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A single cloud on a sunny day,
When skies are blue, and earth is gay!
THE RUINED COTTAGE.
NONE will dwell in that cottage, for they say
One once dwelt there, who had been in his youth
far taller than the red rose-tree
Bow'd down so meekly in the house of prayer;
Yet Isabel came not: at every sound
He lay down by the coffin quietly—
DESTRUCTION OF THE KENT EAST-INDIAMAN.
There is a something in the misfortunes which happen at sea, that awakens in our bosoms a more than ordinary sympathy with the sufferers. The loneliness of the ocean, is, even in idea, fearful to the mind, and the complete separation of those who are on its paths, from the rest of mankind, makes us follow them in our sympathies, as if they had once been sharers of our home. This feeling is, of course, deepened when
any of the objects of our pity have been actually known to us, or have once lived in our own neighbourhood. How many a village tale of war or shipwreck has been handed down from generation to generation, because some one whose name is in the parish register happened to be present! How often has the circle round the winter hearth, in the most inland county of the kingdom, listened tremblingly to the howling blast, because the son or the husband of some one in the town was passing over the deep!
It happened that the writer of this article was residing, in the beginning of 1825, in a small and rural village, of which he was the curate. Among the simple inhabitants of a country parish there will now and then be found a family, whose long residence in the place, and established character for sobriety, have given them a certain rank among their neighbours, of which few know the importance but those skilled in village politics. Such, however, was the family of the parish-clerk, who was himself a fine specimen of the English peasant, when his head has become hoary with honest and successful industry.
The old age of this happy-hearted man, was green with the blossoms of a second spring. He had saved out of his small gains enough to keep him from the fear of want, and he used to boast, that, through a long life and with a large family to bring up, he had never once been chargeable to his wealthier neighbours. He had three sons and a daughter living. Of the former, two were at home and the third in the army.
It was after this absent child that the old man's heart was continually yearning. He would have resigned all his little wealth to bring him home, and yet he had that sort of pride which would have prevented his expressing a wish for his discharge, had it been offered. From all, indeed, that the writer could learn of this
young man, he was highly deserving of his father's love. By a little scholarship and a good deal of attention to discipline, he had in a short time been made a serjeant; and there was a prospect, if he should be sent on foreign service, of his acquiring farther promotion. This at length occurred; and his regiment was one of those whose detachments were on board the Kent, when the catastrophe took place which exposed so many to destruction.
It happened that tidings of the burning of the Kent, arrived on a Sunday: the old man listened to them with a firm brow and a swelling heart; and the only alteration in
his appearance during the service, was a slight bowing of his head, as if he bore a burden for which his strength was unequal. It was a considerable time before it was known who had perished, and who had been saved; and week after week did the robust frame of the anxious parent become more and more feeble, and his grey hairs almost visibly heavier with sorrow. There was not a soul in the little parish that did not respect the old clerk, or, rude as were their expressions, did not commiserate his misfortune.
It was on a bright evening, when the disconsolate father, seated in his arm-chair and endeavouring to enjoy the setting sun, was conversing with some old men of the village who were gathered round him, that the writer met, not far from the cottage, a group of villagers running and shouting as if, in truth, mad with joy. They were all too breathless to answer his inquiries: and as he looked across the fields, several other persons were seen hurrying on in the same joyous manner. His curiosity was soon satisfied, by finding that the son of the old clerk was the object which had roused the village, and that he was now hastening on to the embrace of his parents.
It was not many days after this, that every particular respecting the burning of the Kent, was known through the country for ten miles round; and such was the delight with which the clerk's son was listened to, that the daughter of an opulent farmer had much to do to secure him for herself, though her father offered him his discharge and a snug farm next his own. At last, however, she succeeded; and should any one wish to hear again the awful story of the Kent and her crew, let him go to the clerk's son, and he will tell him, how on the wildest tract of the wild ocean the fire-spirit overtook them; how, in the helplessness of despair, they heard the signal of their distress reverberating among the mountainous waves; how, as the waters were let in, the vessel grew steady amid the up-rushing flames; and how,