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Sir Roger and his estate. They bore a strange
contrast. The one bore all the signs of
progress, the other of a stereotyped feudality.
The estate, which in the days of the first Sir
Roger de Rockville had been half morass and
half wilderness, was now cultivated to the
pitch of British agricultural science. The
marshlands beyond the river were one splendid
expanse of richest meadows, yielding a rental
of four solid pounds per acre. Over hill and
dale on this side for miles, where formerly ran
wild deer, and grew wild woodlands or furze-
bushes, now lay excellent farms and hamlets,
and along the ridge of the ancient cliffs rose
the most magnificent woods. Woods, too,
clothed the steep hill-sides, and swept down
to the noble river, their very boughs hanging
far out over its clear and rapid waters. In
the midst of these fine woods stood Rockville
Hall, the family seat of the Rockvilles. It
reared its old brick walls above the towering
mass of elms, and travellers at a distance
recognised it for what it was, the mansion of
an ancient and wealthy family.

The progress of England in arts, science,
commerce, and manufacture, had carried Sir
Roger's estate along with it. It was full of
active and moneyed farmers, and flourished
under modern influences. How lucky it
would have been for the Rockville family had
it done the same!

But amid this estate there was Sir Roger
solitary, and the last of the line. He had
grown well enoughthere was nothing stunted
about him, so far as you could see on the
surface. In stature, he exceeded six feet. His
colossal elms could not boast of a properer relative
growth. He was as large a landlord, and
as tall a justice of the peace, as you could
desire; but, unfortunately, he was, after all,
only the shell of a man. Like many of his
veteran elms, there was a very fine stem, only
it was hollow. There was a man, just with
the rather awkward deficiency of a soul.

And it were no difficult task to explain,
either, how this had come about. The
Rockvilles saw plainly enough the necessity of
manuring their lands, but they scorned the very
idea of manuring their family. What! that
most ancient, honourable, and substantial
family, suffer any of the common earth of
humanity to gather about its roots! The
Rockvilles were so careful of their good blood,
that they never allied it to any but blood
as pure and inane as their own. Their elms
flourished in the rotten earth of plebeian
accumulations, and their acres produced large
crops of corn from the sewage of towns and
fat sinks, but the Rockvilles themselves took
especial care that no vulgar vigour from the
rich heap of ordinary human nature should
infuse a new force of intellect into their race.
The Rockvilles needed nothing; they had all
that an ancient, honourable, and substantial
family could need. The Rockvilles had no
need to study at schoolwhy should they?
They did not want to get on. The Rockvilles
did not aspire to distinction for talent in the
worldwhy should they? They had a large
estate. So the Rockville soul, unused from
generation to generation, grew

           Fine by degrees, and spiritually less,

till it tapered off into nothing.

Look at the last of a long line in the midst
of his fine estate. Tall he was, with a stoop
in his shoulders, and a bowing of his head on
one side, as if he had been accustomed to stand
under the low boughs of his woods, and peer
after intruders. And that was precisely the
fact. His features were thin and sharp; his
nose prominent and keen in its character;
his eyes small, black, and peering like a
mole's, or a hungry swine's. Sir Roger was
still oracular on the bench, after consulting
his clerk, a good lawyer,—and looked up
to by the neighbouring squires in election
matters, for he was an unswerving tory. You
never heard of a rational thing that he had
said in the whole course of his life; but that
mattered little, he was a gentleman of solemn
aspect, of stately gait, and of a very ancient

With ten thousand a-year, and his rental
rising, he was still, however, a man of
overwhelming cares. What mattered a fine estate
if all the world was against him? And Sir
Roger firmly believed that he stood in that
predicament. He had grown up to regard
the world as full of little besides upstarts,
radicals, manufacturers, and poachers. All
were banded, in his belief, against the landed
interest. It demanded all the energy of his
very small faculties to defend himself and the
world against them.

Unfortunately for his peace, a large
manufacturing town had sprung up within a couple
of miles of him. He could see its red-brick
walls, and its red-tiled roofs, and its tall
smoke-vomiting chimneys, growing and
extending over the slopes beyond the river. It
was to him the most irritating sight in the
world; for what were all those swarming
weavers and spinners but arrant radicals,
upstarts, sworn foes of the ancient institutions
and the landed interests of England? Sir
Roger had passed through many a desperate
conflict with them for the return of members
to parliament. They brought forward men
that were utter wormwood to all his feelings,
and they paid no more respect to him and his
friends en such occasions than they did to the
meanest creature living. Reverence for ancient
blood did not exist in that plebeian and
rapidly multiplying tribe. There were master
manufacturers there actually that looked and
talked as big as himself, and entre nous, a vast
deal more cleverly. The people talked of
rights and franchises, and freedom of speech
and of conscience, in a way that was really
frightful. Then they were given most
inveterately to running out in whole and
everlasting crowds on Sundays and holidays into
the fields and woods; and as there was no