The Parson's Daughter of Oxney Colne HTML version

The Parson's Daughter of Oxney Colne
The prettiest scenery in all England--and if I am contradicted in that assertion, I will say
in all Europe--is in Devonshire, on the southern and south-eastern skirts of Dartmoor,
where the rivers Dart, and Avon, and Teign form themselves, and where the broken moor
is half cultivated, and the wild-looking upland fields are half moor. In making this
assertion I am often met with much doubt, but it is by persons who do not really know the
locality. Men and women talk to me on the matter, who have travelled down the line of
railway from Exeter to Plymouth, who have spent a fortnight at Torquay, and perhaps
made an excursion from Tavistock to the convict prison on Dartmoor. But who knows the
glories of Chagford? Who has walked through the parish of Manaton? Who is conversant
with Lustleigh Cleeves and Withycombe in the moor? Who has explored Holne Chase?
Gentle reader, believe me that you will be rash in contradicting me, unless you have done
these things.
There or thereabouts--I will not say by the waters of which little river it is washed--is the
parish of Oxney Colne. And for those who wish to see all the beauties of this lovely
country, a sojourn in Oxney Colne would be most desirable, seeing that the sojourner
would then be brought nearer to all that he would wish to visit, than at any other spot in
the country. But there in an objection to any such arrangement. There are only two decent
houses in the whole parish, and these are--or were when I knew the locality--small and
fully occupied by their possessors. The larger and better is the parsonage, in which lived
the parson and his daughter; and the smaller is a freehold residence of a certain Miss Le
Smyrger, who owned a farm of a hundred acres, which was rented by one Farmer
Cloysey, and who also possessed some thirty acres round her own house, which she
managed herself; regarding herself to be quite as great in cream as Mr. Cloysey, and
altogether superior to him in the article of cyder. "But yeu has to pay no rent, Miss,"
Farmer Cloysey would say, when Miss Le Smyrger expressed this opinion of her art in a
manner too defiant. "Yeu pays no rent, or yeu couldn't do it." Miss Le Smyrger was an
old maid, with a pedigree and blood of her own, a hundred and thirty acres of fee- simple
land on the borders of Dartmoor, fifty years of age, a constitution of iron, and an opinion
of her own on every subject under the sun.
And now for the parson and his daughter. The parson's name was Woolsworthy--or
Woolathy, as it was pronounced by all those who lived around him--the Rev. Saul
Woolsworthy; and his daughter was Patience Woolsworthy, or Miss Patty, as she was
known to the Devonshire world of those parts. That name of Patience had not been well
chosen for her, for she was a hot-tempered damsel, warm in her convictions, and inclined
to express them freely. She had but two closely intimate friends in the world, and by both
of them this freedom of expression had now been fully permitted to her since she was a
child. Miss Le Smyrger and her father were well accustomed to her ways, and on the
whole well satisfied with them. The former was equally free and equally warm-tempered
as herself, and as Mr. Woolsworthy was allowed by his daughter to be quite paramount
on his own subject--for he had a subject--he did not object to his daughter being