Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 3/The Herberts of Elfdale - Part 1

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Author of “Susan Hopley,” “The Night-Side of Nature,” &c., &c.

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The world is so over-run with biographies, memoirs, and reminiscences, in these days, that a man should consider seriously before he adds to the number. I suppose, indeed, everybody does; he considers seriously what sum the publisher will give him for them; but that is not exactly the kind of consideration I wish to enforce. What I mean is that, before we intrude our private history on society, we should consider whether what we have to tell will be of any service to it.

I am now an old man, and if I open my lips after so many years’ silence, it is because, after much deliberation, I have come to the conclusion that there is a useful lesson to be learnt from my story.

I was born at Elfdale, in Derbyshire, the seat of my father, Reginald Herbert, and amongst our collateral ancestors we reckon the famous Lord Herbert of Cherbury, and his no less famous brother George, after whom I am called. Elfdale being situated in one of the wildest parts of that romantic country, we had no very near neighbours, except Sir Ralph Wellwood, whose manor of Staughton adjoined our estate; and one of my earliest recollections is being flogged by my father for climbing to the top of the wall that alone divided the two parks, in order to kiss Clara Wellwood, a rosy fair-eyed child, somewhat younger than myself, whom one of the gardeners obligingly lifted up for the purpose, whilst the nursery-maids stood by laughing at our youthful flirtation, and declaring that we should make a charming couple, and ought to be married some day. I confess I thought so too; for although scarcely out of petticoats, I was, after my own manner, in love with Clara; and I believe I was about to make her serious proposals, when I was interrupted by a blow with a stick, and on turning round I saw my father, who had trod lightly over the turf and caught me flagranti delicto; for I had been forbidden to speak to Clara a dozen times, though I am afraid the prohibition was only attended to as long as I thought there was nobody on our side near enough to detect me.

I had some excuse, however, for this disobedience; for I was an only child, without play-fellows or companions, and I had the gloomiest home that ever poor boy was condemned to live in. I fancy my father must have been naturally a very austere man, although the circumstances that time has disclosed to me had doubtless augmented the severity of his character. Certain it is, that every creature in the house stood in awe of him, and nobody so much as my poor mother. My Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/458 Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/459 Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/460 Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/461 Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/462 Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/463 Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/464