« EelmineJätka »
whom I have records had an average age of seventy years, while the five Greenells had an average of seventy-six. Of our own family, my brother John reached seventy-seven, and my sister Fanny eighty-one. My brother William owed his death to a railway journey by night in winter, from London to South Wales in the miserable accommodation then afforded to third-class passengers, which, increased by a damp bed at Bristol, brought on severe congestion of the lungs, from which he never recovered.
I will now give a short account of my father's appearance and character. In a miniature of himself, painted just before his marriage, when he was thirty-five years old, he is represented in a blue coat with gilt buttons, a white waistcoat, a thick white neck-cloth coming up to the chin and showing no collar, and a frilled shirt-front. This was probably his wedding-coat, and his usual costume, indicating the transition from the richly coloured semi-court dress of the earlier Georgian period to the plain black of our own day. He is shown as having a ruddy complexion, blue eyes, and carefully dressed and curled hair, which I think must have been powdered, or else in the transition from light brown to pure white. As I remember him from the age of fifty-five onwards, his hair was rather thin and quite white, and he was always clean-shaved as in the miniature. He continued to wear the frilled shirt and thick white neckties, but never wore any outer clothing but black, of the cut we now term a dresssuit, but the coat double-breasted, and the whole rather loose fitting. He also wore large shoes and black cloth gaiters out-of-doors. This dress he never altered, having at first one new suit a year, but latterly I think only one every second or third year; but he always had one for Sundays and visiting, which was kept in perfect order. The second was for everyday wear; and when gardening or doing any other work likely to be injurious to his clothes, I think I remember him wearing a thin home-made holland jacket and a gardener's apron.
In figure he was somewhat below the middle height. He
was fairly active and fond of gardening and other country occupations, such as brewing beer and making grape or elder wine whenever he had the opportunity; and during some years at Hertford he rented a garden about half a mile away, in order to grow vegetables and have some wholesome exercise. He had had some injury to one of his ankles which often continued to trouble him, and gave him a slight lameness, and in consequence of this he never took very long walks. He was rather precise and regular in his habits, quiet and rather dignified in manners, and somewhat of what is termed a gentleman of the old school. Of course, he always wore a top-hat-a beaver hat as it was then called, before silk hats were invented the only other headgear being sometimes a straw hat for use in the garden in summer.
In character he was quiet and even-tempered, very religious in the orthodox Church-of-England way, and with such a reliance on Providence as almost to amount to fatalism. He was fond of reading, and through reading clubs or lending libraries we usually had some of the best books of travel or biography in the house. Some of these my father would read to us in the evening, and when Bowdler's edition of Shakespeare came out he obtained it, and often read a play to the assembled family. In this way I made my first acquaintance with Lear and Cordelia, with Malvolio and Sir Andrew Aguecheek, with the thrilling drama of the Mer. chant of Venice, with Hamlet, with Lady Macbeth, and other masterpieces. At one time my father wrote a good deal, and we were told it was a history of Hertford, or at other times some religious work; but they never got finished, and I do not think they would ever have been worth publishing, his character not leading him to do any such work with suffi. cient thoroughness. He dabbled a little in antiquities and in heraldry, but did nothing systematic, and though he had fair mental ability he possessed no special talent, either literary, artistic, or scientific. He sketched a little, but with a very weak and uncertain touch, and among his few scrapand note-books that have been preserved, there is hardly
anything original except one or two short poems in the usual didactic style of the period, but of no special merit. I will, however, give here the only two of these that my mother had preserved, and which are, no doubt, the best products of his pen. They were evidently both written at Usk.
“USK BRIDGE-A SIMILE.
And viewed the tide that deep beneath it rollid,
ON THE CUSTOM OBSERVED IN WALES OF DRESSING THE
GRAVES WITH FLOWERS ON PALM SUNDAY.
The villagers within those sacred walls,