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A Cotswold Village   By:

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[Illustration: Photo, W. Shawncross, Guildford .]

[ Frontispiece . J. ARTHUR GIBBS.]




"Go, little booke; God send thee good passage, And specially let this be thy prayere Unto them all that thee will read or hear, Where thou art wrong after their help to call, Thee to correct in any part or all."





Before the third edition of this work had been published the author passed away, from sudden failure of the heart, at the early age of thirty one. Two or three biographical notices, written by those who highly appreciated him and who deeply mourn his loss, have already appeared in the newspapers; and I therefore wish to add only a few words about one whose kind smile of welcome will greet us no more in this life.

Joseph Arthur Gibbs was one of those rare natures who combine a love of outdoor life, cricket and sport of every kind, with a refined and scholarly taste for literature. He had, like his father, a keen observation for every detail in nature; and from a habit of patient watchfulness he acquired great knowledge of natural history. From his grandfather, the late Sir Arthur Hallam Elton, he inherited his taste for literary work and the deep poetical feeling which are revealed so clearly in his book. On leaving Eton, he wrote a Vale , of which his tutor, Mr. Luxmoore, expressed his high appreciation; and later on, when, after leaving Oxford, he was living a quiet country life, he devoted himself to literary pursuits.

He was not, however, so engrossed in his work as to ignore other duties; and he was especially interested in the villagers round his home, and ever ready to give what is of greater value than money, personal trouble and time in finding out their wants and in relieving them. His unvarying kindness and sympathy will never be forgotten at Ablington; for, as one of the villagers wrote in a letter of condolence on hearing of his death, "he went in and out as a friend among them." With all his tenderness of heart, he had a strict sense of justice and a clear judgment, and weighed carefully both sides of any question before he gave his verdict.

Arthur Gibbs went abroad at the end of March 1899 for a month's trip to Italy, and in his Journal he wrote many good descriptions of scenery and of the old towns; and the way in which he describes his last glimpse of Florence during a glorious sunset shows how greatly he appreciated its beauty. In his Journal in April he dwells on the shortness of life, and in the following solemn words he sounds a warning note:

"Do not neglect the creeping hours of time: 'the night cometh when no man can work.' All time is wasted unless spent in work for God. The best secular way of spending the precious thing that men call time is by making always for some grand end a great book, to show forth the wonders of creation and the infinite goodness of the Creator. You must influence for good if you write, and write nothing that you will regret some day or think trivial."

These words, written a month before the end came, tell their own tale. The writer of them had a deep love for all things that are "lovely, pure, and of good report"; and in his book one sees clearly the adoration he felt for that God whom he so faithfully served. There are many different kinds of work in this world, and diversities of gifts; to him was given the spirit to discern the work of God in Nature's glory, and the power to win others to see it also. He had a remarkable influence for good at Oxford, and the letters from his numerous friends and from his former tutor at Christ Church show that this influence has never been forgotten, but has left its mark not only on his college, but on the university.

Like his namesake and relative, Arthur Hallam, of immortal memory, Arthur Gibbs had attained to a purity of soul and a wisdom which were not of this world, at an earlier age than is given to many men; and so in love and faith and hope

"I would the great world grew like thee, Who grewest not alone in power And knowledge; but by year and hour In reverence and charity... Continue reading book >>

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