Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/237

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A Study in Temptations.

that letting land was more profitable than tilling it. He was also in favour of small plots and short leases—the advantages of which, as he was careful to point out to dubious tenants, cut both ways, although they might occasionally cut a bit deeper on one side than on the other. An enigmatic saying, which time and the increasing value of the ground made clear.

His education, culled as it was from the Scriptures, and guiltless of School Board trimmings, gave him a command of language, a stern dignity and sterner refinement, than could be found now in younger men of his station, who too often talk big words from their favourite newspaper, mistake insolence for independence, and swagger for good breeding. Dr. Johnson's saying that "the Devil was the first Whig" was the first article of Battle's political belief, and, a staunch Nonconformist, he so far availed himself of the right of private judgment that where his co-religionists read "Down with authority" he only discovered exhortations to obedience. He was, therefore, a Tory, but for no other reason than because he did not see how a professed Christian could be anything else. From which it would seem that if Samuel Battle did wrong he did it rightly.

At the time of which we write, the inmates of the farm-house numbered four, and were Battle himself, his spinster daughter Miss Caroline, his one grandchild Jane Shannon, and a young boy named De Boys Mauden, who was his nephew by marriage—a relative as distant as he was poor.

Jane was three years younger than De Boys, and when he first came to the farm-house, he was seven, and she, four. He was handsome, but she was a plain