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this desire to perform a service, most wofully lacerates the " " jolly nose. Now, without further comment upon this entertaining and instructing tale of the olden time, I will leave the matter entirely for his merciful consideration.

Honest, sound, worthy, and to-be-regarded critic, you will know to whom I, in the bitterness of my soul, am alluding—it is to the quack and shadow upon your calling, the lean and lank-jawed PUFF. He it is who paints the skeleton, who gilds the dry-rot, who sticks plate-glass into the windows of the insolvent : he it is who gains a credit by false means and representations, to the ruin of the fair trader ; and from his injudicious and provoking emetics may be traced the present ill-conditioned state of literature, the bankruptcy of the national drama, and the linen drapery trade.

Not that I would be mistaken in these

remarks. Cap in hand, I again am an humble candidate for the favours of all who will charitably bestow them upon me; I seek the praise of those who have praised me before, and most particularly of those who may have considered it a duty or a pleasure to censure my preceding attempts to win their approbation.

To one and to all who may sit in judgment upon the ENGLISH FIRESIDE, I say with fear and with hope, be just, but pray be merciful.

J. M.'

THE ENGLISH FIRESIDE.

CHAPTER I.

** If lusty love should go in quest of beauty,

Where should he find it fairer than in Blanch?
If zealous love should go in search of virtue,
Where should he find it purer than in Blanch ?
If love ambitious sought a match of birth,
Whose veins bound richer blood than Lady Blanch ?”

WOODLAND ROOKERY, as the Hall was generally called, was an old house, a very old house, indeed. Overhanging stories bulged out and exhibited countless gable ends patched here and there with moss, and blackened with age. Its small, but innumerable stone-set casements consisted of diamond-paned lattices, and over a massive oak door thickly studded with stubborn nails, and creaking upon two grotesquely-wrought and giant hinges, was a stone porch, quaintly carved and yel

VOL. I.

B

lowed by time. The chimnies, rearing themselves out of the sloping eaves, had huge buttresses; and many a zig-zag curve and twining figure wound about their gaping and ponderous jaws. In sheltered nooks and crannies made by the winter's wind in the grim old walls, colonies of noisy jackdaws had been reared; and in the lingering shades of the autumn sun-set, crowds of fleet-winged, chattering swallows skimmed round and round the faded sun-dial over the door-way. The angular index was rusted and snapped from the face, and hung dangling in the air by a piece of clasping ivy; and the motto, 66 Time and tide wait for no man,” was so faintly legible, that had not the intricately flourished characters been cut deeply in the stone, the warning monitor would long since have been expunged in the storms and showers

of ages.

In disused chimnies, in rotten, crumbling water spouts, and beneath projecting tiles,

long year.

jutting from the roof, progenies of sparrows domiciled themselves, and twitted and chirped on and nigh the time-worn walls the live

A grove—no, not a grove-a forest of sturdy oaks reared themselves and stretched their thick and stately limbs around, about, above the frowning, grey old house; and scarcely a branch but bore a nest of some noisy, loquacious rook. Here and there a sombre and hollow tree cast its gloomy shade upon the ground; and all looked the wear and tear of times long since passed away.

Whir-r-r!—it was the flap of a pigeon's wing from that dark fir; and although the tinge of the early dawn scarcely marks the east, away she speds to glean her scanty, wintry meal. Proudly that antlered stag rises from beside his timid mate, crouched beneath the sheltering thorn, and after stretching his pliant limbs, sees, with epicurean eye, a bunch of berries hanging tempt

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