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THE OLD HALL;

OR,

OUR HEARTH AND HOMESTEAD.

BY

JOHN MILLS,

AUTHOR OF “THE OLD ENGLISH GENTLEMAN,” “THE STAGE COACH,
OR THE ROAD OF LIFE," THE ENGLISH FIRESIDE,'

THE SPORTSMAN'S LIBRARY,” &c. &c.

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No one can set less store than the writer on

the slender thread by which the desultory scenes contained in these volumes are strung together. In justice to himself, however, and his gentle readers, he is desirous of not being accused of failing in that which, in fact, he never contemplated accomplishing. His object has not been to attempt the part of a monitor, by searching the annals of crime and vice, or the long list of the victims of passion and immorality, and thereby developing characters perhaps more baneful in being held up as examples, than if they had been permitted to sink into forgetfulness. The aim has been simply to depicture, with the faithfulness which a long experience may have rendered capable, those invigorating scenes connected with our

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national sports, universally indulged in by all classes of society in some way or other.

Health, manly strength, buoyancy of spirits, courage, generosity, hospitality, and, indeed, most of the best feelings and impulses of our nature, attend these recreations; and so long as they continue to be springs and sources productive of good, so long may the gentlemen of England render them the distinguishing feature of their country.

If, however, the writer has not "pointed a moral to adorn his tale," he thinks he may safely claim this negative virtue--that should no one close the book a wiser or a better man, still no one can close it and be the worse.

J. M.

October 28th, 1845.

THE OLD HALL;

OR,

OUR HEARTH AND HOMESTEAD.

CHAPTER I

“ It faded on the crowing of the cock.
Some say, that ever 'gainst the season comes
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
This bird of dawning singeth all night long :
And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad;
The nights are wholesome : then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.”

A RIGHT merry time is Christmas! Then the misletoe hangs from the beam, and red-berried holly is stuck in nook and cranny, and yule logs blaze on the hearth, and hearts are light and

VOL. I.

B

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