THE OLD PARSONAGE
Of the ancient parsonage at Woolverstone in Timothy Dalton's day our genial correspondent, the present rector, says: "It has long since vanished from mortalsight; even the place where it stood in now doubtful, although tradition locates it in the middle of an existing covert, the same being a part of my glebe."
If the elder Ruth and Deborah, the minister's wife and sister, who probably helped to maker up the family in the parsonage, were also East Anglians by birth, we are justified in assuming that they were "well-favoured woman." Such is the general testimony as to the sweet faces and fair complexions of the sex in that locality. Charles Kingley speaks caressingly of "the rich and delicate beauty in which the women of the Eastern Counties still surpass all other races in these isles."1 When King Henry VI proposed to visit Norwich in 1473, it was ordered that the best-looking women were to be assembled for his inspection; "for my Lorde hath made grete boste of the fayre and goode gentylwomen of ye country, and so ye Kinge seyd he wolde see them sure."2 A modern railway book declares that yarmouth is "specially remarkable for the surpassing beauty of its female population of every rank in life." Thomas Fuller wrote of "Suffolk fair Maids" in this wise: "It seems the God of Nature hath been bountiful in giving them beautiful complexions, which I am willing to believe so far forth as it fixeth not a comparative disparagement on the same Sex in other Counties. I hope they will labour to joyn gracious hearts to fair faces; otherwise, I am sure there is a Divine Proverb of Infallible truth, 'Asa Jewel of gold in a Swine's snout, so is a fair Woman which is without discretion.'"3
- Hereward, by Kinglsey, 4.
- The Poston letters, quoted in Mall's Dialect of the East Coast, 717.
- Fullers Worthies of England, II, 326.