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Long ere winter blasts are filed,
“Though the rudest hand assail her,
Patiently she droops awhile,
Wears again her willing smile.
(Hymn for First Sunday after Epiphany.)
Indeed if any one ever perfectly practised throughout life this lesson of contentment which may be learnt from the willow by the water-side, it was the Poet himself, who has taught it to us not only by those beautiful lines, but still more by his saintly life.
The elevated situation of the church at Coln, standing as it does above most of the village, which is on the slope of the hill, reminds the visitor of those beautiful lines of Wordsworth :
On the stream's bank and every where appeared
Again, the words of Longfellow seem not inappropriate :
“The consecrated chapel on the crag,
Before we take leave of Coln St. Aldwyn's, with its handsome church and rich scenery, we must notice the substantial stone house, now a comfortable vicarage, but in the Poet's time only a small cottage: here Mr. KEBLE lived occasionally, even during his father's lifetime, though his home was at Fairford, only three miles distant. (See photograph 11.)
The window nearest to the church, as represented in the accompanying photograph, is that of the present Vicar's study, which in the Poet's time was the only room usually occupied as a sitting-room.
Soon after the death of his father, which took place on the 24th of January, 1835, Mr. KEBLE took up his residence entirely in this little cottage, with his only surviving sister. They lived here together until about the month of June in that year. The reluctance with which they then left it is to this day in the memory of some of the older inhabitants of Coln, who as long as they live will continue to revere the name of KEBLE, and to feel deep love for the Christian Poet who laboured amongst them as curate for about nine years.
It is said that when Mr. and Miss KEBLE left Coln they made a present of some good and useful volumes to every house in the place.
The Poet's great kindness for children is well remembered at Coln; it was the astonishment of many mothers there that a "bachelor man should take such notice of children."
Deep and lasting was his influence amongst the unsophisticated villagers in this picturesque place. He identified himself with the wants and feelings of the poor of his flock, condescending to "men of low estate," and diligently exercising his ministry in love and gentleness; the result was that he was beloved and reverenced, while he put in practice his own teaching, as expressed in the Hymn for the Fifth Sunday after Trinity :
“Cast after cast, by force or guile
All waters must be tried :
"By blameless guile or gentle force,
As when He deign’d to teach
Upon this sacred beach.”