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CARITA.

all the world, and yet know that they are short, ugly, stupid, and far from being models of all the Christian virtues.

And, therefore, I shall be perfectly happy on the next 4th of July. I shall admit most cheerfully that we made a dreadful mess of things a century ago, and that we shall probably make other messes for centuries to come. I shall admit that the United States have a larger territory than the British islands; that they have more coal and iron, and bigger rivers, mountains, and prairies; nay, I would admit, if it were proved, that their system of government is in some ways better than ours, that they have better schools, less intoxication, and a greater diffusion of general intelligence. On all these points, and many others, I am perfectly open to conviction. Only I shall look with extreme suspicion upon any attempt to sum up the merits of their national character, and proclaim, as examiners do after a competition, that England deserves only ninety-nine marks whilst America has earned one hundred, or vice versâ. I have a strong conviction that in such matters our confidence generally increases in proportion to our ignorance; and that the chief result of expressing it is to set up an irritation mischievous as far as it goes, though luckily it does not go so far as we think. And meanwhile I shall be quite content to be in ignorance about most of these problems, which nobody has yet solved, and shall, with Johnson and Savage, "stick by my country" so long as it does not insist upon my telling lies or doing dirty actions on its behalf.




From The Cornhill Magazine.

CARITA.

BY MRS. OLIPHANT.

CHAPTER IV.

THE THREE CHARITIES.

To live at Sunninghill, with one's feet on a level with the highest pinnacle of the big Castle of St. George's, what a thing it was in summer! All that country is eloquent with trees — big beeches, big oaks, straight climbers, sweet briars; even the very holly-bushes, in their dark green, grow tall into prickly straggling monsters, as big as the elms. But the triumph of the place perhaps is in spring, when the primroses come too thick for counting, and the woods are full of the fairy indefinable fragrance. In the ripe summer there was no such lovely suggestion about; all was at perfection which suggests only decay. The wild flowers were foxgloves, with here and there in the marshy places a lingering plume of meadow-sweet. The ferns had grown too strong and tall, like little trees. The woods were in their darkest, fullest garments of green; not another leaflet to come anywhere; all full, and mature and complete. Wild honeysuckle waved flags of yellow and brown from the immobile branches of big trees, while it had caught and tangled in and made the hedge into one big wall of flowers — almost too much when the sun was on it. In the very heart of August it was as cool in the shadowy wood walks as in a Gothic chapel, and here and there on a little plateau of brown earth a trunk underneath a tree offered rest and a view to the wayfarer. Mrs. Burchell was sitting on one of these, panting a little, on the day we are thinking of. She was that rector's wife already mentioned, who had been a contemporary of Cherry Beresford, and who grudged so much that "two single women" should have all the delights of Sunninghill. She was just Miss Cherry's age, fat and fair, but more than forty, and she had seven children, and felt herself inconceivably in advance of Cherry, for whom she retained her old friendship however, modified by a little envy and a good deal of contempt. She was an old maid; that of itself surely was quite enough to warrant the contempt and the envy. You had but to look at Mr. Burchell's rectory, which lay at the foot of the hill too, and under the shadows of the woods, facing the high-road, which was very dusty and exposed without a tree to the blaze of the west, and to compare it with the beautiful house on the top of the hill, sheltered so carefully, not too much nor too little — set in velvet lawns and dewy gardens, dust and noise kept at arm's length — to see the difference between them. It was a difference which Mrs. Burchell for her part could not learn not to resent, though, indeed, but for the benefice bestowed by Miss Beresford, the Burchells must have had a much worse lot, or indeed perhaps never would have united their lots at all. The rector's wife might have been as poor a creature as Miss Cherry, an old maid, and none of the seven Burchells might ever have come into being, but for the gift of that dusty rectory from the ladies on the hill; but the rectorine did not think of that. She was seated on the bench under the big oak, fanning herself with her handker-