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A Walk from London to John O'Groat's by Elihu Burritt

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A WALK FROM LONDON TO JOHN O'GROATS

with notes by the way.

BY ELIHU BURRITT.

CONTENTS.

PREFACE

CHAPTER I. Motives to the Walk--The Iron Horse and his Rider--
The Losses and Gains by Speed--The Railway Track and Turnpike Road:
Their Sceneries Compared.

CHAPTER II. First Day's Observations and Enjoyment--Rural Foot-
paths; Visit to Tiptree Farm--Alderman Mechi's Operations--
Improvements Introduced, Decried and Adopted--Steam Power, Under-
draining, Deep Tillage, Irrigation--Practical Results.

CHAPTER III. English and American Birds--The Lark and its Song.

CHAPTER IV. Talk with an Old Man on the Way--Old Houses in
England--Their American Relationships--English Hedges and Hedge-row
Trees--Their Probable Fate--Change of Rural Scenery without them.

CHAPTER V. A Footpath Walk and its Incidents--Harvest Aspects--
English and American Skies--Humbler Objects of Contemplation--The
Donkey: Its Uses and Abuses.

CHAPTER VI. Hospitalities of "Friends"--Harvest Aspects:
English Country Inns; their Appearance, Names and Distinctive
Characteristics--The Landlady, Waiter, Chambermaid and Boots--Extra
Fees and Extra Comforts.

CHAPTER VII. Light of Human Lives--Photographs and Biographs--The
late Jonas Webb, his Life, Labors and Memory.

CHAPTER VIII. Threshing Machine--Flower Show--The Hollyhock and
its Suggestions--The Law of Co-operative Activities in Vegetable,
Animal, Mental and Moral Life.

CHAPTER IX. Visit to a Three-Thousand-Acre Farm--Samuel Jonas;
His Agricultural Operations, their Extent, Success and General
Economy.

CHAPTER X. Royston and its Specialities--Entertainment in a
Small Village--St. Ives--Visits to Adjoining Villages--A Fen-Farm--
Capital Invested in English and American Agriculture Compared--
Allotments and Garden Tenantry--Barley Grown on Oats.

CHAPTER XI. The Miller of Houghton--An Hour in Huntingdon--Old
Houses--Whitewashed Tapestry and Works of Art--"The Old Mermaid" and
"The Green Man"--Talk with Agricultural Laborers--Thoughts on their
Condition, Prospects and Possibilities.

CHAPTER XII. Farm Game--Hallett Wheat--Oundle--Country Bridges--
Fotheringay Castle--Queen Mary's Imprisonment and Execution--
Burghley House: The Park, Avenues, Elms and Oaks--Thoughts on
Trees, English and American.

CHAPTER XIII. Walk to Oakham--The English and American Spring--The
English Gentry--A Specimen of the Class--Melton Mowbray and its
Specialities--Belvoir Vale and its Beauty--Thoughts on the Blind
Painter.

CHAPTER XIV. Nottingham and its Characteristics--Newstead Abbey--
Mansfield--Talk in a Blacksmith's Shop--Chesterfield, Chatsworth and
Haddon Hall--Aristocratic Civilisation, Present and Past.

CHAPTER XV. Sheffield and its Individuality--The Country, Above
Ground and Under Ground--Wakefield and Leeds--Wharf Vale--Farnley
Hall--Harrogate; Ripley Castle; Ripon; Conservatism of Country
Towns--Fountain Abbey; Studley Park--Rievaulx Abbey--Lord
Faversham's Shorthorn Stock.

CHAPTER XVI. Hexham--The North Tyne--Border-Land and its
Suggestions--Hawick--Teviotdale--Birth-place of Leyden--Melrose and
Dryburgh Abbeys--Abbotsford: Sir Walter Scott; Homage to his
Genius--The Ferry and the Oar-Girl--New Farm Steddings--Scenery of
the Tweed Valley--Edinburgh and its Characteristics.

CHAPTER XVII. Loch Leven--Its Island Castle--Straths--Perth--
Salmon-breeding--Thoughts on Fish-farming--Dunkeld--Blair Atholl--
Ducal Tree-planter--Strathspey and its Scenery--The Roads--Scotch
Cattle and Sheep--Night in a Wayside Cottage--Arrival at Inverness.

CHAPTER XVIII. Inverness--Ross-shire--Tain--Dornoch--Golspie--
Progress of Railroads--The Sutherland Eviction--Sea-coast Scenery--
Caithness--Wick--Herring Fisheries--John O'Groat's: Walk's End.

CHAPTER XIX. Anthony Cruickshank--The Greatest Herd of Shorthorns
in the World--Return to London and Termination of my Tour.

PREFACE.

In presenting this volume to the public, I feel that a few words of
explanation are due to the readers that it may obtain, in addition
to those offered to them in the first chapter. When I first visited
England, in 1846, it was my intention to make a pedestrian tour from
one end of the island to the other, in order to become more
acquainted with the country and people than I could by any other
mode of travelling. A few weeks after my arrival, I set out on such
a walk, and had made about one hundred miles on foot, when I was
constrained to suspend the tour, in order to take part in movements
which soon absorbed all my time and strength. For the ensuing ten
years I was nearly the whole time in Great Britain, travelling from
one end of the kingdom to the other, to promote the movements
referred to; still desiring to accomplish the walk originally
proposed. On returning to England at the beginning of 1863, after a
continuous residence of seven years in America, I found myself, for
the first time, in the condition to carry out my intention of 1846.
Several new motives had been added in the interval to those that had
at first operated upon my mind. I had dabbled a little in farming
in my native village, New Britain, Connecticut, and had labored to
excite additional interest in agriculture among my neighbors. We
had formed an Agricultural Club, and met weekly for several winters
to compare notes, exchange opinions' and discuss matters connected
with the occupation. They had honored me with the post of
Corresponding Secretary from the beginning. We held a meeting the
evening before I left for England, when they not only refused to
accept my resignation as Secretary, but made me promise to write
them letters about farming in the Mother Country, and on other
matters of interest that I might meet with on my travels there. My
first idea was to do this literally;--to make a walk through the
best agricultural sections of England, and write home a series of
communications to be inserted in our little village paper. But, on
second thought, on considering the size of the sheet, I found it
would require four or five years to print in it all I was likely to
write, at the rate of two columns a week. So I concluded that the
easiest and quickest way would be to make a book of my Notes by the
Way, and to send back to my old friends and neighbors in that form
all the observations and incidents I might make and meet on my walk.
The next thought that suggested itself was this,--that a good many
persons in Great Britain might feel some interest in seeing what an
American, who had resided so long in this country, might have to say
of its sceneries, industries, social life, etc. Still, in writing
out these Notes, although two distinct circles of readers--the
English and American--have been present to my mind, I felt
constrained to face and address the latter, just as if speaking to
them alone. I have, moreover, adopted the free and easy style of
epistolary composition, endeavoring to make each chapter as much
like one of the letters I promised my friends and neighbors at home
as practicable. In doing this, the "_I_" has, perhaps, talked far
too much to beseem those proprieties which the author of a book
should observe. Besides, expressions, figures and orthography more
American than English may be noticed, which will indicate the circle
of readers which the writer had primarily in view. Still, he would
fain believe that these features of the volume will not seriously
affect the interest it might otherwise possess in the minds of those
disposed to give it a reading in this country. Whatever exceptions
they may take to the style and diction, I hope they will find none
to the spirit of the work.
ELIHU BURRITT.

London, April 5th, 1864.

CHAPTER I.

MOTIVES TO THE WALK--THE IRON HORSE AND HIS RIDER--THE LOSSES AND
GAINS BY SPEED--THE RAILWAY TRACK AND TURNPIKE ROAD: THEIR
SCENERIES COMPARED.

One of my motives for making this tour was to look at the country
towns and villages on the way in the face and eyes; to enter them by
the front door, and to see them as they were made to be seen first,
as far as man's mind and hand intended and wrought. Railway
travelling, as yet, takes everything at a disadvantage; it does not
front on nature, or art, or the common conditions and industries of
men in town or country. If it does not actually of itself turn, it
presents everything the wrong side outward. In cities, it reveals
the ragged and smutty companionship of tumble-down out-houses, and
mysteries of cellar and back-kitchen life which were never intended
for other eyes than those that grope in them by day or night. How
unnatural, and, more, almost profane and inhuman, is the fiery
locomotion of the Iron Horse through these densely-peopled towns!
now the screech, the roar, and the darkness of cavernous passages
under paved streets, church vaults, and an acre or two of three-
story brick houses, with the feeling of a world of breathing,
bustling humanity incumbent upon you;--now the dash and flash out
into the light, and the higgledy-piggledy glimpses of the next five
minutes. In a moment you are above thickly-thronged streets, and
the houses on either side, looking down into the black throats of
smoky chimneys; into the garret lairs of poverty, sickness, and sin;
down lower upon squads of children trying to play in back-yards
eight feet square. It is all wrong, except in the single quality of
speed. You enter the town as you would a farmer's house, if you
first passed through the pig-stye into the kitchen. Every
respectable house in the city turns its back upon you; and often a
very brick and dirty back too, though it may show an elegant front
of Bath or Portland stone to the street it faces. All the
respectable streets run over or under you with an audible shudder of
disgust or dread. None but a shabby lane of low shops for the sale
of junk, beer, onions, shrimps, and cabbages, will run a third of a
mile by your side for the sake of your company. The wickedest boys
in the town hoot at you, with most ignominious and satiric antics,
as you pass; and if they do not shie stones in upon you, or dead
cats, it is more from fear of the beadle or the constable than out
of respect for your business or pleasure.

Indeed, every town and village, great or small, which you pass
through or near on the railway, looks as if you came fifty years
before you were expected. It says, in all the legible expressions
of its countenance, "Lack-a-day!--if here isn't that creature come
already, and looking in at my back door before I had time to turn
around, or put anything in shape!" The Iron Horse himself gets no
sympathy nor humane admiration. He stands grim and wrathy, when
reined up for two minutes and forty-five seconds at a station. No
venturesome boys pat him on the flanks, or look kindly into his
eyes, or say a pleasant word to him, or even wonder if he is tired,
or thirsty, or hungry. None of the ostlers of the greasy stables,
in which the locomotives are housed, ever call him Dobbin, or Old
Jack, or Jenny, or say, "Well done, old fellow!" when they unhitch
him from the train at midnight, after a journey of a hundred
leagues. His driver is a real man of flesh and blood; with wife and
children whom he loves. He goes on Sunday to church, and, maybe,
sings the psalms of David, and listens devoutly to the sermon, and
says prayers at home, and the few who know him speak well of him, as
a good and proper man in his way. But, spurred and mounted upon the
saddle of the great iron hexiped, nearly all the passengers regard
him as a part of the beast. No one speaks to him, or thinks of him
on the journey. He may pull up at fifty stations, and not a soul
among the Firsts, Seconds, or even Thirds, will offer him a glass of
beer, or pipe-full of tobacco, or give him a sixpence at the end of
the ride for extra speed or care. His face is grimy, and greasy,
and black. All his motions are ambiguous and awkward to the casual
observer. He has none of the sedate and conscious dignity of his
predecessor on the old stage-coach box. He handles no whip, like
him, with easy grace. Indeed, in putting up his great beast to its
best speed, he "hides his whip in the manger," according to a
proverb older than steam power. He wears no gloves in the coldest
weather; not always a coat, and never a decent one, at his work. He
blows no cheery music out of a brass bugle as he approaches a town,
but pricks the loins of the fiery beast, and makes him scream with a
sound between a human whistle and an alligator's croak. He never
pulls up abreast of the station-house door, in the fashion of the
old coach driver, to show off himself and his leaders, but runs on
several rods ahead of his passengers and spectators, as if to be
clear of them and their comments, good or bad. At the end of the
journey, be it at midnight or day-break, not a man nor a woman he
has driven safely at the rate of forty miles an hour thinks or cares
what becomes of him, or separates him in thought from the great iron
monster he mounts. Not the smock-frocked man, getting out of the
forwardmost Third, with his stick and bundle, thinks of him, or
stops a moment to see him back out and turn into the stable.

With all the practical advantages of this machine propulsion at bird
speed over space, it confounds and swallows up the poetical aspects
and picturesque sceneries that were the charm of old-fashioned
travelling in the country. The most beautiful landscapes rotate
around a locomotive axis confusedly. Green pastures and yellow
wheat fields are in a whirl. Tall and venerable trees get into the
wake of the same motion, and the large, pied cows ruminating in
their shade, seem to lie on the revolving arc of an indefinite
circle. The views dissolve before their best aspect is caught by
the eye. The flowers, like Eastern beauties, can only be seen "half
hidden and half revealed," in the general unsteadiness. As for
bees, you cannot hear or see them at all; and the songs of the
happiest birds are drowned altogether by the clatter of a hundred
wheels on the metal track. If there are any poor, flat, or fen
lands, your way is sure to lie through them. In a picturesque and
undulating country, studded with parks and mansions of wealth and
taste, you are plunging through a long, dark tunnel, or walled into
a deep cut, before your eye can catch the view that dashes by your
carriage window. If you have a utilitarian proclivity and purpose,
and would like to see the great agricultural industries of the
country, they present themselves to you in as confused aspects as
the sceneries of the passing landscape. The face of every farm is
turned from you. The farmer's house fronts on the turnpike road,
and the best views of his homestead, of his industry, prosperity,
and happiness, look that way. You only get a furtive glance, a kind
of clandestine and diagonal peep at him and his doings; and having
thus travelled a hundred miles through a fertile country you can
form no approximate or satisfactory idea of its character and
productions.

But no facts nor arguments are needed to convince an intelligent
traveller that the railway affords no point of view for seeing town
or country to any satisfactory perception of its character. Indeed,
neither coach of the olden, nor cab of the modern vogue, nor saddle,
will enable one to "do" either town or country with thorough insight
and enjoyment. It takes him too long to pull up to catch the
features of a sudden view. He can do nothing with those generous
and delightful institutions of Old England,--the footpaths, that
thread pasture, park, and field, seemingly permeating her whole
green world with dusky veins for the circulation of human life. To
lose all the picturesque lanes and landscapes which these field-
paths cross and command, is to lose the great distinctive charm of
the country. Then, neither from the coach-box nor the saddle can he
make much conversation on the way. He loses the chance of a
thousand little talks and pleasant incidents. He cannot say "Good
morning" to the farmer at the stile, nor a word of greeting to the
reapers over the hedge, nor see where they live, and the kind of
children that play by their cottage doors; nor the little, antique
churches, bearded to their eye-brows with ivy, covering the wrinkles
of half a dozen centuries, nor the low and quiet villages clustering
around, each like a family of bushy-headed children surrounding
their venerable mother.

In addition to these considerations, there was another that moved me
to this walk. Although I had been up and down the country as often
and as extensively as any American, perhaps, and admired its general
scenery, I had never looked at it with an agricultural eye or
interest. But, having dabbled a little in farming in the interval
between my last two visits to England, and being touched with some
of the enthusiasm that modern novices carry into the occupation, I
was determined to look at the agriculture of Great Britain more
leisurely and attentively, and from a better stand-point than I had
ever done before. The thought had also occurred to me, that a walk
through the best agricultural counties of England and Scotland would
afford opportunity for observation which might be made of some
interest to my friends and neighbor farmers in America as well as to
myself. Therefore I beg the English reader to remember that I am
addressing to them the notes that I may make by the way, hoping that
its incidents and the thoughts it suggests will not be devoid of
interest because they are principally intended for the American ear.

CHAPTER II.

FIRST DAY'S OBSERVATIONS AND ENJOYMENT--RURAL FOOT-PATHS; VISIT TO
TIPTREE FARM--ALDERMAN MECHI'S OPERATIONS--IMPROVEMENTS INTRODUCED,
DECRIED, AND ADOPTED--STEAM POWER, UNDER-DRAINING, DEEP TILLAGE,
IRRIGATION--PRACTICAL RESULTS.

On Wednesday, July 15th, 1863, I left London with the hope that I
might be able to accomplish the northern half of my proposed "Walk
from Land's End to John O'Groat's." I had been practically
prostrated by a serious indisposition for nearly two months, and was
just able to walk one or two miles at a time about the city.
Believing that country air and exercise would soon enable me to be
longer on my feet, I concluded to set out as I was, without waiting
for additional strength, so slow and difficult to attain in the
smoky atmosphere and hot streets of London.

Few reading farmers in America there are who are not familiar with
the name and fame of Alderman Mechi, as an agriculturist of that new
and scientific school that is making such a revolution in the great
primeval industry of mankind. His experiments on his Tiptree Farm
have attained a world-wide publicity, and have given that homestead
an interest that, perhaps, never attached to the same number of
acres in any country or age. Thinking that this famous
establishment would be a good starting point for my pedestrian tour,
I concluded to proceed thither first by railway, and thence to walk
northward, by easy stages, through the fertile and rural county of
Essex. Taking an afternoon train, I reached Kelvedon about 5 p.m.,-
-the station for Tiptree, and a good specimen of an English village,
at two hours' ride from London. Calling at the residence of a
Friend, or Quaker, to inquire the way to the Alderman's farm, he
invited me to take tea with him, and be his guest for the night,--a
hospitality which I very gladly accepted, as it was a longer walk
than I had anticipated. After tea, my host, who was a farmer as
well as miller, took me over his fields, and showed me his live
stock, his crops of wheat, barley, oats, beans, and roots, which
were all large and luxuriant, and looked a tableau vivant of plenty
within the green hedges that enclosed and adorned them.

The next morning, after breakfast, my kind host set me on the way to
Tiptree by a footpath through alternating fields of wheat, barley,
oats, beans, and turnips, into which an English farm is generally
divided. These footpaths are among the vested interests of the
walking public throughout the United Kingdom. Most of them are
centuries old. The footsteps of a dozen generations have given them
the force and sanctity of a popular right. A farmer might as well
undertake to barricade the turnpike road as to close one of these
old paths across his best fields. So far from obstructing them, he
finds it good policy to straighten and round them up, and supply
them with convenient gates or stiles, so that no one shall have an
excuse for trampling on his crops, or for diverging into the open
field for a shorter cut to the main road. Blessings on the man who
invented them! It was done when land was cheap, and public roads
were few; before four wheels were first geared together for business
or pleasure. They were the doing of another age; this would not
have produced them. They run through all the prose, poetry, and
romance of the rural life of England, permeating the history of
green hedges, thatched cottages, morning songs of the lark,
moonlight walks, meetings at the stile, harvest homes of long ago,
and many a romantic narrative of human experience widely read in
both hemispheres. They will run on for ever, carrying with them the
same associations. They are the inheritance of landless millions,
who have trodden them in ages past at dawn, noon, and night, to and
from their labor; and in ages to come the mowers and reapers shall
tread them to the morning music of the lark, and through Spring,
Summer, Autumn, and Winter, they shall show the fresh checker-work
of the ploughman's hob-nailed shoe. The surreptitious innovations
of utilitarian science shall not poach upon these sacred preserves
of the people, whatever revolutions they may produce in the
machinery and speed of turnpike locomotion. These pleasant and
peaceful paths through park, and pasture, meandering through the
beautiful and sweet-breathing artistry of English agriculture, are
guaranteed to future generations by an authority which no
legislation can annul.

A walk of a few miles brought me in sight of Tiptree Hall; and its
first aspect relieved my mind of an impression which, in common with
thousands better informed, I had entertained in reference to the
establishment. An idea has generally prevailed among English
farmers, and agriculturists of other countries who have heard of
Alderman Mechi's experiments, that they were impracticable and
almost valueless, because they would not _pay_; that the balance-
sheet of his operations did and must ever show such ruinous
discrepancy between income and expenditure as must deter any man, of
less capital and reckless enthusiasm, from following his lead into
such unconsidered ventures. In short, he has been widely regarded
at home and abroad as a bold and dashing novice in agricultural
experience, ready to lavish upon his own hasty inventions a fortune
acquired in his London warehouse; and all this to make himself
famous as a great light in the agricultural world, which light,
after all, was a mere will-o'-the-wisp sort of affair, leading its
dupes into the veriest bog of bankruptcy. In common with all those
bold, self-reliant spirits that have ventured to break away from the
antecedents of public opinion and custom, he has been the subject of
many ungenerous innuendoes and criticisms. All kinds of ambitions
and motives have been ascribed to him. Many a burly, red-faced
farmer, who boasts of an unbroken agricultural lineage reaching back
into the reign of Good Queen Bess, will tell you over his beer that
the Alderman's doings are all _gammon_; that they are all to
advertise his cutlery business in Leadenhall Street, Barnum fashion;
to inveigle down to Tiptree Hall noblemen, foreign ambassadors, and
great people of different countries, and bribe "an honourable
mention" out of them with champagne treats and oyster suppers.
Indeed, my Quaker host largely participated in this opinion, and
took no pains to conceal it when speaking of his enterprising
neighbor.

From what I had read and heard of the Tiptree Hall estate, I
expected to see a grand, old, baronial mansion, surrounded with
elegant and costly buildings for housing horses, cattle, sheep, and
other live stock, all erected on a scale which no bona fide farmer
could adopt or approximately imitate. In a word, I fancied his
barns and stables would even surpass in this respect the
establishments of some of those most wealthy New York or Boston
merchants, who think they are stimulating country farmers to healthy
emulation by lavishing from thirty to forty thousand dollars on a
barn and its appurtenant out-houses. With these preconceived ideas,
it was an unexpected satisfaction to see quite a simple-looking,
unassuming establishment, which any well-to-do farmer might make and
own. The house is rather a large and solid-looking building,
erected by Mr. Mechi himself, but not at all ostentatious of wealth
or architectural taste. The barns and "steddings," or what we call
cowhouses in America, are of a very ordinary cast, or such as any
country-bred farmer would call economical and simple. The homestead
occupies no picturesque site, and commands no interesting scenery.
The farm consists of about 170 acres, which, in England, is regarded
as a rather small holding. The land is naturally sterile and hard
of cultivation, most of it apparently being heavily mixed with
ferruginous matter. When ploughed deeply, the clods turned up look
frequently like compact masses of iron ore. Every experienced
farmer knows the natural poverty of such a soil, and the hard labor
to man and beast it costs to till it.

To my great regret, Mr. Mechi was not at home, though he passes most
of his time in Summer at Tiptree. But his foreman, who enters into
all the experiments and operations which have made the establishment
so famous, with almost equal interest and enthusiasm, took me
through the farm buildings, and all the fields, and showed me the
whole process and machinery employed. Any English or American
agriculturist who has read of Alderman Mechi's operations, would be
inclined to ask, on looking, for the first time, at his buildings
and the fields surrounding them, what is the great distinguishing
speciality of his enterprise. His land is poor; his housings are
simple; there is no outside show of uncommon taste or genius. Every
acre is tile-drained, to be sure. But that is nothing new nor
uncommon. Drainage is the order of the day. Any tenant farmer in
England can have his land drained by the Government by paying six
per cent. annually on the cost of the job. His expenditure for
artificial manure does not exceed that of hundreds of good farmers.
He carries out the deep tillage system most liberally. So do other
scientific agriculturalists in Europe and America. Of course, a few
hours' observation would not suffice for a full and correct
conclusion on this point, but it gave me the impression that the
great operation which has won for the Tiptree Farm its special
distinction is its irrigation with liquid manure. In this respect
it stands unrivalled, and, perhaps, unimitated. And this, probably,
is the head and front of his offending to those who criticise his
economy and decry his experiments.

This irrigation is performed through the medium of a small steam
engine and sixteen hydrants, so posted and supplied with hose as to
reach every square foot of the 170 acres. The water used for this
purpose is mostly, if not entirely, supplied from the draining
pipes, even in the dryest season. The manure thus liquified is made
by a comparatively small number of animals. Calves to the value of
50 pounds are bought, and fat stock to that of 500 pounds are sold
annually. They are all stabled throughout the year, except in
harvest time, when they are turned out for a few weeks to rowen
feed. The calves are housed until a year old in a large stedding by
themselves. They are then transferred to another building, and put
upon "the boards;" that is in a long stable or cowhouse, with a
flooring of slats, through which the manure drops into a cellar
below, made water-tight. Here the busiest little engine in the
world is brought to bear upon it, with all its faculties of suction
and propulsion. Through one pipe it forces fresh water in upon this
mass of manure, which, when liquified, runs down into a subterranean
cistern or reservoir capable of holding over 100,000 gallons. From
this it is propelled into any field to be irrigated. To prevent any
sediment in the great reservoir, or to make an even mixture of the
liquified manure, a hose is attached to the engine, and the other
end dropped into the mass. Through this a constant volume of air is
propelled with such force as to set the whole boiling and foaming
like a little cataract. One man at the engine and two at the hose
in the distant field perform the whole operation. The chapped and
"baky" surface of the farm is thus softened and enriched at will,
and rendered productive.

Now, this operation seems to constitute the present distinctive
speciality of Alderman Mechi's Tiptree Farm. Will it pay? ask a
thousand voices. In how many years will he get his money back?
Give us the balance sheet of the experiment. A New Englander,
favorably impressed with the process, would be likely to answer
these questions by another, and ask, will _drainage_ pay? Not in
one year, assuredly, nor in five; not in ten, perhaps. The British
Government assumes that all the expenditure upon under-drainage will
be paid back in fifteen or twenty years at the farthest. It lends
money to the land-owner on this basis; and the land-owner stipulates
with his tenant that he shall reimburse him by annual instalments of
six or seven per cent. until the whole cost of the operation is
liquidated. Thus the tenant-farmer is willing to pay six, sometimes
seven per cent. annually, for twenty years, for the increased
capacity of production which drainage gives to the farm he
cultivates. At the end of that period the Government is paid by the
landlord, and the landlord by the tenant, and the tenant by his
augmented crops for the whole original outlay upon the land. For
aught either of the three parties to the operation knows to the
contrary, it must all be done over again at the end of twenty years.
The system is too young yet, even in England, for any one to say how
long a course of tubing will last, or how often it must be relaid.

One point, therefore, has been gained. No intelligent English
farmer, who has tried the system, now asks if under-drainage will
pay; nor does he expect that it will pay back the whole expenditure
in less than twelve or fifteen years. Here is a generous faith in
the operation on the side of all the parties concerned. Then why
should not Alderman Mechi's irrigation system be put on the same
footing, in the matter of public confidence? It is nothing very
uncommon even for a two-hundred-acre farmer in England to have a
small stationary or locomotive steam-engine, and to find plenty of
work for it, too, in threshing his grain, grinding his fodder,
pulping his roots, cutting his hay and straw, and for other
purposes. Mr. Mechi would doubtless have one for these objects
alone. So its cost must not be charged to the account of
irrigation. A single course of iron tubing, a third of a mile long,
reaching to the centre of his farthest field, cannot cost more, with
all the hose employed, than the drainage of that field, while it
would be fair to assume that the iron pipes will last twice as long
as those of burnt clay. They might fairly be expected to hold good
for forty years. If, then, for this period, or less, the process
yields ten per cent. of increased production annually, over and
above the effect of all other means employed, it is quite evident
that it will pay as well as drainage.

But does it augment the yearly production of the farm by this
amount? To say that it is the only process by which the baky and
chappy soil of Tiptree can be thoroughly fertilised, would not
suffice to prove its necessity or value to other soils of different
composition. One fact, however, may be sufficient to determine its
virtue. The fields of clover, and Italian rye-grass, etc., are mown
three and even four times in one season, and afterwards fed with
sheep. Certainly, no other system could produce all this cropping.
The distinctive difference it makes in other crops cannot, perhaps,
be made so palpable. The wheat looked strong and heavy, with a fair
promise of forty-five bushels to an acre. The oats, beans, and
roots showed equally well.

The irrigation and deep tillage systems were going on simultaneously
in the same field, affording me a good opportunity of seeing the
operation of both. Two men were plying the hose upon a portion of
the field which had already been mowed three times. Two teams were
at work turning up the other, which had already been cropped once or
twice. One of two horses went first, and, with a common English
plough, turned an ordinary furrow. Then the other followed, of
twice the force of the first, in the same furrow, with a subsoil
plough held to the work beam-deep. The iron-stones and ferruginous
clods turned up by this "deep tillage" would make a prairie farmer
of Illinois wonder, if not shudder, at the plucky and ingenious
industry which competes with his easy toil and cheap land in
providing bread for the landless millions of Great Britain.

The only exceptional feature or arrangement, besides the irrigating
machinery and process, that I noticed, was an iron hurdling for
folding sheep. This, at first sight, might look to a practical
farmer a little extravagant, indicating a city origin, or the notion
of an amateur agriculturist, more ambitious of the new than of the
necessary. Each length of this iron fencing is apparently about a
rod, and cost 1 pound, or nearly five dollars. It is fitted to low
wheels, or rollers, on an axle two or three feet in length, so that
it can be moved easily and quickly in any direction. It would cost
over fifty pounds, or two hundred and fifty dollars, to enclose an
acre entirely with this kind of hurdling. Still, Mr. Mechi would
doubtless be able to show that this large expenditure is a good
investment, and pays well in the long run. The folding of sheep for
twenty-four or forty-eight hours on small patches of clover,
trefoil, or turnips, is a very important department of English
farming, both for fattening them for the market and for putting the
land in better heart than any other fertilising process could
effect. Now, a man with this iron fencing on wheels must be able to
make in two hours an enclosure that would cost him a day or more of
busy labor with the old wooden hurdles.

On the whole, a practical farmer, who has no other source of income
than the single occupation of agriculture, would be likely to ask,
what is the realised value of Alderman Mechi's operations to the
common grain and stock-growers of the world? They have excited more
attention or curiosity than any other experiments of the present
day; but what is the real resume of their results? What new
principles has he laid down; what new economy has he reduced to a
science that may be profitably utilised by the million who get their
living by farming? What has he actually done that anybody else has
adopted or imitated to any tangible advantage? These are important
questions; and this is the way he undertakes to answer them,
beginning with the last.

About twenty years ago, he inaugurated the system of under-draining
the heavy tile-clay lands in Essex. Up to his experiment, the
process was deemed impracticable and worthless by the most
intelligent farmers of the county. It was more confidently decried
than his present irrigation system. The water would never find its
way down into the drain-pipes through such clay. It stood to reason
that it would do no such thing. Did not the water stand in the
track of the horse's hoof in such rich clay until evaporated by the
sun? It might as well leak through an earthenware basin. It was
all nonsense to bury a man's money in that style. He never would
see a shilling of it back again. In the face of these opinions, Mr.
Mechi went on, training his pipes through field after field, deep
below the surface. And the water percolated through the clay into
them, until all these long veins formed a continuous and rushing
stream into the main artery that now furnishes an ample supply for
his stabled cattle, for his steam engine, and for all the barn-yard
wants. His tile-draining of clay-lands was a capital success; and
those who derided and opposed it have now adopted it to their great
advantage, and to the vast augmentation of the value and production
of the county. Here, then, is one thing in which he has led, and
others have followed to a great practical result.

His next leading was in the way of agricultural machinery. He first
introduced a steam engine for farming purposes in a district
containing a million of acres. That, too, at the outset, was a
fantastic vagary in the opinion of thousands of solid and
respectable farmers. They insisted the Iron Horse would be as
dangerous in the barn-yard or rick-yard as the very dragon in
Scripture; that he would set everything on fire; kill the men who
had care of him; burst and blow up himself and all the buildings
into the air; that all the horses, cows, and sheep would be
frightened to death at the very sight of the monster, and never
could be brought to lie down in peace and safety by his side, even
when his blood was cold, and when he was fast asleep. To think of
it! to have a tall chimney towering up over a barn-gable or barn-
yard, and puffing out black coal smoke, cotton-factory-wise! Pretty
talk! pretty terms to train an honest and virtuous farmer to mouth!
Wouldn't it be edifying to hear him string the yarn of these new
words! to hear him tell of his _engineer_ and ploughman; of his
_pokers_ and pitchforks; of _six-horse power, valves, revolutions,
stopcocks, twenty pounds of steam_, etc.; mixing up all this
ridiculous stuff with yearling-calves, turnips, horse-carts, oil-
cake, wool, bullocks, beans, and sheep, and other vital things and
interests, which forty centuries have looked upon with reverence!
To plough, thresh, cut turnips, grind corn, and pump water for
cattle by steam! What next?

Why, next, the farmers of the region round about

"First pitied, then embraced"

this new and powerful auxiliary to agricultural industry, after
having watched its working and its worth. And now, thanks to such
bold and spirited novices as Mr. Mechi--men who had the pluck to
work steadily on under the pattering rain of derisive epithets--
there are already nearly as many steam engines working at farm labor
between Land's End and John O'Groat's as there are employed in the
manufacture of cotton in Great Britain.

His irrigation system will doubtless be followed in the same order
and interval by those who have pooh-poohed it with the same derision
and incredulity as the other innovations they have already adopted.
The utilising of the sewage of large towns, especially of London,
has now become a prominent idea and movement. Mr. Mechi's machinery
and process are admirably adapted to the work of distributing a
river of this fertilising material over any farm to which it may be
conducted. Thus, there is good reason to believe that the very
process he originated for softening and enriching the hard and
sterile acres of his small farm in Essex will be adopted for
saturating millions of acres in Great Britain with the millions of
tons of manurial matter that have hitherto blackened and poisoned
the rivers of the country on their wasteful way to the sea. This
will be only an additional work for the farm engines now in
operation, accomplished with but little increased expense. A single
fact may illustrate the irrigating capacity of Mr. Mechi's
machinery. It throws upon a field a quantity of the fertilising
fluid equal to one inch of rainfall at a time, or 100 tons per
imperial acre. And, as a proof of how deep it penetrates, the
drains run freely with it, thus showing conclusively that the
subsoil has been well saturated, a point of vital importance to the
crop.

Deep tillage is another speciality that distinguished the Tiptree
Farm regime at the beginning, in which Mr. Mechi led, and in which
he has been followed by the farmers of the country, although few
have come up abreast of him as yet in the system.

Here, then, are four specific departments of improvement in
agricultural industry which the Alderman has introduced. Every one
of them has been ridiculed as an impracticable and useless
innovation in its turn. Three of them have already been adopted,
and virtually incorporated with agricultural science and economy;
and the fourth, or irrigation by steam power, bids fair to find as
much favor, and as many adherents in the end as the others have
done.

He has not only originated these improvements, or been the first to
give them practical experiment, but he has laid down certain
principles which will doubtless exercise much influence in shaping
the industrial economy of agriculture hereafter in different
countries. One of the best of these principles he puts in the form
of a mathematical proposition. Thus:--As the meat is to the manure,
so is the crop to the land. Tell me, he says, how much meat you
make, and I will tell you how much corn you make, to the acre.
Meat, then, is the starting point with him; the basis of his annual
production, to which he looks for a satisfactory decision of his
balance-sheet. To show the value he attaches to this element, the
fact will suffice that he usually keeps 65 bullocks, cows, and
calves, 100 sheep, and a number of pigs, besides his horses, making
one head to every acre of his farm. With this amount of live stock
he makes from 4 to 5 pounds worth of meat per acre annually.
Perhaps it would be safe to say that no other 170 acres of land in
the world make more meat, manure, and grain in the year than the
Tiptree Farm. In these results Mr. Mechi thinks his experiments and
improvements have proved

Quod es demonstrandum.

Having gone over the farm pretty thoroughly, and noticed all the
leading features of the establishment, I was requested by the
foreman to enter my name in the visitor's book kept in his neat
cottage parlor. It is a large volume, with the ruling running
across both the wide pages; the left apportioned to name, town,
country, and profession; the right to remarks of the visitor. It is
truly a remarkable book of interesting autographs and observations,
which the philologist as well as agriculturist might pore over with
lively satisfaction. It not only contains the names and comments of
many of the most distinguished personages in Great Britain, but
those of all other countries of Europe, even of Asia and Africa, as
well as America. Foreign ambassadors, Continental savans, men of
fame in the literary, scientific, and political world have here
recorded their names and impressions in the most unique succession
and blending. Here, under one date, is a party of Italian
gentlemen, leaving their autographs and their observations in the
softest syllables of their language. Then several German
connoisseurs follow in their peculiar script, with comments worded
heavily with hard-mouthed consonants. Then comes, perhaps, a single
Russian nobleman, who expresses his profound satisfaction in the
politest French. Next succeed three or four Spanish Dons, with a
long fence of names attached to each, who give their views of the
establishment in the grave, sonorous words of their language. Here,
now, an American puts in his autograph, with his sharp, curt notion
of the matter, as "first-rate." Very likely a turbaned Mufti or
Singh of the Oriental world follows the New England farmer. Danish
and Swedish knights prolong the procession, mingling with Australian
wool-growers, Members of the French Royal Academy, Canadian timber-
merchants, Dutch Mynheers, Brazilian coffee-planters, Belgian lace-
makers, and the representatives of all other countries and
professions in Christendom. An autograph-monger, with the mania
strong upon him, of unscrupulous curiosity, armed furtively with a
keen pair of scissors would be a dangerous person to admit to the
presence of that big book without a policeman at his elbow.

Tiptree Hall has its own literature also, in two or three volumes,
written by Mr. Mechi himself, and describing fully his agricultural
experience and experiments, and giving facts and arguments which
every English and American farmer might study with profit.

CHAPTER III.

ENGLISH AND AMERICAN BIRDS.

"What thou art we know not;
What is most like thee?
From rainbow clouds there flow not
Drops so bright to see,
As from thy presence showers a rain of melody."
SHELLEY'S "SKYLARK."

"Do you ne'er think what wondrous beings these?
Do you ne'er think who made them, and who taught
The dialect they speak, whose melodies
Alone are the interpreters of thought?
Whose household words are songs in many keys,
Sweeter than instrument of man e'er caught!
Whose habitations in the tree-tops, even,
Are half-way houses on the road to heaven."
LONGFELLOW.

Having spent a couple of hours very pleasantly at Tiptree Hall, I
turned my face in a northerly direction for a walk through the best
agricultural section of Essex. While passing through a grass field
recently mown, a lark flew up from almost under my feet. And there,
partially overarched by a tuft of clover, was her little all of
earth--a snug, warm nest with two small eggs in it, about the size
and color of those of the ground-chirping-bird of New England, which
is nearer the English lark than any other American bird. I bent
down to look at them with an interest an American could only feel.
To him the lark is to the bird-world's companionship and music what
the angels are to the spirit land. He has read and dreamed of both
from his childhood up. He has believed in both poetically and
pleasantly, sometimes almost positively, as real and beautiful
individualities. He almost credits the poet of his own country, who
speaks of hearing "the downward beat of angel wings." In his facile
faith in the substance of picturesque and happy shadows, he
sometimes tries to believe that the phoenix may have been, in some
age and country, a real, living bird, of flesh and blood and genuine
feathers, with long, strong wings, capable of performing the strange
psychological feats ascribed to it in that most edifying picture
emblazoned on the arms of Banking Companies, Insurance Offices, and
Quack Doctors. He is not sure that dying swans have not sung a
mournful hymn over their last moments, under an affecting and human
sense of their mortality. He has believed in the English lark to
the same point of pleasing credulity. Why should he not give its
existence the same faith? The history of its life is as old as the
English alphabet, and older still. It sang over the dark and
hideous lairs of the bloody Druids centuries before Julius Caesar
was born, and they doubtless had a pleasant name for it, unless true
music was hateful to their ears. It sang, without loss or change of
a single note of this morning's song, to the Roman legions as they
marched, or made roads in Britain. It rang the same voluntaries to
the Saxons, Danes, and Normans, through the long ages, and, perhaps,
tended to soften their antagonisms, and hasten their blending into
one great and mighty people. How the name and song of this happiest
of earthly birds run through all the rhyme and romance of English
poetry, of English rural life, ever since there was an England!
Take away its history and its song from her daisy-eyed meadows, and
shaded lanes, and hedges breathing and blooming with sweetbrier
leaves and hawthorn flowers--from her thatched cottages, veiled with
ivy--from the morning tread of the reapers, and the mower's lunch of
bread and cheese under the meadow elm, and you take away a living
and beautiful spirit more charming than music. You take away from
English poetry one of its pleiades, and bereave it of a
companionship more intimate than that of the nearest neighborhood of
the stars above. How the lark's life and song blend, in the rhyme
of the poet, with "the sheen of silver fountains leaping to the
sea," with morning sunbeams and noontide thoughts, with the sweetest
breathing flowers, and softest breezes, and busiest bees, and
greenest leaves, and happiest human industries, loves, hopes, and
aspirations!

The American has read and heard of all this from his youth up to the
day of setting his foot, for the first time, on English ground. He
has tried to believe it, as in things seen, temporal and tangible.
But in doing this he has to contend with a sense or suspicion of
unreality--a feeling that there has been great poetical exaggeration
in the matter. A patent fact lies at the bottom of this
incredulity. The forefathers of New England carried no wild bird
with them to sing about their cabin homes in the New World. But
they found beautiful and happy birds on that wild continent, as
well-dressed, as graceful in form and motion, and of as fine taste
for music and other accomplishments, as if they and their ancestors
had sung before the courts of Europe for twenty generations. These
sang their sweet songs of welcome to the Pilgrims as they landed
from the "Mayflower." These sang to them cheerily, through the
first years and the later years of their stern trials and
tribulations. These built their nests where the blue eyes of the
first white children born in the land could peer in upon the
speckled eggs with wonder and delight. What wonder that those
strong-hearted puritan fathers and mothers, who

"Made the aisles of the dim wood ring
With the anthems of the free,"

should love the fellowship of these native singers of the field and
forest, and give them names their hearts loved in the old home land
beyond the sea! They did not consult Linnaeus, nor any musty Latin
genealogy of Old World birds, at the christening of these songsters.
There was a good family resemblance in many cases. The blustering
partridge, brooding over her young in the thicket, was very nearly
like the same bird in England. For the mellow-throated thrush of
the old land they found a mate in the new, of the same size, color,
and general habits, though less musical. The blackbird was nearly
the same in many respects, though the smaller American wore a pair
of red epaulettes. The swallows had their coat tails cut after the
same old English pattern, and built their nests after the same
model, and twittered under the eaves with the same ecstacy, and
played the same antics in the air. But the two dearest home-birds
of the fatherland had no family relations nor counterparts in
America; and the pilgrim fathers and their children could not make
their humble homes happy without the lark and the robin, at least in
name and association; so they looked about them for substitutes.
There was a plump, full-chested bird, in a chocolate-colored vest,
with a bluish dress coat, that would mount the highest tree-top in
early spring, and play his flute by the hour for very joy to see the
snow melt and the buds swell again. There was such a rollicking
happiness in his loud, clear notes, and he apparently sang them in
such sympathy with human fellowships, and hopes, and homes, and he
was such a cheery and confiding denizen of the orchard and garden
withal, that he became at once the pet bird of old and young, and
was called the _robin_; and well would it be if its English namesake
possessed its sterling virtues; for, with all its pleasant traits
and world-wide reputation, the English robin is a pretentious,
arrogant busybody, characteristically pugilistic and troublesome in
the winged society of England. In form, dress, deportment,
disposition, and in voice and taste for vocal music, the American
robin surpasses the English most decidedly. In this our grave
forefathers did more than justice to the home-bird they missed on
Plymouth Rock. In this generous treatment of their affection for
it, they perhaps condoned for mating the English lark so
incongruously; but it was true their choice was very limited. To
match the prima donna carissima of English field and sky, it was
necessary to select a meadow bird, with some other features of
resemblance. It would never do to give the cherished name and
association to one that lived in the forest, or built its nest in
the tree-tops or house-tops, or to one that was black, yellow, or
red. Having to conciliate all these conditions, and do the best
with the material at hand, they pitched upon a rather large,
brownish bird, in a drab waistcoat, slightly mottled, and with a
loud, cracked voice, which nobody ever liked. So it never became a
favorite, even to those who first gave it the name of lark. It was
not its only defect that it lacked an ear and voice for music.
There is always a scolding accent that marks its conversation with
other birds in the brightest mornings of June. He is very noisy,
but never merry nor musical. Indeed, compared with the notes of the
English lark, his are like the vehement ejaculations of a maternal
duck in distress.

Take it in all, no bird in either hemisphere equals the English lark
in heart or voice, for both unite to make it the sweetest, happiest,
the welcomest singer that was ever winged, like the high angels of
God's love. It is the living ecstacy of joy when it mounts up into
its "glorious privacy of light." On the earth it is timid, silent,
and bashful, as if not at home, and not sure of its right to be
there at all. It is rather homely withal, having nothing in
feather, feature, or form, to attract notice. It is seemingly made
to be heard, not seen, reversing the old axiom addressed to children
when getting voicy. Its mission is music, and it floods a thousand
acres of the blue sky with it several times a day. Out of that
palpitating speck of living joy there wells forth a sea of
twittering ecstacy upon the morning and evening air. It does not
ascend by gyrations, like the eagle or birds of prey. It mounts up
like a human aspiration. It seems to spread out its wings and to be
lifted straight upwards out of sight by the afflatus of its own
happy heart. To pour out this in undulating rivulets of rhapsody is
apparently the only motive of its ascension. This it is that has
made it so loved of all generations. It is the singing angel of
man's nearest heaven, whose vital breath is music. Its sweet
warbling is only the metrical palpitation of its life of joy. It
goes up over the roof-trees of the rural hamlet on the wings of its
song, as if to train the rural soul to trial flights heavenward.
Never did the Creator put a voice of such volume into so small a
living thing. It is a marvel--almost a miracle. In a still hour
you can hear it at nearly a mile's distance. When its form is lost
in the hazy lace-work of the sun's rays above, it pours down upon
you all the thrilling semitones of its song as distinctly as if it
were warbling to you in your window.

The only American bird that could star it with the English lark, and
win any admiration at a popular concert by its side, is our
favourite comic singer, the Bobolink. I have thought often, when
listening to British birds at their morning rehearsals, what a
sensation would ensue if Master Bob, in his odd-fashioned bib and
tucker, should swagger into their midst, singing one of those Low-
Dutch voluntaries which he loves to pour down into the ears of our
mowers in haying time. Not only would such an apparition and
overture throw the best-trained orchestra of Old World birds into
amazement or confusion, but astonish all the human listeners at an
English concert. With what a wonderment would one of these
blooming, country milkmaids look at the droll harlequin, and listen
to those familiar words of his, set to his own music:-

Go to milk! go to milk!
Oh, Miss Phillisey,
Dear Miss Phillisey,
What will Willie say
If you don't go to milk!
No cheese, no cheese,
No butter nor cheese
If you don't go to milk.

It is a wonder that in these days of refined civilization, when
Jenny Lind, Grisi, Patti, and other celebrated European singers,
some of them from very warm climates, are transported to America to
delight our Upper-Tendom, that there should be no persistent and
successful effort to introduce the English lark into our out-door
orchestra of singing-birds. No European voice would be more welcome
to the American million. It would be a great gain to the nation,
and be helpful to our religious devotions, as well as to our secular
satisfactions. In several of our Sabbath hymns there is poetical
reference to the lark and its song. For instance, that favorite
psalm of gratitude for returning Spring opens with these lines:--

"The winter is over and gone,
The thrush whistles sweet on the spray,
The turtle breathes forth her soft moan,
The _lark_ mounts on high and warbles away."

Now, not one American man, woman, or child in a thousand ever heard
or saw an English lark, and how is he, she, or it to sing the last
line of the foregoing verse with the spirit and understanding due to
an exercise of devotion? The American lark never mounts higher than
the top of a meadow elm, on which it see-saws, and screams, or
quacks, till it is tired; then draws a bee-line for another tree, or
a fence-post, never even undulating on the voyage. It may be said,
truly enough, that the hymn was written in England. Still, if sung
in America from generation to generation, we ought to have the
English lark with us, for our children to see and hear, lest they
may be tempted to believe that other and more serious similes in our
Sabbath hymns are founded on fancy instead of fact.

Nor would it be straining the point, nor be dealing in poetical
fancies, if we should predicate upon the introduction of the English
lark into American society a supplementary influence much needed to
unify and nationalise the heterogeneous elements of our population.
Men, women, and children, speaking all the languages and
representing all the countries and races of Europe, are streaming in
upon us weekly in widening currents. The rapidity with which they
become assimilated to the native population is remarkable. But
there is one element from abroad that does not Americanise itself so
easily--and that, curiously, is one the most American that comes
from Europe--in other words, the _English_. They find with us
everything as English as it can possibly be out of England--their
language, their laws, their literature, their very bibles, psalm-
books, psalm-tunes, the same faith and forms of worship, the same
common histories, memories, affinities, affections, and general
structure of social life and public institutions; yet they are
generally the very last to be and feel at home in America. A
Norwegian mountaineer, in his deerskin doublet, and with a dozen
English words picked up on the voyage, will Americanise himself more
in one year on an Illinois prairie than an intelligent, middle-class
Englishman will do in ten, in the best society of Massachusetts.
Now, I am not dallying with a facetious fantasy when I express the
opinion, that the life and song of the English lark in America,
superadded to the other institutions and influences indicated, would
go a great way in fusing this hitherto insoluble element, and
blending it harmoniously with the best vitalities of the nation.
And this consummation would well repay a special and extraordinary
effect. Perhaps this expedient would be the most successful of all
that remain untried. A single incident will prove that it is more
than a mere theory. Here it is, in substance:--

Some years ago, when the Australian gold fever was hot in the veins
of thousands, and fleets of ships were conveying them to that far-
off, uncultivated world, a poor old woman landed with the great
multitude of rough and reckless men, who were fired to almost frenzy
by dreams of ponderous nuggets and golden fortunes. For these they
left behind them all the enjoyments, endearments, all the softening
sanctities and surroundings of home and social life in England. For
these they left mothers, wives, sisters and daughters. There they
were, thinly tented in the rain, and the dew, and the mist, a busy,
boisterous, womanless camp of diggers and grubbers, roughing-and-
tumbling it in the scramble for gold mites, with no quiet Sabbath
breaks, nor Sabbath songs, nor Sabbath bells to measure off and
sweeten a season of rest. Well, the poor widow, who had her cabin
within a few miles of "the diggings," brought with her but few
comforts from the old homeland--a few simple articles of furniture,
the bible and psalm-book of her youth, and an English lark to sing
to her solitude the songs that had cheered her on the other side of
the globe. And the little thing did it with all the fervor of its
first notes in the English sky. In her cottage window it sang to
her hour by hour at her labor, with a voice never heard before on
that wild continent. The strange birds of the land came circling
around in their gorgeous plumage to hear it. Even four-footed
animals, of grim countenance, paused to hear it. Then, one by one,
came other listeners. They came reverently, and their voices
softened into silence as they listened. Hard-visaged men, bare-
breasted and unshaven, came and stood gentle as girls; and tears
came out upon many a tanned and sun-blistered cheek as the little
bird warbled forth the silvery treble of its song about the green
hedges, the meadow streams, the cottage homes, and all the sunny
memories of the fatherland. And they came near unto the lone widow
with pebbles of gold in their hard and horny hands, and asked her to
sell them the bird, that it might sing to them while they were
bending to the pick and the spade. She was poor, and the gold was
heavy; yet she could not sell the warbling joy of her life. But she
told them that they might come whenever they would to hear it sing.
So, on Sabbath days, having no other preacher nor teacher, nor
sanctuary privilege, they came down in large companies from their
gold-pits, and listened to the devotional hymns of the lark, and
became better and happier men for its music.

Seriously, it may be urged that the refined tastes, arts, and genius
of the present day do not develop themselves symmetrically or
simultaneously in this matter. Here are connoisseurs and
enthusiasts in vegetable nature hunting up and down all the earth's
continents for rare trees, plants, shrubs, and flowers. They are
bringing them to England and America in shiploads, to such extent
and variety, that nearly all the dead languages and many of the
living are ransacked to furnish names for them. Llamas,
dromedaries, Cashmere goats, and other strange animals, are brought,
thousands of miles by sea and land, to be acclimatised and
domesticated to these northern countries. Artificial lakes are made
for the cultivation of fish caught in Antipodean streams. That is
all pleasant and hopeful and proper. The more of that sort of thing
the better. But why not do the other thing, too? Vattemare made it
the mission of his life to induce people of different countries to
exchange books, or unneeded duplicates of literature. We need an
Audubon or Wilson, not to make new collections of feathered
skeletons, and new volumes on ornithology, but to effect an exchange
of living birds between Europe and America; not for caging, not for
Zoological gardens and museums, but for singing their free songs in
our fields and forests. There is no doubt that the English lark
would thrive and sing as well in America as in this country. And
our bobolink would be as easily acclimatised in Europe. Who could
estimate the pleasure which such an exchange in the bird-world would
give to millions on both sides of the Atlantic?

There are some English birds which we could not introduce into the
feathered society of America, any more than we could import a score
of British Dukes and Duchesses, with all their hereditary dignities
and grand surroundings, into the very heart and centre of our
democracy. For instance, the grave and aristocratic rooks, if
transported to our country, would turn up their noses and caw with
contempt at our institutions--even at our oldest buildings and most
solemn and dignified oaks. It is very doubtful if they would be
conciliated into any respect for the Capitol or The White House at
Washington. They have an intuitive and most discriminating
perception of antiquity, and their adhesion to it is invincible.
Whether they came in with the Normans, or before, history does not
say. One thing would seem evident. They are older than the Order
of the Garter, and belonged to feudalism. They are the living
spirits of feudalism, which have survived its human retainers by
several hundred years, and now represent the defunct institution as
pretentiously as in King Stephen's day. They are as fond of old
Norman castles, cathedrals, and churches, as the very ivy itself,
and cling to them with as much pertinacity. For several hundred
generations of bird-life, they and their ancestors have colonised
their sable communities in the baronial park-trees of England, and
their descendants promise to abide for as many generations to come.
In size, form, and color they differ but little from the American
crow, but are swifter on the wing, with greater "gift of the gab,"
and less dignified in general deportment, though more given to
aristocratic airs. Although they emigrated from France long before
"La Democratic Sociale" was ever heard of in that country, they may
be considered the founders of the _Socialistic_ theory and practice;
and to this day they live and move in phalansteries, which succeed
far better than those attempted by the American "Fourierites" some
years ago. As in human communities, the collision of mind with mind
contributes fortuitous scintillations of intelligence to their
general enlightenment; so gregarious animals, birds and bees seem to
acquire especial quick-wittedness from similar intercourse. The
English rook, therefore, is more astute, subtle, and cunning than
our American crow, and some of his feats of legerdemain are quite
vulpine.

The jackdaw is to the rook what the Esquimaux is to the Algonquin
Indian; of the same form, color, and general habits, but smaller in
size. They are as fond of ancient abbeys and churches as ever were
the monks of old. Indeed, they have many monkish habits and
predilections, and chatter over their Latin rituals in the storied
towers of old Norman cathedrals, and in the belfries of ivy-webbed
churches in as vivicacious confusion.

There is no country in the world of the same size that has so many
birds in it as England; and there are none so musical and merry.
They all sing here congregationalwise, just as the people do in the
churches and chapels of all religious denominations. As these
buildings were fashioned in early times after the Gothic order of
elm and oak-tree architecture, so the human worshippers therein
imitated the birds, as well as the branches, of those trees, and
learned to sing their Sabbath hymns together, young and old, rich
and poor, in the same general uprising and blending of multitudinous
voices. I believe everything sings that has wings in England. And
well it might, for here it is safe from shot, stones, snares, and
other destructives. "Young England" is not allowed to sport with
firearms, after the fashion of our American boys. You hear no
juvenile popping at the small birds of the meadow, thicket, or
hedge-row, in Spring, Summer, or Autumn. After travelling and
sojourning nearly ten years in the country, I have never seen a boy
throw a stone at a sparrow, or climb a tree for a bird's-nest. The
only birds that are not expected to die a natural death are the
pheasant, partridge, grouse, and woodcock; and these are to be
killed according to the strictest laws and customs, at a certain
season of the year, and then only by titled or wealthy men who hold
their vested interest in the sport among the most rigid and sacred
rights of property. Thus law, custom, public sentiment, climate,
soil, and production, all combine to give bird-life a development in
England that it attains in no other country. In no other land is it
so multitudinous and musical; in none is there such ample and varied
provision for housing and homing it. Every field is a great bird's-
nest. The thick, green hedge that surrounds it, and the hedge-trees
arising at one or two rods' interval, afford nesting and refuge for
myriads of these meadow singers. The groves and thickets are full
of them and their music; so full, indeed, that sometimes every leaf
seems to pulsate with a little piping voice in the general concert.
Nor are they confined to the fields, groves, and hedges of the quiet
country. If the census of the sparrows alone in London could be
taken, they would count up to a larger figure than all the birds of
a New England county would reach. Then there is another interesting
feature of this companionship. A great deal of it lasts through the
entire year. There are ten times as many birds in England as in
America in the winter. Here the fields are green through the
coldest months. No deep and drifting snows cover a frozen earth for
ten or twelve weeks, as with us. There is plenty of shelter and
seeds for birds that can stand an occasional frost or wintry storm,
and a great number of them remain the whole year around the English
homesteads.

If such a difference were a full compensation, our North American
birds make up in dress what they fall short of English birds in
voice and musical talent. The robin redbreast and the goldfinch
come out in brighter colors than any other beaux and belles of the
season here; but the latter is only a slender-waisted brunette, and
the former a plump, strutting, little coxcomb, in a mahogany-colored
waistcoat. There is nothing here approaching in vivid colors the
New England yellow-bird, hang-bird, red-bird, indigo-bird, or even
the bluebird. In this, as well as other differences, Nature adjusts
the system of compensation which is designed to equalise the
conditions of different countries.

CHAPTER IV.

TALK WITH AN OLD MAN ON THE WAY--OLD HOUSES IN ENGLAND--THEIR
AMERICAN RELATIONSHIPS--ENGLISH HEDGES AND HEDGE-ROW TREES--THEIR
PROBABLE FATE--CHANGE OF RURAL SCENERY WITHOUT THEM.

From Tiptree I had a pleasant walk to Coggeshall, a unique and
antique town, marked by the quaint and picturesque architecture of
the Elizabethan regime. On the way I met an old man, eighty-three
years of age, busily at work with his wheel-barrow, shovel, and
bush-broom, gathering up the droppings of manure on the road. I
stopped and had a long talk with him, and learned much of those
ingenious and minute industries by which thousands of poor men
house, feed, and clothe themselves and their families in a country
super-abounding with labor. He had nearly filled his barrow, after
trundling it for four miles. He could sell his little load for 4d.
to a neighboring farmer; but he intended to keep it for a small
garden patch allotted to him by his son, with whom he lived. These
few square yards of land constituted the microscopic point of his
attachment to that great globe still holding in reserve unmeasured
territories of productive soil, on which nor plough, nor spade, nor
human foot, nor life has ever left a lasting mark. These made his
little farm, as large to him and to his octogenarian sinews and
ambitions as was the Tiptree Estate to Alderman Mechi. It filled
his mind with as busy occupation and as healthy a stimulus. That
rude barrow, with its clumsy wheel, thinly rimmed with an iron hoop,
was to him what the steam engine, and two miles of iron tubing, and
all its hose-power were to that eminent agriculturist, of whom he
spoke in terms of high esteem as a neighbor, and even as a
competitor. Proportionately they were on the same footing; the one
with his 170 square acres, the other with his 170 square feet. It
was pleasant and instructive to hear him speak with such sunny and
cheery hope of his earthly lot and doings. His son was kind and
good to him. He could read, and get many good books. He ate and
slept well. He was poor but comfortable. He went to church on
Sunday, and thought much of heaven on week days. His cabbages were
a wonder; some with heads as large as a half-bushel measure. He did
something very respectable in the potato and turnip line. He had
grown beans and beets which would show well in any market. He
always left a strip or corner for flowers. He loved to grow them;
they did him good, and stirred up young-man feelings in him. He
went on in this way with increased animation, following the lead of
a few questions I put in occasionally to give direction to the
narrative of his experience. How much I wished I could have
photographed him as he stood leaning on his shovel, his wrinkled
face and gray, thin hair, moistened with perspiration, while his
coat lay inside out on one of the handles of his barrow! The July
sun, that warmed him at his work, would have made an interesting
picture of him, if some one could have held a camera to its eye at
the moment. I added a few pennies to his stock-in-trade, and
continued my walk, thinking much of that wonderful arrangement of
Providence by which the infinite alternations and gradations of
human life and condition are adjusted; fitting a separate being,
experience, and attachment to every individual heart; training its
tendrils to cling all its life long to one slightly individualised
locality, which another could never call home; giving itself and all
its earthly hopes to an occupation which another would esteem a
prison discipline; sucking the honey of contentment out of a
condition which would be wormwood to another person on the same
social level.

On reaching Coggeshall, I became again the guest of a Friend, who
gave me the same old welcome and hospitality which I have so often
received from the members of that society. After tea, he took me
about the town, and showed me those buildings so interesting to an
American--low, one-story houses, with thatched roofs, clay-colored,
wavy walls, rudely-carved lintels, and iron-sash windows opening
outward on hinges like doors, with squares of glass 3 inches by 4;--
houses which were built before the keel of the Mayflower was laid,
which conveyed the Pilgrims to Plymouth Rock. Here, now! see that
one on the other side of the street, looking out upon a modern and
strange generation through two ivy-browed eyes just lighted up to
visible speculation by a single candle on the mantel-piece! A very
animated and respectable baby was carried out of that door in its
mother's arms, and baptised in the parish church, before William
Shakespeare was weaned. There is a younger house near by, which was
a century old when Washington was born. These unique, old dwellings
of town, village, and hamlet in England, must ever possess an
interest to the American traveller which the grand and majestic
cathedrals, that fill him with so much admiration, cannot inspire.
We link the life of our nation more directly to these humbler
buildings. Our forefathers went out of these houses to the New
World. The log huts they first erected served them and their
families as homes for a few years; then were given to their horses
and cattle for stabling; then were swept away, as too poor for
either man or beast. The second generation of houses made greater
pretensions to comfort, and had their day, then passed away. They
were nearly all one-story, wooden buildings, with a small apartment
on each side of a great chimney, and a little bed-roomage in the
garret for children. Then followed the large, red, New England
mansion, broadside to the road, two stories high in front, with
nearly a rood of back roof declining to within five or six feet of
the ground, and covering a great, dark kitchen, flanked on one side
by a bed-room, and on the other by the buttery. A ponderous chimney
arose out of the middle of the building, giving a fire-place of
eight feet back to the kitchen, and one of half the dimensions to
each of the other two large rooms--the _north_ and _south_. For,
like the republic they founded, its forefathers and ours divided
their dwellings by a kind of Mason and Dixon's Line, into two parts,
giving them these sectional appellations which have represented such
antagonisms and made us such trouble. Every one of these old-
fashioned houses had its "North" and "South" rooms on the ground-
floor, and duplicates, of the same size and name, above, divided by
the massive, hollow tower, called a chimney. A double front door,
with panels, scrolled with rude carving, opened right and left into
the portly building, which, in the tout ensemble, looked like a New
England gentleman of the olden time, in his cocked hat, and hair
done up in a queue. These were the houses built "when George the
Third was King." In these were born the men of the American
Revolution. They are the oldest left in the land; and, like the
Revolutionary pensioners, they are fast disappearing. In a few
years, it will be said the last of them has been levelled to the
ground, just as the paragraph will circulate through the newspapers
that the last soldier of the War of Independence is dead.

Thus, the young generation in America, now reciting in our schools
the rudimental facts of the common history of the English-speaking
race, will come to the meridian of manhood at a time when the three
first generations of American houses shall have been swept away.
But, travelling over a space of three centuries' breadth, they will
see, in these old English dwellings, where the New World broke off
from the Old--the houses in which the first settlers of New England
were born; the churches and chapels in which they were baptised, and
the school-houses in which they learned the alphabet of the great
language that is to fill the earth with the speech of man's rights
and God's glory. One hundred millions, speaking the tongue of
Shakespeare and Milton on the American continent, and as many
millions more on continents more recently settled by the same race,
across the ocean, and across century-seas of time, shall moor their
memories to these humble dwellings of England's hamlets, and feel
how many taut and twisted liens attach them to the motherland of
mighty nations.

On reckoning up the log of my first day's walk, I found I had made
full twelve miles by road and field; and was more than satisfied
with such a trial of country air and exercise, and with the
enjoyment of its scenery and occupations. The next day I made a
longer distance still, from Coggeshall to Great Bardfield, or about
eighteen miles; and felt at the end that I had established a
reasonable claim to convalescence. The country on the way was
marked by the quiet and happy features of diversified plenty. The
green and gold of pastures, meadows, and wheat-fields; the
picturesque interspersion of cottages, gardens, stately mansions,
parks and lawns, all enlivened by a well-proportioned number of
mottled cows feeding or lying along the brook-banks, and sheep
grazing on the uplands,--all these elements of rural life and
scenery were blended with that fortuitous felicity which makes the
charm of Nature's country pictures.

At Bardfield I was again homed for the night by a Friend; and after
tea made an evening walk with him about the farm of a member of the
same society, living in the outskirts of the town, who cultivates
about 400 acres of excellent land, and is considered one of the most
practical and successful agriculturists of Essex. His fields were
larger and fewer than I had noticed on my walk in a farm of equal
size. This feature indicates the modern improvements in English
farming more prominently to the cursory observer than any other that
attracts his eye. It is a rigidly utilitarian innovation on the old
system, that does not at all promise to improve the picturesque
aspect of the country. To "reconstruct the map" of a county, by
wire-fencing it into squares of 100 acres each, after grubbing up
all the hedges and hedge-trees, would doubtless add seven and a
quarter per cent. to the agricultural production of the shire, and
gratify many a Gradgrind of materialistic economy; but who would
know England after such a transformation? One would be prone to
reiterate Patrick's exclamation of surprise, when he first
shouldered a gun and tested the freedom of the forest in America.
Seeing a small bird in the top of a tree, he pointed the fowling-
piece in that direction, turned away his face, and fired. A tree-
toad fell to the ground from an agitated branch. The exulting
Irishman ran and picked it up in triumph, and held it out at arm's
length by one of its hind legs, exclaiming, "And how it alters a
bird to shoot its feathers off, to be sure!" It would alter England
nearly as much in aspect, if the unsparing despotism of pounds s. d.
should root out the hedge-row trees, and substitute invisible lines
of wire for the flowering hawthorn as a fencing for those fields
which now look so much like framed portraits of Nature's best
painting.

The tendency of these utilitarian times may well occasion an
unpleasant concern in the lovers of English rural scenery. What
changes may come in the wake of the farmer's steam-engine, steam-
plough, or under the smoke-shadows from his factory-like chimney,
these recent "improvements" may suggest and induce. One can see in
any direction he may travel these changes going on silently. Those
little, unique fields, defined by lines and shapes unknown to
geometry, are going out of the rural landscape. And when they are
gone, they will be missed more than the amateurs of agricultural
artistry imagine at the present moment. What some one has said of
the peasantry, may be said, with almost equal deprecation, of these
picturesque tit-bits of land, which,--

"Once destroyed, never can be supplied."

And destroyed they will be, as sure as science. As large farms are
swallowing up the little ones between them, so large fields are
swallowing these interesting patches, the broad-bottomed hedging of
which sometimes measures as many square yards as the space it
encloses.

There is much reason to fear that the hedge-trees will, in the end,
meet with a worse fate still. Practical farmers are beginning to
look upon them with an evil eye--an eye sharp and severe with
pecuniary speculation; that looks at an oak or elm with no artist's
reverence; that darts a hard, dry, timber-estimating glance at the
trunk and branches; that looks at the circumference of its cold
shadow on the earth beneath, not at the grand contour and glorious
leafage of its boughs above. The farmer who was taking us over his
large and highly-cultivated fields, was a man of wide intelligence,
of excellent tastes, and the means wherewithal to give them free
scope and play. His library would have satisfied the ambition of a
student of history or belles-lettres. His gardens, lawn, shrubbery,
and flowers would grace the mansion of an independent gentleman. He
had an eye to the picturesque as well as practical. But I could not
but notice, as significant of the tendency to which I have referred,
that, on passing a large, outbranching oak standing in the boundary
of two fields, he remarked that the detriment of its shadow could
not have been less than ten shillings a year for half a century. As
we proceeded from field to field, he recurred to the same subject by
calling our attention to the circumference of the shadow cast on the
best land of the farm by a thrifty, luxuriant ash, not more than a
foot in diameter at the butt. Up to the broad rim of its shade, the
wheat on each side of the hedge was thick, heavyheaded and tall, but
within the cool and sunless circle the grain and grass were so pale
and sickly that the bare earth would have been relief to a farmer's
eye.

The three great, distinctive graces of an English landscape are the
hawthorn hedges, the hedge-row trees, and the everlasting and
unapproachable greenness of the grass-fields they surround and
embellish. In these beautiful features, England surpasses all other
countries in the world. These make the peculiar charm of her rural
scenery to a traveller from abroad. These are the salient
lineaments of Motherland's face which the memories of myriads she
has sent to people countries beyond the sea cling to with such
fondness; memories that are transmitted from generation to
generation; which no political revolutions nor severances affect;
which are handed down in the unwritten legends of family life in the
New World, as well as in the warp and woof of American literature
and history. Will the utilitarian and unsparing science of these
latter days, or of the days to come, shear away these beautiful
tresses, and leave the brow and temples of the Old Country they have
graced bare and brown under the bald and burning sun of material
economy? It is not an idle question, nor too early to ask it. It
is a question which will interest more millions of the English race
on the American continent than these home-islands will ever contain.
There are influences at work which tend to this unhappy issue. Some
of these have been already indicated, and others more powerful still
may be mentioned.

Agriculture in England has to run the gauntlet of many pressing
competitions, and carry a heavy burden of taxation as it runs.
These will be noticed, hereafter, in their proper connection.
Farming, therefore, is being reduced to a rigid science. Every acre
of land must be put up to its last ounce of production. Every
square foot of it must be utilised to the growth of something for
man and beast. Manures for different soils are tested with as much
chemical precision as ever was quinine for human constitutions.
Dynameters are applied to prove the power of working machinery.
Labor is scrutinised and economised, and measured closely up to the
value of a farthing's-worth of capacity. A shilling's difference
per acre in the cost of ploughing by horse-flesh or steam brings the
latter into the field. The sound of the flail is dying out of the
land, and soon will be heard no more. Even threshing machines
worked by horses are being discarded, as too slow and old-fashioned.
Locomotive steam-engines, on broad-rimmed wheels, may be met on the
turnpike road, travelling on their own legs from farm to farm to
thresh out wheat, barley, oats, and beans, for a few pence per
bushel. They make nothing of ascending a hill without help, or of
walking across a ploughed field to a rick-yard. Iron post and rail
fencing, in lengths of twenty feet on wheels, drawn about by a
donkey, bids fair to supersede the old wooden hurdles for sheep fed
on turnips or clover. It is an iron age, and wire fencing is
creeping into use, especially in the most scientifically cultivated
districts of Scotland, where the elements and issues of the farmer's
balance-sheet are looked to with the most eager concern. Iron wire
grows faster than hawthorn or buckthorn. It doubtless costs less.
It needs no yearly trimming, like shrubs with sap and leaves. It
does not occupy a furrow's width as a boundary between two fields.
It may be easily transposed to vary enclosures. It is not a nesting
place for destructive birds or vermin. These and other arguments,
of the same utilitarian genus, are making perceptible headway. Will
they ever carry the day against the green hedges? I think they
would, very soon, if the English farmer owned the land he
cultivates. But such is rarely the case. Still, this fact may not
prevent the final consummation of this policy of material interest.
In a great many instances, the tenant might compromise with the
landlord in such a way as to bring about this "modern improvement."
And a comparatively few instances, showing a certain per centage of
increased production per acre to the former, and a little additional
rentage to the latter, would suffice to give the innovation an
impulse that would sweep away half the hedges of the country, and
deface that picture which so many generations have loved to such
enthusiasm of admiration.

Will the trees of the hedge-row be exposed to the same end? I think
they will. Though trees are the most sacred things the earth begets
in England, as has already been said, the farmer here looks at them
with an evil eye, as horse-leeches that bleed to death long
stretches of the land he pays 2 pounds per acre for annually to his
landlord. The hedge, however wide-bottomed, is his fence; and
fencing he must have. But these trees, arising at narrow intervals
from the hedge, and spreading out their deadening shades upon his
wheatfields on either side, are not useful nor ornamental to him.
They may look prettily, and make a nice picture in the eyes of the
sentimental tourist or traveller, but he grudges the ground they
cover. He could well afford to pay the landlord an additional
rentage per annum more than equal to the money value of the yearly
growth of these trees. Besides, the landlord has, in all
probability, a large park of trees around his mansion, and perhaps
compact plantations on land unsuited to agriculture. Thus the high
value of these hedge-row trees around the fields of his tenant,
which he will realise on the spot, together with some additional
pounds in rent annually to himself and heirs, would probably
facilitate this levelling arrangement in face of all the
restrictions that the law of entail might seem to throw in the way.

If, therefore, the hedges of England disappear before the noiseless
and furtive progress of utilitarian science, the trees that rise
above them in such picturesque ranks will be almost certain to go
with them. Then, indeed, a change will come over the face of the
country, which will make it difficult for one to recognise it who
daguerreotyped its most beautiful features upon his memory before
they were obliterated by these latter-day "improvements."

CHAPTER V.

A FOOTPATH WALK AND ITS INCIDENTS--HARVEST ASPECTS--ENGLISH AND
AMERICAN SKIES--HUMBLER OBJECTS OF CONTEMPLATION--THE DONKEY: ITS
USES AND ABUSES.

Immediately after breakfast the following morning, my kind host
accompanied me for a mile on my walk, and put me on a footpath
across the fields, by which I might save a considerable distance on
the way to Saffron Walden, where I proposed to spend the Sabbath.
After giving me minute directions as to the course I was to follow,
he bade me good-bye, and I proceeded on at a brisk pace through
fields of wheat and clover, greatly enjoying the scenery, the air,
and exercise. Soon I came to a large field quite recently ploughed
up _clean_, footpath and all. Seeing a gate at each of the opposite
corners, I made my way across the furrows to the one at the left, as
it seemed to be more in the direction indicated by my host. There
the path was again broad and well-trodden, and I followed it through
many fields of grain yellowing to the harvest, until it opened into
the main road. This bore a little more to the left than I expected,
but, as I had never travelled it before, I believed it was all
right. Thaxted was half way to Saffron Walden, and there I had
intended to stop an hour or two for dinner and rest, then push on to
the end of the day's walk as speedily as possible. At about noon, I
came suddenly down upon the town, which seemed remarkably similar to
the one I had left, in size, situation, and general features. The
parish church, also, bore a strong resemblance to the one I had
noticed the previous evening. These old Essex towns are "as much
alike as two peas," and you must make a note of it, as Captain
Cuttle says, was the thought first suggested by the coincidence. I
went into a cosy, clean-faced inn on the main street, and addressed
myself with much satisfaction to a short season of rest and
refreshment, exchanging hot and dusty boots for slippers, and going
through other preliminaries to a comfortable time of it. Rang the
bell for dinner, but before ordering it, asked the waiting-maid,
with a complacent idea that I had improved my walking pace, and made
more than half the way--

"How far is it to Saffron Walden?"

"Twelve miles, sir."

"Twelve miles, indeed! Why, it is only twelve miles from Great
Bardfield!"

"Well, this is Great Bardfield, sir."

"Great Bardfield! What! How is this? What do you mean?"

She meant what she said, and it was as true as two and two make
four; and she was not to be beaten out of it by a stare of
astonishment, however a discomfited man might expand his eyes with
wonder, or cloud his face with chagrin. It was a patent fact.
There, on the opposite side of the street, was the house in which I
slept the night before; and here, just coming up to the door of the
inn, was the good lady of my host. Her form and voice, and other
identifications dispelled the mist of the mistake; and it came out
as clear as day that I had followed the direction of my host, to
bear to the left, far too liberally, and that I had been walking at
my best speed in a "vicious circle" for full two hours and a half,
and had landed just where I commenced, at least within the breadth
of a narrow street of the same point.

My good friends urged me to stop and dine with them, and then make a
fair start for the end of my week's journey. But it was still
twelve miles to Saffron Walden, and I was determined to put half of
them behind me before dinner. So, taking a second leave of them in
the course of three hours, I set out again on my walk, a wiser man
in the practical understanding of the proverb, "The longest way
around is the shortest way there." At 2 p.m. I reached Thaxted,
and rectified my first notion of the town, formed when I mistook it
for Bardfield. Having made six miles extra between the two points,
I resumed my walk after a short delay at the latter.

The weather was glorious. A cloudless sun shone upon a little sky-
crystalled world of beauty, smaller in every dimension than you ever
see in America. And this is a feature of English scenery that will
strike the American traveller most impressively at the first glance,
whether he looks at it by night or day. It is not that Nature, in
adjusting the symmetries of her scenic structures, nicely apportions
the skyscape to the landscape of a country merely for artistic
effect. It is not because the island of Great Britain is so small
in circumference that the sky is proportioned to it, as the crystal
is to the dial of a watch; that it is so apparently low; that the
stars it holds to its moist, blue bosom are so near at midnight, and
the sun so large at noon. It comes, doubtless, from that constant
humidity of the atmosphere which distinguishes the climate of
England, and gives to both land and sky an aspect which is quite
unknown to our great western continent. An American, after having
habituated himself to this aspect, on returning to his own country,
will be almost surprised at a feature of its scenery which he never
noticed before. He will be struck at the loftiness of the sky; at
the vividness of its blue and gold, the sharp, unsoftened light of
the stars, and, as it were, the contracted pupil of the sun's eye at
mid-day. The sunset glories of our western heavens play upon a
ground of rigid blue. "The Northern Lights," which, at their winter
evening illuminations, seem to have shredded into wavy filaments all
the rainbows that have spanned the chambers of the East since the
Flood, and to upspring, in mirthful fantasy, to hang their
infinitely-tinted tresses to the zenith's golden diadem of stars--
even they sport upon the same lofty concave of dewless blue, which
looks through and through the lacework and everchanging drapery of
their mingled hues in the most witching mazes of their nightly
waltz, giving to each a definiteness that our homely Saxon tongue
might fit with a name.

But here, on the lower grounds of instructive meditation, is a
humbler individuality of the country to notice. Here is the most
sadly abused and melancholy living creature in all England's animal
realm that meets me in the midst of these reflections on things
supernal and glorious. I will let the Northern Lights go, with
their gorgeous pantomimes and midnight revelries, and have a
moment's communing with this unfortunate quadruped. It is called in
derision here a "_donkey_," but an ass, in a more generous time,
when one of his race and size bore upon his back into the Holy City
the world's Saviour and Re-Creator. Poor, libelled, hopeless beast!
I pity you from my heart's heart. How I wish for Sterne's pen to do
you some measure of justice or condolence under this heavy load of
opprobrium that bends your back and makes your life so sunless and
bitter! Come here, sir!--here is a biscuit for you, of the finest
wheat; few of your race get such morsels; so, eat it and be
thankful. What ears! No wonder our friend Patrick called you "the
father of all rabbits" at first sight. No! don't turn away your
head, as if I were going to strike you.

Most animals are best described from a certain point of _view_,--in
a fixed and quiescent attitude. But the donkey should be taken in
the very act of this characteristic motion. You put out your hand
in the gentlest manner to pat any one of them you meet, and he will
instinctively turn away his head for fear of a beating.

There is an interesting speculation now coming up among modern
reveries in regard to the immortality of certain animals of great
intelligence and domestic virtues. A large and tender kindness of
disposition is the father of the thought, it may be; but the thought
seems to gain ground and take shape, that so much of apparently
human mind and heart as the dog possesses cannot be destined to
annihilation at his death, but must live and enlarge in another
sphere of existence. Having thus opened, if it may be said
reverently, a back-door into immortality for sagacious and
affectionate dogs and horses, they leave it ajar for the admission
of animals of less intelligence--even for all the kinds that Noah
took into the ark, perhaps, although the theory is still nebulous
and undefined. Now, I would beg the kind-hearted adherents to this
theory not to think I am seeking to play off a satirical pleasantry
upon it, if I express a hope, which is earnest and true, that, if
there be an immortality for any class of dumb animals, the donkey
shall go into it first, and have a better place in it than their
parlor dogs or nicely-groomed horses. Evidently they are building
up a claim to this illustrious distinction of another existence for
these pets on the sole ground of merit, not of works, even, but of
mere intelligence, fidelity, and affection. Granted; but the donkey
should go in first and take the highest place on that basis. When
you come to the standard of moral measurement, it may be claimed as
among the highest of human as well as animal virtues, "to learn to
suffer and be strong." And this virtue the donkey has learned and
practised incomparably beyond any other creature that ever walked on
four legs since the Flood. Let these good people remember that
their fanciful and romantic favoritisms are not to rule in the
destinies awarded to the infinitesimally human spirits of domestic
animals in another world, if another be in reserve for them. Let
them remember that their softly-cushioned dogs, and horses so
delicately clad, and fed, and fondled, have had a pretty good time
of it in this life, and that in another, the poor, despised, abused
donkey, going about begging, with such a long and melancholy face,
for withered cabbage leaves and woody-grained turnips cast out and
trodden under feet of happier animals,--that this meek little
creature, kicked, cuffed, and club-beaten all the way from hopeless
youth to an ignominious grave, will carry into another world merits
and mementoes of his earthly lot that will obtain, if not entitle
him to, some compensation in the award of a future condition. It is
treading on delicate ground even to set one foot within the pale of
their unscriptural theory; but as many of them hold the Christian
faith in pureness of living and doctrine, let me remind them of that
parable which shows so impressively how the disparities in human
condition here are reversed in the destinies of the great hereafter.

But, to return to the earthly lot and position of this poor,
libelled animal. Among all the four-footed creatures domesticated
to the service of man, this has always been the veriest scapegoat
and victim of the cruellest and crabbedest of human dispositions.
Truly, it has ever been born unto sorrow, bearing all its life long
a weight of abuse and contumely which would break the heart of a
less sensitive animal in a single week. From the beginning it has
been the poor man's beast of burden; and "pity 'tis 'tis true," poor
men, in all the generations of human poverty, have been far too
prone to harshness of temper and treatment towards the beasts that
serve them and share their lot of humble life. The donkey is made a
kind of Ishmaelite in the great family of domestic animals. He is
made, not born so. He is beaten about the head unmercifully with a
heavy stick, and then jeered at for being stupid and obstinate! just
as if any other creature, of four or two legs, would not be stupid
after such fierce congestion of the brain. His long ears subject
him to a more cruel prejudice than ever color engendered in the
circle of humanity but just above him. True, he is rather
unsymmetrical in form. His head is disproportionately long and
large, quite sufficient in these dimensions to fit a camel. He is
generally a hollow-backed, pot-bellied creature, about the size of a
yearling calf, with ungainly, sloping haunches, and long, coarse
hair. But nearly all these deformities come out of the shameful
treatment he gets. You occasionally meet one that might hold up its
head in any animal society; with straight back, symmetrical body and
limbs, and hair as soft and sleek as the fur of a Maltese cat; with
contented face, and hopeful and happy eyes, showing that he has a
kind master.

The donkey is really a useful and valuable animal, which might be
introduced into America with great advantage to our farmers. I know
of no animal of its size so tough and strong. It is astonishing, as
well as shocking, to see what loads he is made to draw here. The
vehicle to which he is usually harnessed is a heavy, solid affair,
frequently as large as our common horse-carts. He is put to all
kinds of work, and is almost exclusively the poor man's beast of
burden and travel. In cities and large towns, his cart is loaded
with the infinitely-varied wares of street trade; with cabbages,
fish, fruit, or with some of the thousand-and-one nicknacks that
find a market among the masses of the common people. At watering-
places, or on the "commons" or suburban playgrounds of large towns,
he is brought out in a handsome saddle, or a well got-up little
carriage, and let by the hour or by the ride to invalid adults, or
to children bubbling over with life. Here, although the everlasting
club, to which he is born, is wielded by his driver, he often looks
comfortable and sleek, and sometimes wears a red ribbon at each ear.
It would not pay to bring on to the ground the scrawny, bony
creature that generally tugs in the costermonger's cart. It is in
the coal region or trade that you meet with him and his driver in
their worst apostacy from all that is seemly in man or beast. To
watch the poor creature, begrimed with coal-dust, wriggling up a
long, steep hill, with a load four times his own weight, griping
with his little sheep-footed hoofs into the black, slimy pavement of
the road, while his tall, sooty-faced and harsh-voiced master,
perhaps sitting on the top or on a shaft, is punching and beating
him; to see this is enough to stir up the old adam in the meekest
Christian to emotions of pugilistic indignation. It has often cost
me a doubtful and protracted effort to keep it down. Indeed, I have
often yielded to it so far as to wish that once more the poor
creature might be honored of God with His gift to Balaam's ass, and
be able to speak, bolt outright, an indignant remonstrance, in human
speech, against such treatment. It would serve them right!--these
lineal descendants of Balaam, who have inherited his club and wield
it more cruelly.

A word or two more about this animal, and I will pass on to others
of more dignity of position. He is the cheapest as well as smallest
beast of burden to be found in Christendom. You may buy one here
for twenty or thirty English shillings. I am confident that they
would be extremely serviceable in America, if once introduced. It
costs but very little to keep them, and they will do all kinds of
work up to the draught of 600 or 800 lbs. You frequently see here a
span of them trotting off in a cart, with brisk and even step.
Sometimes they are put on as leaders to a team of horses. I once
saw on my walk a heavy Lincolnshire horse in the shafts, a pony
next, and a donkey at the head, making a team graduated from 18
hands to 6 in height; and all pulling evenly, and apparently keeping
step with each other, notwithstanding the disparity in the length of
their legs.

It would be unjust to that goodwill to man and beast which is being
organised and stimulated in England through an infinite number of
societies, if I should omit to state that, at last, a little rill of
this benevolence has reached the donkey. That most valuable and
widely-circulated penny magazine, "The British Workman," and its
little companion for British workmen's children, "The Band of Hope
Review," have advocated the rights and better treatment of this
humble domestic for several years. His cause has also been pleaded
in a packet of little papers called "Leaflets of the Law of Kindness
for the Children." And now, at last, a wealthy and benevolent
champion, on whom the mantle of Elizabeth Fry, his aunt, has fallen,
has taken the lead in the work of raising the useful creature to the
level of the other animals of the pasture, stable, and barn-yard.
Up to the present time, every creature that walks on four or two
legs, either haired, woolled, or feathered, with the single
exception of the donkey has had the door of the Agricultural
Exhibition thrown wide open to it, to enter the lists for prizes or
"honorable mention," and for general admiration. A pig, whose legs
and eyes have all been absorbed out of sight by an immense rotundity
of fat, is often decked with a ribbon, of the Order of the Garter
genus, as a reward of merit, or of grace of form and proportions!
Turkeys, geese, ducks, and hens of different breeds, strut or waddle
off with similar distinctions. As for blood-horses, bulls, cows,
and sheep, one not versed in such matters might be tempted to think
that men, especially the poorer sort, were made for beasts, and not
beasts for men. And yet, mirabile dictu! at these great social
gatherings of man-and-animal kind, there has not been even "a negro-
pew" for the donkey. A genuine, raw, Guinea negro might have as
well entered the Prince of Wales' Ball in New York bare-footed, and
offered to play a voluntary on his banjo for the dancers, as this
despised quadruped have hoped to obtain the entree to these grand
and fashionable assemblies of the shorter-eared elite of society.

But this prejudice against color and long ears is now going the way
of other barbarisms. The gentleman to whom I have referred, a
Member of Parliament, whose means are as large as his benevolence,
has taken the first and decisive step towards raising the donkey to
his true place in society. He has offered a liberal prize for the
best conditioned one exhibited at the next Agricultural Fair. Since
this offer was made, a very decided improvement has been noticed
among the donkeys of the London costermongers, as if the competition
for the first prize was to be a very large one.

It will be a kind of St. Crispin's Day to the whole of the long-
eared race--a day of emancipation from forty centuries of obloquy
and oppression. Doubtless they will be admitted hereafter to the
Royal Agricultural Society's exhibitions, to compete for honors with
animals that have hitherto spurned such association with contempt.

CHAPTER VI.

HOSPITALITIES OF "FRIENDS"--HARVEST ASPECTS--ENGLISH COUNTRY INNS;
THEIR APPEARANCE, NAMES, AND DISTINCTIVE CHARACTERISTICS--THE
LANDLADY, WAITER, CHAMBERMAID, AND BOOTS--EXTRA FEES AND EXTRA
COMFORTS.

I reached Saffron Walden at 4 p.m., notwithstanding my involuntary
walk of six extra miles in the morning. Here I remained over the
Sabbath, again enjoying the hospitality of a Friend. And perhaps I
may say it here and now with as much propriety as at any other time
and place, that few persons, outside the pale of that society, have
more frequently or fully enjoyed that hospitality than myself. This
pleasant experience has covered the space of more than sixteen
years. During this period, with the exception of short intervals, I
have been occupied with movements which the Friends in England have
always regarded with especial sympathy. This connection has brought
me into acquaintance with members of the society in almost every
town in Great Britain in which they reside; and in more than a
hundred of their homes I have been received as a guest with a
kindness which will make to my life's end one of its sunniest
memories.

On the following Monday, I resumed my walk northward, after a
carriage ride which a Friend kindly gave me for a few miles on the
way. Passed through a pre-eminently grain-producing district.
Apparently full three-fourths of the land were covered with wheat,
barley, oats, and beans. The fields of each were larger than I had
noticed before; some containing 100 acres. The coming harvest is
putting forth the full glory of its golden promise. The weather is
all a farmer could wish, beautiful, warm, and bright. Nature, in
every feature of its various scapes, seems to smile with the joy of
that human happiness which her ministries inspire. Here, in these
still expanses, waving with luxuriant crops, apparently so thinly
peopled, one, forgetting the immense populations crowded into city
spaces, is almost tempted to ask, where are all the mouths to eat
this wide sea of food for man and beast, softening so gently into a
yellow sheen under the very rim of the distant horizon? But, in the
great heart of London, beating with the wants of millions, he will
be likely to reverse the question, and ask, where can one buy bread
wherewith to feed this great multitude?

At Sawston, a rustic little village on the southern border of
Cambridgeshire, I entered upon the enjoyment of English country-inn
life with that relish which no one born in a foreign land can so
fully feel as an American. As one looks upon the living face of
some distinguished celebrity for the first time, after having had
his portrait hung up in the parlor for twenty years, so an American
looks, for the first time, at that great and picturesque speciality
among human institutions, the village inn of old England. The like
of it he never saw in his own country and never will. In fact, he
would not like to see it there, plucked up out of its ancient
histories and associations. In the ever-green foliage of these it
stands inwoven, as with its own network of ivy. Other countries,
even older than England, have had their taverns from time
immemorial; but they are all kept in the background of human life.
They do not come out in contemporaneous history with any
definiteness; not even accidentally. If a king is murdered in one
of them, or if it is the theatre of the most thrilling romance of
love, you do not know whether it is a building of stone, brick, or
wood; whether it is one, two, or three stories in height. No
outlines nor aspects are given you to help to fill up a rational
picture of it. Neither the landlord nor the landlady is drawn as a
representative man or woman. Either might be mistaken for a guest
in their own house, if seen in hat or bonnet by a stranger.

But not so of the English country inn. It comes out into the
foreground of a thousand interesting histories and pictures of
common life. In them it has an individuality as marked as the
parish church, couchante in its wide-rimmed nest of grave stones; as
marked in unique architecture, location, and surroundings. In none
of these features will you find two alike, if you travel from one
end of the country to the other; especially among those a century
old. You might as well mistake one of the living animals for the
other, as to mistake "The Blue Boar" for "The Red Lion." They
differ as much from each other in general make and aspect as do
their nominal prototypes. To give every one of their thousands "a
local habitation and a name" of striking distinctness, has required
an ingenuity which has produced many interesting feats of house-
building and nomenclature. Both these departments of genius figure
largely in the poetry and classics of the institution, with which
the reading million of America have been familiar from youth up.
And when any of them come to travel in England, it will greatly
enhance their enjoyment to find that the pictures they have admired
and the descriptions they have read of the famous country inn have
been true to the very life and letter. All its salient features
they recognise at once, and are ready to exclaim, "How natural!"
meaning by that, how true is the original to the picture which they
have seen so frequently. If they go far enough, they will find the
very original of every one of the hundred pictures they have seen,
painted by pen or pencil. They will find that all of them have been
true copies from nature. Here is the portly-looking, well-to-do,
two-story tavern, standing out with its comfortable, cream-colored
face broadside to the street. It is represented in the old
engraving with a coach-and-four drawn up before the door, surrounded
by a crowd of spectators and passengers, some descending and
ascending on ladders over the forward wheels; some looking with
admiration at the scarlet coats of the pursy and consequential
driver and guard; some exchanging greetings, others farewell
salutations; ostlers in long waistcoats, plush or fustian shorts,
and yellow leggings, standing bareheaded with watering-pails at the
"'osses' 'eads;" trunks great and small going up and down; village
boys in high excitement; village grandfathers looking very animated;
the landlord, burly, bland, and happy, with a face as rotund and
genial as the full moon shining upon the scene; and those round,
rosy, sunny, laughing faces peering out of the windows with
delightful wonderment and exhilaration, winked at by the driver, and
saluted with a graceful motion of his whip-handle in recognition of
the barmaid, chambermaid, and all the other maids of the house. The
coach, with all its picturesque appointments, its four-in-hand, the
stirring heraldry of its horn coming down the road, its rattling
wheels, the life and stir aroused and moved in its wake,--all this
has gone from the presence of a higher civilisation. It will never
re-appear in future pictures of actual life in England. It is all
gone where the hedges and hedge-row trees will probably go in their
turn. But the same village inn remains, and can be as easily
recognised as a widow in weeds, who still wears a hopeful face, and
makes the best of her bereavement.

But that humbler type of hostelry so often represented in sketches
of English rural life and scenery--the little, cozy, one-story,
wayside, or hamlet inn, with its thatched roof, checker-work window,
low door, and with a loaded hay-cart standing in front of it, while
the driver, in his round, wool hat, and in his smock-frock, is
drinking at a pewter mug of beer, with one hand on his horse's neck-
-this the hand of modern improvements has not yet reached. This may
be found still in a thousand villages and hamlets, surrounded with
all its rural associations; the green, the geese, and gray donkeys
feeding side by side; low-jointed cottages, with long, sloping roofs
greened over with moss or grass, and other objects usually shadowed
dimly in the background of the picture. It is these quiet hamlets

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