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'Twas the first day I ever left my home !
The old School House of Athelling was a fair sight except on such a day as that which introduced Godfrey Davenant as an inmate. Its old gables alternately receding and advancing with the deep bayed windows, generally presented a face, even more hospitable and home-like, than it was calm and reverend. But when the coach stopped
at the beginning of the green, which lay outside the little town of Athelling, a thick mist hung over the earth, and depressed the gayest spirits with an inward chill and sense of discomfort and helpless sadness.
Godfrey's spirits were, however, on other accounts none of the gayest upon this occasion. He had left a Christmas home, with the happy ways of which he had been long familiar, for a scene and a life of which he knew nothing. It is true that there was a charm in his ignorance and in the curiosity which it occasioned, but not one strong enough to overpower the misgivings and regrets which beset the heart of the home-boy, as he stood after a journey of more than an hundred miles beneath the porch of the old mansion.
The father of our young traveller was the Incumbent of an
unwealthy benefice,” in one of the most beautiful parts of Yorkshire. He was one of the old school of clergy, as they are now called ; rather the Squire than the Priest : he thought more of the Norman ancestors, whose domains once spread around the spot where their poor descendants inherited a few acres, an honoured name, and a poor donative cure, than of any privileges and high responsibilities connected with the office of the Priesthood. If we say that
he was a kind neighbour, a cheerful host, a ready guest, charitable according to his means, after the manner of a country gentleman, rather than as linking temporal and spiritual blessings together, and visiting when need was with kindness, not with saintly zeal ; ” we shall have given our readers a fair idea of the man who had just consigned his only boy to the care of the famous Dr. Wilson, the Head Master of Athelling. Godfrey's mother was a very
person. She was of an ardent temperament, generous, and religious, but wanting in perseverance and in those calm, reverential, practical habits of mind which befit alike the mother and the Christian.
Her doctrinal notions were derived principally from those little green and gilt books which adorn a religious drawing-room. Everything which could do the heart good, in her sense of the word, every thing, that is to say, which could touch its affections, was in her opinion a lawful and safe guide. If she could induce herself to take a lively interest in any religious subject, however short-lived that interest was, and could feel her heart softened, however little it was permanently influenced, she was pleased and satisfied. word, her husband and she had each of them, as is very commonly the case, chosen the doctrine