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

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estimated items which will indicate the extent of his operations,
putting the largest expenditure at the head of the list.

Corn and oil-cake purchased for feeding 4,000l.
Guano and manufactured manures 1,700
Labor of 100 men and boys at the average of 20l. per annum 2,000
Labor of 76 horses, including their keep, 20l. per annum 1,500
Use and wear of steam-engine and agricultural machinery 500
Commutation money to men for beer 400

These are some of the positive annual outlays, without including
rent, interest on capital invested, and other items that belong to
the debit side of the ledger. The smallest on the list given I
would commend to the consideration of every New England farmer who
may read these pages. It is stated under the real fact. The
capacity of English laborers for drinking strong beer is a wonder to
the civilised world. They seem to cling to this habit as to a vital
condition of their very life and being. One would be tempted to
think that malt liquor was a primary and bread a secondary necessity
to them; it must cost them most of the two, at any rate. And
generally they are as particular about the quality as the quantity,
and complain if it is not of "good body," as well as full tale. In
many cases the farmer furnishes it to them; sometimes brewing it
himself, but more frequently buying it already made. Occasionally a
farmer "commutes" with his men; allowing a certain sum of money
weekly in lieu of beer, leaving them to buy and use it as they
please. I understood that Mr. Jonas adopts the latter course, not
only to save himself the trouble of furnishing and rationing such a
large quantity of beer, but also to induce the habit among his men
of appropriating the money he gives them instead of drink to better
purposes. The sum paid to them last year was actually 452 pounds,
or about $2,200! Now, it would be quite safe to say, that there is
not a farm in the State of Connecticut that produces pasturage, hay,
grain, and roots enough to pay this beer-bill of a single English
occupation! This fact may not only serve to show the scale of
magnitude which agricultural enterprise has assumed in the hands of
such men as Mr. Jonas, but also to indicate to our American farmers
some of the charges upon English agriculture from which they are
exempt; thanks to the Maine Law, or, to a better one still, that of
voluntary disuse of strong drink on our farms. I do not believe
that 100 laboring men and boys could be found on one establishment
in Great Britain more temperate, intelligent, industrious, and moral
than the set employed by Mr. Jonas. Still, notice the tax levied
upon his land by this beer-impost. It amounted last year to three
English shillings, or seventy-two cents, on every acre of the five
consolidated farms, including all the space occupied by hedges,
copses, buildings, etc. Suppose a Maine farmer were obliged, by an
inexorable law of custom, to pay a beer-tax of seventy-two cents per
acre on his estate of 150 acres, or $108, annually, would he not be
glad to "commute" with his hired men, by leaving them in possession
of his holding and migrating to some distant section of the country
where such a custom did not exist?

The gross income of this great holding it would be more difficult to
estimate. But no one can doubt the yearly issues of Mr. Jonas'
balance-sheet, when he has been able to expand his operations
gradually to their present magnitude from the capital and experience
acquired by successful farming. Perhaps the principal sources of
revenue would approximate to the following figures:--

2,000 fat sheep and lambs at 2l. 4,000l.
150 fat bullocks at 25l. 3,750
200 fat pigs = 40,000 lbs., at 4d 666
22,500 bushels of wheat, at 6s 6,750
9,375 bushels of oats, at 2s 937
7,500 bushels of barley, at 3s 1,125
Total of these estimated items 17,228l.

This, of course, is a mere estimate of the principal sources of
income upon which Mr. Jonas depends for a satisfactory result of his
balance-sheet. Each item is probably within the mark. I have put
down the crop of wheat of 750 acres at the average of thirty bushels
per acre, and at 6s. per bushel, which are quite moderate figures.
I have assumed 375 acres each for barley and oats, estimating the
former at forty bushels per acre, and the latter at fifty; then
reserving half of the two crops for feeding and fatting the live
stock; also all the beans, peas, and roots for the same purpose. If
the estimate is too high on some items, the products sold, and not
enumerated in the foregoing list, such as cole and other seeds, will
rectify, perhaps, the differences, and make the general result
presented closely approximate to the real fact.

As there is probably no other farm in Great Britain of the same size
so well calculated to test the best agricultural science and economy
of the day as the great occupation of Mr. Jonas, and as I am anxious
to convey to American farmers a well-developed idea of what that
science and economy are achieving in this country, I will dwell upon
a few other facts connected with this establishment. The whole
space of 3,000 acres is literally under cultivation, or in a sense
which we in New England do not generally give to that term--that is,
there is not, I believe, a single acre of permanent meadow in the
whole territory. All the vast amount of hay consumed, and all the
pasture grasses have virtually to be grown like grain. There is so
much ploughing and sowing involved in the production of these grass
crops, that they are called "seeds." Thus, by this four-course
system, every field passes almost annually under a different
cropping, and is mowed two or three times in ten years. This fact,
in itself, will not only suggest the immense amount of labor
applied, but also the quality and condition of 3,000 acres of land
that can be surfaced to the scythe in this manner.

The _seeds_ or grasses sown by Mr. Jonas for pasturage and hay are
chiefly white and red clover and trefoil. His rule of seeding is
the following:--

Wheat, from 8 to 10 pecks per acre
Barley, from 12 to 14 " " "
Oats, from 18 to 22 " " "
Winter Beans, 8 " " "
Red Clover, 20 lbs " "
White Clover, 16 lbs " "
Trefoil, 30 to 35 lbs. " "

This, in New England, would be called very heavy seeding, especially
in regard to oats and the grasses. I believe that twelve pecks of
oats to the acre, rather exceed our average rule. Good clover seed
should weigh two pounds to the quart, and eight quarts, or sixteen
pounds, are the usual seeding with us.

As labor of horse and man must be economised to the best advantage
on such an estate, it may be interesting to know the expense of the
principal operations. The cost of ploughing averages 7s. 6d., or $1
80c. per acre. For roots, the land is ploughed three or four times,
besides harrowing, drilling, and rolling. The hoeing of wheat and
roots varies from 2s. to 5s., or from 48c. to $1 20c. per acre.

The sheep are all folded on turnips or grass fields, except the
breeding ewes in the lambing season. The enclosures are made of
_hurdles_, of which all reading Americans have read, but not one in
a thousand ever has seen. They are a kind of diminutive, portable,
post-and-rail fence, of the New England pattern, made up in
permanent _lengths_, so light that a stout man might carry two or
three of them on his shoulders at once. The two posts are sawed or
split pieces of wood, about two inches thick, three wide, and from
five to six feet in length. They are generally square-morticed for
the rails, which are frequently what we should call split hoop-
holes, but in the best kind are slats of hard wood, about two and a
half inches wide and one in thickness. Midway between the two
posts, the rails are nailed to an upright slat or brace, to keep
them from swaying. Sometimes a farmer makes his own hurdles, thus
furnishing indoor work for his men in winter, when they cannot labor
in the fields; but most generally they are bought of those who
manufacture them on a large scale. Some idea of the extent of
sheep-folding on Chrishall Grange may be inferred from the fact,
that the hurdling on it, if placed in one straight, continuous line,
would reach full ten miles!

A portable steam engine, of twelve-horse power, looking like a
common railway locomotive strayed from its track and taken up and
housed in a farmer's waggon-shed, performs prodigies of activity and
labor. Indeed, search the three realms through and through, and you
would hardly find one on its own legs doing such remarkable
varieties of work. Briareus, with all his fabled faculties, never
had such numerous and supple fingers as this creature of human
invention. When set a-going, they are clattering and whisking and
frisking everywhere, on the barn-floor, on the hay-loft, in the
granary, under the eaves, down cellar, and all this at the same
time. It is doubtful if any stationary engine in a machine shop
ever performed more diversified operations at once; thus proving
most conclusively how a farmer may work motive power which it was
once thought preposterous in him to think of using. It threshes
wheat and other kinds of grain at the rate of from 400 to 500
bushels a day; it conveys the straw up to a platform across what we
call the "_great beams_," where it is cut into chaff and dropped
into a great bay, at the trifling expense of sixpence, or twelve
cents, per quantity grown on an acre! While it is doing this in one
direction, it is turning machinery in another that cleans and weighs
the grain off into sacks ready for the market. Open the doors right
and left and you find it at work like reason, breaking oil-cake,
grinding corn for the fat stock, turning the grindstone, pitching,
pounding, paring, rubbing, grabbing, and twisting, threshing,
wrestling, chopping, flopping, and hopping, after the manner of "The
Waters of Lodore."

The housings for live stock are most admirably constructed as well
as extensive, and all the great yards are well fitted for making and
delivering manure. I noticed here the best arrangement for feeding
swine that I had ever seen before, and of a very simple character.
Instead of revolving troughs, or those that are to be pulled out
like drawers to be cleaned, a long, stationary one, generally of
iron, extends across the whole breadth of the compartment next to
the feeding passage. The board or picket-fence forming this end of
the enclosure, from eight to twelve feet in length, is hung on a
pivot at each side, playing in an iron ring or socket let into each
of the upright posts that support it. Midway in the lower rail of
this fence is a drop bolt which falls into the floor just behind the
trough. At the feeding time, the man has only to raise this bolt
and let it fall on the inner side, and he has the whole length and
width of the trough free to clear with a broom and to fill with the
feed. Then, raising the bolt, and bringing it back to its first
place, the operation is performed in a minute with the greatest
economy and convenience.

There was one feature of this great farm home which I regarded with
much satisfaction. It was the housing of the laborers employed on
the estate. This is done in blocks of well-built, well-ventilated,
and very comfortable cottages, all within a stone's throw of the
noble old mansion occupied by Mr. Jonas. Thus, no long and weary
miles after the fatigue of the day, or before its labor begins, have
to be walked over by his men in the cold and dark, as in many cases
in which the agricultural laborer is obliged to trudge on foot from
a distant village to his work, making a hard and sunless journey at
both ends of the day.

Although my visit at this, perhaps the largest, farming
establishment in England, occupied only a few hours, I felt on
leaving that I had never spent an equal space of time more
profitably and pleasantly in the pursuit or appreciation of
agricultural knowledge. The open and large-hearted hospitality and
genial manners of the proprietor and his family seemed to correspond
with the dimensions and qualities of his holding, and to complete,
vitalise, and beautify the symmetries of a true ENGLISH FARMER'S



From Chrishall Grange I went on to Royston, where I found very quiet
and comfortable quarters in a small inn called "The Catherine
Wheel," for what reason it is not yet clear to my mind, and the
landlady could not enlighten me on the subject. I have noticed two
inns in London of the same name, and have seen it mounted on several
other public houses in England. Why that ancient saint and the
machinery of her torture should be alone selected from the history
and host of Christian martyrs, and thus associated with houses of
entertainment for man and beast, is a mystery which I will not
undertake to explore. To be sure, the head of a puncheon of rum is
round like a wheel, and if the liquor were not too much diluted with
water, it might make a revolving illumination quite interesting, if
set on fire and rolled into the gutter. It may possibly suggest
that lambent ignition of the brain which the fiery drinks of the
establishment produce, and which so many infatuated victims think
delightful. Both these inferences, and all others I could fancy,
are so dubious that I will not venture further into the meaning of
this singular appellation given to a tavern.

Royston is a goodly and comfortable town, just inside the eastern
boundary of Hertfordshire. It has its full share of half-legible
and interesting antiquities, including the ruins of a royal palace,
a cave, and several other broken monuments of the olden time, all
festooned with the web-work of hereditary fancies, legends, and
shreds of unravelled history dyed to the vivid colors of variegated
imagination. It also boasts and enjoys a great, breezy common,
large enough to hold such another town, and which few in the kingdom
can show. Then, if it cannot cope with Glastonbury in showing, to
the envious and credulous world, a thorn-tree planted by Joseph of
Arimathaea, and blossoming always at Christmas, it can fly a bird of
greater antiquity, which never flapped its wings elsewhere, so far
as I can learn. It may be the lineal descendant of Noah's raven
that has come down to this particular community without a cross with
any other branch of the family. It is called "The Royston Crow,"
and is a variety of the genus which you will find in no other
country. It is a great, heavy bird, larger than his colored
American cousin, and is distinguished by a white back. Indeed, seen
walking at a distance, he looks like our Bobolink expanded to the
size of a large hen-hawk. To have such a wild bird all to
themselves, and of its own free will, notwithstanding the length and
power of its wings, and the force of centrifugal attractions, is a
distinction which the good people of this favored town have good
reason to appreciate at its proper value. Nor are they insensible
to the honor. The town printer put into my hands a monthly
publication called "THE ROYSTON CROW," containing much interesting
and valuable information. It might properly have embraced a chapter
on entomology; but, perhaps, it would have been impolitic for the
personal interests of the bird to have given wide publicity to facts
in this department of knowledge. For, after all, there may exist in
the neighborhood certain special kinds of bugs and other insects
which lie at the foundation of his preference for the locality.

The next day I again faced northward, and walked as far as Caxton, a
small, rambling village, which looked as if it had not shaved and
washed its face, and put on a clean shirt for a shocking length of
time. It was dark when I reached it; having walked twelve miles
after three p.m. There was only one inn, properly speaking, in the
town, and since the old coaching time, it had contracted itself into
the fag-end of a large, dark, seedy-looking building, where it lived
by selling beer and other sharp and cheap drinks to the villagers;
nineteen-twentieths of whom appeared to be agricultural laborers.
The entertainment proffered on the sign-board over the door was
evidently limited to the tap-room. Indeed, this and the great, low-
jointed and brick-floored kitchen opening into to it, seemed to
constitute all the living or inhabited space in the building. I
saw, at a glance, that the chance for a bed was faint and small; and
I asked Landlord Rufus for one doubtingly, as one would ask for a
ready-made pulpit or piano at a common cabinet-maker's shop. He
answered me clearly enough before he spoke, and he spoke as if
answering a strange and half-impertinent question, looking at me
searchingly, as if he suspected I was quizzing him. His "No!" was
short and decided; but, seeing I was honest and earnest in the
inquiry, he softened his negative with the explanation that their
beds were all full. It seemed strange to me that this should be so
in a building large enough for twenty, and I hesitated hopefully,
thinking he might remember some small room in which he might put me
for the night. To awaken a generous thought in him in this
direction, I intimated how contented I would be with the most
moderate accommodation. But it was in vain. The house was full,
and I must seek for lodging elsewhere. There were two or three
other public houses in the village that might take me in. I went to
them one by one. They all kept plenty of beer, but no bed. They,
too, looked at me with surprise for asking for such a thing.
Apparently, there had been no demand for such entertainment by any
traveller since the stage-coach ceased to run through the village.
I went up and down, trying to negotiate with the occupants of some
of the best-looking cottages for a cot or bunk; but they had none to
spare, as the number of wondering children that stared at me kindly,
at once suggested before I put the question.

It was now quite dark, and I was hungry and tired; and the prospect
of an additional six miles walk was not very animating. What next?
I will go back to Landlord Rufus and try a new influence on his
sensibilities. Who knows but it will succeed? I will touch him on
his true character as a Briton. So I went back, with my last chance
hanging on the experiment. I told him I was an American traveller,
weary, hungry, and infirm of health, and would pay an extra price
for an extra effort to give me a bed for the night. I did not say
all this in a Romanus-civus-sum sort of tone. No! dear, honest Old
Abe, you would have done the same in my place. I made the great
American Eagle coo like a dove in the request; and it touched the
best instincts of the British Lion within the man. It was evident
in a moment that I had put my case in a new aspect to him. He would
talk with the "_missus_;" he withdrew into the back kitchen, a short
conference ensued, and both came out together and informed me that
they had found a bed, unexpectedly vacant, for my accommodation.
And they would get up some tea and bread and butter for me, too.
Capital! A sentiment of national pride stole in between every two
feelings of common satisfaction at this result. The thought would
come in and whisper, not for your importunity as a common fellow
mortal were this bed and this loaf unlocked to you, but because you
were an American citizen.

So I followed "the missus" into that great kitchen, and sat down in
one corner of the huge fire-place while she made the tea. It was a
capacious museum of culinary curiosities of the olden time, all
arranged in picturesque groups, yet without any aim at effect.
Pots, kettles, pans, spits, covers, hooks and trammels of the
Elizabethan period, apparently the heirlooms of several intersecting
generations, showed in the fire-light like a work of artistry; the
sharp, silvery brightness of the tin and the florid flush of
burnished copper making distinct disks in the darkness. It was with
a rare sentiment of comfort that I sat by that fire of crackling
faggots, looked up at the stars that dropped in their light as they
passed over the top of the great chimney, and glanced around at the
sides of that old English kitchen, panelled with plates and platters
and dishes of all sizes and uses. And this fire was kindled and
this tea-kettle was singing for me really because I was an American!
I could not forget that--so I deemed it my duty to keep up the
character. Therefore, I told the _missus_ and her bright-eyed niece
a great many stories about America; some of which excited their
admiration and wonder. Thus I sat at the little, round, three-
legged table, inside the out-spreading chimney, for an hour or more,
and made as cozy and pleasant a meal of it as ever I ate. Besides
all this, I had the best bed in the house, and several "Good
nights!" on retiring to it, uttered with hearty good-will by voices
softened to an accent of kindness. Next morning I was introduced
into the best parlor, and had a capital breakfast, and then resumed
my walk with a pleasant memory of my entertainment in that village

I passed through a fertile and interesting section to St. Ives, in
Huntingdonshire. Here I remained with some friends for a week,
visiting neighboring villages by day and returning at night. St.
Ives is a pleasant, well-favored town, just large enough to
constitute a coherent, neighborly, and well-regulated community. It
is the centre-piece of a rich, rural picture, which, without any
strikingly salient features, pleases the eye with lineaments of
quiet beauty symmetrically developed by the artistry of Nature. The
river Ouse meanders through a wide, fertile flat, or what the Scotch
would call a strath, which gently rises on each side into pleasantly
undulating uplands. Parks, groves, copses, and hedge-row trees are
interspersed very happily, and meadow, pasture, and grain-fields
seen through them, with villages, hamlets, farm-houses, and isolated
cottages, make up a landscape that grows more and more interesting
as you contemplate it. And this placid locality, with its peaceful
river seemingly sleeping in the bosom of its long and level meadows,
was the scene of Oliver Cromwell's young, fiery manhood. Here,
where Nature invites to tranquil occupations and even exercises of
the mind, he trained the latent energies of his will for action in
the great drama that overturned a throne and transformed a nation.
Here, till very lately, stood his "barn," and here he drilled the
first squadron of his "Ironsides."

My friend and host drove me one day to see a fen-farm a few miles
beyond Ramsey, at which we remained over night and enjoyed the old-
fashioned English hospitality of the establishment with lively
relish. It was called "The Four-Hundred-Acre-Farm," to distinguish
it from a hundred others, laid out on the same dead level, with
lines and angles as straight and sharp as those of a brick. You
will meet scores of persons in England who speak admiringly of the
great prairies of our Western States--but I never saw one in
Illinois as extensive as the vast level expanse you may see in
Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire. In fact, the space of a large
county has been fished up out of a shallow sea of salt water by
human labor and capital. I will not dwell here upon the expense,
process, and result of this gigantic operation. It would require a
whole chapter to convey an approximate idea of the character and
dimensions of the enterprise. The feat of Cyrus in turning the
current of the Euphrates was the mere making of a short mill-race
compared with the labor of lifting up these millions of acres bodily
out of the flood that had covered and held them in quiescent
solution since the world began.

This Great Prairie of England, generally called here the Fens, or
Fenland, would be an interesting and instructive section for the
agriculturists of our Western States to visit. They would see how
such a region can be made quite picturesque, as well as luxuriantly
productive. Let them look off upon the green sea from one of the
upland waves, and it will be instructive to them to see and know,
that all the hedge-trees, groves, and copses that intersect and
internect the vast expanse of green and gold were planted by man's
hands. Such a landscape would convince them that the prairies of
Illinois and Iowa may be recovered from their almost depressing
monotony by the same means. The soil of this district is apparently
the same as that around Chicago--black and deep, on a layer of clay.
It pulverises as easily in dry weather, and makes the same inky and
sticky composition in wet. To give it more body, or to cross it
with a necessary and supplementary element, a whole field is often
trenched by the spade as clean as one could be furrowed by the
plough. By this process the substratum of clay is thrown up, to a
considerable thickness, upon the light, black, almost volatile soil,
and mixed with it when dry; thus giving it a new character and
capacity of production.

Everything seems to grow on a Californian scale in this fen
district. Although the soil thus rescued from the waters that had
flooded and half dissolved it, was at first as deep, black, and
naturally fertile as that of our prairies, those who commenced its
cultivation did not make the same mistake as did our Western
farmers. They did not throw their manure into the broad draining
canals to get rid of it, trusting to the inexhaustible fertility of
the alluvial earth, as did the wheat growers of Indiana and Illinois
to their cost; but they husbanded and well applied all the resources
of their barn-yards. In consequence of this economy, there is no
deterioration of annual averages of their crops to be recorded, as
in some of our prairie States, which have been boasting of the
natural and inexhaustible fertility of their soil even with the
record of retrograde statistics before their eyes. The grain and
root crops are very heavy; and a large business is done in growing
turnip seed for the world in some sections of this fen country. A
large proportion of the quantity we import comes from these low

Our host of the Four-Hundred-Acre Farm took us over his productive
occupation, which was in a very high state of cultivation. The
wheat was yellowing to harvest, and promised a yield of forty-two
bushels to the acre. The oats were very heavy, and the root crops
looked well, especially a field of mangel-wurzel. He apportions his
land to different crops after this ratio:-- Wheat, 120 acres; oats,
80; rye-grass and clover, 50; roots, 60. His live stock consisted
of 300 sheep, 50 to 60 head of cattle, and 70 to 80 hogs. His
working force was from 10 to 12 men, 14 farm horses, and 4 nags. It
may interest some of my American readers to know the number,
character, and cost of the implements employed by this substantial
English farmer in cultivating an estate of 400 acres. I noted down
the following list, when he was showing us his tool-house:--

l. $ l. $
6 Ploughs at 4 each = 20 24 = 120
6 Horse-carts, at 14 each = 70 84 = 420
1 Large Iron Roller and Gearing, 13 = 65
1 Cambridge Roller 14 = 70
1 Twelve-Coulter Drill 46 = 230
3 Harrows at 3 each = 15 9 = 45
2 Great Harrows at 3 each = 15 6 = 30
--- ---
Total cost of these Implements 196l.$980

These figures will represent the working forces and implemental
machinery of a well-tilled farm of 400 acres in England. They will
also indicate the amount of capital required to cultivate an estate
of this extent here. Let us compare it with the amount generally
invested in New England for a farm of equal size. Thousands that
have been under cultivation for a hundred years, may be bought for 5
pounds, or $25, per acre, including house, barn, and other buildings
and appurtenances. It is a very rare thing for a man with us to buy
400 acres at once; but if he did, it would probably be on these
conditions:-- He would pay 400 pounds, or $2,000, down at the time
of purchase, giving his notes for the remaining 1,600 pounds, or
$8,000, at 6 per cent. interest payable annually, together with the
yearly instalment of principal specified in each note. He would
perhaps have 200 pounds, or $1,000, left of his capital for working
power and agricultural implements. He would probably divide it
after the following manner:--

l. l. $
2 Yokes of Oxen, at 25 = 50 = 250
1 Horse 20 = 100
2 Ox-carts, at 15 = 30 = 150
1 Waggon 20 = 100
2 Ox-sleds, at 1 = 2 = 10
2 Ox-ploughs, at 2 = 4 = 20
1 Single Horse-plough 1 = 5
2 Harrows 2 = 4 = 20
Cradles, scythes, hoes, rakes, flails, etc. 4 = 20
Fanning-mill, hay-cutter, and corn-sheller. 4 = 20
15 Cows, steers, and heifers 45 = 225
6 Shoats, or pigs, six months old 10 = 50

These figures would indicate a large operation for a practical New
England farmer, who should undertake to purchase and cultivate an
estate of 400 acres. Indeed, not one in a hundred buying such a
large tract of land would think of purchasing all the implements on
this list at once, or entirely new. One of his carts, sleds, and
harrows would very probably be "second-handed," and bought at half
the price of a new one. Thus, a substantial farmer with us would
think he was beginning on a very satisfactory and liberal footing,
if he had 200 pounds, or $1,000, in ready money for stocking a
holding of 400 acres with working cattle and implemental machinery,
cows, pigs, etc. Now, compare this outlay with that of our host of
the Four-Hundred-Acre Farm in Lincolnshire. We will begin with his-

l. l. $
14 Farm horses, at the low figure of 20 each = 280 = 1,400
4 Nags, or saddle and carriage horses 2O each = 8O = 400
300 Stock sheep 1 each = 300 = 1,500
7O Pigs, of different ages 2 each = 140 = 900
5O Head of cattle (cows, bullocks, etc.) 12 each = 600 = 3,000
Carts, drills, rollers, ploughs and other implements 1,000 = 5,000
----- -----
2,400 $12,200

The average rent of such land in England must be at least 1 pound
10s. per acre, and the tenant farmer must pay half of this out of
the capital he begins with; which, on 400 acres, would amount to 300
pounds. Then, if he buys a quantity of artificial manures equal to
the value of 10s. per acre, he will need to expend in this
department 200 pounds. Next, if he purchases corn and oil-cake at
the same ratio for his cattle and sheep as that adopted by Mr.
Jonas, of Chrishall Grange, he will want 1,000 pounds for his 60
head of cattle and 300 sheep. In addition to these items of
expenditure, he must pay his men weekly; and the wages of ten, at
10s. per week, for six months, amount to 130 pounds. Add an
economical allowance for family expenses for the same length of
time, and for incidental outgoes, and you make up the aggregate of
4,000 pounds, which is 10 pounds to the acre, which an English
farmer needs to have and invest on entering upon the cultivation of
a farm, great or small. This amount, as has been stated elsewhere,
is the rule for successful agriculture in this country.

These facts will measure the difference between the amounts of
capital invested in equal spaces of land in England and America. It
is as ten to one, assuming a moderate average. Here, a man would
need 1,500 pounds, or more than $7,000, to begin with on renting a
farm of 150 acres, in order to cultivate it successfully. In New
England, a man would think he began under favorable auspices if he
were able to enter upon the occupancy of equal extent with 100
pounds, or about $500.

On returning from the Fens, I passed the night and most of the
following day at Woodhurst, a village a few miles north of St. Ives,
on the upland rising gently from the valley of the Ouse. My host
here was a farmer, owning the land he tilled, cultivating it and the
moral character and happiness of the little community, in which he
moved as a father, with an equally generous heart and hand, and
reaping a liberal reward from both departments of his labor. He
took me over his fields, and showed me his crops and live stock,
which were in excellent condition. Harvesting had already
commenced, and the reapers were at work, men and women, cutting
wheat and barley. Few of them used sickles, but a curved knife,
wider than the sickle, of nearly the same shape, minus the teeth. A
man generally uses two of them. With the one in his left hand he
gathers in a good sweep of grain, bends it downward, and with the
other strikes it close to the ground, as we cut Indian corn. With
the left-hand hook and arm, he carries on the grain from the inside
to the outside of the swath or "work," making three or four strokes
with the cutting knife; then, at the end, gathers it all up and lays
it down in a heap for binding. This operation is called "bagging."
It does not do the work so neatly as the sickle, and is apt to pull
up many stalks by the roots with the earth attaching to them,
especially at the last, outside stroke.

I was struck with the economy adopted by my host in loading, carting
and stacking or ricking his grain. The operation was really
performed like clock-work. Two or three men were stationed at the
rick to unload the carts, two in the fields to load them, and
several boys to lead them back and forth to the two parties. They
were all one-horse carts, and so timed that a loaded one was always
at the rick and an empty one always in the field; thus keeping the
men at both ends fully employed from morning until night, pitching
on and pitching off; while boys, at 6d. or 8d. a day, led the

On passing through the stables and housings for stock, I noticed a
simple, yet ingenious contrivance for watering cattle, which I am
not sure I can describe accurately enough, without a drawing, to
convey a tangible idea of it to my agricultural neighbors in
America. It may be called the buoy-cock. In the first place, the
water is brought into a cistern placed at one end of the stable or
shed at a sufficient elevation to give it the necessary fall in all
the directions in which it is to be conducted. The pipe used for
each cow-box or manger connects each with the cistern, and the
distributing end of it rests upon, or is suspended over, the trough
assigned to each animal. About one-third of this trough, which was
here a cast-iron box, about twelve inches deep and wide, protrudes
through the boarding of the stable. In this outside compartment is
placed a hollow copper ball attached to a lever, which turns the
axle or pivot of the cock. Now, this little buoy, of course, rises
and falls with the water in the trough. When the trough is full,
the buoy rises and raises the lever so as to shut off the water
entirely. At every sip the animal takes, the buoy descends and lets
on again, to a drop, a quantity equal to that abstracted from the
inside compartment. Thus the trough is always kept full of pure
water, without losing a drop of it through a waste-pipe or overflow.
Where a great herd of cattle and a drove of horses have to be
supplied from a deep well, as in the case of Mr. Jonas, at Chrishall
Grange, this buoy-cock must save a great amount of labor.

I saw also here in perfection that garden allotment system which is
now coming widely into vogue in England, not only adjoining large
towns like Birmingham, but around small villages in the rural
districts. It is well worthy of being introduced in New England and
other states, where it would work equally well in various lines of
influence. A landowner divides up a field into allotments, each
generally containing a rood, and lets them to the mechanics,
tradespeople and agricultural laborers of the town or village, who
have no gardens of their own for the growth of vegetables. Each of
these is better than a savings-bank to the occupant. He not only
deposits his odd pennies but his odd hours in it; keeping both away
from the public-house or from places and habits of idleness and
dissipation. The days of Spring and Summer here are very long, and
a man can see to work in the field as early as three o'clock in the
morning, and as late as nine at night. So every journeyman
blacksmith, baker or shoemaker may easily find four or five hours in
the twenty-four for work on his allotment, after having completed
the task or time due to his employer. He generally keeps a pig, and
is on the qui vive to make and collect all the manure he can for his
little farm. A field of several acres, thus divided and cultivated
in allotments, presents as striking a combination of colors as an
Axminster carpet. As every rood is subdivided into a great variety
of vegetables, and as forty or fifty of such patches, lying side by
side, present, in one coup d'oeil, all the alternations of which
these crops and colors are susceptible, the effect is very

My Woodhurst friend makes his allotment system a source of much
social enjoyment to himself and the poor villagers. He lets forty-
seven patches, each containing twenty poles. Every tenant pays
10s., or $2 40c., annual rent for his little holding, Mr. E. drawing
the manure for each, which is always one good load a year. Here,
too, these little spade-farmers are put under the same regime as the
great tenant agriculturists of the country. Each must farm his
allotment according to the terms of the yearly lease. He must dig
up his land with spade or pick, not plough it; and he is not allowed
to work on it upon the Sabbath. But encouragements greatly
predominate over restrictions, and stimulate and reward a high
cultivation. _Eight_ prizes are offered to this end, of the
following amounts:--10s., 7s. 6d., 5s., 4s., 3s., 2s. 6d., 2s. and
1s. Every one who competes must not have more than half his
allotment in potatoes. The greater the variety of vegetables the
other half contains, the better is his chance for the first prize.
The appraiser is some disinterested person of good judgment, perhaps
from an adjoining town, who knows none of the competitors. To
prevent any possible favoritism, the allotments are all numbered,
and he awards prizes to numbers only, not knowing to whom they
belong. Another feature, illustrating the generous disposition of
the proprietor, characterises this good work. On the evening
appointed for paying the rents, he gets up a regular, old-fashioned
English supper of roast beef and plum-pudding for them, giving each
fourpence instead of beer, so that they may all go home sober as
well as cheerful. To see him preside at that table, with his large,
round, rosy face beaming upon them with the quiet benevolence of a
good heart, and to hear the fatherly and neighborly talks he makes
to them, would be a picture and preaching which might be commended
to the farmers of all countries.

I saw also a curious phenomenon in the natural world on this farm,
which perhaps will be regarded as a fiction of fancy by many a
reader. It was a large field of barley grown from _oats_! We have
recently dwelt upon some of the co-workings of Nature and Art in the
development of flowers and of several useful plants. But here is
something stranger still, that seems to diverge from the line of any
law hitherto known in the vegetable world. Still, for aught one can
know at this stage of its action, it may be the same general law of
development which we have noticed, only carried forward to a more
advanced point of progress. I would commend it to the deep and
serious study of naturalists, botanists, or to those philosophers
who should preside over the department of investigation to which the
subject legitimately belongs. I will only say what I saw with my
own eyes and heard with my own ears. Here, I repeat, was a large
field of heavy grain, ready for harvest. The head and berry were
_barley_, and the stalk and leaves were _oat_! Here, certainly, is
a mystery. The barley sown on this field was the first-born
offspring of oats. And the whole process by which this wonderful
transformation is wrought, is simply this, and nothing more:--The
oats are sown about the last week in June; and, before coming into
ear, they are cut down within one inch and a half of the ground.
This operation is repeated a second time. They are then allowed to
stand through the winter, and the following season the produce is
_barley_. This is the plain statement of the case in the very words
of the originator of this process, and of this strange
transmutation. The only practical result of it which he claims is
this: that the straw of the barley thus produced is stouter, and
stands more erect, and, therefore, less liable to be beaten down by
heavy wind or rain. Then, perhaps, it may be added, this oat straw
headed with barley is more valuable as fodder for live stock than
the natural barley straw. But the value of this result is nothing
compared with the issue of the experiment as proving the existence
of a principle or law hitherto undiscovered, which may be applied to
all kinds of plants for the use of man and beast. If any English
reader of these notes is disposed to inquire more fully into this
subject, I am sure he may apply without hesitation to Mr. John
Ekins, of Bruntisham, near St. Ives, who will supply any additional
information needed. He presented me with a little sample bag of
this oat-born barley, which I hope to show my agricultural neighbors
on returning to America.



After a little more than a week's visit in St. Ives and neighboring
villages, I again resumed my staff and set out in a westerly
direction, in order to avoid the flat country which lay immediately
northward for a hundred miles and more. Followed the north bank of
the Ouse to Huntingdon. On the way, I stopped and dined with a
gentleman in Houghton whose hospitality and good works are well
known to many Americans. The locality mentioned is so identified
with his name, that they will understand whom I mean. There was a
good and tender-hearted man who lived in our Boston, called Deacon
Grant; and I hope he is living still. He was so kind to everybody
in trouble, and everybody in trouble went to him so spontaneously
for sympathy and relief, that no one ever thought of him as
belonging to a single religious congregation, but regarded him as
Deacon of the whole of Boston--a kind of universal father, whose
only children were the orphans and the poor men's sons and daughters
of the city. The Miller of Houghton, as some of my readers will
know, is just such another man, with one slight difference, which is
to his advantage, as a gift of grace. He has all of Deacon Grant's
self-diffusing life of love for his kind, generous and tender
dispositions towards the poor and needy, and more than the Deacon's
means of doing good; and, with all this, the indomitable energy and
will and even the look of Cromwell. During my stay in the
neighborhood, I was present at two large gatherings at his House of
Canvas, with which he supplements his family mansion when the latter
lacks the capacity of his heart in the way of accommodation. This
tent, which he erects on his lawn, will hold a large congregation;
and, on both the occasions to which I refer, was well filled with
men, women, and children from afar and near. The first was a re-
union of the Sunday-school teachers and pupils of the county, to
whom he gave a sumptuous dinner; after which followed addresses and
some business transactions of the association. The second was the
examination of the British School of the village, founded and
supported, I believe, by himself. At the conclusion of the
exercises, which were exceedingly interesting, the whole company,
young and old, adjourned to the lawn, where the visitors and elder
people of the place were served with tea and coffee under the tent.

Then came "The Children's Hour." They were called in from their
games and romping on the lawn, and formed into a circle fifty feet
in diameter. And here and now commenced an entertainment which
would make a more interesting picture than the old Apsley House
Dinner. The good deacon of the county, with several assistants,
entered this charmed circle of boys and girls, all with eyes dilated
and eager with expectation, and overlooked by a circular wall of
elder people radiant with the spirit of the moment. The host, in
his white hat and grey beard, led the way with a basket on his arm,
filled with little cakes, called with us gingernuts. He was
followed by a file of other men with baskets of nuts, apples, etc.
It was a most hilarious scene, exhilarating to all the senses to
look upon, either for young or old. He walked around the ring with
a grand, Cromwellian step, sowing a pattering rain of the little
cakes on the clean-shaven lawn, as a farmer would sow wheat in his
field, broadcast, in liberal handfuls. Then followed in their order
the nut-sowers, apple-sowers, and the sowers of other goodies. When
the baskets were emptied, the circular space enclosed was covered
with as tempting a spread of dainties as ever fascinated the eyes of
a crowd of little people. For a whole minute, longer than a full
hour of ordinary schoolboy enjoyments, they had to stand facing that
sight, involuntarily attitudinising for the plunge. At the end of
that long minute, the signal sounded, and, in an instant, there was
a scene in the ring that would have made the soberest octogenarian
shake his sides with the laughter of his youth. The encircling
multitude of youngsters darted upon the thickly-scattered delicacies
like a flock of birds upon a field of grain, with patter, twitter
and flutter, and a tremor and treble of little short laughs; small,
eager hands trying in vain to shut fast upon a large apple and
several ginger-nuts at one grasp; slippings and trippings, tousling
of tresses and crushing of dresses; boys and girls higgledy-
piggledy; caps and bonnets piggledy-higgledy; little, red-faced
Alexanders looking half sad, because they had filled their small
pocket-worlds and both hands with apples and nuts, and had no room
nor holding for more; little girls, with broken bonnet-strings, and
long, sunny hair dancing over their eyes, stretching their short
fingers to grasp another goodie,--all this, with the merry
excitement of fathers and mothers, elder brothers and sisters, and
other spectators, made it a scene of youthful life and delight which
would test the genius of the best painters of the age to delineate.
And Sir Roger Coverley Cromwell, the author of all this
entertainment, would make a capital figure in the group, taken just
as he looked at that moment, with his face illuminated with the
upshooting joy of his heart, like the clear, frosty sky of winter
with the glow and the flush of the Northern Lights.

The good Miller of Houghton, having added stone to stone until his
mills can grind all the wheat the largest county can grow, has
recently handed over to his sons the great business he had built up
to such magnitude, and retired, if possible, to a more active life
of benevolence. One of his late benefactions was a gift of 3,000
pounds, or nearly $15,000, toward the erection of an Independent
Chapel in St. Ives.

At Huntingdon, I took tea and spent a pleasant hour with the
principal of a select school, kept in a large, dignified and
comfortable mansion, once occupied by the poet Cowper. In the yard
behind the house there is a wide-spreading and prolific pear-tree
planted by his hands. This, too, was one of the thousands of old,
stately dwellings you meet with here and there, which have no
beginning nor end that you can get at. Cowper lived and wrote in
this, for instance; but who lived in it a century before he was
born? Who built it? Which of the Two Roses did he mount on his
arms? Or did he live and build later, and dine his townsman, the
great Oliver, or was he loyal to the last to Charles the First?
These are questions that come up, on going over such a building, but
no one can answer them, and you are left to the wisdom of limping
legends on the subject. The present occupant has an antiquarian
penchant; so, a short time after he took possession of the house, he
began to make explorations in the walls and wainscotings, as men of
the same mind have done at Nineveh and Pompeii. Having penetrated a
thick surface of white lava, or a layer of lime, put on with a brush
"in an earlier age than ours," he came upon a gorgeous wall of
tapestry, with inwoven figures and histories of great men and women,
quite as large as life, and all of very florid complexion and
luxurious costumes. He has already exhumed a great many square
yards of this picturesque fabric, wrought in by-gone ages, and is
continuing the work with all the zest and success of a fortunate
archaeologist. Now it is altogether probable, that Cowper, as he
sat in one of those rooms writing at his beautiful rhymes, had not
the slightest idea that he was surrounded by such a crowd of kings,
queens, and other great personages, barely concealed behind a thin
cloud of white-wash.

It may possibly be true, that a few beautiful, fair-haired heretics
in love or religion have been stone-masoned up alive in the walls of
abbeys or convents. Sir Walter Scott leaned to that belief, and
perhaps had credible history for it. But if the trowel has slain
its thousands, the whitewash swab has slain its ten thousands of
innocents. Think of the furlongs of richly-wrought tapestry, full
of sacred and profane history, and the furlongs of curiously-carved
panels, wainscoting, and cornice that floppy, sloppy, vandal brush
of pigs' bristles and pail of diluted lime have eclipsed and
obliterated for ever, and not a retributive drop of the villainous
mixture has fallen into the perpetrator's eye to "make his foul
intent seem horrible!" Think of Christian kings of glorious memory,
even Defenders of the Faith, with their fair queens, princes of the
blood, and knights, noble and brave, all, in one still St.
Bartholomew night of that soft, thin, white flood, buried from the
sight of the living as completely as the Roman sentinel at his post
by the red gulf-stream of Vesuvius! Still, we must not be too hard
on these seemingly barbarous transactions. "Not in anger, not in
wrath," nor in foolish fancy, was that dripping brush always lifted
upon these works of art. Many a person of cultivated taste saw a
time when he could say, almost with Sancho Panza, "blessings on the
man who invented whitewash! It covers a tapestry, a carving, or a
sculpture all over like a blanket;" like that one spoken of in
Macbeth. England is just beginning to learn what treasures of art
in old mansions, churches and cathedrals were saved to the present
age by a timely application of that cheap and healthy fluid. For
there was a time when stern men of iron will arose, who had no fear
of Gothic architecture, French tapestry, or Italian sculpture before
their eyes; who treated things that had awed or dazzled the world as
"baubles" of vanity, to be put away, as King Josiah put away from
his realm the graven images of his predecessors. And these men
thought they were doing good service to religion by pushing their
bayonets at the most delicate works of the needle, pencil and
chisel; ripping and slitting the most elaborately wrought tapestry,-
-stabbing off the fine leaf, and vine-work from carved cornices and
wainscoting, and mutilating the marble lace-work of the sculptor in
the old cathedrals. The only way to save these choice things was to
make them suddenly take the white veil from the whitewasher's brush.
Thousands of them were thus preserved, and they are now being
brought forth to the light again, after having been shut away from
the eye of man for several centuries.

The school-house is still standing in Huntingdon, in good condition
and busy occupation, in which Oliver Cromwell stormed the English
alphabet and carried the first parallel of monosyllables at the
point of the pen. The very form or bench of oak from which he
mounted the breach is still occupied by boys of the same size and
age, with the same number of inches between their feet and the floor
which separated it from his. Had the photographic art been
discovered in his day, we might have had his face and form as he
looked when seated as a rosy-faced, light-haired boy in the rank and
file of the youngsters gathered within those walls. What an
overwhelming revelation it would have been to his young, honest and
merry mind, if some seer, like him who told Hazael his future, could
have given him a sudden glimpse of what he was to be and do in his
middle manhood!

After tea, I continued my walk westward to a small, quiet,
comfortable village, about five miles from Huntingdon, where I
became the guest of "The Old Mermaid," who extended her amphibious
hospitalities to all strangers wishing bed and board for the night.
Both I received readily and greatly enjoyed under her roof,
especially the former. Never did I occupy a bed so fringed with the
fanciful artistries of dreamland. It was close up under the
thatched roof, and it was the most easy and natural thing in the
world for the fancies of the midnight hour to turn that thatching
into hair, and to cheat my willing mind with the delusion that I was
sleeping with the long, soft tresses of Her Submarine Ladyship wound
around my head. It was a delightful vagary of the imagination,
which the morning light, looking in through the little checker-work
window, gently dispelled.

The next day I bent my course in a north-westerly direction, and
passed through a very fertile and beautiful section. The scenery
was truly delightful;--not grand nor splendid, but replete with
quiet pictures that please the eye and touch the heart with a sense
of gladness. The soft mosaic work of the gently rounded hills, or
figures wrought in wheat, barley, oats, beans, turnips, and meadow
and pasture land, and grouped into landscapes in endless alternation
of lights and shades, and all this happy little world now veiled by
the low, summer clouds, now flooded by a sunburst between them--all
these lovely and changing sceneries made my walk like one through a
continuous gallery of paintings.

Harvesting had commenced in real earnest, and the wheat-fields were
full of reapers, some wielding the sickle, others the scythe. When
I saw men and women bending almost double to cut their sheaves close
to the ground, I longed to walk through a barley-field with one of
our American cradles, and show them how we do that sort of thing.
As yet I have seen no reaping machines in operation, and I doubt if
they will ever come into such extensive use here as with us, owing
to the abundance of cheap labor in this country. I saw on this
day's walk the heaviest crop of wheat that I have noticed since I
left London. It must have averaged sixty bushels to the acre for
the whole field.

Late in the afternoon it began to rain; and I was glad to find
shelter and entertainment at a comfortable village inn, under the
patronage of "The Green Man," perhaps a brother or near relative of
Mermadam my hostess that entertained me the preceding night. It was
a unique old building, or rather a concrete of a great variety of
buildings devoted to a remarkable diversity of purposes, including
brewing, farming, and other occupations. The large, low, dark
kitchen was flanked by one of the old-fashioned fire-places, with
space for a large family between the jambs, and the hollow of the
chimney ample enough to show one of the smaller constellations at
the top of it in a clear night. A seat on the brick or stone floor
before one of these kitchen fire-places is to me the focus of the
home comforts of the house, and I always make for it mechanically.
As the darkness drew on, several agricultural laborers drifted in,
one after the other, until the broad, deep pavement of the hearth
was lined by a row of them, quite fresh from their work. They were
quiet, sober-looking men, and they spoke with subdued voices,
without animation or excitement, as if the fatigue of the day and
the general battle of life had softened them to a serious, pensive
mood and movement. As they sat drying their jackets around the
fire, passing successive mugs of the landlord's ale from one to the
other, they grew more and more conversational; and, as I put in a
question here and there, they gave me an insight into the general
condition, aspects and prospects of their class which I had not
obtained before. They were quite free to answer any questions
relating to their domestic economy, their earnings, spendings, food,
drink, clothing, housing and fuel, also in reference to their
educational and religious privileges and habits.

It was now the first week of harvest; and harvest in England, in any
one locality, covers the space of a full month, in ordinary weather.
Then, as the season varies remarkably, so that one county is
frequently a week earlier in harvesting than that adjoining it on
the north, the work for the sickle is often prolonged from the
middle of July to the middle of September. This is the period of
great expectation as well as toil for the agricultural laborers.
Every man, woman, and boy of them is all put under the stimulus of
extra earnings through these important weeks. Even the laborers
hired by the year have a full month given them for harvesting forty
or fifty extra shillings under this stimulus. Nearly all the grain
in England is cut for a certain stipulated sum per acre; and
thousands of all ages, with sickle or scythe in hand, see the sun
rise and set while they are at work in the field. In the field they
generally breakfast, lunch, and dine; and when it is considered
there is daylight enough for labor between half-past three in the
morning to half-past eight at night, one may easily see how many of
the twenty-four hours they may bend to their toil. The price for
cutting and binding wheat is from 10s. to 14s., or from $2 40c. to
$3 36c. per acre, and 8s., or $1 92c. per acre for oats and barley.
The men who cut, bind, and shock by the acre generally have to find
their own beer, and will earn from 24s. to 28s., or from $5 76c. to
$6 72c. per week. The regular laborers frequently let themselves to
their employers during the harvest month at from 20s. to 24s. per
week, which is just about double their usual wages. In addition to
this pay, they are often allowed two quarts of ale and two quarts of
small beer per day; not the small beer of New England, made only of
hops, ginger, and molasses; but a far more stimulating drink, quite
equal to our German lager. This gallon of beer will cost the farmer
about 10d., or 20c. Where the piece-work laborer furnishes his own
malt liquor, it must cost him on an average about an English
shilling, or twenty-four cents, a day.

Two or three of the men who formed the circle around the fire at The
Green Man, had come to purchase, or pay for, a keg of beer for their
harvest allowance. It was to me a matter of half-painful interest
to see what vital importance they attached to a supply of this
stimulant--to see how much more they leaned upon its strength and
comfort than upon food. It was not in my heart to argue the
question with them, or to seek to dispel the hereditary and pleasant
illusion, that beer alone, of all human drinks, could carry them
through the long, hot hours of toil in harvest. Besides, I wished
to get at their own free thoughts on the subject without putting my
own in opposition to them, which might have slightly restricted
their full expression. Every one of them held to the belief, as put
beyond all doubt or question by the experience of the present and
all past generations, that wheat, barley and oats could not be
reaped and ricked without beer, and beer at the rate of a gallon a
day per head. Each had his string of proofs to this conviction
terminating in a pewter mug, just as some poor people praying to the
Virgin have a string of beads ending in a crucifix, which they tell
off with honest hearts and sober faces. Each could make it stand to
reason that a man could not bear the heat and burden of harvest
labor without beer. Each had his illustration in the case of some
poor fellow who had tried the experiment, out of principle or
economy, and had failed under it. It was of no use to talk of
temperance and all that. It was all very nice for well-to-do
people, who never blistered their hands at a sickle or a scythe, to
tell poor, laboring men, sweating at their hot and heavy work from
sun to sun, that they must not drink anything but milk and water or
cold tea and coffee, but put them in the wheat-field a few days, and
let them try their wishy-washy drinks and see what would become of
them. As I have said, I did not undertake to argue the men out of
this belief, partly because I wished to learn from them all they
thought and felt on the subject, and partly, I must confess, because
I was reluctant to lay a hard hand upon a source of comfort which,
to them, holds a large portion of their earthly enjoyments,
especially when I could not replace it with a substitute which they
would accept, and which would yield them an equal amount of

A personal habit becomes a "second nature" to the individual, even
if he stands alone in its indulgence. But when it is an almost
universal habit, coming down from generation to generation, throwing
its creepers and clingers around the social customs and industrial
economies of a great nation, it is almost like re-creating a world
to change that second nature thus strengthened. This change is
slowly working its way in Great Britain--slowly, but perceptibly
here and there--thanks to the faithful and persevering efforts put
forth by good and true men, to enlighten the subjects of this
impoverishing and demoralising custom, which has ruled with such
despotism over the laborers of the land. Little by little the
proper balance between the Four Great Powers of human necessity,--
Food, Drink, Raiment and Housing, so long disturbed by this habit,
is being restored. Still, the preponderance of Drink, especially
among the agricultural laborers in England, is very striking and
sad. As a whole, Beer must still stand before Bread--even before
Meat, and before both in many cases, in their expenditures. The man
who sat next me, in muddy leggings, and smoking coat, was mildly
spoken, quiet, and seemingly thoughtful. He had come for his
harvest allowance of 20s. worth of beer. If he abstained from its
use on Sundays, he would have a ration of about tenpence's worth
daily. That would buy him a large loaf of bread, two good cuts of
mutton or beef, and all the potatoes and other vegetables he could
eat in a day. But he puts it all into the Jug instead of the
Basket. Jug is the juggernaut that crushes his hard earnings in the
dust, or, without the figure, distils them into drink. Jug swallows
up the first fruits of his industry, and leaves Basket to glean
among the sharpest thorns of his poverty. Jug is capricious as well
as capacious. It clamors for quality as well as quantity; it is
greedy of foaming and beaded liquors. Basket does well if it can
bring to the reaper the food of well-kept dogs. In visiting
different farms, I have noticed men and women at their luncheons and
dinners in the field. A hot mutton chop, or a cut of roast-beef,
and a hot potato, seem to be a luxury they never think of in the
hardest toil of harvest. Both the meals I have mentioned consist,
so far as I have seen, of only two articles of food,--bread and
bacon, or bread and cheese. And this bacon is never warm, but laid
upon a slice of bread in a thin, cold layer, instead of butter, both
being cut down through with a jack-knife into morsels when eaten.

Such is a habit that devours a lion's share of the English laborer's
earnings, and leaves Food, Raiment, and Housing to shift for
themselves. If he works by the piece and finds his own beer, it
costs him more than he pays for house rent, or for bread, or meat,
or for clothes for himself and family. If his employer furnishes it
or pays him commutation money, it amounts for all his men to a tax
of half-a-crown to the acre for his whole farm. There is no earthly
reason why agricultural laborers in this country should spend more
in drink than those of New England. I am confident that if a census
were taken of all the "hired men" of our six states, and a fair
average struck, the daily expenditure for drinks would not exceed
twopence, or four cents per head, while their average wages would
amount to 4s., or 96 cents, per day through the year. Yet our
Summers are far hotter and dryer than in England, our labor equally
hard, and there is really more natural occasion for drinks in our
harvest fields than here. It would require a severe apprenticeship
for our men to acquire a taste for sharp ale or strong beer as a
beverage under our July sun. A pail or jug of sweetened water,
perhaps with a few drops of cider to the pint, to sour it slightly,
and a spoonful of ginger stirred in, is our substitute for malt
liquor. Sometimes beer made of nothing but hops, water, and a
little molasses, is brought into the field, and makes even an
exhilarating drink, without any alcoholic effect. Cold coffee,
diluted with water, and re-sweetened, is a healthful and grateful
luxury to our farm laborers.

It would be a blessed thing for all the outdoor and indoor laborers
in this country, if the broad chasm between the strong beer of Old
England and the small beer of New England could be bridged, and they
be carried across to the shore of a better habit. The farm hands
here need a good deal of gentle leading and suggestion in this
matter. If some humane and ingenious man would get up a new, cheap,
cold drink, which should be nutritious, palatable and exhilarating,
without any inebriating property, it would be a boon of immeasurable
value. Malt liquors are made in such rivers here, or rather in such
lakes with river outlets; there is such a system for their
distribution and circulation through every town, village, and
hamlet; and they are so temptingly and conveniently kegged, bottled,
and jugged, and so handy to be carried out into the field, that the
habit of drinking them is almost forced upon the poor man's lips.
If a cheaper drink, refreshing and strengthening, could be made
equally convenient and attractive, it would greatly help to break
this hereditary thraldom to the Beer-Barrel. Another powerful
auxiliary to this good work might be contributed in the form of a
simple contrivance, which any man of mechanical genius and a kind
heart might elaborate. In this go-ahead age, scores of things are
made portable that once were fast-anchored solidities. We have
portable houses, portable beds, portable stoves and cooking ranges,
as well as portable steam-engines. Now, if some benevolent and
ingenious man would get up a little portable affair, at the cost of
two or three shillings, especially for agricultural laborers in this
country, which they could carry with one hand into the field, and by
which they could make and keep hot a pot of coffee, cocoa,
chocolate, broth or porridge, and also bake a piece of meat and a
few potatoes, it would be a real benefaction to thousands, and help
them up to the high road of a better condition.

What is the best condition to which the agricultural laborers in
Great Britain may ever expect to attain, or to which they may be
raised by that benevolent effort now put forth for their elevation?
They may all be taught to read and write and do a little in the
first three rules of arithmetic. That will raise them to a new
status and condition. Education of the masses has become such a
vigorous idea with the Government and people of England; so much is
doing to make the children of the manufacturing districts pass
through the school-room into the factory, carrying with them the
ability and taste for reading; ragged schools, working-men's clubs,
and institutions for all kinds of cheap learning and gratuitous
teaching are multiplying so rapidly; the press is turning out such a
world of literature for the homes of the poor, and the English Post,
like a beneficent Providence, is distilling such a morning dew of
manuscript and printed thoughts over the whole length and breadth of
the country, and all these streams of elevating influence are now so
tending towards the agricultural laborers, that there is good reason
to believe the next generation of them will stand head and shoulders
above any preceding one in the stature of intelligence and self-
respect. This in itself will give them a new status in society, as
beneficial to their employers as to themselves. It will increase
their mutual respect, and create a better footing for their

But the first improvement demanded in their condition, and the most
pressingly urgent, is a more comfortable, decent and healthy
housing. Until this is effected, all other efforts to raise them
mentally and morally must fail of their expected result. The London
Times, and other metropolitan, and many local, journals publish
almost daily distressing accounts of the miserable tenements
occupied by the men and women whose labor makes England the garden
of fertility and beauty that it is. Editors are making the subject
the theme of able and stirring articles, and some of the most
eloquent members of Parliament are speaking of it with great power.
It is not only generous but just to take the language in which the
writers and orators of a country denounce the evils existing in it
cum grano salis, or with considerable allowance for exaggeration.
Their statements and denunciations should not be used against their
country as a reproach by the people of another, because they prove
an earnest desire and effort to reform abuses which grew up in an
unenlightened past. As a specimen of the language which is
sometimes held on this subject, I subjoin the following paragraph
from the Saturday Review, perhaps the most cynical or unsentimental
journal in England:--

"There is a wailing for the dirt and vice and misery which must
prevail in houses where seven or eight persons, of both sexes and
all ages, are penned up together for the night in the one rickety,
foul, vermin-hunted bed-room. The picture of agricultural life
unrolls itself before us as it is painted by those who know it best.
We see the dull, clouded mind, the bovine gaze, the brutality and
recklessness, and the simple audacity, and the confessed hatred of
his betters, which mark the English peasant, unless some happy
fortune has saved him from the general lot, and persuaded him that
life has something besides beer that the poor man may have and may

Now this is a sad picture truly. The pen is sharp and cuts like a
knife,--but it is the surgeon's knife, not the poisoned barb of a
foreigner's taunt. This is the hopeful and promising aspect of
these delineations and denunciations of the laboring man's
condition. That low, damp, ill-ventilated, contracted room in which
he pens his family at night, was, quite likely, constructed in the
days of Good Queen Bess, or when "George the Third was King," at the
latest. And houses were built for good, substantial farmers in
those days which they would hardly house their horses in now. There
are hundreds of mechanics and day-laborers in Edinburgh who pen
their families nightly in apartments once owned and occupied by
Scotch dukes and earls, but which a journeyman shoemaker of New
England would be loth to live in rent free. Even the favorite room
of Queen Mary, in Holyrood Palace, in which she was wont to tea and
talk with Rizzio, would be too small and dim for the shop-parlor of
a small London tradesman of the present day. Thus, after all, the
low-jointed, low-floored, small-windowed, ill-ventilated cottages
now occupied by the agricultural laborers of England were
proportionately as good as the houses built at the same period for
the farmers of the country, many of which are occupied by farmers
now, and the like of which never could be erected again on this
island. Indeed, one wonders at finding so many of these old farm
houses still inhabited by well-to-do people, who could well afford
to live in better buildings.

This, then, is a hopeful sign, and both pledge and proof of
progress--that the very cottages of laboring men in England that
once figured so poetically in the histories and pictures of rural
life, are now being turned inside out to the scrutiny of a more
enlightened and benevolent age, revealing conditions that stir up
the whole community to painful sensibility and to vigorous efforts
to improve them. These cottages were just as low, damp, small and
dirty thirty years ago as they are now, and the families "penned" in
them at night were doubtless as large, and perhaps more ignorant
than those which inhabit them at the present time. It is not the
real difference between the actual conditions of the two periods but
the difference in the dispositions and perceptions of the public
mind, that has produced these humane sensibilities and efforts for
the elevation of the ploughers, sowers, reapers and mowers who
enrich and beautify this favored land with their patient and poorly-
paid labor. And there is no doubt that these newly-awakened
sentiments and benevolent activities will carry the day; replacing
the present tenements of the agricultural laborers with comfortable,
well-built cottages, fitted for the homes of intelligent and
virtuous families. This work has commenced in different sections
under favorable auspices. Buildings have been erected on an estate
here and there which will be likely to serve as models for whole
hamlets of new tenements. From what I have heard, I should think
that Lord Overstone, of the great banking house of the Lloyds, has
produced the best models for cottage homes, on his estates in
Northamptonshire. Although built after the most modern and improved
plan, and capacious enough to accommodate a considerable family very
comfortably, almost elegantly, the yearly rent is only 3 pounds, or
less than _fifteen dollars_!

Now with a three-pound cottage, having a parlor, kitchen, bed-room
and buttery on the lower floor, and an equal number of apartments on
the upper; with a forty-rod garden to grow his vegetables, and with
a free school for his children at easy walking distance, the
agricultural laborer in England will be placed as far forward on the
road of improvement as the Government or people, or both, can set
him. The rest of the way upward and onward he must make by his own
industry, virtue and economy. From this point he must work out his
own progress and elevation. No Government, nor any benevolent
association, nor general nor private benevolence, can regulate the
rate of his wages. The labor market will determine that, just as
the Corn Exchange does the price of wheat. But there is one thing
he can do to raise himself in civil stature, moral growth, and
domestic comfort. He may empty the Jug into the Basket. He and his
family may consume in solids what they now do in frothy fluids.
They may exchange their scanty dinner of cold bacon and bread for
one of roast beef and plum pudding, by substituting cold coffee,
cocoa or pure water for strong beer. Or, if they are content to go
on with their old fare of food, they may save the money they
expended in ale for the rent of one or two acres of land, for a cow,
or for two or three pigs, or deposit it weekly in the Post-Office
Savings' Bank, until it shall amount to a sum sufficient to enable
them to set up a little independent business of their own.

Here, then, are three great steps indispensable for the elevation of
the agricultural laborers of Great Britain to the highest level in
society which they can reach and maintain. Two of these the
Government, or the land-owners, or both, must take. They are
Improved Dwellings and Free and Accessible Education. These the
laborer cannot provide for himself and family. It is utterly beyond
his ability to do it. The third, last, long step must depend
entirely upon himself; though he may be helped on by sympathy,
suggestion, and encouragement from those who know how hard a thing
it is for the fixed appetites to break through the meshes of habit.
He must make drink the cheapest of human necessities. He must
exchange Beer for Bread, for clothes, for books, or for things that
give permanent comfort and enjoyment. When these three steps are
accomplished, the British laborer will stand before his country in
the best position it can give him. And I believe it will be a
position which will make him contented and happy, and be
satisfactory to all classes of the people.

After all that can be done for them, the wages of the agricultural
laborers of Great Britain cannot be expected to exceed, on an
average, twelve shillings a week, or about half the price of the
same labor in America. Their rent and clothes cost them, perhaps,
less than half the sum paid by our farm hands for the same items of
expenditure. Their food must also cost only about half of what our
men pay, who would think they were poor indeed if they could not
have hot meat breakfasts, roast or boiled beef dinners and cold meat
suppers, with the usual sprinkling of puddings, pies, and cakes, and
tea sweetened with loaf sugar. Thus, after all, put the English
laborer in the position suggested; give him such a three-pound
cottage and garden as Lord Overstone provides; give his children
free and convenient schooling; then let him exchange his ale for
nutritious and almost costless drinks, and if he is still able to
live for a few years on his old food-fare, he may work his way up to
a very comfortable condition with his twelve shillings a week,
besides his beer-money. On these conditions he would be able almost
to run neck and neck with our hired men in the matter of saving
money "for a rainy day," or for raising himself to a higher

We will put them side by side, after the suggested improvements have
been realised; assuming each has a wife, with two children too young
to earn anything at field work.

American Laborer at 24s per week English Laborer, at 12s per

Weekly Expense $ c. s. d Weekly Expense s. d. $ c
for:-- for:--
------------------------------- ----------------------------
Food 3 50 = 14 7 Food 7 3 = 1
Rent and Taxes 0 67 = 2 9 Rent 1 2 = O
Fuel, average of
the year O 48 = 2 O For Fuel 1 O = O
For Clothes 1 0 = 4 2 For Clothes 2 1 = 0

Total Weekly Total Weekly
Expenses -------------- Expenses -----------
5 65 = 23 6 11 6 = 2
-------------- -----------

I think the American reader, who is personally acquainted with the
habits and domestic economy of our farm laborers, will regard this
estimate of their expenditures as quite moderate. I have assumed,
in both cases, that no time is lost in the week on account of
sickness, or of weather, or lack of employment; and all the
incidental expenses I have included in the four general items given.
It must also be conceded that our farm hands do not average more
than twenty-four English shillings, or $5 75c., per week, through
all the seasons of the year. The amount of expenditure allowed in
the foregoing estimate enables them to support themselves and their
families comfortably, if they are temperate and industrious; to
clothe and educate their children; to make bright and pleasant
homes, with well-spread tables, and to have respectable seats in
church on the Sabbath. On the other hand, we have assigned to the
English agricultural laborer what he would regard a proportionately
comfortable allowance for the wants of a week. We may not have
divided it correctly, but the total of the items is as great as he
would expect to expend on the current necessities of seven days. I
doubt if one in a thousand of the farm laborers of Great Britain
lays out more than the sum we have allotted for one week's food,
rent, and fuel and clothes. We then reach this result of the
balance-sheet of the two men. Their weekly savings hardly differ by
a penny; each amounting to about 5d., or 10 cents. At first sight,
it might seem, from this result, that the English farm laborer earns
half as much, lives half as well, and saves as much as the American.
But he has a resource for increasing his weekly savings which his
American competitor would work his fingers to the bone before he
would employ. His wife is able and willing to go with him into the
field and earn from three to five shillings a week. Then, if he
commutes with his employer, he will receive from him 4d. daily, or
2s. a week, for beer-money. Thus, if he and his wife are willing to
live, as such families do now, on bread, bacon and cheese, and such
vegetables as they can grow in their garden, they may lay up, from
their joint earnings, a dollar, or four shillings a week, provided a
sufficiently stimulating object be set before them. To me it is
surprising that they sustain so much human life on such small means.
They are often reproached for their want of wise economy; but never
was more keen ingenuity, more close balancing of pennies against
provisions than a great many of them practice and teach. Let the
most astute or utilitarian of social economists try the experiment
of housing, feeding and clothing himself, wife and six children too
young to earn anything, on ten or twelve shillings a week; and he
will learn something that his philosophy never dreamed of.

Even while bending under the weight of the beer-barrel, thousands of
agricultural laborers in England have accomplished wonders by their
indefatigable industry, integrity and economy. Put a future before
them with a sun in it--some object they may reach that is worth a
life's effort, and as large a proportion of them will work for it as
you will find in any other country. A servant girl told me recently
that her father was a Devonshire laborer, who worked the best years
of his life for seven shillings a week, and her mother for three,
when they had half a dozen children to feed and clothe. Yet, by
that unflagging industry and ingenious economy with which thousands
wrestle with the necessities of such a life and throw them, too,
they put saving to saving, until they were able to rent an acre of
orcharding, a large garden for vegetables, then buy a donkey and
cart, then a pony and cart, and load and drive them both to market
with their own and their neighbors' produce, starting from home at
two in the morning. In a few years they were able to open a little
grocery and provision shop, and are now taking their rank among the
tradespeople of the village. But if the farm servants of England
could only be induced to give up beer and lay by the money paid them
as a substitute, it alone would raise them to a new condition of
comfort, even independence. At 4d. a day commutation money, they
would have each 5 pounds at the end of the year. That would pay the
rent of two acres of land here; or it would buy five on the Illinois
Central Railroad. Three years' beer-money would pay for those rich
prairie acres, his fare by sea and land to them, and leave him 3
pounds in his pocket to begin their cultivation with. Three years
of this saving would make almost a new man of him at home, in the
way of self-respect, comfort and progress. It would be a "nest-
egg," to which hope, habit and a strengthening ambition would add
others of larger size and value from year to year.

Give, then, the British agricultural laborer good, healthy Housing,
Free Schooling, and let him empty the Jug into the Basket, and he
may work his way up to a very comfortable condition at home. But if
he should prefer to go to Australia or America, where land is cheap
and labor dear, in a few years he may save enough to take him to
either continent, with sufficient left in his pocket to begin life
in a new world.



Having now pursued a westerly direction until I was in the range of
a continuous upland section of country, I took a northward course
and walked on to Oundle, a goodly town in Northamptonshire, as
unique as its name. On the way, in crossing over to another
turnpike road, I passed through a large tract of land in a very
deshabille condition, rough, boggy and bushy. I soon found it was a
game-growing estate, and very productive of all sorts of birds and
small quadrupeds. The fields I crossed showed a promising crop of
hares and rabbits; and doubtless there were more partridges on that
square mile than in the whole State of Connecticut. This is a
characteristic of the country which will strike an American, at his
first visit, with wonder. He will see hares and rabbits bobbing
about on common farms, and partridges in broods, like separate
flocks of hens and chickens, in fields of grain, within a stone's
throw of the farmer's house. I doubt if any county in New England
produces so many in a year as the holding of Mr. Samuel Jonas
already described. Rabbits have been put out of the pale of
protection somewhat recently, I believe, and branded with the bad
name of _vermin_; so that the tenant farmer may kill them on his
occupation without leave or license from the landlord. It may
indicate their number to state the fact, that one hundred and
twenty-five head of them were killed in one day's shooting on Mr.
Jonas's estate by his sons and some of their friends.

It was market day in Oundle, and I had the pleasure of sitting down
to dinner with a large company of farmers and cattle and corn-
dealers. They were intelligent, substantial-looking men, with no
occupational peculiarity of dress or language to distinguish them
from ordinary middle-class gentlemen engaged in trade or
manufacture. Indeed, the old-fashioned English farmer, of the
great, round, purply-red face, aldermanic stature, and costume of
fifty years ago, speaking the dialect of his county with such
inimitable accent, is fast going out. I have not seen one during my
present sojourn in England. I fear he has disappeared altogether
with the old stage-coach, and that we have not pictures enough of
him left to give the rising generation any correct notion of what he
was, and how he looked. It may be a proper and utilitarian change,
but one can hardly notice without regret what transformations the
railway regime has wrought in customs and habits which once
individualised a country and people. A kind of French
centralisation in the world of fashion has been established, which
has over-ridden and obliterated all the dress boundaries of
civilised nations. All the upper and middle classes of Christendom
centre themselves to one focus of taste and merge into one plastic
commonwealth, to be shaped and moulded virtually by a common tailor.
Their coats, vests, pantaloons, boots and shoes are made
substantially after the same pattern. For a while, hats stood out
with some show of pluck and patriotism, and made a stand for
national individuality, but it was in vain. They, too, succumbed to
the inexorable law of Uniformity. That law was liberal in one
respect. It did not insist that the stove-pipe form should rule
inflexibly. It admitted several variations, including wide-awakes,
pliable felts, and that little, squat, lackadaisical, round-crown,
narrow-brimmed thing worn by the Prince of Wales in the photographs
taken of him and the Princess at Sandringham. But this has come to
be the rule: that hats shall no longer represent distinct
nationalities; that they shall be interchangeable in all civilised
communities; in a word, that neither Englishman, American, French
nor German shall be known by his hat, whatever be the form or
material of its body or brim. If there were a southern county in
England where the mercury stood at 100 degrees in the shade for two
or three summer months, the upper classes in it would don, without
any hesitation, the wide, flappy broadbrims of California, and still
be in the fashion,--that is, variety in uniformity. The peasantry,
or the lowest laboring classes of European countries, are now, and
will remain perhaps for a century to come, the only conservators of
the distinctive national costumes of bygone generations.

During the conversation at the table, a farmer exhibited a head of
the Hallett wheat, which he had grown on his land. I never saw
anything to equal it, in any country in which I have travelled. It
was nearly six inches in length, and seeded large and plump from top
to bottom. This is a variety produced by Mr. Hallett, of Brighton,
and is creating no little interest among English grain-growers.
Lord Burghley, who had tested its properties, thus describes it, in
a speech before the Northamptonshire Agricultural Society last

"At the Battersea Show last year, my attention was called to some
enormous ears of wheat, which I thought could not have been grown in
England. For, although the British farmer can grow corn with
anyone, I had never seen such wheat here, and thought it must be
foreign wheat. I went to the person who was threshing some out, and
having been informed that it was sown only with one seed in a hole,
I procured some of Mr. Hallett, of Brighton; and, being anxious to
try the system, I planted it according to Mr. Hallett's directions--
one grain in a hole, the holes nine and a half inches apart, with
six inches between the rows. To satisfy myself on the subject, I
also planted some according to Stephen's instructions, who said
three grains in a hole would produce the most profitable return. I
also planted some two grains in a hole. I sowed the grain at the
end of last September, on bad land, over an old quarry, and except
some stiff clay at the bottom of it, there was nothing in it good
for wheat. The other day I counted the stalks of all three. On Mr.
Stephen's plan of three grains in a hole, there were eighteen
stalks; with two grains in a hole, there was about the same number;
but with one seed in a hole, the lowest number of stalks was
sixteen, and the highest twenty-two. I planted only about half an
acre as a trial, and when I left home a few days since, it looked as
much like eight quarters (sixty-four bushels) to the acre as any I
have seen. The ears are something enormous. I would certainly
recommend every farmer to make his own experiments, for if it
succeeds, it will prove a great economy of seed; and drills to
distribute it fairly are to be had."

Truly one of Hallett's wheat ears might displace the old cornucopia
in that picture of happy abundance so familiar to old and young.
Here are twenty ears from one seed, containing probably a thousand
grains. The increase of a thousand-fold, or half that ratio, is
prodigious, having nothing to equal it in the vegetable world that
we know of. If one bushel of seed wheat could be so distributed by
a drill as to produce 500 or 250 bushels at the harvest, certainly
the staff of life would be greatly cheapened to the millions who
lean upon it alone for subsistence.

From Oundle I walked the next day to Stamford, a good, solid, old
English town, sitting on the corners of three counties, and on three
layers of history, Saxon, Dane and Norman. The first object of
interest was a stone bridge over the Nen at Oundle. It is a grand
structure to span such a little river. It must have cost three
times as much as "The Great Bridge" over the Connecticut at
Hartford; and yet the stream it crosses is a mere rivulet compared
with our New England river. "The bridge with wooden piers" is a
fabric of fancy to most English people. They have read of such a
thing in Longfellow's poems, but hardly realise that it exists still
in civilised countries. Here bridges are works of art as well as of
utility, and rank next to the grand old cathedrals and parish
churches for solidity and symmetry. Their stone arches are
frequently turned with a grace as fine as any in St. Paul's, and
their balustrades and butments often approach the domain of

Crossing the Nen, I followed it for several miles in a northerly
direction. I soon came to a rather low, level section of the road,
and noticed stones placed at the side of it, at narrow intervals,
for a long distance to the very foot of a village situated on a
rising ground. These stones were evidently taken from some ancient
edifice, for many of them bore the marks of the old cathedral or
castle chisel. They were the foot-tracks of a ruined monument of
dark and painful history. More than this might be said of them.
They were the blood-drops of a monstrosity chased from its den and
hunted down by the people, who shuddered with horror at its
sanguinary record of violence and wrong. As I approached the quiet
village, whose pleasant-faced houses, great and small, looked like a
congregation of old and young sitting reverently around the parish
church and listening to the preaching of the belfry, I saw where
these stones came from. There, on that green, ridgy slope, where
the lambs lay in the sun by the river, these stones, and a million
more scattered hither and thither, once stood in walls high, hideous
and wrathful, for half a dozen centuries and more. If the
breathings of human woe, if the midnight misery of wretched, broken
hearts, could have penetrated these stones, one might almost fancy
that they would have sweat with human histories in the ditch where
they lay, and discolored the puddles they bridged with the bitter
distilment of grief centuries old. On that gentle rising from the
little Nen stood Fotheringay Castle. That central depression among
the soft-carpeted ridges marks the site of the donjon huge and
horrid, where many a knight and lady of noble blood was pinioned or
penned in darkness and hopeless duress centuries before the
unfortunate Mary was born. There nearly half the sad years of her
young life and beauty were prisoned. There she pined in the
sickness of hope deferred, in the corroding anguish of dread
uncertainty, for a space as wide as that between the baptismal font
and presentation at Elizabeth's court. There she laid her white
neck upon the block. There fell the broad axe of Elizabeth's envy,
fear and hate. There fell the fair-haired head that once gilded a
crown and wore all the glory of regal courts--still beautiful in the
setting light of farewell thoughts.

It may be truly said of Fotheringay Castle, that not one stone is
left upon another to mark its foundations. Not Fleet-street Prison,
nor the Bastille itself, went out under a heavier weight of popular
odium. Although public sentiment, as well as the personal taste and
interest of their proprietors, has favored the preservation of the
ruins of old castles and abbeys in Great Britain, Fotheringay bore,
branded deep in its forehead, the mark of Cain, and every man's
hand, of the last generation, seemed to have been turned against it.
It has not only been demolished, but the debris have been scattered
far and wide, and devoted to uses which they scarcely honor. You
will see the well-faced stones for miles around, in garden walls,
pavements, cottage hearths and chimneys, in stables and cow-houses.
In Oundle, the principal hotel, a large castellated building, shows
its whole front built of them.

The great lion of Stamford is the Burghley House, the palace of the
Marquis of Exeter. It may be called so without exaggeration of its
magnificence as a building or of the extent and grandeur of its
surroundings. The edifice itself would cut up into nearly half a
dozen "White Houses," such as we install our American Presidents in
at Washington. Certainly, in any point of view, it is large and
splendid enough for the residence of an emperor and his suite. Its
towers, turrets and spires present a picturesque grove of
architecture of different ages, and its windows, it is said, equal
in number all the days of the year. It was not open to the public
the day I was in Stamford, so I could only walk around it and
estimate its interior by its external grandeur.

But there was an outside world of architecture in the park of
sublimer features to me than even the great palace itself, with all
its ornate and elaborate sculpture. It was the architecture of the
majestic elms and oaks that stood in long ranks and folded their
hands, high up in the blue sky, above the finely-gravelled walks
that radiated outward in different directions. They all wore the
angles and arches of the Gothic order and the imperial belt of
several centuries. I walked down one long avenue and counted them
on either side. There were not sixty on both; yet their green and
graceful roofage reached a full third of a mile. Not sixty to
pillar and turn such an arch as that! I sat down on a seat at the
end to think of it. There was a morning service going on in this
Cathedral of Nature. The dew-moistened, foliated arches so lofty,
so interwebbed with wavy, waky spangles of sky, were all set to the
music of the anthem. "The street musicians of the heavenly city"
were singing one of its happiest hymns out of their mellow throats.
The long and lofty orchestra was full of them. Their twittering
treble shook the leaves with its breath, as it filtered down and
flooded the temple below. Beautiful is this building of God!
Beautiful and blessed are these morning singing-birds of His praise!

But do not go yet. No; I will not. Here is the only book I carry
with me on this walk--a Hebrew Psalter, stowed away in my knapsack.
I will open it here and now, and the first words my eye lights upon
shall be a text for a few thoughts on this scene and scenery. And
here they are,--seemingly not apposite to this line of reflection,
yet running parallel to it very closely:


The best English that can be given of these words we have in our
translation: "Blessed is he who, passing through the valley of
Baca, maketh it a well." Why so? On what ground? If a man had
settled down in that valley for life, there would have been no merit
in his making it a well. It might, in that case, have been an act
of lean-hearted selfishness on his part. Further than this, a man
might have done it who could have had the heart to wall it in from
the reach of thirsty travellers. No such man was meant in the
blessing; nor any man resident in or near the valley. It was he who
was "passing through" it, and who stopped, not to search for a
dribbling vein of water to satisfy his own momentary thirst, but to
make a well, broad and deep, after the oriental circumference, at
which all future travellers that way might drink with gladness.
That was the man on whom the blessing rested as a _condition_, not
as a _wish_. Look at the word, and get the right meaning of it. It
is [HEBREW WORD], not [HEBREW WORD]; it is a blessedness, not a
benediction. It means a permanent reality of happiness, like that
of Obededom, not a cheap "I thank you!" or "the Lord bless you!"
from here and there a man or woman who appreciates the benefaction.

And he deserves the same who, "passing through" the short years of
man's life here on earth, plants trees like the living, lofty
columns of this long cathedral aisle. How unselfish and generous is
this gift to coming generations! How inestimable in its value and
surpassing the worth of wealth!--surpassing the measurement of gold
and silver! From my seat here, I look up to the magnificent
frontage of that baronial palace. I see its towers, turrets and
minarets; its grand and sculptured gateways and portals through this
long, leaf-arched aisle. Not forty, but nearer four hundred years,
doubtless, was that pile in building. Architecture of the pre-
Norman period, and of all subsequent or cognate orders, diversifies
the tastes and shapings of the structure. Suppose the whole should
take fire to-night and burn to the ground. The wealth of the owner
could command genius, skill and labor enough to rebuild it in three
years, perhaps in one. The Czar of all the Russias did as large a
thing once as this last, in the reconstruction of a palace. Perhaps
the building is insured for its positive value, and the insurance
money would erect a better one. But lift an axe upon that tall
centurion of these templed elms. Cut through the closely-grained
rings that register each succeeding year of two centuries. Hear the
peculiar sounding of the heart-strokes, when the lofty, well-poised
structure is balancing itself, and quivering through every fibre and
leaf and twig on the few unsevered tendons that have not yet felt
the keen edge of the woodman's steel. See the first leaning it
cannot recover. Hear the first cracking of the central vertebra;
then the mournful, moaning whir in the air; then the tremendous
crash upon the green earth; the vibration of the mighty trunk on the
ground, like the writhing and tremor of an ox struck by the
butcher's axe; the rebound into the air of dismembered branches; the
frightened flight of leaves and dust, and all the other distractions
of that hour of death and destruction. Look upon that ruin! The
wealth, genius and labor that could build a hundred Windsor Castles,
and rebuild all the cathedrals of England in a decade, could not
rebuild in two centuries that elm to the life and stature you
levelled to the dust in two hours.

Put, then, the man who plants trees for posterity with him who,
"passing through the valley of Baca, maketh it a well." Put him
under the same blessing of his kind, for he deserves it. He gives
them the richest earthly gift that a man can give to a coming
generation. In a practical sense, he gives them _time_. He gives
them a whole century, as an extra. If they would pay a gold
sovereign for every solid inch of oak, they could not hire one built
to the stature of one of these trees in less than two centuries'
time, though they dug about it and nursed it as the man did the vine
in Scripture. Blessed be the builders of these living temples of
Nature! Blessed be the man, rich or poor, old or young, especially
the old, who sets his heart and hand to this cheap but sublime and
priceless architecture.

Let connoisseurs who have seen Memphis, Nineveh, Athens, Rome, or
any or all of the great cities of the East, ancient or modern, come
and sit here, and look at this lofty corridor, and mark the orders
and graces of its architecture. What did the Ptolemies, their
predecessors or successors in Egypt, or sovereigns of Chaldaic
names, in Assyria, or ambitious builders in the ages of Pericles or
Augustus, in Greece or Rome? Their structures were the wonders of
the world. Mighty men they were, whose will was law, whose subjects
worked it out to its wildest impulse without a murmur or a reward.
But who built this sixty-columned temple, and bent these lofty
arches? Two or three centuries ago, two men in coarse garb, and, it
may be, in wooden shoes, came here with a donkey, bearing on its
back a bundle of little elms, each of a finger's girth. They came
with the rude pick and spade of that time; and, in the first six
working hours of the day, they dug thirty holes on this side of the
aisle, and planted in them half the tiny trees of their bundle.
They then sat down at noon to their bread and cheese and, most
likely, a mug of ale, and talked of small, home matters, just as if
they were dibbling in a small patch of wheat or potatoes. They then
went to work again and planted the other row; and, as the sun was
going down, they straightened their backs, and, with hands stayed
upon their hips, looked up and down the two lines and thought they
would pass muster and please the master. Then they shouldered their
brightened tools and went home to their low, dark cottages,
discussing the prices of bread, beer and bacon, and whether the
likes of them could manage to keep a pig and make a little meat in
the year for themselves.

That is the story of this most magnificent structure to which you
look up with such admiration. Those two men in smock frocks, each
with a pocket full of bread and cheese, were the Michael Angelos of
this lofty St. Peter's. That donkey, with its worn panniers, was
the only witness and helper of their work. And it was the work of a
day! They may have been paid two English shillings for it. The
little trees may have cost two shillings more, if taken from another
estate. The donkey's day was worth sixpence. O, wooden-shoed
Ptolemies! what a day's work was that for the world! They thought
nothing of it--nothing more than they would of transplanting sixty
cabbages. They most likely did the same thing the next day, and for
most of the days of that year, and of the next year, until all these
undulating acres were planted with trees of every kind that could
grow in these latitudes. How cheap, but priceless, is the gift of
such trees to mankind! What a wealth, what a glory of them can even
a poor, laboring man give to a coming generation! They are the most
generous crops ever sown by human hands. All others the sower reaps
and garners into his own personal enjoyment; but this yields its
best harvest to those who come after him. This is a seeding for
posterity. From this well of Baca shall they draw the cooling
luxury of the gift when the hands that made it shall have gone to

And this is a good place and time to think of home--of what we begin
to hear called by her younger children, _Old_ New England. Trees
with us have passed through the two periods specified by Solomon--"a
time to plant and a time to pluck up." The last came first and
lasted for a century. Trees were the natural enemies to the first
settlers, and ranked in their estimation with the wild Indians,
wolves and bears. It was their first, great business to cut them
down, both great and small. Forests fell before the woodman's axe.
It made clean work, and seldom spared an oak or an elm. But, at the
end of a century, the people relented and felt their mistake. Then
commenced "the time to plant;" first in and around cities like
Boston, Hartford, and New Haven, then about villages and private
homesteads. Tree-planting for use and ornament marks and measures
the footsteps of our civilization. The present generation is
reaping a full reward of this gift to the next. Every village now
is coming to be embowered in this green legacy to the future; like a
young mother decorating a Christmas-tree for her children. Towns
two hundred years old are taking the names of this diversified
architecture, and they glory in the title. New Haven, with a
college second to none on the American Continent, loves to be called
"The Elm City," before any other name. This generous and elevating
taste is making its way from ocean to ocean, even marking the sites
of towns and villages before they are built. I believe there is an
act of the Connecticut Legislature now in force, which allows every
farmer a certain sum of money for every tree he plants along the
public roadside of his fields. The object of this is to line all
the highways of the State with ornamental trees, so that each shall
be a well-shaded avenue. What a gift to another generation that
simple act is intended to make! What a world of wonder and delight
will our little State be to European travellers and tourists of the
next century, if this measure shall be carried out! If a few miles
of such avenues as Burghley Park and Chatsworth present, command
such admiration, what sentiments would a continuous avenue of trees
of equal size from Hartford to New Haven inspire!

While on this line of reflection, I will mention a case of
monumental tree-planting in New England, not very widely known
there. A small town, in the heart of Massachusetts, was stirred to
the liveliest emotion, with all the rest in her borders, by the
Declaration of Independence in 1776. Different communities
expressed their sense of the importance of this event in different
ways, most of which were noisy and excited. But the good people of
this rural parish came together, and, at a happy suggestion from
some one of their number, agreed to spend the day in planting trees
to commemorate the momentous transaction. They forthwith set to
work, young and old, and planted first a double row on each side of
the walk from the main road up "The Green" to their church door;
then a row on each side of the public highway passing through the
village, for nearly a mile in each direction. There was a blessed
day's work for them, their children and children's children. Every
hand that wielded a spade, or held up a treelet until its roots were
covered with earth, has long since lost its cunning; but the tall,
green monuments they erected to the memory of the most momentous day
in American history, stand in unbroken ranks, the glory of the

Although America will never equal England, probably, in compact and
picturesque "plantations," or "woods," covering hundreds of acres,
all planted by hand, our shade-trees will outnumber hers, and
surpass them in picturesque distribution and arrangement, when our
popular programme is fully carried out. In two or three important
particulars, we have a considerable advantage over this country in
respect to this tasteful embellishment. In the first place, all the
farmers in America own the lands they cultivate, and, on an average,
two sides of every farm front upon a public road. Two or three
days' work suffices for planting a row of trees the whole length of
this frontage, or the roadside of the farmer's fence or wall. This
is being done more and more extensively from year to year, generally
under the influence of public taste and custom, and sometimes under
the stimulus of governmental compensation, as in Connecticut. Thus,
in the life of the present generation, all our main roads and cross-
roads may become arched and shaded avenues, giving the whole
landscape of the country an aspect which no other land will present.

Then we have another great advantage which England can never attain
until she learns how to consume her coal smoke. Our wood and
anthracite fires make no smoke to retard the growth or blacken the
foliage of our trees. Thus we may have them in standing armies,
tall and green, lining the streets, and overtopping the houses of
our largest cities; filtering with their wholesome leafage the air
breathed by the people. New Haven and Cleveland are good specimens
of beautifully-shaded towns.

There is a third circumstance in our favor as yet, and of no little
value. The grand old English oak and elm are magnificent trees, in
park or hedge-row here. The horse-chestnut, lime, beech and ash
grow to a size that you will not see in America. The Spanish
chestnut, a larger and coarser tree than our American, reaches an
enormous girth and spread. The pines, larches and firs abound.
Then there are tree-hunters exploring all the continents, and
bringing new species from Japan and other antipodean countries. But
as yet, our maples have never been introduced; and without these the
tree-world of any country must ever lack a beautiful feature, both
in spring, summer and autumn, especially in the latter. Our
autumnal scenery without the maple, would be like the play of Hamlet
with Hamlet left out; or like a royal court without a queen. Few
Americans, even loudest in its praise, realise how much of the glory
of our Indian summer landscape is shed upon it by this single tree.
At all the Flower Shows I have seen in England and France, I have
never beheld a bouquet so glorious and beautiful as a little islet
in a small pellucid lake in Maine, filled to the brim, and rounded
up like a full-blown rose, with firs, larches, white birches and
soft maples, with a little sprinkling of the sumach. An early frost
had touched the group with every tint of the rainbow, and there it
stood in the ruddy glow of the Indian summer, looking at its face in
the liquid mirror that smiled, still as glass, under its feet.

I was much pleased to notice what honor was put upon one of our
humble and despised trees in Burghley House park, as in the grounds
of other noblemen. There was not one that spread such delicate and
graceful tresses on the breeze as our White Birch; not one that
fanned it with such a gentle, musical flutter of silver-lined
leaves; not one that wore a bodice of such virgin white from head to
foot, or that showed such long, tapering fingers against the sky. I
was glad to see such justice done to a tree in the noblest parks in
England, which with us has been treated with such disdain and
contumely. When I saw it here in such glory and honor, and thought
how, notwithstanding its Caucasian complexion, it is regarded as a
nuisance in our woods, meadows and pastures, so that any man who
owns, or can borrow an axe, may cut it down without leave or license
wherever he finds it--when I saw this disparity in its status in the
two Englands, I resolved to plead its cause in my own with new zeal
and fidelity.



From Stamford to Oakham was an afternoon walk which I greatly
enjoyed. This was the first week of harvest, and the first of
August. How wonderfully the seasons are localised and subdivided.
How diversified is the economy of light and heat! That field of
wheat, thick, tall and ripe for the sickle, was green and apparently
growing through all the months of last winter. What a phenomenon it
would have been, on the first of February last, to a New England
farmer, suddenly transported from his snow-buried hills to the view
of this landscape the same day! Not a spire of grass or grain was
alive when he left his own homestead. All was cold and dead. The
very earth was frozen to the solidity and sound of granite. It was
a relief to his eye to see the snow fall upon the scene and hide it
two feet deep for months. He looks upon this, then upon the one he
left behind. This looks full of luxuriant life, as green as his in
May. It has three months' start of his dead and buried crop. He
walks across it; his shoes sink almost to the instep in the soft
soil. He sees birds hopping about in it without overcoats. Surely,
he says to himself, this is a favored land. Here it lies on the
latitudes of Labrador, and yet its midwinter fields are as green as
ours in the last month of Spring. At this rate the farmers here
must harvest their wheat before the ears of mine are formed. But he
counts without Nature. The American sun overtakes and distances the
English by a full month. Here is the compensation for six
consecutive months in which the New England farmer must house his
plough and not turn a furrow.

Doubtless, as much light and heat brighten and warm one country as
the other in the aggregate of a year. But there is a great
difference in the economy of distribution. In England, the sun
spreads its warmth more evenly over the four seasons of the year.
What it withholds from Summer it gives to Winter, and makes it wear
the face of Spring through its shortest and coldest days. But then
Spring loses a little from this equalising dispensation. It is not
the resurrection from death and the grave as it is in America.
Children are not waiting here at the sepulchre of the season, as
with us, watching and listening for its little Bluebird angel to
warble from the first budding tree top, "_It is risen_!" They do
not come running home with happy eyes, dancing for joy, and shouting
through the half open door, "O, mother, Spring has come! We've
heard the Bluebird! Hurrah! Spring has come. We saw the Phebee on
the top of the saw-mill!" Here Spring makes no sensation; takes no
sudden leap into the seat of Winter, but comes in gently, like the
law of primogeniture or the British Constitution. It is slow and
decorous in its movements. It is conservative, treats its
predecessor with much deference, and makes no sudden and radical
changes in the face of things. It comes in with no Lord Mayor's
Day, and blows no trumpets, and bends no triumphal arches to grace
its entree. Few new voices in the tree-tops hail its advent. No
choirs of tree-toads fiddle in the fens. No congregation of frogs
at twilight gather to the green edges of the unfettered pond to sing
their Old Hundred, led by venerable Signor Cronker, in his bright,
buskin doublet, mounted on a floating stump, and beating time with a
bulrush. No Shad-spirits with invisible wings, perform their
undulating vespers in the heavens, to let the fishermen know that it
is time to look to their nets. Even the hens of the farm-yard
cackle with no new tone of hope and animation at the birth of the
English Spring. The fact is, it is a baby three months old when it
is baptised. It is really born at Christmas instead of Easter, and
makes no more stir in the family circle of the seasons than any
familiar face would at a farmer's table.

In a utilitarian point of view, it is certainly an immense advantage
to all classes in this country, that Nature has tempered her
climates to it in this kindly way. I will not run off upon that
line of reflection here, but will make it the subject of a few
thoughts somewhere this side of John O'Groat's. But what England
gains over us in the practical, she loses in the poetical, in this
economy of the seasons. Her Spring does not thrill like a sudden
revelation, as with us. It does not come out like the new moon,
hanging its delicate silver crescent in the western pathway of the
setting sun, which everybody tries to see first over the right
shoulder, for the very luck of the coincidence. Still, both
countries should be contented and happy under this dispensation of
Nature. The balance is very satisfactory, and well suited to the
character and habits of the two peoples. The Americans are more
radical and sensational than the English; more given to sudden
changes and stirring events. Sterne generally gets the credit of
saying that pretty thought first, "Providence tempers the wind to

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