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[Illustration: His hair went snow-white early in life.]

He is still outwardly the same. One could hardly detect a single
point of change in him, save that his face is more furrowed and his
eyes deeper set. His hair went snow-white early in life. Generations
of Pettingdales have been subject to the same peculiarity. Thus it
is that the long step from forty to sixty-five has wrought little
difference in Roger Pettingdale. His body is as erect, his step as
firm, his voice as sonorous as ever. He was ever a well-known figure
at all the county markets and agricultural meetings, and it might be
twenty-five years agone for all the change that one can see in him.
Among other men he was always noticeable, with his tall figure, his
white hair, his clean-shaven, well-cut face, and that wide-rimmed
silk hat which he always affected. As he moved amongst the crowd I
have heard men say, "Who is that?" and others answer, "Don't you
know him? Why, surely everybody knows _him_? He's Roger Pettingdale."

He is elected on all the local bodies. Thus he is a guardian of the
poor, a member of the School Board, vice-chairman of the County
Council, and the people's churchwarden at the parish church. There
is no man amongst all those he meets in these capacities whose words
are listened to with more respect. That solid weight, that hallmark
of sound judgment which always attends upon sheer common-sense, is
apparent in every opinion he utters. He forms his judgments first,
and speaks afterwards. While other men are impulsively throwing
themselves into useless controversy on this or that vexed question,
Roger Pettingdale is silently weighing the _pros_ and _cons_ of
the matter in his own mind; and when he speaks there is usually
nothing more to be said. He chops no logic; he simply argues
with the sledge-hammer of common-sense, backed up by the blunt,
uncompromising sincerity of an honest and fair-dealing mind. His
tolerance, his breadth of vision, his power of seeing the other side
of the question, his scorn of all shams and pretences, have made his
name a password for integrity and sound judgment. "You will always
get a fair hearing from Roger Pettingdale," people say. "Does Roger
Pettingdale think so? Oh, then, there must be something in it."

In his home life, in the control of his farm, in his own daily
affairs, there is the same straightforwardness, the same sincerity,
the same well-balanced judgment and acumen. "There never was a
year, as I remember, when we didn't have plenty of hay to begin
conditioning on," said one of his labourers the other day. "Now,
at the next farm they've never got enough." That is only a small
instance of the perfection of method which marks every department of
the prosperous farm.

At home he is essentially a plain man, this sturdy farmer. There
is no nonsense about him, although he can claim blood with one of
the oldest families in the county. Yet he has a proper pride, in
a manly, direct kind of way, as you shall see. He has had four
children, two boys and two girls, in giving birth to the youngest
of whom his wife died. James, the eldest, is his right hand in the
farm management, and will some day be head of the family, as the
Pettingdales have succeeded, son to father, for generations out of
mind. Mary, the second, you shall hear more of anon. Frank, the
third, my old playmate, early in life took the fancy that he would
like to be a soldier. Roger Pettingdale has ever been a wise and a
tolerant father, studying well the nature of each of his children.
He unerringly knew Frank's proud and stubborn character.

"You want to be a soldier?" he said. "Well, I could have wished it
otherwise, Frank. It would have been a pleasure to me to see you
settle down on the farm. But we will not argue the point. Let it
stand for twelve months, and then talk to me about it."

Twelve months did not change Frank's resolve. When he mentioned
it again, a drawn look passed over Roger Pettingdale's face for a
moment - a look of keen pain - for he loved his children. Then he drew
himself up to his full height.

"You are still of the same mind, Frank! Then I have nothing more to
say. I am not going to attempt to dictate to you what your calling
should be. You have to live your own life, and as you make your bed
you must lie on it. Remember that, my lad. If you decide to go as a
soldier, you shall go in a proper fashion, lad. You shall have your
commission. No son of mine shall enter the ranks."

And have his commission Frank did. I looked at the tablet in the old
church the other day with a surging heart. It is a brass tablet, the
lettering of which has been recently renovated.

TO THE MEMORY OF
LIEUTENANT FRANK PETTINGDALE,
WHO FELL IN ACTION IN THE
BATTLE OF TEL-EL-KEBIR.

That was all. There was no vainglorious recounting of the brave
deed in the performance of which Frank was cut down. He fell "in
action." That was all. It was Roger Pettingdale all over - simple and
direct and manly. And were not the laconic words far more eloquent
than all the ornate elegiacs that poets might have written, just as
Roger Pettingdale's silent grief when the news reached him was far
more eloquent than all the passionate outbursts of frenzied sorrow
that one could conceive?

The fourth child, Clara, as I have already said, sleeps in the
churchyard. She died when she was a fair-haired girl of ten - as
bright and promising a maiden as one could wish to see. But she was
ever fragile, like her mother, and suddenly she faded away, leaving
a great gap in the home life at the Pettingdale farm.

As to Mary, the second child, she was nineteen years of age, and
newly returned from school, when Edward Leigh, the son of old Squire
Leigh, of the Hall, came home from his travels round the world.
These two, who had only distantly known each other as children,
met for the first time after many years - she a sweet-looking,
fresh-coloured girl, in the first blush of womanhood; and he a
manly, well-set young fellow with a pleasant, sincere face and
straightforward blue eyes. It was the old story! Twang goes the
bow of the roguish little archer, and to some heart or another the
world all at once becomes rose-colour. The old story! They saw each
other on a Sunday morning across the church. She, sitting in the
Pettingdale pew, mentally noted that there was a young man at the
Squire's side who could be no other than his newly returned son; and
he, from his corner underneath the dingy, ponderous coat-of-arms
of the Leigh family, looked upon her in her simple dress of white.
The sun, striking through the window to her right, glinted upon her
brown hair, which always curled so prettily about her forehead. He
thought, as he looked, that she was the sweetest, daintiest maiden
he had ever seen, and he fell in love with her.

He made no secret of his passion. Beating about the bush was
entirely foreign to Edward Leigh. The choleric old Squire went
off into a fit of apoplectic rage when he heard how things stood.
The veins swelled in his forehead, and that pugnacious under-lip
of his stood out and drew itself over the upper lip and the teeth
with a tight grip. But Edward had all the old Leigh blood in him.
"I love her, father," he said quietly, looking the Squire straight
in the face, and the old man's heart sank within him as he met the
steady glance of those blue eyes. Fits of passion, threats, fiery
denunciations - they were all of no avail. Edward was never once
other than respectful. He would stand with shoulders squared and
head uplifted, bearing the storm in perfect calm and silence, and
then would look his father in the face and say - "Father, I love
her"; and the Squire would clench his fist and march to and fro,
furiously stamping his feet upon the floor.

[Illustration: "Father, I love her."]

In one culminating fit of choleric rage the Squire rode over to the
farm. He found Roger Pettingdale in the corn-field, looking at the
growing wheat.

[Illustration: "Forgive me!"]

"Look here, Pettingdale," he burst forth fiercely. "This nonsense
must be stopped. Are you an idiot, that you cannot see what is going
on, or are you in the scheme to entrap my - - "

Roger Pettingdale turned round upon him.

"I beg your pardon, Squire Leigh?" he said quietly, as one who had
not heard aright.

"Tut! Nonsense!" retorted the Squire. "Don't 'beg-your-pardon' me!
You know full well what I mean. Are you blind? I say it must be
stopped! You know full well that that precious son of mine has gone
stark mad over that chit of a girl of yours!"

"And what of that, Squire Leigh?" replied Roger Pettingdale, drawing
himself to his full height and looking at the Squire from underneath
his heavy eyebrows. "If that precious son of yours has gone stark
mad over my daughter, what of that?"

"Why, this," thundered the Squire: "that it must be stopped!"

"Very well, why don't you stop it?" replied Roger Pettingdale.

The retort, perfectly cool and natural, laid bare all the Squire's
impotence at one stroke, and drove him well-nigh to frenzy. His eyes
shot fire, and those veins in his forehead swelled as though they
would burst.

"It is not my daughter who is coming to the Hall after your son,"
Roger Pettingdale went on. "It is your son who is coming here after
my daughter. You seem to forget that point. You say it must be
stopped. And I repeat - Why don't you stop it?"

"It is as I thought," shouted the enraged Squire. "You are all in
it - all of you. All in the scheme to entrap him! A pretty plot,
don't you call it, for a man who poses as a Christian?"

In a blind access of fury he took a step forward and raised his
riding-whip. And then his shaking arm fell to his side, for Roger
Pettingdale had laid a hand upon his shoulder, and was confronting
him with grave, kindly, pitying eyes.

"You are in anger, Squire Leigh," he said, with simple dignity,
"else I should take your words as an insult. Be sure that the
Pettingdales have not fallen so low, nor their womenkind either,
that they need to trap the son of Squire Leigh. But I tell you this,
as man to man: if your son truly loves my daughter, and if she
loves him in return, I will put no bar before my child's happiness;
no, not for you, nor for all the Leighs in the world. We come of
as good a stock as you, Squire! Remember that! More money and more
land maybe you have - but not more pride of family. I care naught
for your money or your land. Thank God! I have prospered beyond all
expectation. And I tell you again, straight to your face, if your
son comes to me and asks for my daughter's hand, and I find it is
for her happiness, I shall say 'Yes.'"

"I shall disinherit him!" burst forth the Squire; "he shall not have
a penny - not a brass farthing!"

"I shall tell him," continued Roger Pettingdale, "that if he would
win my daughter, he must first make a position for himself in the
world, independently of aught you can do for or against him; and
that shall be the test of his sincerity."

Then he turned away, and the Squire, his face livid with passion,
marched off, savagely cutting at the wheat-ears with his
riding-whip. And when he mounted his horse at the corner of the
field, he dug his spurs so viciously into her that she bounded and
reared, and almost threw him.

Well, the long and short of it was that Edward Leigh was not found
wanting in the test which was imposed upon him.

"You are quite right, sir," he said to Roger Pettingdale; "the
condition is a reasonable one. I ask for nothing more than the
chance of proving that I am in earnest."

He went to London, studied under his father's old college friend,
John Wetherell, the well-known Queen's Counsel, and in five years
was making fair headway in the courts as a barrister. And the
strange part of it was that the choleric old Squire - who has a good
heart underneath his rough exterior - seeing his son's name in the
papers from time to time, felt his paternal pride rising within him
despite his stubborn resentment. Perhaps, too, he felt lonely in his
old age. At all events, he went over to the farm one day, and asked
to see Mary.

"I shall fight against it no longer, my dear," he said, holding
out his hand. "The lad has proved his grit, and the woman who
can call forth such steady love in a man is more than worthy of
being mistress of the Hall. I am an old man, and have no time left
for bitternesses. Forgive me, and you will find me as staunch in
friendship as you have found me frank in enmity."

Mary is now Mary Leigh, of Leigh Hall, and a sweeter, gentler, more
winsome mistress you could not find in the whole land. You may often
see the old Squire leaning upon her shoulder - a bent, white-haired
figure - as they walk in the grounds.

* * * * *

Among all the seasons of the year, I think there is none that Roger
Pettingdale loves so well as the time of harvest. You may see him
standing at the gateway, looking in meditation down the long shimmer
and sheen of the golden wheat-field as the wind ripples over it.

"I love to gaze at fields white with corn," he said to me once.
"They seem to breathe rich promises of that full fruition to which
our own lives shall come if we live them well and uprightly."

At the last harvest thanksgiving service in the village church I was
present for the sake of old times, and from my place behind Roger
Pettingdale I saw him lost in meditation, with eyes fixed upon the
chancel window. And when he stood up to sing he was still rapt in
thought; but suddenly he joined in the sweet old hymn so lustily and
with such a full heart that it did me good to hear him.

"The valleys stand so thick with corn
That even they are singing."




THE ART OF READING.

By the Ven. Archdeacon Diggle, M.A.


Reading aloud is more commonly regarded as an accomplishment than
an art. In truth, it is both. It is an art in that it cannot be
left to its own guidance, but requires both an acquaintance with
rules and familiarity with their practice to bring it to perfection.
It is an accomplishment in that it is a means of completing our
equipment for happy social life. Good reading yields not only profit
but pleasure to others. It is one means of throwing brightness into
home-life to gather the children together and read really well to
them. And what a sweet delight it is in the ward of a hospital, or
among the inmates of a workhouse, or by the bedside of some dearly
loved invalid, to be able, by reading in soft, gentle, refreshing
tones, to charm away the monotony and the weariness, perhaps for
awhile to relieve even the pain, of the lonely and the suffering! We
might shed sunshine into the darkness of many a life if, instead of
spending our leisure hours in _ennui_ on ourselves, we devoted them
to reading aloud to others.

Reading aloud is good for ourselves both physically and morally. It
is good morally, for if we never read anything unfit for reading
aloud we shall not be likely to read anything morally deteriorating.
And physically, reading aloud is a benignant exercise. It widens
the chest, opens the lungs, strengthens the throat, and does good
to all the breathing organs. It is a mistake to suppose that using
the voice weakens it. Abuse or misuse of the vocal organs, as of any
other organs, injures them; but by proper use and exercise they are
strengthened and improved. Speakers and preachers have bad throats
not because they use their throat too much, but because they use it
badly. They force and torment it, instead of training it to natural
action and giving it free, full play. And who shall blame them? At
school they were taught to spell and mind their stops; but how to
breathe and manage the voice when reading, they probably were not
taught a single rule. In many instances teachers themselves are
wholly ignorant of the art and therefore incapable of teaching it.
And so it comes to pass that, unless either outward circumstance
or innate common-sense turn our attention in later life to the
management of the vocal organs, we never learn to read aloud without
weariness and with pleasure. It is mainly through lack of early
training that, of all useful and delightful accomplishments, the art
of reading aloud is one of the least practised and most rare.

[Illustration: (_Photo: Russell and Sons, Baker Street, W._)
ARCHDEACON DIGGLE.]

Yet it is an art which, in some degree, may be acquired by the
majority of people; very many could, by a little training and
perseverance, even excel in it. Of course, the art admits of many
degrees of excellence. But without reaching the splendid summits of
the art, attainable only by the highly gifted few, ordinary persons
may learn to read sufficiently well to gratify both themselves and
others, if they will take pains to learn and practise a few simple
rules.

The first requirement is to master the physics of the art: to learn
to breathe in through the nostrils and out through the mouth,
never to speak on an inflowing breath, quickly to fill the lungs
and slowly to empty them, never to gasp or strain after sound, not
to attempt the higher notes until the lower have been completely
mastered, to rely more on the lower than the higher notes, to teach
the lips and front portion of the mouth to do their fair share of
work equally with the larynx and the vocal cords. A moustache is an
impediment to easy and distinct reading. It hinders the air from
passing in free, full flow up the nostrils, and it troubles the
waves of sound as they issue from the mouth; causing indistinctness,
more or less flat and thick, in enunciation.

Clearness of enunciation ranks next in importance after easy,
natural, flexible production of voice, and largely depends on it,
for there can be no clear, crisp, distinct enunciation of words,
unless the tools by which words are made, viz. the organs of voice,
are kept sharp and well burnished. Moreover, for the attainment
of limpid and finely articulated enunciation careful training is
required both in the melody and modulation of sounds.

Precision and beauty of enunciation are much assisted by habitual
practice of the graduated series of all the tones from the keynote
to its octave. Do not sing when you are reading, but, in order to
read well, first learn to sing; otherwise your reading will be flat
and monotonous, without light and shade, instead of being fresh,
richly modulated, and melodious.

The next requirement of good reading is to learn the relative value
of the letters, and the right handling of the syllables, of which
words are composed.

This study is both interesting and attractive, for, as Plato
observes, letters themselves have a clear significance. The letter
_r_ is expressive of motion, the letters _d_ and _t_ of binding and
rest, the letter _l_ of smoothness, _n_ of inwardness, the letter
_e_ of length and the letter _o_ of roundness.[2] Letters run in
families, and each family has its own characteristic significance of
sound. Some letters belong to the lips, others to the throat, others
employ the whole mouth. Vowels and final consonants are the letters
which demand most care and support in good reading. For the most
part, vowels should be rich and full, and the final consonant well
sustained.

[2] _Cf._ Jowett's Plato, I. 311.

If letters in themselves are expressive and significant,
collocations of letters in syllables and words are clearly more
significant still. "By various degrees of strength or weakness,
emphasis or pitch, length or shortness, they become the natural
expressions both of the stronger and the finer parts of human
feeling and thought." To read well, therefore, it is necessary to
give intelligent and ready heed to the relative weight of words,
to notice whether consonants are massed together to increase their
density, or vowels are freely interspersed to leaven and make
them light. True enunciation largely depends on a careful study
of the natural formation of words and a right appreciation of the
proportionate value of their several syllables.

Reading, however, is frequently spoiled by pedantry and exaggerated
minuteness. In seeking to avoid slovenliness readers often fall into
foppery. Good reading goes at an easy pace, it is neither too fast
nor too slow; it neither counts the letters nor omits them, neither
jumbles syllables together nor anatomises words. The good reader
reads so that intelligent listeners can spell his words, but he does
not read as if spelling them himself. He avoids the extremes both
of negligence and nicety, and constantly remembers that whatever is
overdone is badly done. Avoid ostentation. No rule in reading is
more fundamental than this.

Near akin to ostentation is the taint of false and histrionic
emphasis. Colourless reading, bad though it be, is better than
tawdry reading. Especially in all reading of a religious or sacred
character should affectation and dramatic artifices be reverently
avoided.

To read the Bible in church as if playing a part on the stage is as
inappropriate and irreligious as to read like one in haste to catch
a train.

Each kind of subject demands its own proper style in reading. Prose
should not be read like poetry; nor all kinds either of prose or
poetry alike. As in writing, each species should be dressed in
language from its own wardrobe; so in reading, each several kind
should receive its own appropriate tone, and travel at its own
appropriate speed. To read everything alike is to read nothing - or
at most only one thing - well.

[Illustration: Charming away the monotony and the weariness.]

Great authors are by no means invariably good readers, even of
their own productions. Lord Tennyson read some of his own glorious
poems beautifully; but others he read either droningly or with too
much singsong. Dickens read his own works with wonderful power and
realisation. Wordsworth read his own verse admirably; but we are
told that neither Coleridge nor Southey could read verse well: "They
read as if crying or wailing lugubriously."

Reading, therefore, is an art which doubtless requires, for
the attainment of excellence, some degree of histrionic
gifts - imagination, imitation, fervour, and passion.

Similarly with oratory and authorship. Both these arts are distinct
from that of reading; as each of these again is distinct from the
other.

It is curious, indeed, how few among great authors are great
orators; or, among great orators, great authors. The gifts which
tell in writing - condensation, terseness, finish - are not the
gifts which tell most in speaking. In speaking, the essentials are
clearness of enunciation, sympathy with the audience, copiousness
of illustration, directness of statement, uninvolved reasoning. The
merits which impart value to a book - wealth of fact, niceness in
balancing opposing considerations, delicacy of assertion, depth and
sweep of argument - may easily become ineffective in the delivery of
a speech. Hence, therefore, whereas a good speaker is occasionally
a good writer, owing to his rare combination of different orders
of talent, it more frequently happens that the one set of talents
is given to one man to enrich them in seclusion, and the other to
another man to use them with publicity.

In like manner with reading; it is an art by itself. It is natural
to suppose that no one could possibly read an author's works so
well as the author's self, because no one can understand them so
intimately as their own creator. Yet experience proves this to be
not the case; and for a reason which at first sight is not wholly
apparent. It is just because they are his own that, as a rule, he
cannot read them well. He may have a richly cultivated voice, clear
enunciation, a varied power of modulation; he may even be able to
read the works of others well, yet be a failure in reading what he
himself has written. Why is this? Partly, perhaps, it is due to
an unavoidable self-consciousness in reading his own works; and
self-consciousness is the ruin of good reading. "Forget thyself"
is a necessary condition of good reading. Partly, perhaps, it is
due to over-absorption in the memory of sensations and sentiments
which overpowered him when he wrote in the solitude of his chamber,
but which are somewhat unnatural and overstrained for exhibition
before a concourse of auditors. But probably the principal reason
is that one of the greatest charms of good reading arises from the
co-operation of two spirits toward one end - the spirit of the author
and the spirit of the reader. The reader of another's works seeks
actively to express the spirit of his author, yet unintentionally


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