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The Vicar of Wrexhill by Mrs Trollope

STANDARD NOVELS.

No. LXXVIII.

"No kind of literature is so generally attractive as Fiction. Pictures of life and manners, and Stories of adventure, are more eagerly received by the many than graver productions, however important these latter may be. APULEIUS is better remembered by his fable of Cupid and Psyche than by his abstruser Platonic writings; and the Decameron of BOCCACCIO has outlived the Latin Treatises, and other learned works of that author."

THE VICAR OF WREXHILL.

COMPLETE IN ONE VOLUME.

BY FRANCES TROLLOPE

AUTHOR OF "JONATHAN JEFFERSON WHITLAW," "DOMESTIC MANNERS OF THE AMERICANS," "ONE FAULT," ETC.

Les bons et vrais devots qu'on doit suivre a la trace Ne sont pas ceux aussi qui font taut de grimace. He, quoi!... vous ne ferez nulle distinction Entre l'hypocrisie et la devotion? Vous les voulez traiter d'un semblable langage, Et rendre meme honneur au masque qu'au visage?

MOLIERE.

NEW EDITION, REVISED.

LONDON: RICHARD BENTLEY, NEW BURLINGTON STREET; BELL AND BRADFUTE, EDINBURGH; J. CUMMING, DUBLIN.

1840.

LONDON: Printed by A. SPOTTISWOODE, New-Street-Square.

[Illustration: "A sort of frozen blandishment smoothed the proud face of the Vicar as he stood with his lady beside him, to receive the sycophants."]

THE VICAR OF WREXHILL.

[Illustration: "On the turf before the bench and with their backs towards the spot where Rosalind and Henrietta stood, knelt the Vicar and Fanny."]

CHAPTER I.

THE VILLAGE OF WREXHILL.--THE MOWBRAY FAMILY.--A BIRTHDAY.

The beauties of an English village have been so often dwelt upon, so often described, that I dare not linger long upon the sketch of Wrexhill, which must of necessity precede my introduction of its vicar. And yet not even England can show many points of greater beauty than this oak-sheltered spot can display. Its peculiar style of scenery, half garden, half forest in aspect, is familiar to all who are acquainted with the New Forest, although it has features entirely its own. One of these is an overshot mill, the sparkling fall of which is accurately and most nobly overarched by a pair of oaks which have long been the glory of the parish. Another is the grey and mellow beauty of its antique church, itself unencumbered by ivy, while the wall and old stone gateway of the churchyard look like a line and knot of sober green, enclosing it with such a rich and unbroken luxuriance of foliage "never sear," as seems to show that it is held sacred, and that no hand profane ever ventured to rob its venerable mass of a leaf or a berry. Close beside the church, and elevated by a very gentle ascent, stands the pretty Vicarage, as if placed expressly to keep watch and ward over the safety and repose of its sacred neighbour. The only breach in the ivy-bound fence of the churchyard, is the little wicket gate that opens from the Vicarage garden; but even this is arched over by the same immortal and unfading green,--a fitting emblem of that eternity, the hope of which emanates from the shrine it encircles. At this particular spot, indeed, the growth of the plant is so vigorous, that it is controlled with difficulty, and has not obeyed the hand which led it over the rustic arch without dropping a straggling wreath or two, which if a vicar of the nineteenth century could wear a wig, might leave him in the state coveted for Absalom by his father. The late Vicar of Wrexhill, however,--I speak of him who died a few weeks before my story begins,--would never permit these graceful pendants to be shorn, declaring that the attitude they enforced on entering the churchyard was exactly such as befitted a Christian when passing the threshold of the court of God.


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