- tertained of his succeeding. As his expeferent from either of you young gentle- riment, or rather one of his experiments, men, for in general he lounges about, as approached its crisis, he watched it four if he did not know how to get rid of his days and nights without intermission, par. time, and has to be called over and over taking occasionally of a little bread and again to make him leave his bed in time cheese and water, placed in silence by a for breakfast ; yet, if he is going out for fellow-servant, so close to his hand, that a day's hunting, or any thing else on he could take it without withdrawing bis which his heart
is set, he can wake of his eye from the process in which he was own accord, rise with the sun, and move engaged. Complete success crowned his about as briskly as if he really felt the enterprize and perseverance; success, pleasure of activity. Depend upon it, which not only raised the individual to young gentlemen, the way to make eminence and afiluence, but also conwork of
way to ferred important benefits on mankind. have it well done, is to have the heart But what particularly led me to mention in it.”
the circumstance, was his own remark My uncle now made his appearance, when relating it: 'During the progress and, after kindly inquiring of the old of the operation, I was insensible to weariman how he found himself after the ness, hunger, and inconvenience in geextraordinary fatigues of the night, took neral ; for my heart was in it."" up the sentiment he had just uttered. " That is just what my sister Ellen
way to do anything easily says when she has her rest disturbed by and well, is to have the heart in it: and attention to the children: she does not
feel fatigue; for her heart is in it. She just alluded to, the mantling blush and never seems to reckon it a privation or glistening eye told my uncle that his disappointment, to be kept from any remark had given me pain; for he party, if she considers it necessary for looked at me, and continued—“That, their welfare that she should stay at Samuel, does not apply to your good home. No,' she will say, if urged mother : she cannot do what she would ; to go, Spray do not press me, do not but she will and does do what she can, think about me; I could not find any and therefore she does her duty. Her pleasure in company, and I am sure I heart is with her children. Illness often could not confer any; for my heart presses down the springs of her energy would be in the nursery.”
and activity; but, whenever the pres“Yes," said my uncle, “ I do not know sure is removed, though but partially a more lively illustration of the senti- and temporarily, it is easy to see that ment, that perfect love casts out fear, and her heart is in the right place. But casts out selfishness, than in the untiring there are mothers who cannot bear the devotedness, the willing privations and confinement of the nursery, yet who may sacrifices, of a tender mother. Her heart be met with at every place of gay resort, is in the work; and she finds her delight and to whom the appeal of Scripture where another would find only weariness might be justly addressed— Can a woand disgust. Where there is not this man forget her sucking child, that she kind of devotedness, and in a high degree, should not have compassion on the son the duties of a mother are never well of her womb ? yea, they may forget,' performed.”
Isa. xlix. 15. Your mother never forgets “ I remember, uncle, when the captain you, my boy.” was quizzing Mortimer, about his wife "Oh
no, uncle; I am sure she does being so devoted to the nursery, you said not: she is always thinking and caring you had known the wretchedness and about us, if she is ever so ill.” ruin of several families to have ori- My uncle then mentioned two melanginated in the heart of the mother hav- choly facts which had come under his own ing been set on pleasure and gaiety, to observation, in which the duties and feelthe neglect of her duties at home.” ings of a mother were sacrificed to the
“Yes, Frank; such instances are but indulgence of vicious propensities. In too common. I rejoice to think that dear one instance, the wife of a tradesman in Ellen's conduct, in this respect, is so humble circumstances had in her youth totally opposite to that of many modern acquired a fondness for the time-confine ladies. A mother who can satisfy suming, soul-absorbing, temper-ruining herself, as having done her duty to her novel. She was a young woman of acchildren, when she has provided for tive habits, possessing sufficient knowthem well-recommended nurses and go- ledge of household affairs to make a vernesses, too plainly proves that her plain man's home comfortable, and disheart is not in her duty, but is set on posed to do so. Full employment, and something else at variance with it. A the excitement of novelty in circummother's duties cannot be delegated.” stances, for a time took her off in some
My uncle's remark touched upon a degree from her favourite, but most insubject on which I was particularly sen- jurious, pursuit. Novel-reading was not, sitive. My own dear mother, by ill as it had formerly been, the employment health, was prevented paying as much of hours together, and day after day; personal attention to the affairs of the but it was still resorted to, as an occanursery as my aunt Tatnull bestowed on sional, and, as it was deemed, harmless, hers. I often felt a secret conviction, recreation. But the cares of a family that this was a serious disadvantage to came on, and confined Mrs. M. more the comfort, health, tempers, and habits frequently to the house, while her husof us children; and the superiority which band was more habitually abroad on his I ever willingly conceded to Frank and his business. Novel-reading is a poor prefamily, I in a great measure ascribed to parative for solitude; and the young the greater advantages they enjoyed in woman who has formed her tastes and that respect. Still I could not bear to habits on the model of the novel system, admit a thought, or hear a remark, is not likely to regard her infant offwhich in the slightest degree seemed to spring in the light of the most interestcast a reflection on my beloved mother. ing and agreeable society. To such a I have no doubt, that, on the occasion one solitude is irksome, and the duties