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"When novelty's the rage, and love of change,
And things are doted on because they're strange,
How shall he fare whose unaspiring hack
Jogs on the broadway and the beaten track,
Leaps o'er no moral fence, nor dares to prance ·
In the wild regions of untried romance ?"-CHARLES Moore.




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with the notion of an almost interminable delay,

candour compels us to admit that the process in Though the village of Woodcote, situated at question did not extend much beyond the term the foot of the Cotswold Hills in Gloucester- of nineteen years. In vindication of its decisshire, could lay no claim to picturesque beauty, ions, we must record that, although a verdict there was in its immediate vicinity one object was given in favour of the wrong party, the forwhich might interest a traveller, especially if he tunate gainer of the suit, who had previously happened to be an antiquarian. This was the been in good circumstances, was completely Manor-House, at a short distance from the vil- ruined by its expense, so that there was a spelage, on the road to Charlton Abbots. Origi- cies of retributive justice even in its erroneous nally a monastic building of considerable extent, judgment. it presented the usual incongruous aspect of such The impoverished owner of the Manor-House edifices when they have been partly pulled down, now offered it for sale; but, as it had assumed, and partly rebuilt, and patched, and altered by from neglect during the litigation, a most forsuccessive owners, each more solicitous of adopt- lorn and desolate appearance, no purchaser had ing modern conveniences and improvements than appeared until about three weeks previous to of conforming to the antiquated style of the ori- the commencement of our history; when it had ginal building.

been bought, not without much sharp and strenThe rambling structure bewildered the eye by uous haggling, by Adam Brown, a retired mera succession of varying gables, some originally chant, who, after giving orders for the hasty decorated by projecting frames of richly-carved preparation of such apartments as he meant imoak, surmounted by crotcheted pinnacles crown- mediately to occupy, was expected to arrive and ed with a cross, most of which enrichments had take possession of his new property on the afcrumbled away, or suffered defacement, from ternoon which we are proceeding to describe. the corrosions of time. Even the monster-faced Towards the latter end of autumn, the breezes stone corbels on which the woodwork had once which had tempered the heat of a sultry day had rested, had lost some portion of their grim ugli- subsided into a dead calm; the setting sun, ness, their abraded and discoloured features now shooting its rays in the direction of the Chelteninspiring compassion rather than aversion, es- ham high road, imparted an appearance of fiery pecially when the rain, escaping from the de- smoke to the dust thrown up by a flock of sheep cayed spouts, fell like tear-drops from their fur- wending to their fold; the tops of the Cotswold rowed faces.

Hills, burnished by the rays, shone out distinctly A large Gothic window, with heavy stone against the sky, while their lower ranges already mullions branching into trefoil and quatrefoil began to be wreathed with ascending vapours; divisions, which had once given light to the re-crows were making their heavy way back to the fectory, imparted to the principal gable an air of Manor-House rookery; horses and labourers dignity but ill supported by its neighbours, whose were plodding wearily home from plough; cows, projecting latticed casements, receding loop- indolently whisking off the flies, were dawdling holes, or flat modern windows, peered forth from to their homestead ; not a cloud moved above, the massive walls with a comparative meanness. not a leaf below; it seemed as if the sky and the Above the centre of the steep ponderous roof earth, exhausted by the fervours of the day, lanstood, or rather tottered, the remains of a wooden guidly awaited its decline, that they might enjoy belfry, a portion of which had either crumbled the cool repose of night. to decay, or had blown down in some unremem From this general air of drowsy tranquillity bered storm. The spacious fish-ponds of the we must specially except that portion of the garden, which had once supplied piscatory deli- village which was in the immediate vicinity of cacies to the monks during Lent, and probably the Green Man public-house and the bridge. at all other times, had been long filled up, though Here there was an unusual assemblage of peothe old brickwork of their margins was still vis-ple, all animated by a rare curiosity and exciteible. A sun-dial, minus the brass plate and ment, for on this spot a bonfire had been pregnomon, retained its place between them; and pared to celebrate the arrival of the new Squire à colossal pigeon-house of stone, spite of its (as they termed the purchaser of the Manormanifest dilapidation, looked as if it would defy House), and here had a majority of the inhabithe final assaults of time for ages yet to come. tants been already waiting upward of two hours, Around the whole domain, which was of con- that they might have the first sight of the stransiderable extent, ran a massive wall of rough ger and his equipage, and testisy their respect stones, fortified at regular intervals by solid bul- for a village patron who was reported to be very

wealthy, and who could hardly fail to benefit After the death of its last occupant (a certain them by the large expenditure which his resiLady Mayhew), the right to this venerable man- dence would occasion. Their impatience and sion had been contested by two claimants, by eager anticipation had already led to one awkwhose disputes the property was ultimately ward mistake, for Jem Harris, an urchin stathrown into Chancery, and, in spite of the sneers tioned in the elm-tree that fronted the publicand sarcasms which have associated that courthouse, with orders to wave a flag as a signal to


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