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stained from expatiating on his family pedigree beyond that portion of the trunk represented by his uncle, of rich and pious memory. And although it was popularly believed, that the particular forefather embodied in the person of that worthy individual, had really a father and a mother like common people, the precise social rank of those mysterious personages remained veiled in that poetical obscurity which shrouds from the vulgar apprehension more than one imposing family illustrious by its wealth in the incomprehensible world of fashion.
However, the obscurity of the progenitors of the uncle in no way affected Mr. and Mrs. Coverley in the practical concerns of life. They performed the usual functions of country people; they eat and they drank, gave dinners and balls, and attended the dinners and balls
of their neighbours-of course, only of those neighbours within the prescribed degrees of their own rank and pretensions, according to the rigorous custom in such cases-but with a readiness and good humour which made them rather popular in the county.
Mr. Coverley, besides, was always ready to do any service in his power; even to the extent of lending his favorite horse and gun occasionally, a stretch of good nature which can be adequately appreciated only by those in possession of such luxuries, but which was strikingly indicative of the innate generosity of his disposition. His excellent wife, also, took a pleasure in busying herself with the affairs of the cottagers and labourers about them; and as that excellent lady always accompanied the tracts, which she was rather fond of distributing, with presents of clothes
and money, her visits were ever welcome; and she had the satisfaction of doing much practical good by her personal interference and advice, seasoned as it was, and rendered palatable by acts of substantial kindness and utility.
So great was her reputation for that true benevolence which seeks out the poor and afflicted, without waiting for destitution to sink into despair before considering it as having arrived at the proper point of extremity to entitle it to relief, that to this day she is remembered among the poor as "the good Mrs. Coverley," "who knew that a poor body wanted clothes and victuals as well as tracts and hymn books."
"It's not that I mind setting up a psalm or two now and then," was used to say Tom Hodges, a disabled veteran, with one arm and
nearly a whole leg, and who was one of that amiable lady's most enthusiastic admirers, "it's not that I mind the drill, but when a poor fellow has no grub, it's blessed hard work singing psalms on an empty stomach!"
Such was the rank, and such were the pursuits of the representatives of the Coverley estate. They were more than easy in their circumstances; they were rich; for they had a larger income than they found it necessary to expend. Their estate, which yielded about four thousand a-year, afforded to them that happy competence which enables the possessor to enjoy all the comforts and luxuries of life without exposing him to enter into wasteful competition of splendour and political power with the dispensers of large and influential
Respected by all around them, their position
was that golden mean of life which is alike. removed from great rivalries and petty jealousies; with pecuniary means too large and too stable to draw down slight, and too small to stir up envy. One thing only was wanted to complete their happiness; for many years they had no children; but at last the birth of a son and heir filled up the measure of their contentment, and he was hailed with a delight proportionate to his long expectation.
It is the fate of this child, born in that happy home, and under circumstances so auspicious for his future ease and prosperity, that forms the subject of the following pages.