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THE activity of “Old Humphrey's” mind, and his readiness in composition, are seen in the large number of unpublished manuscripts he has left behind him. They commence with the early effusions of his youth, and range through different periods of his life, to his closing days. They vary in subject and style, being descriptive and didactic, on general topics and religious themes, light-hearted and grave, in prose and verse. Some of the pieces are marked by much tenderness of feeling, others by energy, and many by his peculiar, telling quaintness, while all are consecrated to truth and godliness. The Gleanings which follow are chiefly from his Portfolio and Study-table.
A few poetical specimens have been interwoven in the preceding memoir: a further selection will now be made.
THE OLD MAN ON THE RIDGY POINT.
SEE, yonder the old man comes again, with his stick, picking his way along the ferny, broken ground of the High Downs. He is a stranger to the place, and has perhaps come here for his health: he walks about alone. I have met him on the beach, where the billows fling their foam on the shingles, in the solitary glen, and the retired lane, always by himself, always musing. I saw him yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that too; and I marked his thin gray hair, for the wind was waving it as I passed by. He looked calm and thoughtful, but not melancholy. There was that in the old man's face that set me thinking.
As he passed along the side of the Downs, the first time I saw him, the sun was setting beyond the windmills on the opposite hill; the old Castle ruin looked dark against the sky, and the fishers' skiffs lay motionless on the sea. The old man stood on the Ridgy Point that commands a view of the valley, and I thought he was looking at the setting sun.
The next time I saw him on the Downs, it was at the same hour of eventide; but the sky was overcast, the wind had risen, the sea was rough, and
the fishing-smacks were rudely tossed about on the billows of the mighty deep. He stopped when he came to the Ridgy Point, and stood like a statue. I thought he was looking at the restless ocean.
Yesterday it was a little later when the old man came to his favourite spot, for the sun had set, and the ocean was hardly visible. Once more he took up his accustomed standing-place, and fixed his eye intently; but I knew then that he could not be looking at the sea or the sun. 6 What can it be,” thought I, “ that draws him to the spot so constantly? What can it be on which he bends his eye so steadily?” When I walked near him, the truth flashed upon me at once.
For three evenings together, as I have already said, had the old man come to the same spot at nearly the same hour. He made no difference whether the sky were bright or gloomy, or whether the day were windy or calm. I wonder that he does not walk with the people on the parade, when the band plays; but no, he keeps to the High Downs.
In the valley below, and it may be about a furlorig from the Ridgy Point, is a church, with a graveyard attached to it. The church is an ancient, gray, weather-stained building, that might almost pass for being a thousand years old. Both the tower and body of the antique edifice are roofed with red tiles,-somewhat out of keeping, cer
tainly,—but age, and moss, and revolving years are beginning to make the tiles harmonize with the stonework. The churchyard is in two parts, with a row of large trees between them. It has hundreds of graves.* The old man was too much occupied to take any notice of me; he was looking at the gravestones.
It might be that some friend of his was sleeping below one of the green hillocks or flat stones, and that the mouldering tenant of the tomb was rising in his remembrance. We do sometimes think affectionately of those who have been called away from the world, and especially if they have been very dear to us. Whether the old man was thinking thus, I cannot say.
Perhaps he was thinking that his own days were nearly numbered; and that there was “but a step between him and death." No doubt such thoughts do now and then come over the aged with great power; and quite natural it is that it should be so; for what is our life? Truly, it is “a vapour,
that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away:" James iv. 14.
An old man looking on a churchyard must needs be enough to set him thinking of the past and the future. He sees how many
* In this graveyard have since been added the remains of Qld Humphrey.
and he feels how shortly he must follow them. Death may be as near the young as the old, though we are not apt to think so.
I should like to talk with the old man, and I will, if I can get a good opportunity, for there is nothing forbidding in his manner; but, on the contrary, much that is kind and gentle. He is coming nearer now; but, mark my words, he will turn off yet towards the church in the valley. The old man is thoughtful, as age ought to be; for
“Ill gray hairs become a jester.”.
He is not, however, sorrowful, but rather like one who is calmly and hopefully preparing for his latter end, saying in his heart, “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon
the earth : and though after my skin worme destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:” Job xix. 25, 26. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me:" Ps. xxiii. 4.
See there: the old man has just come to the edge of the broken ground. I felt sure that he would make a pause. He is now standing on the Ridgy Point, almost as motionless as if made of stone, with his eyes fixed on the churchyard. How I should like to know what is passing through his mind!
Though we can only guess at the old man's