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Book of Rural Rides, by William Cobbett


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Title: Rural Rides

Author: William Cobbett

Release Date: November 8, 2010 [EBook #34238]

Language: English

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RURAL RIDES by William Cobbett T. Nelson & Sons

 

 


[Pg i]

CONTENTS.

Rural Ride from London, through Newbury, to Burghclere, Hurstbourn Tarrant, Marlborough, and Cirencester, to Gloucester5
Rural Ride from Gloucester, to Bollitree in Herefordshire, Ross, Hereford, Abingdon, Oxford, Cheltenham, Burghclere, Whitchurch, Uphurstbourn, and thence to Kensington21
Rural Ride from Kensington to Dartford, Rochester, Chatham, and Faversham40
Norfolk and Suffolk Journal45
Rural Ride from Kensington to Battle, through Bromley, Sevenoaks, and Tunbridge54
Rural Ride through Croydon, Godstone, East Grinstead, and Uckfield, to Lewes, and Brighton; returning by Cuckfield, Worth, and Red-hill61
Rural Ride from London, through Ware and Royston, to Huntingdon73
Rural Ride from Kensington to St. Albans, through Edgware, Stanmore, and Watford, returning by Redbourn, Hempstead, and Chesham78
[Pg ii]Rural Ride from Kensington to Uphusband; including a Rustic Harangue at Winchester, at a Dinner with the Farmers85
Rural Ride through Hampshire, Berkshire, Surrey, and Sussex107
Rural Ride from Kensington to Worth, in Sussex148
Rural Ride from the (London) Wen across Surrey, across the West of Sussex, and into the South-East of Hampshire150
Rural Ride through the South-East of Hampshire, back through the South-West of Surrey, along the Weald of Surrey, and then over the Surrey Hills down to the Wen171
Rural Ride through the North-East part of Sussex, and all across Kent, from the Weald of Sussex, to Dover200
Rural Ride from Dover, through the Isle of Thanet, by Canterbury and Faversham, across to Maidstone, up to Tonbridge, through the Weald of Kent and over the Hills by Westerham and Hays, to the Wen221
Rural Ride from Kensington, across Surrey, and along that county245
Rural Ride from Chilworth, in Surrey, to Winchester256
Rural Ride from Winchester to Burghclere269
Rural Ride from Burghclere to Petersfield287
Rural Ride from Petersfield to Kensington296
Rural Ride down the Valley of the Avon in Wiltshire327
Rural Ride from Salisbury to Warminster, from Warminster to Frome, from Frome to Devizes, and from Devizes to Highworth348
Rural Ride from Highworth to Cricklade, and thence to Malmsbury368
[Pg iii]Rural Ride from Malmsbury, in Wiltshire, through Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, and Worcestershire386
Rural Ride from Ryall, in Worcestershire, to Burghclere, in Hampshire405
Rural Ride from Burghclere, to Lyndhurst, in the New Forest426
Rural Ride from Lyndhurst to Beaulieu Abbey; thence to Southampton, and Weston; thence to Botley, Allington, West End, near Hambledon; and thence to Petersfield, Thursley, and Godalming449
Rural Ride from Weston, near Southampton, to Kensington462
Rural Ride to Tring, in Hertfordshire485
Northern Tour494
Eastern Tour498
Midland Tour535
Tour in the West550
Progress in the North551

[Pg iv]

 

 


[Pg 5]

RURAL RIDES, ETC.

JOURNAL: FROM LONDON, THROUGH NEWBURY, TO BERGHCLERE, HURSTBOURN TARRANT, MARLBOROUGH, AND CIRENCESTER, TO GLOUCESTER.

 

Berghclere, near Newbury, Hants,
October 30, 1821, Tuesday (Evening).

Fog that you might cut with a knife all the way from London to Newbury. This fog does not wet things. It is rather a smoke than a fog. There are no two things in this world; and, were it not for fear of Six-Acts (the “wholesome restraint” of which I continually feel) I might be tempted to carry my comparison further; but, certainly, there are no two things in this world so dissimilar as an English and a Long Island autumn.—These fogs are certainly the white clouds that we sometimes see aloft. I was once upon the Hampshire Hills, going from Soberton Down to Petersfield, where the hills are high and steep, not very wide at their base, very irregular in their form and direction, and have, of course, deep and narrow valleys winding about between them. In one place that I had to pass, two of these valleys were cut asunder by a piece of hill that went across them and formed a sort of bridge from one long hill to another. A little before I came to this sort of bridge I saw a smoke flying across it; and, not knowing the way by experience, I said to the person who was with me, “there is the turnpike road (which we were expecting to come to); for, don’t you see the dust?” The day was very fine, the sun clear, and the weather dry. When we came to the pass, however, we found ourselves, not in dust, but in a fog. After getting over the pass, we looked down into the valleys, and there we saw the fog going along the valleys to the North, in detached parcels, that is to say, in clouds, and, as they came to the pass, they rose, went over it, then descended[Pg 6] again, keeping constantly along just above the ground. And, to-day, the fog came by spells. It was sometimes thinner than at other times; and these changes were very sudden too. So that I am convinced that these fogs are dry clouds, such as those that I saw on the Hampshire Downs. Those did not wet me at all; nor do these fogs wet any thing; and I do not think that they are by any means injurious to health.—It is the fogs that rise out of swamps, and other places, full of putrid vegetable matter, that kill people. These are the fogs that sweep off the new settlers in the American Woods. I remember a valley in Pennsylvania, in a part called Wysihicken. In looking from a hill, over this valley, early in the morning, in November, it presented one of the most beautiful sights that my eyes ever beheld. It was a sea bordered with beautifully formed trees of endless variety of colours. As the hills formed the outsides of the sea, some of the trees showed only their tops; and, every now-and-then, a lofty tree growing in the sea itself raised its head above the apparent waters. Except the setting-sun sending his horizontal beams through all the variety of reds and yellows of the branches of the trees in Long Island, and giving, at the same time, a sort of silver cast to the verdure beneath them, I have never seen anything so beautiful as the foggy valley of the Wysihicken. But I was told that it was very fatal to the people; and that whole families were frequently swept off by the “fall-fever.”—Thus the smell has a great deal to do with health. There can be no doubt that Butchers and their wives fatten upon the smell of meat. And this accounts for the precept of my grandmother, who used to tell me to bite my bread and smell to my cheese; talk, much more wise than that of certain old grannies, who go about England crying up “the blessings” of paper-money, taxes, and national debts.

The fog prevented me from seeing much of the fields as I came along yesterday; but the fields of Swedish Turnips that I did see were good; pretty good; though not clean and neat like those in Norfolk. The farmers here, as every where else, complain most bitterly; but they hang on, like sailors to the masts or hull of a wreck. They read, you will observe, nothing but the country newspapers; they, of course, know nothing of the cause of their “bad times.” They hope “the times will mend.” If they quit business, they must sell their stock; and, having thought this worth so much money, they cannot endure the thought of selling for a third of the sum. Thus they hang on; thus the landlords will first turn the farmers’ pockets inside out; and then their turn comes. To finish the present farmers will not take long. There has been stout fight going on all this morning (it is now 9 o’clock) between the sun and the fog. I[Pg 7] have backed the former, and he appears to have gained the day; for he is now shining most delightfully.

Came through a place called “a park” belonging to a Mr. Montague, who is now abroad; for the purpose, I suppose, of generously assisting to compensate the French people for what they lost by the entrance of the Holy Alliance Armies into their country. Of all the ridiculous things I ever saw in my life this place is the most ridiculous. The house looks like a sort of church, in somewhat of a gothic style of building, with crosses on the tops of different parts of the pile. There is a sort of swamp, at the foot of a wood, at no great distance from the front of the house. This swamp has been dug out in the middle to show the water to the eye; so that there is a sort of river, or chain of diminutive lakes, going down a little valley, about 500 yards long, the water proceeding from the soak of the higher ground on both sides. By the sides of these lakes there are little flower gardens, laid out in the Dutch manner; that is to say, cut out into all manner of superficial geometrical figures. Here is the grand en petit, or mock magnificence, more complete than I ever beheld it before. Here is a fountain, the basin of which is not four feet over, and the water spout not exceeding the pour from a tea-pot. Here is a bridge over a river of which a child four years old would clear the banks at a jump. I could not have trusted myself on the bridge for fear of the consequences to Mr. Montague; but I very conveniently stepped over the river, in imitation of the Colossus. In another part there was a lion’s mouth spouting out water into the lake, which was so much like the vomiting of a dog, that I could almost have pitied the poor Lion. In short, such fooleries I never before beheld; but what I disliked most was the apparent impiety of a part of these works of refined taste. I did not like the crosses on the dwelling house; but, in one of the gravel walks, we had to pass under a gothic arch, with a cross on the top of it, and in the point of the arch a niche for a saint or a virgin, the figure being gone through the lapse of centuries, and the pedestal only remaining as we so frequently see on the outsides of Cathedrals and of old Churches and Chapels. But, the good of it was, this gothic arch, disfigured by the hand of old Father Time, was composed of Scotch fir wood, as rotten as a pear; nailed together in such a way as to make the thing appear, from a distance, like the remnant of a ruin! I wonder how long this sickly, this childish, taste is to remain. I do not know who this gentleman is. I suppose he is some honest person from the ’Change or its neighbourhood; and that these gothic arches are to denote the antiquity of his origin! Not a bad plan; and, indeed, it is one that I once took the liberty to recommend to those Fundlords[Pg 8] who retire to be country-’squires. But I never recommended the Crucifixes! To be sure, the Roman Catholic religion may, in England, be considered as a gentleman’s religion, it being the most ancient in the country; and therefore it is fortunate for a Fundlord when he happens (if he ever do happen) to be of that faith.

This gentleman may, for anything that I know, be a Catholic; in which case I applaud his piety and pity his taste. At the end of this scene of mock grandeur and mock antiquity I found something more rational; namely, some hare hounds, and, in half an hour after, we found, and I had the first hare-hunt that I had had since I wore a smock-frock! We killed our hare after good sport, and got to Berghclere in the evening to a nice farm-house in a dell, sheltered from every wind, and with plenty of good living; though with no gothic arches made of Scotch fir!

 

October 31. Wednesday.

A fine day. Too many hares here; but our hunting was not bad; or, at least, it was a great treat to me, who used, when a boy, to have my legs and thighs so often filled with thorns in running after the hounds, anticipating, with pretty great certainty, a “waling” of the back at night. We had greyhounds a part of the day; but the ground on the hills is so flinty, that I do not like the country for coursing. The dogs’ legs are presently cut to pieces.

 

Nov. 1. Thursday.

Mr. Budd has Swedish Turnips, Mangel-Wurzel, and Cabbages of various kinds, transplanted. All are very fine indeed. It is impossible to make more satisfactory experiments in transplanting than have been made here. But this is not a proper place to give a particular account of them. I went to see the best cultivated parts round Newbury; but I saw no spot with half the “feed” that I see here, upon a spot of similar extent.

 

Hurstbourn Tarrant, Hants,
Nov. 2. Friday.

This place is commonly called Uphusband, which is, I think, as decent a corruption of names as one would wish to meet with. However, Uphusband the people will have it, and Uphusband it shall be for me. I came from Berghclere this morning, and through the park of Lord Caernarvon, at Highclere. It is a fine season to look at woods. The oaks are still covered, the beeches in their best dress, the elms yet pretty green, and the beautiful ashes only beginning to turn off. This is, according to my[Pg 9] fancy, the prettiest park that I have ever seen. A great variety of hill and dell. A good deal of water, and this, in one part, only wants the colours of American trees to make it look like a “creek;” for the water runs along at the foot of a steepish hill, thickly covered with trees, and the branches of the lowermost trees hang down into the water and hide the bank completely. I like this place better than Fonthill, Blenheim, Stowe, or any other gentleman’s grounds that I have seen. The house I did not care about, though it appears to be large enough to hold half a village. The trees are very good, and the woods would be handsomer if the larches and firs were burnt, for which only they are fit. The great beauty of the place is the lofty downs, as steep, in some places, as the roof of a house, which form a sort of boundary, in the form of a part of a crescent, to about a third part of the park, and then slope off and get more distant, for about half another third part. A part of these downs is covered with trees, chiefly beech, the colour of which, at this season, forms a most beautiful contrast with that of the down itself, which is so green and so smooth! From the vale in the park, along which we rode, we looked apparently almost perpendicularly up at the downs, where the trees have extended themselves by seed more in some places than others, and thereby formed numerous salient parts of various forms, and, of course, as many and as variously formed glades. These, which are always so beautiful in forests and parks, are peculiarly beautiful in this lofty situation and with verdure so smooth as that of these chalky downs. Our horses beat up a score or two of hares as we crossed the park; and, though we met with no gothic arches made of Scotch fir, we saw something a great deal better; namely, about forty cows, the most beautiful that I ever saw, as to colour at least. They appear to be of the Galway-breed. They are called, in this country, Lord Caernarvon’s breed. They have no horns, and their colour is a ground of white with black or red spots, these spots being from the size of a plate to that of a crown piece; and some of them have no small spots. These cattle were lying down together in the space of about an acre of ground: they were in excellent condition, and so fine a sight of the kind I never saw. Upon leaving the park, and coming over the hills to this pretty vale of Uphusband, I could not help calculating how long it might be before some Jew would begin to fix his eye upon Highclere, and talk of putting out the present owner, who, though a Whig, is one of the best of that set of politicians, and who acted a manly part in the case of our deeply injured and deeply lamented Queen. Perhaps his Lordship thinks that there is no fear of the Jews as to him. But does he think that his tenants can sell fat hogs at 7s. 6d. a score, and[Pg 10] pay him more than a third of the rent that they have paid him while the debt was contracting? I know that such a man does not lose his estate at once; but, without rents, what is the estate? And that the Jews will receive the far greater part of his rents is certain, unless the interest of the Debt be reduced. Lord Caernarvon told a man, in 1820, that he did not like my politics. But what did he mean by my politics? I have no politics but such as he ought to like. I want to do away with that infernal system, which, after having beggared and pauperized the Labouring Classes, has now, according to the Report, made by the Ministers themselves to the House of Commons, plunged the owners of the land themselves into a state of distress, for which those Ministers themselves can hold out no remedy! To be sure, I labour most assiduously to destroy a system of distress and misery; but is that any reason why a Lord should dislike my politics? However, dislike or like them, to them, to those very politics, the Lords themselves must come at last. And that I should exult in this thought, and take little pains to disguise my exultation, can surprise nobody who reflects on what has passed within these last twelve years. If the Landlords be well; if things be going right with them; if they have fair prospects of happy days; then what need they care about me and my politics; but, if they find themselves in “distress,” and do not know how to get out of it; and, if they have been plunged into this distress by those who “dislike my politics;” is there not some reason for men of sense to hesitate a little before they condemn those politics? If no great change be wanted; if things could remain even; then men may, with some show of reason, say that I am disturbing that which ought to be let alone. But if things cannot remain as they are; if there must be a great change; is it not folly, and, indeed, is it not a species of idiotic perverseness, for men to set their faces, without rhyme or reason, against what is said as to this change by me, who have, for nearly twenty years, been warning the country of its danger, and foretelling that which has now come to pass and is coming to pass? However, I make no complaint on this score. People disliking my politics “neither picks my pocket, nor breaks my leg,” as Jefferson said by the writings of the Atheists. If they be pleased in disliking my politics, I am pleased in liking them; and so we are both enjoying ourselves. If the country wants no assistance from me, I am quite sure that I want none from it.

 

Nov. 3. Saturday.

Fat hogs have lately sold, in this village, at 7s. 6d. a score (but would hardly bring that now), that is to say, at 4½d. a pound.[Pg 11] The hog is weighed whole, when killed and dressed. The head and feet are included; but so is the lard. Hogs fatted on peas or barley-meal may be called the very best meat that England contains. At Salisbury (only about 20 miles off) fat hogs sell for 5s. to 4s. 6d. a score. But, then, observe, these are dairy hogs, which are not nearly so good in quality as the corn-fed hogs. But I shall probably hear more about these prices as I get further towards the West. Some wheat has been sold at Newbury-market for 6l. a load (40 bushels); that is, at 3s. a bushel. A considerable part of the crop is wholly unfit for bread flour, and is not equal in value to good barley. In not a few instances the wheat has been carried into the gate, or yard, and thrown down to be made dung of. So that, if we were to take the average, it would not exceed, I am convinced, 5s. a bushel in this part of the country; and the average of all England would not, perhaps, exceed 4s. or 3s. 6d. a bushel. However, Lord Liverpool has got a bad harvest at last! That remedy has been applied! Somebody sent me some time ago that stupid newspaper, called the Morning Herald, in which its readers were reminded of my “false prophecies,” I having (as this paper said) foretold that wheat would be at two shillings a bushel before Christmas. These gentlemen of the “respectable part of the press” do not mind lying a little upon a pinch. [See Walter’s “Times” of Tuesday last, for the following: “Mr. Cobbett has thrown open the front of his house at Kensington, where he proposes to sell meat at a reduced price.”] What I said was this: that, if the crop were good and the harvest fine, and gold continued to be paid at the Bank, we should see wheat at four, not two, shillings a bushel before Christmas. Now, the crop was, in many parts, very much blighted, and the harvest was very bad indeed; and yet the average of England, including that which is destroyed, or not brought to market at all, will not exceed 4s. a bushel. A farmer told me, the other day, that he got so little offered for some of his wheat, that he was resolved not to take any more of it to market; but to give it to hogs. Therefore, in speaking of the price of wheat, you are to take in the unsold as well as the sold; that which fetches nothing as well as that which is sold at high price.—I see, in the Irish papers, which have overtaken me on my way, that the system is working the Agriculturasses in “the sister-kingdom” too! The following paragraph will show that the remedy of a bad harvest has not done our dear sister much good. “A very numerous meeting of the Kildare Farming Society met at Naas on the 24th inst., the Duke of Leinster in the Chair; Robert de la Touche, Esq., M.P., Vice-President. Nothing can more strongly prove the BADNESS OF THE TIMES, and very unfortunate state[Pg 12] of the country, than the necessity in which the Society finds itself of discontinuing its premiums, from its present want of funds. The best members of the farming classes have got so much in arrear in their subscriptions that they have declined to appear or to dine with their neighbours, and general depression damps the spirit of the most industrious and hitherto prosperous cultivators.” You are mistaken, Pat; it is not the times any more than it is the stars. Bobadil, you know, imputed his beating to the planets: “planet-stricken, by the foot of Pharaoh!”—“No, Captain,” says Welldon, “indeed it was a stick.” It is not the times, dear Patrick: it is the government, who, having first contracted a great debt in depreciated money, are now compelling you to pay the interest at the rate of three for one. Whether this be right, or wrong, the Agriculturasses best know: it is much more their affair than it is mine; but, be you well assured, that they are only at the beginning of their sorrows. Ah! Patrick, whoever shall live only a few years will see a grand change in your state! Something a little more rational than “Catholic Emancipation” will take place, or I am the most deceived of all mankind. This Debt is your best, and, indeed, your only friend. It must, at last, give the THING a shake, such as it never had before.—The accounts which my country newspapers give of the failure of farmers are perfectly dismal. In many, many instances they have put an end to their existence, as the poor deluded creatures did who had been ruined by the South Sea Bubble! I cannot help feeling for these people, for whom my birth, education, taste, and habits give me so strong a partiality. Who can help feeling for their wives and children, hurled down headlong from affluence to misery in the space of a few months! Become all of a sudden the mockery of those whom they compelled, perhaps, to cringe before them! If the Labourers exult, one cannot say that it is unnatural. If Reason have her fair sway, I am exempted from all pain upon this occasion. I have done my best to prevent these calamities. Those farmers who have attended to me are safe while the storm rages. My endeavours to stop the evil in time cost me the earnings of twenty long years! I did not sink, no, nor bend, beneath the heavy and reiterated blows of the accursed system, which I have dealt back blow for blow; and, blessed be God, I now see it reel! It is staggering about like a sheep with water in the head: turning its pate up on one side: seeming to listen, but has no hearing: seeming to look, but has no sight: one day it capers and dances: the next it mopes and seems ready to die.

[Pg 13]

 

Nov. 4. Sunday.

This, to my fancy, is a very nice country. It is continual hill and dell. Now and then a chain of hills higher than the rest, and these are downs, or woods. To stand upon any of the hills and look around you, you almost think you see the ups and downs of sea in a heavy swell (as the sailors call it) after what they call a gale of wind. The undulations are endless, and the great variety in the height, breadth, length, and form of the little hills, has a very delightful effect.—The soil, which, to look on it, appears to be more than half flint stones, is very good in quality, and, in general, better on the tops of the lesser hills than in the valleys. It has great tenacity; does not wash away like sand, or light loam. It is a stiff, tenacious loam, mixed with flint stones. Bears Saint-foin well, and all sorts of grass, which make the fields on the hills as green as meadows, even at this season; and the grass does not burn up in summer.—In a country so full of hills one would expect endless runs of water and springs. There are none: absolutely none. No water-furrow is ever made in the land. No ditches round the fields. And, even in the deep valleys, such as that in which this village is situated, though it winds round for ten or fifteen miles, there is no run of water even now. There is the bed of a brook, which will run before spring, and it continues running with more or less water for about half the year, though, some years, it never runs at all. It rained all Friday night; pretty nearly all day yesterday; and to-day the ground is as dry as a bone, except just along the street of the village, which has been kept in a sort of stabble by the flocks of sheep passing along to and from Appleshaw fair. In the deep and long and narrow valleys, such as this, there are meadows with very fine herbage and very productive. The grass very fine and excellent in its quality. It is very curious that the soil is much shallower in the vales than on the hills. In the vales it is a sort of hazle-mould on a bed of something approaching to gravel; but on the hills it is stiff loam, with apparently half flints, on a bed of something like clay first (reddish, not yellow), and then comes the chalk, which they often take up by digging a sort of wells; and then they spread it on the surface, as they do the clay in some countries, where they sometimes fetch it many miles and at an immense expense. It was very common, near Botley, to chalk land at an expense of sixteen pounds an acre.——The land here is excellent in quality generally, unless you get upon the highest chains of hills. They have frequently 40 bushels of wheat to the acre. Their barley is very fine; and their Saint-foin abundant. The turnips are, in general, very good at this time; and the land[Pg 14] appears as capable of carrying fine crops of them as any land that I have seen. A fine country for sheep: always dry: they never injure the land when feeding off turnips in wet weather; and they can lie down on the dry; for the ground is, in fact, never wet except while the rain is actually falling. Sometimes, in spring-thaws and thunder-showers, the rain runs down the hills in torrents; but is gone directly. The flocks of sheep, some in fold and some at large, feeding on the sides of the hills, give great additional beauty to the scenery.—The woods, which consist chiefly of oak thinly intermixed with ash, and well set with underwood of ash and hazle, but mostly the latter, are very beautiful. They sometimes stretch along the top and sides of hills for miles together; and as their edges, or outsides, joining the fields and the downs, go winding and twisting about, and as the fields and downs are naked of trees, the sight altogether is very pretty.—The trees in the deep and long valleys, especially the Elm and the Ash, are very fine and very lofty; and from distance to distance, the Rooks have made them their habitation. This sort of country, which, in irregular shape, is of great extent, has many and great advantages. Dry under foot. Good roads, winter as well as summer, and little, very little, expense. Saint-foin flourishes. Fences cost little. Wood, hurdles, and hedging-stuff cheap. No shade in wet harvests. The water in the wells excellent. Good sporting country, except for coursing, and too many flints for that.—What becomes of all the water? There is a spring in one of the cross valleys that runs into this, having a basin about thirty feet over, and about eight feet deep, which, they say, sends up water once in about 30 or 40 years; and boils up so as to make a large current of water.—Not far from Uphusband the Wansdike (I think it is called) crosses the country. Sir Richard Colt Hoare has written a great deal about this ancient boundary, which is, indeed, something very curious. In the ploughed fields the traces of it are quite gone; but they remain in the woods as well as on the downs.

 

Nov. 5. Monday.

A white frost this morning. The hills round about beautiful at sun-rise, the rooks making that noise which they always make in winter mornings. The Starlings are come in large flocks; and, which is deemed a sign of a hard winter, the Fieldfares are come at an early season. The haws are very abundant; which, they say, is another sign of a hard winter. The wheat is high enough here, in some fields, “to hide a hare,” which is, indeed, not saying much for it, as a hare knows how to hide herself upon the bare ground. But it is, in some fields, four[Pg 15] inches high, and is green and gay, the colour being finer than that of any grass.—The fuel here is wood. Little coal is brought from Andover. A load of fagots does not cost above 10s. So that, in this respect, the labourers are pretty well off. The wages here and in Berkshire, about 8s. a week; but the farmers talk of lowering them.—The poor-rates heavy, and heavy they must be, till taxes and rents come down greatly.—Saturday, and to-day Appleshaw sheep-fair. The sheep, which had taken a rise at Weyhill fair, have fallen again even below the Norfolk and Sussex mark. Some Southdown Lambs were sold at Appleshaw so low as 8s. and some even lower. Some Dorsetshire Ewes brought no more than a pound; and, perhaps, the average did not exceed 28s. I have seen a farmer here who can get (or could a few days ago) 28s. round for a lot of fat Southdown Wethers, which cost him just that money, when they were lambs, two years ago! It is impossible that they can have cost him less than 24s. each during the two years, having to be fed on turnips or hay in winter, and to be fatted on good grass. Here (upon one hundred sheep) is a loss of 120l. and 14l. in addition at five per cent. interest on the sum expended in the purchase; even suppose not a sheep has been lost by death or otherwise.—I mentioned before, I believe, that fat hogs are sold at Salisbury at from 5s. to 4s. 6d. the score pounds, dead weight.—Cheese has come down in the same proportion. A correspondent informs me that one hundred and fifty Welsh Sheep were, on the 18th of October, offered for 4s. 6d, a head, and that they went away unsold! The skin was worth a shilling of the money! The following I take from the Tyne Mercury of the 30th of October. “Last week, at Northawton fair, Mr. Thomas Cooper, of Bow, purchased three milch cows and forty sheep, for 18l. 16s. 6d.!” The skins, four years ago, would have sold for more than the money. The Hampshire Journal says that, on 1 November (Thursday) at Newbury Market, wheat sold from 88s. to 24s. the Quarter. This would make an average of 56s. But very little indeed was sold at 88s., only the prime of the old wheat. The best of the new for about 48s., and then, if we take into view the great proportion that cannot go to market at all, we shall not find the average, even in this rather dear part of England, to exceed 32s., or 4s. a bushel. And if we take all England through, it does not come up to that, nor anything like it. A farmer very sensibly observed to me yesterday that “if we had had such a crop and such a harvest a few years ago, good wheat would have been 50l. a load;” that is to say, 25s. a bushel! Nothing can be truer than this. And nothing can be clearer than that the present race of farmers, generally speaking, must be swept away by bankruptcy, if they[Pg 16] do not, in time, make their bow, and retire. There are two descriptions of farmers, very distinct as to the effects which this change must naturally have on them. The word farmer comes from the French, fermier, and signifies renter. Those only who rent, therefore, are, properly speaking, farmers. Those who till their own land are yeomen; and when I was a boy it was the common practice to call the former farmers and the latter yeoman-farmers. These yeomen have, for the greater part, been swallowed up by the paper-system which has drawn such masses of money together. They have, by degrees, been bought out. Still there are some few left; and these, if not in debt, will stand their ground. But all the present race of mere renters must give way, in one manner or another. They must break, or drop their style greatly; even in the latter case, their rent must, very shortly, be diminished more than two-thirds. Then comes the Landlord’s turn; and the sooner the better.—In the Maidstone Gazette I find the following: “Prime beef was sold in Salisbury market, on Tuesday last, at 4d. per lb., and good joints of mutton at 3½d.; butter 11d. and 12d. per lb.—In the West of Cornwall, during the summer, pork has often been sold at 2½d. per lb.”—This is very true; and what can be better? How can Peel’s Bill work in a more delightful manner? What nice “general working of events!” The country rag-merchants have now very little to do. They have no discounts. What they have out they owe: it is so much debt: and, of course, they become poorer and poorer, because they must, like a mortgager, have more and more to pay as prices fall. This is very good; for it will make them disgorge a part, at least, of what they have swallowed, during the years of high prices and depreciation. They are worked in this sort of way: the Tax-Collectors, the Excise-fellows, for instance, hold their sittings every six weeks, in certain towns about the country. They will receive the country rags, if the rag man can find, and will give, security for the due payment of his rags, when they arrive in London. For want of such security, or of some formality of the kind, there was a great bustle in a town in this county not many days ago. The Excise-fellow demanded sovereigns, or Bank of England notes. Precisely how the matter was finally settled I know not; but the reader will see that the Exciseman was only taking a proper precaution; for if the rags were not paid in London, the loss was his.

 

Marlborough,
Tuesday noon, Nov. 6.

I left Uphusband this morning at 9, and came across to this place (20 miles) in a post-chaise. Came up the valley of [Pg 17]Uphusband, which ends at about 6 miles from the village, and puts one out upon the Wiltshire Downs, which stretch away towards the West and South-west, towards Devizes and towards Salisbury. After about half a mile of down we came down into a level country; the flints cease, and the chalk comes nearer the top of the ground. The labourers along here seem very poor indeed. Farmhouses with twenty ricks round each, besides those standing in the fields; pieces of wheat 50, 60, or 100 acres in a piece; but a group of women labourers, who were attending the measurers to measure their reaping work, presented such an assemblage of rags as I never before saw even amongst the hoppers at Farnham, many of whom are common beggars. I never before saw country people, and reapers too, observe, so miserable in appearance as these. There were some very pretty girls, but ragged as colts and as pale as ashes. The day was cold too, and frost hardly off the ground; and their blue arms and lips would have made any heart ache but that of a seat-seller or a loan-jobber. A little after passing by these poor things, whom I left, cursing, as I went, those who had brought them to this state, I came to a group of shabby houses upon a hill. While the boy was watering his horses, I asked the ostler the name of the place; and, as the old women say, “you might have knocked me down with a feather,” when he said, “Great Bedwin.” The whole of the houses are not intrinsically worth a thousand pounds. There stood a thing out in the middle of the place, about 25 feet long and 15 wide, being a room stuck up on unhewed stone pillars about 10 feet high. It was the Town Hall, where the ceremony of choosing the two Members is performed. “This place sends Members to Parliament, don’t it?” said I to the ostler. “Yes, Sir.” “Who are Members now?” “I don’t know, indeed, Sir.”—I have not read the Henriade of Voltaire for these 30 years; but in ruminating upon the ostler’s answer, and in thinking how the world, yes, the whole world, has been deceived as to this matter, two lines of that poem came across my memory:

Représentans du peuple, les Grands et le Roi:
Spectacle magnifique! Source sacrée des lois![1]

The Frenchman, for want of understanding the THING as well as I do, left the eulogium incomplete. I therefore here add four lines, which I request those who publish future editions of the Henriade to insert in continuation of the above eulogium of Voltaire.

[Pg 18]

Représentans du peuple, que celui-ci ignore,
Sont fait à miracle pour garder son Or!
Peuple trop heureux, que le bonheur inonde!
L’envie de vos voisins, admiré du monde![2]

The first line was suggested by the ostler; the last by the words which we so very often hear from the bar, the bench, the seats, the pulpit, and the throne. Doubtless my poetry is not equal to that of Voltaire; but my rhyme is as good as his, and my reason is a great deal better.—In quitting this villanous place we see the extensive and uncommonly ugly park and domain of Lord Aylesbury, who seems to have tacked park on to park, like so many outworks of a fortified city. I suppose here are 50 or 100 farms of former days swallowed up. They have been bought, I dare say, from time to time; and it would be a labour very well worthy of reward by the public, to trace to its source the money by which these immense domains, in different parts of the country, have been formed!—Marlborough, which is an ill-looking place enough, is succeeded, on my road to Swindon, by an extensive and very beautiful down about 4 miles over. Here nature has flung the earth about in a great variety of shapes. The fine short smooth grass has about 9 inches of mould under it, and then comes the chalk. The water that runs down the narrow side-hill valleys is caught, in different parts of the down, in basins made on purpose, and lined with clay apparently. This is for watering the sheep in summer; sure sign of a really dry soil; and yet the grass never parches upon these downs. The chalk holds the moisture, and the grass is fed by the dews in hot and dry weather.—At the end of this down the high-country ends. The hill is high and steep, and from it you look immediately down into a level farming country; a little further on into the dairy-country, whence the North-Wilts cheese comes; and, beyond that, into the vale of Berkshire, and even to Oxford, which lies away to the North-east from this hill.—The land continues good, flat and rather wet to Swindon, which is a plain country town, built of the stone which is found at about 6 feet under ground about here.—I come on now towards Cirencester, thro’ the dairy county of North Wilts.

 

Cirencester,
Wednesday (Noon), 7 Nov.

I slept at a Dairy-farm house at Hannington, about eight miles from Swindon, and five on one side of my road. I passed[Pg 19] through that villanous hole, Cricklade, about two hours ago; and, certainly, a more rascally looking place I never set my eyes on. I wished to avoid it, but could get along no other way. All along here the land is a whitish stiff loam upon a bed of soft stone, which is found at various distances from the surface, sometimes two feet and sometimes ten. Here and there a field is fenced with this stone, laid together in walls without mortar or earth. All the houses and out-houses are made of it, and even covered with the thinnest of it formed into tiles. The stiles in the fields are made of large flags of this stone, and the gaps in the hedges are stopped with them.—There is very little wood all along here. The labourers seem miserably poor. Their dwellings are little better than pig-beds, and their looks indicate that their food is not nearly equal to that of a pig. Their wretched hovels are stuck upon little bits of ground on the road side, where the space has been wider than the road demanded. In many places they have not two rods to a hovel. It seems as if they had been swept off the fields by a hurricane, and had dropped and found shelter under the banks on the road side! Yesterday morning was a sharp frost; and this had set the poor creatures to digging up their little plats of potatoes. In my whole life I never saw human wretchedness equal to this: no, not even amongst the free negroes in America, who, on an average, do not work one day out of four. And this is “prosperity,” is it? These, Oh, Pitt! are the fruits of thy hellish system! However, this Wiltshire is a horrible county. This is the county that the Gallon-loaf man belongs to. The land all along here is good. Fine fields and pastures all around; and yet the cultivators of those fields so miserable! This is particularly the case on both sides of Cricklade, and in it too, where everything had the air of the most deplorable want.—They are sowing wheat all the way from the Wiltshire downs to Cirencester; though there is some wheat up. Winter-Vetches are up in some places, and look very well.—The turnips of both kinds are good all along here.—I met a farmer going with porkers to Highworth market. They would weigh, he said, four score and a half, and he expected to get 7s. 6d. a score. I expect he will not. He said they had been fed on barley-meal; but I did not believe him. I put it to his honour whether whey and beans had not been their food. He looked surly, and pushed on.—On this stiff ground they grow a good many beans, and give them to the pigs with whey; which makes excellent pork for the Londoners; but which must meet with a pretty hungry stomach to swallow it in Hampshire. The hogs, all the way that I have come, from Buckinghamshire, are, without a single exception that I have seen, the old-fashioned black-spotted hogs. Mr.[Pg 20] Blount at Uphusband has one, which now weighs about thirty score, and will possibly weigh forty, for she moves about very easily yet. This is the weight of a good ox; and yet, what a little thing it is compared to an ox! Between Cricklade and this place (Cirencester) I met, in separate droves, about two thousand Welsh Cattle, on their way from Pembrokeshire to the fairs in Sussex. The greater part of them were heifers in calf. They were purchased in Wales at from 3l. to 4l. 10s. each! None of them, the drovers told me, reached 5l. These heifers used to fetch, at home, from 6l. to 8l., and sometimes more. Many of the things that I saw in these droves did not fetch, in Wales, 25s. And they go to no rising market! Now, is there a man in his senses who believes that this THING can go on in the present way? However, a fine thing, indeed, is this fall of prices! My “cottager” will easily get his cow, and a young cow too, for less than the 5l. that I talked of. These Welsh heifers will calve about May; and they are just the very thing for a cottager.

 

Gloucester,
Thursday (morning), Nov. 8.

In leaving Cirencester, which is a pretty large town, a pretty nice town, and which the people call Cititer, I came up hill into a country, apparently formerly a down or common, but now divided into large fields by stone walls. Anything so ugly I have never seen before. The stone, which, on the other side of Cirencester, lay a good way under ground, here lies very near to the surface. The plough is continually bringing it up, and thus, in general, come the means of making the walls that serve as fences. Anything quite so cheerless as this I do not recollect to have seen; for the Bagshot country, and the commons between Farnham and Haslemere, have heath at any rate; but these stones are quite abominable. The turnips are not a fiftieth of a crop like those of Mr. Clarke at Bergh-Apton in Norfolk, or Mr. Pym at Reigate in Surrey, or of Mr. Brazier at Worth in Sussex. I see thirty acres here that have less food upon them than I saw the other day upon half an acre at Mr. Budd’s at Berghclere. Can it be good farming to plough and sow and hoe thirty acres to get what may be got upon half an acre? Can that half acre cost more than a tenth part as much as the thirty acres? But if I were to go to this thirty-acre farmer, and tell him what to do to the half acre, would he not exclaim with the farmer at Botley: “What! drow away all that ’ere ground between the lains! Jod’s blood!”—With the exception of a little dell about eight miles from Cititer, this miserable country continued to the distance of ten miles, when, all of a sudden, I looked down[Pg 21] from the top of a high hill into the vale of Gloucester! Never was there, surely, such a contrast in this world! This hill is called Burlip Hill; it is much about a mile down it, and the descent so steep as to require the wheel of the chaise to be locked; and even with that precaution, I did not think it over and above safe to sit in the chaise; so, upon Sir Robert Wilson’s principle of taking care of Number One, I got out and walked down. From this hill you see the Morvan Hills in Wales. You look down into a sort of dish with a flat bottom, the Hills are the sides of the dish, and the City of Gloucester, which you plainly see, at seven miles distance from Burlip Hill, appears to be not far from the centre of the dish. All here is fine; fine farms; fine pastures; all enclosed fields; all divided by hedges; orchards a plenty; and I had scarcely seen one apple since I left Berkshire.—Gloucester is a fine, clean, beautiful place; and, which is of a vast deal more importance, the labourers’ dwellings, as I came along, looked good, and the labourers themselves pretty well as to dress and healthiness. The girls at work in the fields (always my standard) are not in rags, with bits of shoes tied on their feet and rags tied round their ankles, as they had in Wiltshire.

 

 


JOURNAL: FROM GLOUCESTER, TO BOLLITREE IN HEREFORDSHIRE, ROSS, HEREFORD, ABINGDON, OXFORD, CHELTENHAM, BERGHCLERE, WHITCHURCH, UPHURSTBOURN, AND THENCE TO KENSINGTON.

 

Bollitree Castle, Herefordshire,
Friday, 9 Nov. 1821.

I got to this beautiful place (Mr. William Palmer’s) yesterday, from Gloucester. This is in the parish of Weston, two miles on the Gloucester side of Ross, and, if not the first, nearly the first, parish in Herefordshire upon leaving Gloucester to go on through Ross to Hereford.—On quitting Gloucester I crossed the Severne, which had overflowed its banks and covered the meadows with water.—The soil good but stiff. The coppices and woods very much like those upon the clays in the South of Hampshire and in Sussex; but the land better for corn and grass. The goodness of the land is shown by the apple-trees, and by the sort of sheep and cattle fed here. The sheep are a cross between the Ryland and Leicester, and the cattle of the Herefordshire kind. These would starve in the pastures of any part of Hampshire or Sussex that I have ever seen.—At about seven[Pg 22] miles from Gloucester I came to hills, and the land changed from the whitish soil, which I had hitherto seen, to a red brown, with layers of flat stone of a reddish cast under it. Thus it continued to Bollitree. The trees of all kinds are very fine on the hills as well as in the bottoms.—The spot where I now am is peculiarly well situated in all respects. The land very rich, the pastures the finest I ever saw, the trees of all kinds surpassing upon an average any that I have before seen in England. From the house, you see, in front and winding round to the left, a lofty hill, called Penyard Hill, at about a mile and a half distance, covered with oaks of the finest growth: along at the foot of this wood are fields and orchards continuing the slope of the hill down for a considerable distance, and, as the ground lies in a sort of ridges from the wood to the foot of the slope, the hill-and-dell is very beautiful. One of these dells with the two adjoining sides of hills is an orchard belonging to Mr. Palmer, and the trees, the ground, and everything belonging to it, put me in mind of the most beautiful of the spots in the North of Long Island. Sheltered by a lofty wood; the grass fine beneath the fruit trees; the soil dry under foot though the rain had scarcely ceased to fall; no moss on the trees; the leaves of many of them yet green; everything brought my mind to the beautiful orchards near Bayside, Little Neck, Mosquito Cove, and Oyster Bay, in Long Island. No wonder that this is a country of cider and perry; but what a shame it is that here, at any rate, the owners and cultivators of the soil, not content with these, should, for mere fashion’s sake, waste their substance on wine and spirits! They really deserve the contempt of mankind and the curses of their children.—The woody hill mentioned before, winds away to the left, and carries the eye on to the Forest of Dean, from which it is divided by a narrow and very deep valley. Away to the right of Penyard Hill lies, in the bottom, at two miles distance, and on the bank of the river Wye, the town of Ross, over which we look down the vale to Monmouth and see the Welsh hills beyond it. Beneath Penyard Hill, and on one of the ridges before mentioned, is the parish church of Weston, with some pretty white cottages near it, peeping through the orchard and other trees; and coming to the paddock before the house are some of the largest and loftiest trees in the country, standing singly here and there, amongst which is the very largest and loftiest walnut-tree that I believe I ever saw, either in America or in England. In short, there wants nothing but the autumnal colours of the American trees to make this the most beautiful spot I ever beheld.—I was much amused for an hour after daylight this morning in looking at the clouds, rising at intervals from the dells on the side of Penyard Hill, and[Pg 23] flying to the top, and then over the Hill. Some of the clouds went up in a roundish and compact form. Others rose in a sort of string or stream, the tops of them going over the hill before the bottoms were clear of the place whence they had arisen. Sometimes the clouds gathered themselves together along the top of the hill, and seemed to connect the topmost trees with the sky.——I have been to-day to look at Mr. Palmer’s fine crops of Swedish Turnips, which are, in general, called “Swedes.” These crops having been raised according to my plan, I feel, of course, great interest in the matter. The Swedes occupy two fields: one of thirteen, and one of seventeen acres. The main part of the seventeen-acre field was drilled, on ridges, four feet apart, a single row on a ridge, at different times, between 16th April and 29th May. An acre and a half of this piece was transplanted on four-feet ridges 30th July. About half an acre across the middle of the field was sown broad-cast 14th April.—In the thirteen-acre field there is about half an acre sown broad-cast on the 1st of June; the rest of the field was transplanted; part in the first week of June, part in the last week of June, part from the 12th to 18th July, and the rest (about three acres) from 21st to 23rd July. The drilled Swedes in the seventeen-acre field, contain full 23 tons to the acre; the transplanted ones in that field, 15 tons, and the broad-cast not exceeding 10 tons. Those in the thirteen-acre field which were transplanted before the 21st July, contain 27 if not 30 tons; and the rest of that field about 17 tons to the acre. The broad-cast piece here (half an acre) may contain 7 tons. The shortness of my time will prevent us from ascertaining the weight by actual weighings; but such is the crop, according to the best of my judgment, after a very minute survey of it in every part of each field.—Now, here is a little short of 800 tons of food, about a fifth part of which consists of tops; and, of course, there is about 640 tons of bulb. As to the value and uses of this prodigious crop I need say nothing; and as to the time and manner of sowing and raising the plants for transplanting, the act of transplanting, and the after cultivation, Mr. Palmer has followed the directions contained in my “Year’s Residence in America;” and, indeed, he is forward to acknowledge that he had never thought of this mode of culture, which he has followed now for three years, and which he has found so advantageous, until he read that work, a work which the Farmer’s Journal thought proper to treat as a romance.—Mr. Palmer has had some cabbages of the large, drum-head kind. He had about three acres, in rows at four feet apart, and at little less than three feet apart in the rows, making ten thousand cabbages on the three acres. He kept ninety-five wethers and ninety-six ewes (large fatting sheep)[Pg 24] upon them for five weeks all but two days, ending in the first week of November. The sheep, which are now feeding off yellow turnips in an adjoining part of the same field, come back over the cabbage-ground and scoop out the stumps almost to the ground in many cases. This ground is going to be ploughed for wheat immediately. Cabbages are a very fine autumn crop; but it is the Swedes on which you must rely for the spring, and on housed or stacked Swedes too; for they will rot in many of our winters, if left in the ground. I have had them rot myself, and I saw, in March 1820, hundreds of acres rotten in Warwickshire and Northamptonshire. Mr. Palmer greatly prefers the transplanting to the drilling. It has numerous advantages over the drilling; greater regularity of crop, greater certainty, the only sure way of avoiding the fly, greater crop, admitting of two months later preparation of land, can come after vetches cut up for horses (as, indeed, a part of Mr. Palmer’s transplanted Swedes did), and requiring less labour and expense. I asserted this in my “Year’s Residence;” and Mr. Palmer, who has been very particular in ascertaining the fact, states positively that the expense of transplanting is not so great as the hoeing and setting out of the drilled crops, and not so great as the common hoeings of broad-cast. This, I think, settles the question. But the advantages of the wide-row culture by no means confine themselves to the green and root crop; for Mr. Palmer drills his wheat upon the same ridges, without ploughing, after he has taken off the Swedes. He drills it at eight inches, and puts in from eight to ten gallons to the acre. His crop of 1820, drilled in this way, averaged 40 bushels to the acre; part drilled in November, and part so late as February. It was the common Lammas wheat. His last crop of wheat is not yet ascertained; but it was better after the Swedes than in any other of his land. His manner of taking off the crop is excellent. He first cuts off and carries away the tops. Then he has an implement, drawn by two oxen, walking on each side of the ridge, with which he cuts off the tap root of the Swedes without disturbing the land of the ridge. Any child can then pull up the bulb. Thus the ground, clean as a garden, and in that compact state which the wheat is well known to like, is ready, at once, for drilling with wheat. As to the uses to which he applies the crop, tops as well as bulbs, I must speak of these hereafter, and in a work of a description different from this. I have been thus particular here, because the Farmer’s Journal treated my book as a pack of lies. I know that my (for it is mine) system of cattle-food husbandry will finally be that of all England, as it already is that of America; but what I am doing here is merely in self-defence against the slanders, the malignant slanders, of the[Pg 25] Farmer’s Journal. Where is a Whig lord, who, some years ago, wrote to a gentleman that “he would have nothing to do with any reform that Cobbett was engaged in”? But in spite of the brutal Journal, farmers are not such fools as this lord was: they will not reject a good crop because they can have it only by acting upon my plan; and this lord will, I imagine, yet see the day when he will be less averse from having to do with a reform in which “Cobbett” shall be engaged.

 

Old Hall,
Saturday night, Nov. 10.

Went to Hereford this morning. It was market-day. My arrival became known, and, I am sure, I cannot tell how. A sort of buz got about. I could perceive here, as I always have elsewhere, very ardent friends and very bitter enemies; but all full of curiosity. One thing could not fail to please me exceedingly: my friends were gay and my enemies gloomy: the former smiled, and the latter, in endeavouring to screw their features into a sneer, could get them no further than the half sour and half sad: the former seemed in their looks to say, “Here he is,” and the latter to respond, “Yes, G—— d—— him!”—I went into the market-place, amongst the farmers, with whom, in general, I was very much pleased. If I were to live in the county two months, I should be acquainted with every man of them. The country is very fine all the way from Ross to Hereford. The soil is always a red loam upon a bed of stone. The trees are very fine, and certainly winter comes later here than in Middlesex. Some of the oak trees are still perfectly green, and many of the ashes as green as in September.—In coming from Hereford to this place, which is the residence of Mrs. Palmer and that of her two younger sons, Messrs. Philip and Walter Palmer, who, with their brother, had accompanied me to Hereford; in coming to this place, which lies at about two miles distance from the great road, and at about an equal distance from Hereford and from Ross, we met with something, the sight of which pleased me exceedingly: it was that of a very pretty pleasant-looking lady (and young too) with two beautiful children, riding in a little sort of chaise-cart, drawn by an ass, which she was driving in reins. She appeared to be well known to my friends, who drew up and spoke to her, calling her Mrs. Lock, or Locky (I hope it was not Lockart), or some such name. Her husband, who is, I suppose, some young farmer of the neighbourhood, may well call himself Mr. Lucky; for to have such a wife, and for such a wife to have the good sense to put up with an ass-cart, in order to avoid, as much as possible,[Pg 26] feeding those cormorants who gorge on the taxes, is a blessing that falls, I am afraid, to the lot of very few rich farmers. Mrs. Lock (if that be her name) is a real practical radical. Others of us resort to radical coffee and radical tea; and she has a radical carriage. This is a very effectual way of assailing the THING, and peculiarly well suited for the practice of the female sex. But the self-denial ought not to be imposed on the wife only: the husband ought to set the example: and let me hope that Mr. Lock does not indulge in the use of wine and spirits while Mrs. Lock and her children ride in a jackass gig; for if he do, he wastes, in this way, the means of keeping her a chariot and pair. If there be to be any expense not absolutely necessary; if there be to be anything bordering on extravagance, surely it ought to be for the pleasure of that part of the family who have the least number of objects of enjoyment; and for a husband to indulge himself in the guzzling of expensive, unnecessary, and really injurious drink, to the tune, perhaps, of 50 or 100 pounds a year, while he preaches economy to his wife, and, with a face as long as my arm, talks of the low price of corn, and wheedles her out of a curricle into a jack-ass cart, is not only unjust but unmanly.

 

Old Hall, Sunday night, 11 Nov.

We have ridden to-day, though in the rain for a great part of the time, over the fine farm of Mr. Philip Palmer, at this place, and that of Mr. Walter Palmer, in the adjoining parish of Pencoyd. Everything here is good, arable land, pastures, orchards, coppices, and timber trees, especially the elms, many scores of which approach nearly to a hundred feet in height. Mr. Philip Palmer has four acres of Swedes on four-feet ridges, drilled on the 11th and 14th of May. The plants were very much injured by the fly; so much, that it was a question whether the whole piece ought not to be ploughed up. However, the gaps in the rows were filled up by transplanting; and the ground was twice ploughed between the ridges. The crop here is very fine; and I should think that its weight could not be less than 17 tons to the acre.—Of Mr. Walter Palmer’s Swedes, five acres were drilled, on ridges nearly four feet apart, on the 3rd of June; four acres on the 15th of June; and an acre and a half transplanted (after vetches) on the 15th of August. The weight of the first is about twenty tons to the acre; that of the second not much less; and that of the last even, five or six tons. The first two pieces were mauled to pieces by the fly; but the gaps were filled up by transplanting, the ground being digged on the tops of the ridges to receive the plants. So that, perhaps, a third part or more of the crop is due to the transplanting. As to[Pg 27] the last piece, that transplanted on the 15th of August, after vetches, it is clear that there could have been no crop without transplanting; and, after all, the crop is by no means a bad one.—It is clear enough to me that this system will finally prevail all over England. The “loyal,” indeed, may be afraid to adopt it, lest it should contain something of “radicalism.” Sap-headed fools! They will find something to do, I believe, soon, besides railing against radicals. We will din “radical” and “national faith” in their ears, till they shall dread the din as much as a dog does the sound of the bell that is tied to the whip.

 

Bollitree, Monday, 12 Nov.

Returned this morning and rode about the farm, and also about that of Mr. Winnal, where I saw, for the first time, a plough going without being held. The man drove the three horses that drew the plough, and carried the plough round at the ends; but left it to itself the rest of the time. There was a skim coulter that turned the sward in under the furrow; and the work was done very neatly. This gentleman has six acres of cabbages, on ridges four feet apart, with a distance of thirty inches between the plants on the ridge. He has weighed one of what he deemed an average weight, and found it to weigh fifteen pounds without the stump. Now, as there are 4,320 upon an acre, the weight of the acres is thirty tons all but 400 pounds! This is a prodigious crop, and it is peculiarly well suited for food for sheep at this season of the year. Indeed it is good for any farm-stock, oxen, cows, pigs: all like these loaved cabbages. For hogs in yard, after the stubbles are gone; and before the tops of the Swedes come in. What masses of manure may be created by this means! But, above all things, for sheep to feed off upon the ground. Common turnips have not half the substance in them weight for weight. Then they are in the ground; they are dirty, and in wet weather the sheep must starve, or eat a great deal of dirt. This very day, for instance, what a sorry sight is a flock of fatting sheep upon turnips; what a mess of dirt and stubble! The cabbage stands boldly up above the ground, and the sheep eats it all up without treading a morsel in the dirt. Mr. Winnal has a large flock of sheep feeding on his cabbages, which they will have finished, perhaps, by January. This gentleman also has some “radical Swedes,” as they call them in Norfolk. A part of his crop is on ridges five feet apart with two rows on the ridge, a part on four feet ridges with one row on the ridge. I cannot see that anything is gained in weight by the double rows. I think that there may be nearly twenty tons to the acre. Another piece Mr. Winnal transplanted after[Pg 28] vetches. They are very fine; and, altogether, he has a crop that any one but a “loyal” farmer might envy him.—This is really the radical system of husbandry. Radical means, belonging to the root; going to the root. And the main principle of this system (first taught by Tull) is that the root of the plant is to be fed by deep tillage while it is growing; and to do this we must have our wide distances. Our system of husbandry is happily illustrative of our system of politics. Our lines of movement are fair and straightforward. We destroy all weeds, which, like tax-eaters, do nothing but devour the sustenance that ought to feed the valuable plants. Our plants are all well fed; and our nations of Swedes and of cabbages present a happy uniformity of enjoyments and of bulk, and not, as in the broad-cast system of Corruption, here and there one of enormous size, surrounded by thousands of poor little starveling things, scarcely distinguishable by the keenest eye, or, if seen, seen only to inspire a contempt of the husbandman. The Norfolk boys are, therefore, right in calling their Swedes Radical Swedes.

 

Bollitree, Tuesday, 13 Nov.

Rode to-day to see a grove belonging to Mrs. Westphalin, which contains the very finest trees, oaks, chestnuts, and ashes, that I ever saw in England. This grove is worth going from London to Weston to see. The Lady, who is very much beloved in her neighbourhood, is, apparently, of the old school; and her house and gardens, situated in a beautiful dell, form, I think, the most comfortable looking thing of the kind that I ever saw. If she had known that I was in her grove, I dare say she would have expected it to blaze up in flames; or, at least, that I was come to view the premises previous to confiscation! I can forgive persons like her; but I cannot forgive the Parsons and others who have misled them! Mrs. Westphalin, if she live many years, will find that the best friends of the owners of the land are those who have endeavoured to produce such a reform of the Parliament as would have prevented the ruin of tenants.—This parish of Weston is remarkable for having a Rector who has constantly resided for twenty years! I do not believe that there is an instance to match this in the whole kingdom. However, the “reverend” gentleman may be assured that, before many years have passed over their heads, they will be very glad to reside in their parsonage houses.

 

Bollitree, Wednesday, 14 Nov.

Rode to the forest of Dean, up a very steep hill. The lanes here are between high banks, and on the sides of the hills the road[Pg 29] is a rock, the water having long ago washed all the earth away. Pretty works are, I find, carried on here, as is the case in all the other public forests! Are these things always to be carried on in this way? Here is a domain of thirty thousand acres of the finest timber-land in the world, and with coal-mines endless! Is this worth nothing? Cannot each acre yield ten trees a year? Are not these trees worth a pound apiece? Is not the estate worth three or four hundred thousand pounds a year? And does it yield anything to the public, to whom it belongs? But it is useless to waste one’s breath in this way. We must have a reform of the Parliament: without it the whole thing will fall to pieces.—The only good purpose that these forests answer is that of furnishing a place of being to labourers’ families on their skirts; and here their cottages are very neat, and the people look hearty and well, just as they do round the forests in Hampshire. Every cottage has a pig or two. These graze in the forest, and, in the fall, eat acorns and beech-nuts and the seed of the ash; for these last, as well as the others, are very full of oil, and a pig that is put to his shifts will pick the seed very nicely out from the husks. Some of these foresters keep cows, and all of them have bits of ground, cribbed, of course, at different times, from the forest: and to what better use can the ground be put? I saw several wheat stubbles from 40 rods to 10 rods. I asked one man how much wheat he had from about 10 rods. He said more than two bushels. Here is bread for three weeks, or more perhaps; and a winter’s straw for the pig besides. Are these things nothing? The dead limbs and old roots of the forest give fuel; and how happy are these people, compared with the poor creatures about Great Bedwin and Cricklade, where they have neither land nor shelter, and where I saw the girls carrying home bean and wheat stubble for fuel! Those countries, always but badly furnished with fuel, the desolating and damnable system of paper-money, by sweeping away small homesteads, and laying ten farms into one, has literally stripped of all shelter for the labourer. A farmer, in such cases, has a whole domain in his hands, and this not only to the manifest injury of the public at large, but in open violation of positive law. The poor forger is hanged; but where is the prosecutor of the monopolizing farmer, though the law is as clear in the one case as in the other? But it required this infernal system to render every wholesome regulation nugatory; and to reduce to such abject misery a people famed in all ages for the goodness of their food and their dress. There is one farmer, in the North of Hampshire, who has nearly eight thousand acres of land in his hands; who grows fourteen hundred acres of wheat and two thousand acres of barley! He occupies what was formerly 40[Pg 30] farms! Is it any wonder that paupers increase? And is there not here cause enough for the increase of poor, without resorting to the doctrine of the barbarous and impious Malthus and his assistants, the feelosofers of the Edinburgh Review, those eulogists and understrappers of the Whig-Oligarchy? “This farmer has done nothing unlawful,” some one will say. I say he has; for there is a law to forbid him thus to monopolize land. But no matter; the laws, the management of the affairs of a nation, ought to be such as to prevent the existence of the temptation to such monopoly. And, even now, the evil ought to be remedied, and could be remedied, in the space of half a dozen years. The disappearance of the paper-money would do the thing in time; but this might be assisted by legislative measures.—In returning from the forest we were overtaken by my son, whom I had begged to come from London to see this beautiful country. On the road-side we saw two lazy-looking fellows, in long great-coats and bundles in their hands, going into a cottage. “What do you deal in?” said I, to one of them, who had not yet entered the house. “In the medical way,” said he. And I find that vagabonds of this description are seen all over the country with tea-licences in their pockets. They vend tea, drugs, and religious tracts. The first to bring the body into a debilitated state; the second to finish the corporeal part of the business; and the third to prepare the spirit for its separation from the clay! Never was a system so well calculated as the present to degrade, debase, and enslave a people! Law, and as if that were not sufficient, enormous subscriptions are made; everything that can be done is done to favour these perambulatory impostors in their depredations on the ignorant, while everything that can be done is done to prevent them from reading, or from hearing of, anything that has a tendency to give them rational notions, or to better their lot. However, all is not buried in ignorance. Down the deep and beautiful valley between Penyard Hill and the Hills on the side of the Forest of Dean, there runs a stream of water. On that stream of water there is a paper-mill. In that paper-mill there is a set of workmen. That set of workmen do, I am told, take the Register, and have taken it for years! It was to these good and sensible men, it is supposed, that the ringing of the bells of Weston church, upon my arrival, was to be ascribed; for nobody that I visited had any knowledge of the cause. What a subject for lamentation with corrupt hypocrites! That even on this secluded spot there should be a leaven of common-sense! No: all is not enveloped in brute ignorance yet, in spite of every artifice that hellish Corruption has been able to employ; in spite of all her menaces and all her brutalities and cruelties.

[Pg 31]

 

Old Hall, Thursday, 15 Nov.

We came this morning from Bollitree to Ross-Market, and, thence, to this place. Ross is an old-fashioned town; but it is very beautifully situated, and if there is little of finery in the appearance of the inhabitants, there is also little of misery. It is a good, plain country town, or settlement of tradesmen, whose business is that of supplying the wants of the cultivators of the soil. It presents to us nothing of rascality and roguishness of look which you see on almost every visage in the borough-towns, not excepting the visages of the women. I can tell a borough-town from another upon my entrance into it by the nasty, cunning, leering, designing look of the people; a look between that of a bad (for some are good) Methodist Parson and that of a pickpocket. I remember, and I never shall forget, the horrid looks of the villains in Devonshire and Cornwall. Some people say, “O, poor fellows! It is not their fault.” No? Whose fault is it, then? The miscreants who bribe them? True, that these deserve the halter (and some of them may have it yet); but are not the takers of the bribes equally guilty? If we be so very lenient here, pray let us ascribe to the Devil all the acts of thieves and robbers: so we do; but we hang the thieves and robbers, nevertheless. It is no very unprovoking reflection, that from these sinks of atrocious villany come a very considerable part of the men to fill places of emolument and trust. What a clog upon a Minister to have people, bred in such scenes, forced upon him! And why does this curse continue? However, its natural consequences are before us; and are coming on pretty fast upon each other’s heels. There are the landlords and farmers in a state of absolute ruin: there is the Debt, pulling the nation down like as a stone pulls a dog under water. The system seems to have fairly wound itself up; to have tied itself hand and foot with cords of its own spinning!—This is the town to which Pope has given an interest in our minds by his eulogium on the “Man of Ross,” a portrait of whom is hanging up in a house in which I now am.—The market at Ross was very dull. No wheat in demand. No buyers. It must come down. Lord Liverpool’s remedy, a bad harvest, has assuredly failed. Fowls 2s. a couple; a goose from 2s. 6d. to 3s.; a turkey from 3s. to 3s. 6d. Let a turkey come down to a shilling, as in France, and then we shall soon be to rights.

 

Friday, 16 Nov.

A whole day most delightfully passed a hare-hunting, with a pretty pack of hounds kept here by Messrs. Palmer. They[Pg 32] put me upon a horse that seemed to have been made on purpose for me, strong, tall, gentle and bold; and that carried me either over or through everything. I, who am just the weight of a four-bushel sack of good wheat, actually sat on his back from daylight in the morning to dusk (about nine hours) without once setting my foot on the ground. Our ground was at Orcop, a place about four miles’ distance from this place. We found a hare in a few minutes after throwing off; and in the course of the day we had to find four, and were never more than ten minutes in finding. A steep and naked ridge, lying between two flat valleys, having a mixture of pretty large fields and small woods, formed our ground. The hares crossed the ridge forward and backward, and gave us numerous views and very fine sport.—I never rode on such steep ground before; and really, in going up and down some of the craggy places, where the rains had washed the earth from the rocks, I did think, once or twice, of my neck, and how Sidmouth would like to see me.—As to the cruelty, as some pretend, of this sport, that point I have, I think, settled in one of the Chapters of my “Year’s Residence in America.” As to the expense, a pack, even a full pack of harriers, like this, costs less than two bottles of wine a day with their inseparable concomitants. And as to the time thus spent, hunting is inseparable from early rising: and with habits of early rising, who ever wanted time for any business?

 

Oxford,
Saturday, 17 Nov.

We left Old Hall (where we always breakfasted by candle-light) this morning after breakfast; returned to Bollitree; took the Hereford coach as it passed about noon; and came in it through Gloucester, Cheltenham, Northleach, Burford, Whitney, and on to this city, where we arrived about ten o’clock. I could not leave Herefordshire without bringing with me the most pleasing impressions. It is not for one to descend to particulars in characterising one’s personal friends; and, therefore, I will content myself with saying, that the treatment I met with in this beautiful county, where I saw not one single face that I had, to my knowledge, ever seen before, was much more than sufficient to compensate to me, personally, for all the atrocious calumnies, which, for twenty years, I have had to endure; but where is my country, a great part of the present hideous sufferings of which will, by every reflecting mind, be easily traced to these calumnies, which have been made the ground, or pretext, for rejecting that counsel by listening to which those sufferings would have been prevented; where is[Pg 33] my country to find a compensation?——At Gloucester (as there were no meals on the road) we furnished ourselves with nuts and apples, which, first a handful of nuts and then an apple, are, I can assure the reader, excellent and most wholesome fare. They say that nuts of all sorts are unwholesome; if they had been, I should never have written Registers, and if they were now, I should have ceased to write ere this; for, upon an average, I have eaten a pint a day since I left home. In short, I could be very well content to live on nuts, milk, and home-baked bread.——From Gloucester to Cheltenham the country is level, and the land rich and good. The fields along here are ploughed in ridges about 20 feet wide, and the angle of this species of roof is pretty nearly as sharp as that of some slated roofs of houses. There is no wet under; it is the top wet only that they aim at keeping from doing mischief.—Cheltenham is a nasty, ill-looking place, half clown and half cockney. The town is one street about a mile long; but, then, at some distance from this street, there are rows of white tenements, with green balconies, like those inhabited by the tax-eaters round London. Indeed, this place appears to be the residence of an assemblage of tax-eaters. These vermin shift about between London, Cheltenham, Bath, Bognor, Brighton, Tunbridge, Ramsgate, Margate, Worthing, and other spots in England, while some of them get over to France and Italy: just like those body-vermin of different sorts that are found in different parts of the tormented carcass at different hours of the day and night, and in different degrees of heat and cold.

Cheltenham is at the foot of a part of that chain of hills which form the sides of that dish which I described as resembling the vale of Gloucester. Soon after quitting this resort of the lame and the lazy, the gormandizing and guzzling, the bilious and the nervous, we proceeded on, between stone walls, over a country little better than that from Cirencester to Burlip-hill.——A very poor, dull, and uninteresting country all the way to Oxford.

 

Burghclere (Hants),
Sunday, 18 Nov.

We left Oxford early, and went on, through Abingdon (Berks) to Market-Ilsley. It is a saying, hereabouts, that at Oxford they make the living pay for the dead, which is precisely according to the Pitt-System. Having smarted on this account, we were afraid to eat again at an Inn; so we pushed on through Ilsley towards Newbury, breakfasting upon the residue of the nuts, aided by a new supply of apples bought from a poor man, who exhibited them in his window. Inspired, like Don Quixote, by[Pg 34] the sight of the nuts, and recollecting the last night’s bill, I exclaimed: “Happy! thrice happy and blessed, that golden age, when men lived on the simple fruits of the earth and slaked their thirst at the pure and limpid brook! when the trees shed their leaves to form a couch for their repose, and cast their bark to furnish them with a canopy! Happy age; when no Oxford landlord charged two men, who had dropped into a common coach-passenger room, and who had swallowed three pennyworths of food, ‘four shillings for teas,’ and ‘eighteen pence for cold meat,’ ‘two shillings for moulds and fire’ in this common coach-room, and ‘five shillings for beds!’” This was a sort of grace before meat to the nuts and apples; and it had much more merit than the harangue of Don Quixote; for he, before he began upon the nuts, had stuffed himself well with goat’s flesh and wine, whereas we had absolutely fled from the breakfast-table and blazing fire at Oxford.—Upon beholding the masses of buildings at Oxford devoted to what they call “learning,” I could not help reflecting on the drones that they contain and the wasps they send forth! However, malignant as some are, the great and prevalent characteristic is folly: emptiness of head; want of talent; and one half of the fellows who are what they call educated here, are unfit to be clerks in a grocer’s or mercer’s shop.—As I looked up at what they call University Hall, I could not help reflecting that what I had written, even since I left Kensington on the 29th of October, would produce more effect, and do more good in the world, than all that had for a hundred years been written by all the members of this University, who devour, perhaps, not less than a million pounds a year, arising from property, completely at the disposal of the “Great Council of the Nation;” and I could not help exclaiming to myself: “Stand forth, ye big-wigged, ye gloriously feeding Doctors! Stand forth, ye rich of that church whose poor have had given them a hundred thousand pounds a year, not out of your riches, but out of the taxes, raised, in part, from the salt of the labouring man! Stand forth and face me, who have, from the pen of my leisure hours, sent, amongst your flocks, a hundred thousand sermons in ten months! More than you have all done for the last half century!”—I exclaimed in vain. I dare say (for it was at peep of day) that not a man of them had yet endeavoured to unclose his eyes.—In coming thro’ Abingdon (Berks) I could not help thinking of that great financier, Mr. John Maberly, by whom this place has, I believe, the honour to be represented in the Collective Wisdom of the Nation.—In the way to Ilsley we came across a part of that fine tract of land, called the Vale of Berkshire, where they grow wheat and beans, one after another, for many years [Pg 35]together. About three miles before we reached Ilsley we came to downs, with, as is always the case, chalk under. Between Ilsley and Newbury the country is enclosed; the land middling, a stony loam; the woods and coppices frequent, and neither very good, till we came within a short distance of Newbury. In going along we saw a piece of wheat with cabbage-leaves laid all over it at the distance, perhaps, of eight or ten feet from each other. It was to catch the slugs. The slugs, which commit their depredations in the night, creep under the leaves in the morning, and by turning up the leaves you come at the slugs, and crush them, or carry them away. But besides the immense daily labour attending this, the slug, in a field sowed with wheat, has a clod to creep under at every foot, and will not go five feet to get under a cabbage-leaf. Then again, if the day be wet, the slug works by day as well as by night. It is the sun and drought that he shuns, and not the light. Therefore the only effectual way to destroy slugs is to sow lime, in dust, and not slaked. The slug is wet, he has hardly any skin, his slime is his covering; the smallest dust of hot lime kills him; and a few bushels to the acre are sufficient. You must sow the lime at dusk; for then the slugs are sure to be out. Slugs come after a crop that has long afforded a great deal of shelter from the sun; such as peas and vetches. In gardens they are nursed up by strawberry beds and by weeds, by asparagus beds, or by anything that remains for a long time to keep the summer-sun from the earth. We got about three o’clock to this nice, snug little farmhouse, and found our host, Mr. Budd, at home.

 

Burghclere, Monday, 19 Nov.

A thorough wet day, the only day the greater part of which I have not spent out of doors since I left home.

 

Burghclere, Tuesday, 20 Nov.

With Mr. Budd, we rode to-day to see the Farm of Tull, at Shalborne, in Berkshire. Mr. Budd did the same thing with Arthur Young twenty-seven years ago. It was a sort of pilgrimage; but as the distance was ten miles, we thought it best to perform it on horseback.—We passed through the parish of Highclere, where they have enclosed commons, worth, as tillage land, not one single farthing an acre, and never will and never can be. As a common it afforded a little picking for geese and asses, and in the moory parts of it, a little fuel for the labourers. But now it really can afford nothing. It will all fall to common again by degrees. This madness, this blind eagerness to gain, is[Pg 36] now, I hope, pretty nearly over.—At East Woody we passed the house of a Mr. Goddard, which is uninhabited, he residing at Bath.—At West Woody (Berks) is the estate of Mr. Sloper, a very pretty place. A beautiful sporting country. Large fields, small woods, dry soil. What has taken place here is an instance of the workings of the system. Here is a large gentleman’s house. But the proprietor lets it (it is, just now, empty), and resides in a farmhouse and farms his own estate. Happy is the landlord who has the good sense to do this in time. This is a fine farm, and here appears to be very judicious farming. Large tracts of turnips; clean land; stubbles ploughed up early; ploughing with oxen; and a very large and singularly fine flock of sheep. Everything that you see, land, stock, implements, fences, buildings; all do credit to the owner; bespeak his sound judgment, his industry and care. All that is wanted here is the radical husbandry; because that would enable the owner to keep three times the quantity of stock. However, since I left home, I have seen but very few farms that I should prefer to that of Mr. Sloper, whom I have not the pleasure to know, and whom, indeed, I never heard of till I saw his farm. At a village (certainly named by some author) called Inkpen, we passed a neat little house and paddock, the residence of a Mr. Butler, a nephew of Dr. Butler, who died Bishop of Oxford, and whom I can remember hearing preach at Farnham in Surrey when I was a very very little boy. I have his features and his wig as clearly in my recollection as if I had seen them but yesterday; and I dare say I have not thought of Doctor Butler for forty years before to-day. The “loyal” (oh, the pious gang!) will say that my memory is good as to the face and wig, but bad as to the Doctor’s Sermons. Why, I must confess that I have no recollection of them; but, then, do I not make Sermons myself?——At about two miles from Inkpen we came to the end of our pilgrimage. The farm, which was Mr. Tull’s; where he used the first drill that ever was used; where he practised his husbandry; where he wrote that book, which does so much honour to his memory, and to which the cultivators of England owe so much; this farm is on an open and somewhat bleak spot in Berkshire, on the borders of Wiltshire, and within a very short distance of a part of Hampshire. The ground is a loam, mixed with flints, and has the chalk at no great distance beneath it. It is, therefore, free from wet; needs no water furrows; and is pretty good in its nature. The house, which has been improved by Mr. Blandy, the present proprietor, is still but a plain farmhouse. Mr. Blandy has lived here thirty years, and has brought up ten children to man’s and woman’s estate. Mr. Blandy was from home, but Mrs. Blandy received and[Pg 37] entertained us in a very hospitable manner.—We returned, not along the low land, but along the top of the downs, and through Lord Caernarvon’s park, and got home after a very pleasant day.

 

Burghclere, Wednesday, 21 Nov.

We intended to have a hunt; but the foxhounds came across and rendered it impracticable. As an instance of the change which rural customs have undergone since the hellish paper-system has been so furiously at work, I need only mention the fact, that, forty years ago, there were five packs of foxhounds and ten packs of harriers kept within ten miles of Newbury; and that now there is one of the former (kept, too, by subscription) and none of the latter, except the few couple of dogs kept by Mr. Budd! “So much the better,” says the shallow fool, who cannot duly estimate the difference between a resident native gentry, attached to the soil, known to every farmer and labourer from their childhood, frequently mixing with them in those pursuits where all artificial distinctions are lost, practicing hospitality without ceremony, from habit and not on calculation; and a gentry, only now-and-then residing at all, having no relish for country-delights, foreign in their manners, distant and haughty in their behaviour, looking to the soil only for its rents, viewing it as a mere object of speculation, unacquainted with its cultivators, despising them and their pursuits, and relying for influence, not upon the good will of the vicinage, but upon the dread of their power. The war and paper-system has brought in nabobs, negro-drivers, generals, admirals, governors, commissaries, contractors, pensioners, sinecurists, commissioners, loan-jobbers, lottery-dealers, bankers, stock-jobbers; not to mention the long and black list in gowns and three-tailed wigs. You can see but few good houses not in possession of one or the other of these. These, with the Parsons, are now the magistrates. Some of the consequences are before us; but they have not all yet arrived. A taxation that sucks up fifty millions a year must produce a new set of proprietors every twenty years or less; and the proprietors, while they last, can be little better than tax-collectors to the government, and scourgers of the people.—I must not quit Burghclere without noticing Mr. Budd’s radical Swedes and other things. His is but miniature farming; but it is very good, and very interesting. Some time in May, he drilled a piece of Swedes on four feet ridges. The fly took them off. He had cabbage and mangel-wurzel plants to put in their stead. Unwilling to turn back the ridges, and thereby bring the dung to the top, he planted the cabbages and mangel-wurzel on the ridges where the Swedes had been[Pg 38] drilled. This was done in June. Late in July, his neighbour, a farmer Hulbert, had a field of Swedes that he was hoeing. Mr. Budd now put some manure in the furrows between the ridges, and ploughed a furrow over it from each ridge. On this he planted Swedes, taken from farmer Hulbert’s field. Thus his plantation consisted of rows of plants two feet apart. The result is a prodigious crop. Of the mangel-wurzel (greens and all) he has not less than twenty tons to the acre. He can scarcely have less of the cabbages, some of which are green savoys as fine as I ever saw. And of the Swedes, many of which weigh from five to nine pounds, he certainly has more than twenty tons to the acre. So that here is a crop of, at the very least, forty tons to the acre. This piece is not much more than half an acre; but he will, perhaps, not find so much cattle food upon any four acres in the county. He is, and long has been, feeding four milch cows, large, fine, and in fine condition, upon cabbages sometimes, and sometimes on mangel-wurzel leaves. The butter is excellent. Not the smallest degree of bitterness or bad taste of any sort. Fine colour and fine taste. And here, upon not three quarters of an acre of ground, he has, if he manage the thing well, enough food for these four cows to the month of May! Can any system of husbandry equal this? What would he do with these cows, if he had not this crop? He could not keep one of them, except on hay. And he owes all this crop to transplanting. He thinks that the transplanting, fetching the Swede plants and all, might cost him ten or twelve shillings. It was done by women, who had never done such a thing before.——However, he must get in his crop before the hard weather comes; or my Lord Caernarvon’s hares will help him. They have begun already; and it is curious that they have begun on the mangel-wurzel roots. So that hares, at any rate, have set the seal of merit upon this root.

 

Whitchurch,
Thursday (night), 22 Nov.

We have come round here, instead of going by Newbury in consequence of a promise to Mr. Blount at Uphusband, that I would call on him on my return. We left Uphusband by lamp-light, and, of course, we could see little on our way.

 

Kensington,
Friday, 23 Nov.

Got home by the coach. At leaving Whitchurch we soon passed the mill where the Mother-Bank paper is made! Thank God, this mill is likely soon to want employment! Hard by is[Pg 39] a pretty park and house, belonging to “’Squire” Portal, the paper-maker. The country people, who seldom want for sarcastic shrewdness, call it “Rag Hall”!—I perceive that they are planting oaks on the “wastes,” as the Agriculturasses call them, about Hartley Row; which is very good; because the herbage, after the first year, is rather increased than diminished by the operation; while, in time, the oaks arrive at a timber state, and add to the beauty and to the real wealth of the country, and to the real and solid wealth of the descendants of the planter, who, in every such case, merits unequivocal praise, because he plants for his children’s children.—The planter here is Lady Mildmay, who is, it seems, Lady of the Manors about here. It is impossible to praise this act of hers too much, especially when one considers her age. I beg a thousand pardons! I do not mean to say that her Ladyship is old; but she has long had grand-children. If her Ladyship had been a reader of old dread-death and dread-devil Johnson, that teacher of moping and melancholy, she never would have planted an oak tree. If the writings of this time-serving, mean, dastardly old pensioner had got a firm hold of the minds of the people at large, the people would have been bereft of their very souls. These writings, aided by the charm of pompous sound, were fast making their way, till light, reason, and the French revolution came to drive them into oblivion; or, at least, to confine them to the shelves of repentant, married old rakes, and those of old stock-jobbers with young wives standing in need of something to keep down the unruly ebullitions which are apt to take place while the “dearies” are gone hobbling to ’Change.——“After pleasure comes pain,” says Solomon; and after the sight of Lady Mildmay’s truly noble plantations, came that of the clouts of the “gentlemen cadets” of the “Royal Military College of Sandhurst!” Here, close by the road side, is the drying-ground. Sheets, shirts, and all sorts of things were here spread upon lines, covering, perhaps, an acre of ground! We soon afterwards came to “York Place” on “Osnaburg Hill.” And is there never to be an end of these things? Away to the left, we see that immense building, which contains children breeding up to be military commanders! Has this plan cost so little as two millions of pounds? I never see this place (and I have seen it forty times during the last twenty years) without asking myself this question: Will this thing be suffered to go on; will this thing, created by money raised by loan; will this thing be upheld by means of taxes, while the interest of the Debt is reduced, on the ground that the nation is unable to pay the interest in full?—Answer that question, Castlereagh, Sidmouth, Brougham, or Scarlett.

 

 


[Pg 40]

KENTISH JOURNAL: FROM KENSINGTON TO DARTFORD, ROCHESTER, CHATHAM, AND FAVERSHAM.

 

Tuesday, December 4, 1821,
Elverton Farm, near Faversham, Kent.

This is the first time, since I went to France, in 1792, that I have been on this side of Shooters’ Hill. The land, generally speaking, from Deptford to Dartford is poor, and the surface ugly by nature, to which ugliness there has been made, just before we came to the latter place, a considerable addition by the enclosure of a common, and by the sticking up of some shabby-genteel houses, surrounded with dead fences and things called gardens, in all manner of ridiculous forms, making, all together, the bricks, hurdle-rods and earth say, as plainly as they can speak, “Here dwell vanity and poverty.” This is a little excrescence that has grown out of the immense sums which have been drawn from other parts of the kingdom to be expended on Barracks, Magazines, Martello-Towers, Catamarans, and all the excuses for lavish expenditure which the war for the Bourbons gave rise to. All things will return; these rubbishy flimsy things, on this common, will first be deserted, then crumble down, then be swept away, and the cattle, sheep, pigs and geese will once more graze upon the common, which will again furnish heath, furze and turf for the labourers on the neighbouring lands.—After you leave Dartford the land becomes excellent. You come to a bottom of chalk, many feet from the surface, and when that is the case the land is sure to be good; no wet at bottom, no deep ditches, no water furrows necessary; sufficiently moist in dry weather, and no water lying about upon it in wet weather for any length of time. The chalk acts as a filtering-stone, not as a sieve, like gravel, and not as a dish, like clay. The chalk acts as the soft stone in Herefordshire does; but it is not so congenial to trees that have tap-roots.—Along through Gravesend towards Rochester the country presents a sort of gardening scene. Rochester (the Bishop of which is, or lately was, tax Collector for London and Middlesex) is a small but crowded place, lying on the south bank of the beautiful Medway, with a rising ground on the other side of the city. Stroud, which you pass through before you come to the bridge, over which you go to enter Rochester; Rochester itself, and Chatham, form, in fact, one main street of about two miles and a half in length.—Here I was got into the scenes of my cap-and-feather days! Here, at between sixteen and seventeen, I [Pg 41]enlisted for a soldier. Upon looking up towards the fortifications and the barracks, how many recollections crowded into my mind! The girls in these towns do not seem to be so pretty as they were thirty-eight years ago; or, am I not so quick in discovering beauties as I was then? Have thirty-eight years corrected my taste, or made me a hypercritic in these matters? Is it that I now look at them with the solemnness of a “professional man,” and not with the enthusiasm and eagerness of an “amateur?” I leave these questions for philosophers to solve. One thing I will say for the young women of these towns, and that is, that I always found those of them that I had the great happiness to be acquainted with, evince a sincere desire to do their best to smooth the inequalities of life, and to give us, “brave fellows,” as often as they could, strong beer, when their churlish masters of fathers or husbands would have drenched us to death with small. This, at the out-set of life, gave me a high opinion of the judgment and justice of the female sex; an opinion which has been confirmed by the observations of my whole life.—This Chatham has had some monstrous wens stuck on to it by the lavish expenditure of the war. These will moulder away. It is curious enough that I should meet with a gentleman in an inn at Chatham to give me a picture of the house-distress in that enormous wen, which, during the war, was stuck on to Portsmouth. Not less than fifty thousand people had been drawn together there! These are now dispersing. The coagulated blood is diluting and flowing back through the veins. Whole streets are deserted, and the eyes of the houses knocked out by the boys that remain. The jackdaws, as much as to say, “Our turn to be inspired and to teach is come,” are beginning to take possession of the Methodist chapels. The gentleman told me that he had been down to Portsea to sell half a street of houses, left him by a relation; and that nobody would give him anything for them further than as very cheap fuel and rubbish! Good God! And is this “prosperity?” Is this the “prosperity of the war?” Have I not, for twenty long years, been regretting the existence of these unnatural embossments; these white-swellings, these odious wens, produced by Corruption and engendering crime and misery and slavery? We shall see the whole of these wens abandoned by the inhabitants, and, at last, the cannons on the fortifications may be of some use in battering down the buildings.—But what is to be the fate of the great wen of all? The monster called, by the silly coxcombs of the press, “the metropolis of the empire”? What is to become of that multitude of towns that has been stuck up around it? The village of Kingston was smothered in the town of Portsea; and why?[Pg 42] Because taxes, drained from other parts of the kingdom, were brought thither.

The dispersion of the wen is the only real difficulty that I see in settling the affairs of the nation and restoring it to a happy state. But dispersed it must be; and if there be half a million, or more, of people to suffer, the consolation is, that the suffering will be divided into half a million of parts. As if the swelling out of London, naturally produced by the Funding System, were not sufficient; as if the evil were not sufficiently great from the inevitable tendency of the system of loans and funds, our pretty gentlemen must resort to positive institutions to augment the population of the Wen. They found that the increase of the Wen produced an increase of thieves and prostitutes, an increase of all sorts of diseases, an increase of miseries of all sorts; they saw that taxes drawn up to one point produced these effects; they must have a “penitentiary,” for instance, to check the evil, and that they must needs have in the Wen! So that here were a million of pounds, drawn up in taxes, employed not only to keep the thieves and prostitutes still in the Wen, but to bring up to the Wen workmen to build the penitentiary, who and whose families, amounting, perhaps, to thousands, make an addition to the cause of that crime and misery, to check which is the object of the Penitentiary! People would follow, they must follow, the million of money. However, this is of a piece with all the rest of their goings on. They and their predecessors, Ministers and House, have been collecting together all the materials for a dreadful explosion; and if the explosion be not dreadful, other heads must point out the means of prevention.

 

Wednesday, 5 Dec.

The land on quitting Chatham is chalk at bottom; but before you reach Sittingbourne there is a vein of gravel and sand under, but a great depth of loam above. About Sittingbourne the chalk bottom comes again, and continues on to this place, where the land appears to me to be as good as it can possibly be. Mr. William Waller, at whose house I am, has grown, this year, Mangel-Wurzel, the roots of which weigh, I think, on an average, twelve pounds, and in rows, too, at only about thirty inches distant from each other. In short, as far as soil goes, it is impossible to see a finer country than this. You frequently see a field of fifty acres, level as a die, clean as a garden and as rich. Mr. Birkbeck need not have crossed the Atlantic, and Alleghany into the bargain, to look for land too rich to bear wheat; for here is a plenty of it. In short, this is a country of hop-gardens, cherry, apple, pear and filbert orchards, and quick-set[Pg 43] hedges. But, alas! what, in point of beauty, is a country without woods and lofty trees! And here there are very few indeed. I am now sitting in a room, from the window of which I look, first, over a large and level field of rich land, in which the drilled wheat is finely come up, and which is surrounded by clipped quickset hedges with a row of apple trees running by the sides of them; next, over a long succession of rich meadows, which are here called marshes, the shortest grass upon which will fatten sheep or oxen; next, over a little branch of the salt water which runs up to Faversham; beyond that, on the Isle of Shepry (or Shepway), which rises a little into a sort of ridge that runs along it; rich fields, pastures and orchards lie all around me; and yet, I declare, that I a million times to one prefer, as a spot to live on, the heaths, the miry coppices, the wild woods and the forests of Sussex and Hampshire.

 

Thursday, 6 Dec.

“Agricultural distress” is the great topic of general conversation. The Webb Hallites seem to prevail here. The fact is, farmers in general read nothing but the newspapers; these, in the Wen, are under the control of the Corruption of one or the other of the factions; and in the country, nine times out of ten, under the control of the parsons and landlords, who are the magistrates, as they are pompously called, that is to say, Justices of the Peace. From such vehicles what are farmers to learn? They are, in general, thoughtful and sensible men; but their natural good sense is perverted by these publications, had it not been for which we never should have seen “a sudden transition from war to peace” lasting seven years, and more sudden in its destructive effects at last than at first. Sir Edward Knatchbull and Mr. Honeywood are the members of the “Collective Wisdom” for this county. The former was, till of late, a Tax-Collector. I hear that he is a great advocate for corn-bills! I suppose he does not wish to let people who have leases see the bottom of the evil. He may get his rents for this year; but it will be his last year, if the interest of the Debt be not very greatly reduced. Some people here think that corn is smuggled in even now! Perhaps it is, upon the whole, best that the delusion should continue for a year longer; as that would tend to make the destruction of the system more sure, or, at least, make the cure more radical.

 

Friday, 7 Dec.

I went through Faversham. A very pretty little town, and just ten minutes’ walk from the market-place up to the Dover turnpike-road. Here are the powder-affairs that Mr. Hume[Pg 44] so well exposed. An immensity of buildings and expensive things. Why are not these premises let or sold? However, this will never be done until there be a reformed Parliament. Pretty little Van, that beauty of all beauties; that orator of all orators; that saint of all saints; that financier of all financiers, said that if Mr. Hume were to pare down the expenses of government to his wish, there would be others “the Hunts, Cobbetts, and Carliles, who would still want the expense to be less.” I do not know how low Mr. Hume would wish to go; but for myself I say that if I ever have the power to do it, I will reduce the expenditure, and that in quick time too, down to what it was in the reign of Queen Anne; that is to say, to less than is now paid to tax-gatherers for their labour in collecting the taxes; and, monstrous as Van may think the idea, I do not regard it as impossible that I may have such power; which I would certainly not employ to do an act of injustice to any human being, and would, at the same time, maintain the throne in more real splendour than that in which it is now maintained. But I would have nothing to do with any Vans, except as door-keepers or porters.

 

Saturday, 8 Dec.

Came home very much pleased with my visit to Mr. Walker, in whose house I saw no drinking of wine, spirits, or even beer; where all, even to the little children, were up by candle-light in the morning, and where the most perfect sobriety was accompanied by constant cheerfulness. Kent is in a deplorable way. The farmers are skilful and intelligent, generally speaking. But there is infinite corruption in Kent, owing partly to the swarms of West Indians, Nabobs, Commissioners, and others of nearly the same description, that have selected it for the place of their residence; but owing still more to the immense sums of public money that have, during the last thirty years, been expended in it. And when one thinks of these, the conduct of the people of Dover, Canterbury, and other places, in the case of the ever-lamented Queen, does them everlasting honour. The fruit in Kent is more select than in Herefordshire, where it is raised for cyder, while, in Kent, it is raised for sale in its fruit state, a great deal being sent to the Wen, and a great deal sent to the North of England and to Scotland. The orchards are beautiful indeed. Kept in the neatest order, and, indeed, all belonging to them excels anything of the kind to be seen in Normandy; and as to apples, I never saw any so good in France as those of Kent. This county, so blessed by Providence, has been cursed by the System in a peculiar degree. It has been the receiver of immense sums, raised on the other counties. This[Pg 45] has puffed its rents to an unnatural height; and now that the drain of other counties is stopped, it feels like a pampered pony turned out in winter to live upon a common. It is in an extremely “unsatisfactory state,” and has certainly a greater mass of suffering to endure than any other part of the kingdom, the Wens only excepted. Sir Edward Knatchbull, who is a child of the System, does appear to see no more of the cause of these sufferings than if he were a baby. How should he? Not very bright by nature; never listening but to one side of the question; being a man who wants high rents to be paid him; not gifted with much light, and that little having to strive against prejudice, false shame, and self interest, what wonder is there that he should not see things in their true light?

 

 


NORFOLK AND SUFFOLK JOURNAL.

 

Bergh-Apton, near Norwich,
Monday, 10 Dec. 1821.

From the Wen to Norwich, from which I am now distant seven miles, there is nothing in Essex, Suffolk, or this county, that can be called a hill. Essex, when you get beyond the immediate influence of the gorgings and disgorgings of the Wen; that is to say, beyond the demand for crude vegetables and repayment in manure, is by no means a fertile county. There appears generally to be a bottom of clay; not soft chalk, which they persist in calling clay in Norfolk. I wish I had one of these Norfolk men in a coppice in Hampshire or Sussex, and I would show him what clay is. Clay is what pots and pans and jugs and tiles are made of; and not soft, whitish stuff that crumbles to pieces in the sun, instead of baking as hard as a stone, and which, in dry weather, is to be broken to pieces by nothing short of a sledge-hammer. The narrow ridges on which the wheat is sown; the water furrows; the water standing in the dips of the pastures; the rusty iron-like colour of the water coming out of some of the banks; the deep ditches; the rusty look of the pastures—all show, that here is a bottom of clay. Yet there is gravel too; for the oaks do not grow well. It was not till I got nearly to Sudbury that I saw much change for the better. Here the bottom of chalk, the soft dirty-looking chalk that the Norfolk people call clay, begins to be the bottom, and this, with very little exception (as far as I have been) is the[Pg 46] bottom of all the lands of these two fine counties of Suffolk and Norfolk.—Sudbury has some fine meadows near it on the sides of the river Stour. The land all along to Bury Saint Edmund’s is very fine; but no trees worth looking at. Bury, formerly the seat of an Abbot, the last of whom was, I think, hanged, or somehow put to death, by that matchless tyrant, Henry VIII., is a very pretty place; extremely clean and neat; no ragged or dirty people to be seen, and women (young ones I mean) very pretty and very neatly dressed.—On this side of Bury, a considerable distance lower, I saw a field of Rape, transplanted very thick, for, I suppose, sheep feed in the spring. The farming all along to Norwich is very good. The land clean, and everything done in a masterly manner.

 

Tuesday, 11 Dec.

Mr. Samuel Clarke, my host, has about 30 acres of Swedes in rows. Some at 4 feet distances, some at 30 inches; and about 4 acres of the 4-feet Swedes were transplanted. I have seen thousands of acres of Swedes in these counties, and here are the largest crops that I have seen. The widest rows are decidedly the largest crops here; and, the transplanted, though under disadvantageous circumstances, amongst the best of the best. The wide rows amount to at least 20 tons to the acre, exclusive of the greens taken off two months ago, which weighed 5 tons to the acre. Then, there is the inter tillage, so beneficial to the land, and the small quantity of manure required in the broad rows, compared to what is required when the seed is drilled or sown upon the level. Mr. Nicholls, a neighbour of Mr. Clarke, has a part of a field transplanted on seven turn ridges, put in when in the other part of the field, drilled, the plants were a fortnight old. He has a much larger crop in the transplanted than in the drilled part. But, if it had been a fly-year, he might have had none in the drilled part, while, in all probability, the crop in the transplanted part would have been better than it now is, seeing that a wet summer, though favourable to the hitting of the Swedes, is by no means favourable to their attaining a great size of bulb. This is the case this year with all turnips. A great deal of leaf and neck, but not bulbs in proportion. The advantages of transplanting are, first, you make sure of a crop in spite of fly; and, second, you have six weeks or two months longer to prepare your ground. And the advantages of wide rows are, first, that you want only about half the quantity of manure; and, second, that you plough the ground two or three times during the summer.

[Pg 47]

 

Grove, near Holt, Thursday, 13th Dec.

Came to the Grove (Mr. Withers’s), near Holt, along with Mr. Clarke. Through Norwich to Aylsham and then to Holt. On our road we passed the house of the late Lord Suffield, who married Castlereagh’s wife’s sister, who is a daughter of the late Earl of Buckinghamshire, who had for so many years that thumping sinecure of eleven thousand a year in Ireland, and who was the son of a man that, under the name of Mr. Hobart, cut such a figure in supporting Lord North and afterwards Pitt, and was made a peer under the auspices of the latter of these two heaven-born Ministers. This house, which is a very ancient one, was, they say, the birth-place of Ann de Boleyne, the mother of Queen Elizabeth. Not much matter; for she married the king while his real wife was alive. I could have excused her, if there had been no marrying in the case; but hypocrisy, always bad, becomes detestable when it resorts to religious ceremony as its mask. She, no more than Cranmer, seems, to her last moments, to have remembered her sins against her lawful queen. Fox’s “Book of Martyrs,” that ought to be called “the Book of Liars,” says that Cranmer, the recanter and re-recanter, held out his offending hand in the flames, and cried out “that hand, that hand!” If he had cried out Catherine! Catherine! I should have thought better of him; but it is clear that the whole story is a lie, invented by the protestants, and particularly by the sectarians, to white-wash the character of this perfidious hypocrite and double apostate, who, if bigotry had something to do in bringing him to the stake, certainly deserved his fate, if any offences committed by man can deserve so horrible a punishment.—The present Lord Suffield is that Mr. Edward Harbord, whose father-in-law left him 500l. to buy a seat in Parliament, and who refused to carry an address to the late beloved and lamented Queen, because Major Cartwright and myself were chosen to accompany him! Never mind, my Lord; you will grow less fastidious! They say, however, that he is really good to his tenants, and has told them, that he will take anything that they can give. There is some sense in this! He is a great Bible Man; and it is strange that he cannot see, that things are out of order, when his interference in this way can be at all necessary, while there is a Church that receives a tenth part of the produce of the earth.—There are some oak woods here, but very poor. Not like those, not near like the worst of those, in Hampshire and Herefordshire. All this eastern coast seems very unpropitious to trees of all sorts.—We passed through the estate of a Mr. Marsin, whose house is near the road, a very poor spot, and the first really poor ground[Pg 48] I have seen in Norfolk. A nasty spewy black gravel on the top of a sour clay. It is worse than the heaths between Godalming and Liphook; for, while it is too poor to grow anything but heath, it is too cold to give you the chirping of the grasshopper in summer. However, Mr. Marsin has been too wise to enclose this wretched land, which is just like that which Lord Caernarvon has enclosed in the parishes of Highclere, and Burghclere, and which, for tillage, really is not worth a single farthing an acre.—Holt is a little, old-fashioned, substantially-built market-town. The land just about it, or, at least, towards the east, is poor, and has been lately enclosed.

 

Friday, 14th Dec.

Went to see the estate of Mr. Hardy at Leveringsett, a hamlet about two miles from Holt. This is the first time that I have seen a valley in this part of England. From Holt you look, to the distance of seven or eight miles, over a very fine valley, leaving a great deal of inferior hill and dell within its boundaries. At the bottom of this general valley, Mr. Hardy has a very beautiful estate of about four hundred acres. His house is at one end of it near the high road, where he has a malt-house and a brewery, the neat and ingenious manner of managing which I would detail if my total unacquaintance with machinery did not disqualify me for the task. His estate forms a valley of itself, somewhat longer than broad. The tops, and the sides of the tops of the hills round it, and also several little hillocks in the valley itself, are judiciously planted with trees of various sorts, leaving good wide roads, so that it is easy to ride round them in a carriage. The fields, the fences, the yards and stacks, the buildings, the cattle, all showed the greatest judgment and industry. There was really nothing that the most critical observer could say was out of order. However, the forest trees do not grow well here. The oaks are mere scrubs, as they are about Brentwood in Essex, and in some parts of Cornwall; and, for some unaccountable reason, people seldom plant the ash, which no wind will shave, as it does the oak.

 

Saturday, 15 Dec.

Spent the evening amongst the Farmers, at their Market Room at Holt; and very much pleased at them I was. We talked over the cause of the low prices, and I, as I have done everywhere, endeavoured to convince them, that prices must fall a great deal lower yet; and that no man, who wishes not to be ruined, ought to keep or take a farm, unless on a calculation of best wheat at 4s. a bushel and a best Southdown ewe at 15s. or even 12s. They heard me patiently, and, I believe, were well convinced of the truth of what I said. I told them[Pg 49] of the correctness of the predictions of their great countryman, Mr. Paine, and observed, how much better it would have been, to take his advice, than to burn him in effigy. I endeavoured (but in such a case all human powers must fail!) to describe to them the sort and size of the talents of the Stern-path-of-duty man, of the great hole-digger, of the jester, of the Oxford scholar, of the loan-jobber (who had just made an enormous grasp), of the Oracle, and so on. Here, as everywhere else, I hear every creature speak loudly in praise of Mr. Coke. It is well known to my readers, that I think nothing of him as a public man; that I think even his good qualities an injury to his country, because they serve the knaves whom he is duped by to dupe the people more effectually; but, it would be base in me not to say, that I hear, from men of all parties, and sensible men too, expressions made use of towards him that affectionate children use towards the best of parents. I have not met with a single exception.

 

Bergh Apton,
Sunday, 16 Dec.

Came from Holt through Saxthorpe and Cawston. At the former village were on one end of a decent white house, these words, “Queen Caroline; for her Britons mourn,” and a crown over all in black. I need not have looked to see: I might have been sure that the owner of the house was a shoe-maker, a trade which numbers more men of sense and of public spirit than any other in the kingdom.—At Cawston we stopped at a public house, the keeper of which had taken and read the Register for years. I shall not attempt to describe the pleasure I felt at the hearty welcome given us by Mr. Pern and his wife and by a young miller of the village, who, having learnt at Holt that we were to return that way, had come to meet us, the house being on the side of the great road, from which the village is at some distance. This is the birth-place of the famous Botley Parson, all the history of whom we now learned, and, if we could have gone to the village, they were prepared to ring the bells, and show us the old woman who nursed the Botley Parson! These Norfolk baws never do things by halves. We came away, very much pleased with our reception at Cawston, and with a promise, on my part, that, if I visited the county again, I would write a Register there; a promise which I shall certainly keep.

 

Great Yarmouth,
Friday (morning), 21st Dec.

The day before yesterday I set out for Bergh Apton with Mr. Clarke, to come hither by the way of Beccles in Suffolk.[Pg 50] We stopped at Mr. Charles Clarke’s at Beccles, where we saw some good and sensible men, who see clearly into all the parts of the works of the “Thunderers,” and whose anticipations, as to the “general working of events,” are such as they ought to be. They gave us a humorous account of the “rabble” having recently crowned a Jackass, and of a struggle between them and the “Yeomanry Cavaltry.” This was a place of most ardent and blazing loyalty, as the pretenders to it call it; but, it seems it now blazes less furiously; it is milder, more measured in its effusions; and, with the help of low prices, will become bearable in time. This Beccles is a very pretty place, has watered meadows near it, and is situated amidst fine lands. What a system it must be to make people wretched in a country like this! Could he be heaven-born that invented such a system? Gaffer Gooch’s father, a very old man, lives not far from here. We had a good deal of fun about the Gaffer, who will certainly never lose the name, unless he should be made a Lord.—We slept at the house of a friend of Mr. Clarke on our way, and got to this very fine town of Great Yarmouth yesterday about noon. A party of friends met us and conducted us about the town, which is a very beautiful one indeed. What I liked best, however, was the hearty welcome that I met with, because it showed, that the reign of calumny and delusion was passed. A company of gentlemen gave me a dinner in the evening, and, in all my life I never saw a set of men more worthy of my respect and gratitude. Sensible, modest, understanding the whole of our case, and clearly foreseeing what is about to happen. One gentleman proposed, that, as it would be impossible for all to go to London, there should be a Provincial Feast of the Gridiron, a plan, which, I hope, will be adopted—I leave Great Yarmouth with sentiments of the sincerest regard for all those whom I there saw and conversed with, and with my best wishes for the happiness of all its inhabitants; nay, even the parsons not excepted; for, if they did not come to welcome me, they collected in a group to see me, and that was one step towards doing justice to him whom their order have so much, so foully, and, if they knew their own interest, so foolishly slandered.

 

Bergh Apton,
22nd Dec. (night).

After returning from Yarmouth yesterday, went to dine at Stoke-Holy-Cross, about six miles off; got home at mid-night, and came to Norwich this morning, this being market-day, and also the day fixed on for a Radical Reform Dinner at the Swan Inn, to which I was invited. Norwich is a very fine[Pg 51] city, and the Castle, which stands in the middle of it, on a hill, is truly majestic. The meat and poultry and vegetable market is beautiful. It is kept in a large open square in the middle, or nearly so, of the City. The ground is a pretty sharp slope, so that you see all at once. It resembles one of the French markets, only there the vendors are all standing and gabbling like parrots, and the meat is lean and bloody and nasty, and the people snuffy and grimy in hands and face, the contrary, precisely the contrary of all which is the case in this beautiful market at Norwich, where the women have a sort of uniform brown great coats, with white aprons and bibs (I think they call them) going from the apron up to the bosom. They equal in neatness (for nothing can surpass) the market women in Philadelphia.—The cattle-market is held on the hill by the castle, and many fairs are smaller in bulk of stock. The corn-market is held in a very magnificent place, called Saint Andrew’s Hall, which will contain two or three thousand persons. They tell me, that this used to be a most delightful scene; a most joyous one; and, I think, it was this scene that Mr. Curwen described in such glowing colours when he was talking of the Norfolk farmers, each worth so many thousands of pounds. Bear me witness, reader, that I never was dazzled by such sights; that the false glare never put my eyes out; and that, even then, twelve years ago, I warned Mr. Curwen of the result! Bear witness to this, my Disciples, and justify the doctrines of him for whose sakes you have endured persecution. How different would Mr. Curwen find the scene now! What took place at the dinner has been already recorded in the Register; and I have only to add with regard to it, that my reception at Norfolk was such, that I have only to regret the total want of power to make those hearty Norfolk and Norwich friends any suitable return, whether by act or word.

 

Kensington,
Monday, 24 Dec.

Went from Bergh Apton to Norwich in the morning, and from Norwich to London during the day, carrying with me great admiration of and respect for this county of excellent farmers, and hearty, open and spirited men. The Norfolk people are quick and smart in their motions and in their speaking. Very neat and trim in all their farming concerns, and very skilful. Their land is good, their roads are level, and the bottom of their soil is dry, to be sure; and these are great advantages; but they are diligent, and make the most of everything. Their management of all sorts of stock is most judicious; they are careful about manure; their teams move quickly; and, in short,[Pg 52] it is a county of most excellent cultivators.—The churches in Norfolk are generally large and the towers lofty. They have all been well built at first. Many of them are of the Saxon architecture. They are, almost all (I do not remember an exception), placed on the highest spots to be found near where they stand; and, it is curious enough, that the contrary practice should have prevailed in hilly countries, where they are generally found in valleys and in low, sheltered dells, even in those valleys! These churches prove that the people of Norfolk and Suffolk were always a superior people in point of wealth, while the size of them proves that the country parts were, at one time, a great deal more populous than they now are. The great drawbacks on the beauty of these counties are, their flatness and their want of fine woods; but, to those who can dispense with these, Norfolk, under a wise and just government, can have nothing to ask more than Providence and the industry of man have given.

 

Landlord Distress Meetings.

For, in fact, it is not the farmer, but the Landlord and Parson, who wants relief from the “Collective.” The tenant’s remedy is, quitting his farm or bringing down his rent to what he can afford to give, wheat being 3 or 4 shillings a bushel. This is his remedy. What should he want high prices for? They can do him no good; and this I proved to the farmers last year. The fact is, the Landlords and Parsons are urging the farmers on to get something done to give them high rents and high tithes.

At Hertford there has been a meeting at which some sense was discovered, at any rate. The parties talked about the fund-holder, the Debt, the taxes, and so on, and seemed to be in a very warm temper. Pray, keep yourselves cool, gentlemen; for you have a great deal to endure yet. I deeply regret that I have not room to insert the resolutions of this meeting.

There is to be a meeting at Battle (East Sussex) on the 3rd instant, at which I mean to be. I want to see my friends on the South Downs. To see how they look now.

[At a public dinner given to Mr. Cobbett at Norwich, on the market-day above mentioned, the company drank the toast of Mr. Cobbett and his “Trash,” the name “two-penny trash,” having being at one time applied by Lord Castlereagh to the Register. In acknowledging this toast Mr. Cobbett addressed the company in a speech, of which the following is a passage:]

“My thanks to you for having drunk my health, are great and sincere; but much greater pleasure do I feel at the [Pg 53]approbation bestowed on that Trash, which has, for so many years been a mark for the finger of scorn to be pointed at by ignorant selfishness and arrogant and insolent power. To enumerate, barely to name, all, or a hundredth part of, the endeavours that have been made to stifle this Trash would require a much longer space of time than that which we have now before us. But, gentlemen, those endeavours must have cost money; money must have been expended in the circulation of Anti-Cobbett, and the endless bale of papers and pamphlets put forth to check the progress of the Trash: and, when we take into view the immense sums expended in keeping down the spirit excited by the Trash, who of us is to tell, whether these endeavours, taken altogether, may not have added many millions to that debt, of which (without any hint at a concomitant measure) some men have now the audacity, the unprincipled, the profligate assurance to talk of reducing the interest. The Trash, Gentlemen, is now triumphant; its triumph we are now met to celebrate; proofs of its triumph I myself witnessed not many hours ago, in that scene where the best possible evidence was to be found. In walking through St. Andrew’s Hall, my mind was not so much engaged on the grandeur of the place, or on the gratifying reception I met with; those hearty shakes by the hand which I so much like, those smiles of approbation, which not to see with pride would argue an insensibility to honest fame: even these, I do sincerely assure you, engaged my mind much less than the melancholy reflection, that, of the two thousand or fifteen hundred farmers then in my view, there were probably three-fourths who came to the Hall with aching hearts, and who would leave it in a state of mental agony. What a thing to contemplate, Gentlemen! What a scene is here! A set of men, occupiers of the land; producers of all that we eat, drink, wear, and of all that forms the buildings that shelter us; a set of men industrious and careful by habit; cool, thoughtful, and sensible from the instructions of nature; a set of men provident above all others, and engaged in pursuits in their nature stable as the very earth they till: to see a set of men like this plunged into anxiety, embarrassment, jeopardy, not to be described; and when the particular individuals before me were famed for their superior skill in this great and solid pursuit, and were blessed with soil and other circumstances to make them prosperous and happy: to behold this sight would have been more than sufficient to sink my heart within me, had I not been upheld by the reflection, that I had done all in my power to prevent these calamities, and that I still had in reserve that which, with the assistance of the sufferers themselves, would restore them and the nation to happiness.”

 

 


[Pg 54]

SUSSEX JOURNAL: TO BATTLE, THROUGH BROMLEY, SEVEN-OAKS, AND TUNBRIDGE.

 

Battle,
Wednesday, 2 Jan. 1822.

Came here to-day from Kensington, in order to see what goes on at the Meeting to be held here to-morrow, of the “Gentry, Clergy, Freeholders, and Occupiers of Land in the Rape of Hastings, to take into consideration the distressed state of the Agricultural interest.” I shall, of course, give an account of this meeting after it has taken place.—You come through part of Kent to get to Battle from the Great Wen on the Surrey side of the Thames. The first town is Bromley, the next Seven-Oaks, the next Tunbridge, and between Tunbridge and this place you cross the boundaries of the two counties.—From the Surrey Wen to Bromley the land is generally a deep loam on a gravel, and you see few trees except elm. A very ugly country. On quitting Bromley the land gets poorer; clay at bottom; the wheat sown on five, or seven, turn lands; the furrows shining with wet; rushes on the wastes on the sides of the road. Here there is a common, part of which has been enclosed and thrown out again, or, rather, the fences carried away.—There is a frost this morning, some ice, and the women look rosy-cheeked.—There is a very great variety of soil along this road; bottom of yellow clay; then of sand; then of sand-stone; then of solider stone; then (for about five miles) of chalk; then of red clay; then chalk again; here (before you come to Seven-Oaks) is a most beautiful and rich valley, extending from east to west, with rich corn-fields and fine trees; then comes sand-stone again; and the hop-gardens near Seven-Oaks, which is a pretty little town with beautiful environs, part of which consists of the park of Knowle, the seat of the Duchess of Dorset. It is a very fine place. And there is another park, on the other side of the town. So that this is a delightful place, and the land appears to be very good. The gardens and houses all look neat and nice. On quitting Seven-Oaks you come to a bottom of gravel for a short distance, and to a clay for many miles. When I say that I saw teams carting gravel from this spot to a distance of nearly ten miles along the road, the reader will be at no loss to know what sort of bottom the land has all along here. The bottom then becomes sand-stone again. This vein of land runs all along through the county of Sussex, and the clay runs into Hampshire, across the forests of Bere and Waltham, then across the parishes of Ouslebury, Stoke, and passing between the sand hills of Southampton and chalk hills of Winchester, goes westward till stopped by the chalky downs between Romsey and[Pg 55] Salisbury.—Tunbridge is a small but very nice town, and has some fine meadows and a navigable river.—The rest of the way to Battle presents, alternately, clay and sand-stone. Of course the coppices and oak woods are very frequent. There is now and then a hop-garden spot, and now and then an orchard of apples or cherries; but these are poor indeed compared with what you see about Canterbury and Maidstone. The agricultural state of the country or, rather, the quality of the land, from Bromley to Battle, may be judged of from the fact, that I did not see, as I came along, more than thirty acres of Swedes during the fifty-six miles! In Norfolk I should, in the same distance, have seen five hundred acres! However, man was not the maker of the land; and, as to human happiness, I am of opinion, that as much, and even more, falls to the lot of the leather-legged chaps that live in and rove about amongst those clays and woods as to the more regularly disciplined labourers of the rich and prime parts of England. As “God has made the back to the burthen,” so the clay and coppice people make the dress to the stubs and bushes. Under the sole of the shoe is iron; from the sole six inches upwards is a high-low; then comes a leather bam to the knee; then comes a pair of leather breeches; then comes a stout doublet; over this comes a smock-frock; and the wearer sets brush and stubs and thorns and mire at defiance. I have always observed, that woodland and forest labourers are best off in the main. The coppices give them pleasant and profitable work in winter. If they have not so great a corn-harvest, they have a three weeks’ harvest in April or May; that is to say, in the season of barking, which in Hampshire is called stripping, and in Sussex flaying, which employs women and children as well as men. And then in the great article of fuel! They buy none. It is miserable work, where this is to be bought, and where, as at Salisbury, the poor take by turns the making of fires at their houses to boil four or five tea-kettles. What a winter-life must those lead, whose turn it is not to make the fire! At Launceston in Cornwall a man, a tradesman too, told me, that the people in general could not afford to have fire in ordinary, and that he himself paid 3d. for boiling a leg of mutton at another man’s fire! The leather-legged-race know none of these miseries, at any rate. They literally get their fuel “by hook or by crook,” whence, doubtless, comes that old and very expressive saying, which is applied to those cases where people will have a thing by one means or another.

 

Battle,
Thursday (night), 3 Jan. 1822.

To-day there has been a Meeting here of the landlords and[Pg 56] farmers in this part of Sussex, which is called the Rape of Hastings. The object was to agree on a petition to Parliament praying for relief! Good God! Where is this to end? We now see the effects of those rags which I have been railing against for the last twenty years. Here were collected together not less than 300 persons, principally landlords and farmers, brought from their homes by their distresses and by their alarms for the future! Never were such things heard in any country before; and, it is useless to hope, for terrific must be the consequences, if an effectual remedy be not speedily applied. The town, which is small, was in a great bustle before noon; and the Meeting (in a large room in the principal inn) took place about one o’clock. Lord Ashburnham was called to the chair, and there were present Mr. Curteis, one of the county members, Mr. Fuller, who formerly used to cut such a figure in the House of Commons, Mr. Lambe, and many other gentlemen of landed property within the Rape, or district, for which the Meeting was held. Mr. Curteis, after Lord Ashburnham had opened the business, addressed the Meeting.

Mr. Fuller then tendered some Resolutions, describing the fallen state of the landed interest, and proposing to pray, generally, for relief. Mr. Britton complained, that it was not proposed to pray for some specific measure, and insisted, that the cause of the evil was the rise in the value of money without a corresponding reduction in the taxes.—A Committee was appointed to draw up a petition, which was next produced. It merely described the distress, and prayed generally for relief. Mr. Holloway proposed an addition, containing an imputation of the distress to restricted currency and unabated taxation, and praying for a reduction of taxes. A discussion now arose upon two points: first, whether the addition were admissible at all! and, second, whether Mr. Holloway was qualified to offer it to the Meeting. Both the points having been, at last, decided in the affirmative, the addition, or amendment, was put, and lost; and then the original petition was adopted.

After the business of the day was ended, there was a dinner in the inn, in the same room where the Meeting had been held. I was at this dinner; and Mr. Britton having proposed my health, and Mr. Curteis, who was in the Chair, having given it, I thought it would have looked like mock-modesty, which is, in fact, only another term for hypocrisy, to refrain from expressing my opinions upon a point or two connected with the business of the day. I shall now insert a substantially correct sketch of what the company was indulgent enough to hear from me at the dinner; which I take from the report contained in the Morning Chronicle of Saturday last. The report in the Chronicle[Pg 57] has all the pith of what I advanced relative to the inutility of Corn Bills, and relative to the cause of further declining prices; two points of the greatest importance in themselves, and which I was, and am, uncommonly anxious to press upon the attention of the public.

The following is a part of the speech so reported:—

“I am decidedly of opinion, Gentlemen, that a Corn Bill of no description, no matter what its principles or provisions, can do either tenant or landlord any good; and I am not less decidedly of opinion, that though prices are now low, they must, all the present train of public measures continuing, be yet lower, and continue lower upon an average of years and of seasons.—As to a Corn Bill; a law to prohibit or check the importation of human food is a perfect novelty in our history, and ought, therefore, independent of the reason, and the recent experience of the case, to be received and entertained with great suspicion. Heretofore, premiums have been given for the exportation, and at other times, for the importation, of corn; but of laws to prevent the importation of human food our ancestors knew nothing. And what says recent experience? When the present Corn Bill was passed, I, then a farmer, unable to get my brother farmers to join me, petitioned singly against this Bill; and I stated to my brother farmers, that such a Bill could do us no good, while it would not fail to excite against us the ill-will of the other classes of the community; a thought by no means pleasant. Thus has it been. The distress of agriculture was considerable in magnitude then; but what is it now? And yet the Bill was passed; that Bill which was to remunerate and protect is still in force; the farmers got what they prayed to have granted them; and their distress, with a short interval of tardy pace, has proceeded rapidly increasing from that day to this. What, in the way of Corn Bill, can you have, Gentlemen, beyond absolute prohibition? And, have you not, since about April, 1819, had absolute prohibition? Since that time no corn has been imported, and then only thirty millions of bushels, which, supposing it all to have been wheat, was a quantity much too insignificant to produce any sensible depression in the price of the immense quantity of corn raised in this kingdom since the last bushel was imported. If your produce had fallen in this manner, if your prices had come down very low, immediately after the importation had taken place, there might have been some colour of reason to impute the fall to the importation; but it so happens, and as if for the express purpose of contradicting the crude notions of Mr. Webb Hall, that your produce has fallen in price at a greater rate, in proportion as time has removed you from the point of importation; and,[Pg 58] as to the circumstance, so ostentatiously put forward by Mr. Hall and others, that there is still some of the imported corn unsold, what does it prove but the converse of what those Gentlemen aim at, that is to say, that the holders cannot afford to sell it at present prices; for, if they could gain but ever so little by the sale, would they keep it wasting and costing money in warehouse? There appears with some persons to be a notion, that the importation of corn is a new thing. They seem to forget, that, during the last war, when agriculture was so prosperous, the ports were always open; that prodigious quantities of corn were imported during the war; that, so far from importation being prohibited, high premiums were given, paid out of the taxes, partly raised upon English farmers, to induce men to import corn. All this seems to be forgotten as much as if it had never taken place; and now the distress of the English farmer is imputed to a cause which was never before an object of his attention, and a desire is expressed to put an end to a branch of commerce which the nation has always freely carried on. I think, Gentlemen, that here are reasons quite sufficient to make any man but Mr. Webb Hall slow to impute the present distress to the importation of corn; but, at any rate, what can you have beyond absolute efficient prohibition? No law, no duty, however high; nothing that the Parliament can do can go beyond this; and this you now have, in effect, as completely as if this were the only country beneath the sky. For these reasons, Gentlemen, (and to state more would be a waste of your time and an affront to your understandings,) I am convinced, that, in the way of Corn Bill, it is impossible for the Parliament to afford you any, even the smallest, portion of relief. As to the other point, Gentlemen, the tendency which the present measures and course of things have to carry prices lower, and considerably lower than they now are, and to keep them for a permanency at that low rate, this is a matter worthy of the serious attention of all connected with the land, and particularly of that of the renting farmer. During the war no importations distressed the farmer. It was not till peace came that the cry of distress was heard. But, during the war, there was a boundless issue of paper money. Those issues were instantly narrowed by the peace, the law being, that the Bank should pay in cash six months after the peace should take place. This was the cause of that distress which led to the present Corn Bill. The disease occasioned by the preparations for cash-payments, has been brought to a crisis by Mr. Peel’s Bill, which has, in effect, doubled, if not tripled, the real amount of the taxes, and violated all contracts for time; given triple gains to every lender, and placed every borrower in jeopardy.

[Pg 59]

 

Kensington, Friday, 4 Jan. 1822.

Got home from Battle. I had no time to see the town, having entered the Inn on Wednesday in the dusk of the evening, having been engaged all day yesterday in the Inn, and having come out of it only to get into the coach this morning. I had not time to go even to see Battle Abbey, the seat of the Webster family, now occupied by a man of the name of Alexander! Thus they replace them! It will take a much shorter time than most people imagine to put out all the ancient families. I should think, that six years will turn out all those who receive nothing out of taxes. The greatness of the estate is no protection to the owner; for, great or little, it will soon yield him no rents; and, when the produce is nothing in either case, the small estate is as good as the large one. Mr. Curteis said, that the land was immovable; yes; but the rents are not. And, if freeholds cannot be seized for common contract debts, the carcass of the owner may. But, in fact, there will be no rents; and, without these, the ownership is an empty sound. Thus, at last, the burthen will, as I always said it would, fall upon the land-owner; and, as the fault of supporting the system has been wholly his, the burthen will fall upon the right back. Whether he will now call in the people to help him to shake it off is more than I can say; but, if he do not, I am sure that he must sink under it. And then, will revolution No. I. have been accomplished; but far, and very far indeed, will that be from being the close of the drama!—I cannot quit Battle without observing, that the country is very pretty all about it. All hill, or valley. A great deal of wood-land, in which the underwood is generally very fine, though the oaks are not very fine, and a good deal covered with moss. This shows, that the clay ends before the tap-root of the oak gets as deep as it would go; for, when the clay goes the full depth, the oaks are always fine.—The woods are too large and too near each other for hare-hunting; and, as to coursing it is out of the question here. But it is a fine country for shooting and for harbouring game of all sorts.—It was rainy as I came home; but the woodmen were at work. A great many hop-poles are cut here, which makes the coppices more valuable than in many other parts. The women work in the coppices, shaving the bark of the hop-poles, and, indeed, at various other parts of the business. These poles are shaved to prevent maggots from breeding in the bark and accelerating the destruction of the pole. It is curious that the bark of trees should generate maggots; but it has, as well as the wood, a sugary matter in it. The hickory wood in America sends out[Pg 60] from the ends of the logs when these are burning, great quantities of the finest syrup that can be imagined. Accordingly, that wood breeds maggots, or worms as they are usually called, surprisingly. Our ash breeds worms very much. When the tree or pole is cut, the moist matter between the outer bark and the wood putrifies. Thence come the maggots, which soon begin to eat their way into the wood. For this reason the bark is shaved off the hop-poles, as it ought to be off all our timber trees, as soon as cut, especially the ash.—Little boys and girls shave hop-poles and assist in other coppice work very nicely. And it is pleasant work when the weather is dry overhead. The woods, bedded with leaves as they are, are clean and dry underfoot. They are warm too, even in the coldest weather. When the ground is frozen several inches deep in the open fields, it is scarcely frozen at all in a coppice where the underwood is a good plant, and where it is nearly high enough to cut. So that the woodman’s is really a pleasant life. We are apt to think that the birds have a hard time of it in winter. But we forget the warmth of the woods, which far exceeds anything to be found in farm yards. When Sidmouth started me from my farm, in 1817, I had just planted my farm yard round with a pretty coppice. But, never mind, Sidmouth and I shall, I dare say, have plenty of time and occasion to talk about that coppice, and many other things, before we die. And, can I, when I think of these things, now, pity those to whom Sidmouth owed his power of starting me!—But let me forget the subject for this time at any rate.—Woodland countries are interesting on many accounts. Not so much on account of their masses of green leaves, as on account of the variety of sights and sounds and incidents that they afford. Even in winter the coppices are beautiful to the eye, while they comfort the mind with the idea of shelter and warmth. In spring they change their hue from day to day during two whole months, which is about the time from the first appearance of the delicate leaves of the birch to the full expansion of those of the ash; and, even before the leaves come at all to intercept the view, what in the vegetable creation is so delightful to behold as the bed of a coppice bespangled with primroses and blue-bells? The opening of the birch leaves is the signal for the pheasant to begin to crow, for the blackbird to whistle, and the thrush to sing; and, just when the oak-buds begin to look reddish, and not a day before, the whole tribe of finches burst forth in songs from every bough, while the lark, imitating them all, carries the joyous sounds to the sky. These are amongst the means which Providence has benignantly appointed to sweeten the toils by which food and raiment are produced; these the English[Pg 61] Ploughman could once hear without the sorrowful reflection that he himself was a pauper, and that the bounties of nature had, for him, been scattered in vain! And shall he never see an end to this state of things? Shall he never have the due reward of his labour? Shall unsparing taxation never cease to make him a miserable dejected being, a creature famishing in the midst of abundance, fainting, expiring with hunger’s feeble moans, surrounded by a carolling creation? O! accursed paper-money! Has hell a torment surpassing the wickedness of thy inventor?

 

 


SUSSEX JOURNAL: THROUGH CROYDON, GODSTONE, EAST-GRINSTEAD, AND UCKFIELD, TO LEWES, AND BRIGHTON; RETURNING BY CUCKFIELD, WORTH, AND RED-HILL.

 

Lewes,
Tuesday, 8 Jan., 1822.

Came here to-day, from home, to see what passes to-morrow at a Meeting to be held here of the Owners and Occupiers of Land in the Rapes of Lewes and Pevensey.—In quitting the great Wen we go through Surrey more than half the way to Lewes. From Saint George’s Fields, which now are covered with houses, we go, towards Croydon, between rows of houses, nearly half the way, and the whole way is nine miles. There are, erected within these four years, two entire miles of stock-jobbers’ houses on this one road, and the work goes on with accelerated force! To be sure; for, the taxes being, in fact, tripled by Peel’s Bill, the fundlords increase in riches; and their accommodations increase of course. What an at once horrible and ridiculous thing this country would become, if this thing could go on only for a few years! And these rows of new houses, added to the Wen, are proofs of growing prosperity, are they? These make part of the increased capital of the country, do they? But how is this Wen to be dispersed? I know not whether it be to be done by knife or by caustic; but, dispersed it must be! And this is the only difficulty, which I do not see the easy means of getting over.—Aye! these are dreadful thoughts! I know they are: but, they ought not to be banished from the mind; for they will return, and, at every return, they will be more frightful. The man who cannot coolly look at this matter is unfit for the times that are approaching. Let the interest of the Debt be once well reduced (and that must be sooner or later) and then what is to become of half a million at least of the people congregated in this Wen? Oh! precious “Great Man now no[Pg 62] more!” Oh! “Pilot that weathered the Storm!” Oh! “Heaven-born” pupil of Prettyman! Who, but him who can number the sands of the sea, shall number the execrations with which thy memory will be loaded!—From London to Croydon is as ugly a bit of country as any in England. A poor spewy gravel with some clay. Few trees but elms, and those generally stripped up and villanously ugly.—Croydon is a good market-town; but is, by the funds, swelled out into a Wen.—Upon quitting Croydon for Godstone, you come to the chalk hills, the juniper shrubs and the yew trees. This is an extension westward of the vein of chalk which I have before noticed (see page 54) between Bromley and Seven-Oaks. To the westward here lie Epsom Downs, which lead on to Merrow Downs and St. Margaret’s Hill, then, skipping over Guildford, you come to the Hog’s Back, which is still of chalk, and at the west end of which lies Farnham. With the Hog’s Back this vein of chalk seems to end; for then the valleys become rich loam, and the hills sand and gravel till you approach the Winchester Downs by the way of Alresford.—Godstone, which is in Surrey also, is a beautiful village, chiefly of one street with a fine large green before it and with a pond in the green. A little way to the right (going from London) lies the vile rotten Borough of Blechingley; but, happily for Godstone, out of sight. At and near Godstone the gardens are all very neat, and at the Inn there is a nice garden well stocked with beautiful flowers in the season. I here saw, last summer, some double violets as large as small pinks, and the lady of the house was kind enough to give me some of the roots.—From Godstone you go up a long hill of clay and sand, and then descend into a level country of stiff loam at top, clay at bottom, corn-fields, pastures, broad hedgerows, coppices, and oak woods, which country continues till you quit Surrey about two miles before you reach East-Grinstead. The woods and coppices are very fine here. It is the genuine oak-soil; a bottom of yellow clay to any depth, I dare say, that man can go. No moss on the oaks. No dead tops. Straight as larches. The bark of the young trees with dark spots in it; sure sign of free growth and great depth of clay beneath. The wheat is here sown on five-turn ridges, and the ploughing is amongst the best that I ever saw.—At East-Grinstead, which is a rotten Borough and a very shabby place, you come to stiff loam at top with sand stone beneath. To the south of the place the land is fine, and the vale on both sides a very beautiful intermixture of woodland and corn-fields and pastures.—At about three miles from Grinstead you come to a pretty village, called Forest-Row, and then, on the road to Uckfield, you cross Ashurst Forest, which is a heath, with here and there a few[Pg 63] birch scrubs upon it, verily the most villanously ugly spot I ever saw in England. This lasts you for five miles, getting, if possible, uglier and uglier all the way, till, at last, as if barren soil, nasty spewy gravel, heath and even that stunted, were not enough, you see some rising spots, which instead of trees, presents you with black, ragged, hideous rocks. There may be Englishmen who wish to see the coast of Nova Scotia. They need not go to sea; for here it is to the life. If I had been in a long trance (as our nobility seem to have been), and had been waked up here, I should have begun to look about for the Indians and the Squaws, and to have heaved a sigh at the thought of being so far from England.—From the end of this forest without trees you come into a country of but poorish wettish land. Passing through the village of Uckfield, you find an enclosed country, with a soil of a clay cast all the way to within about three miles of Lewes, when you get to a chalk bottom, and rich land. I was at Lewes at the beginning of last harvest, and saw the fine farms of the Ellmans, very justly renowned for their improvement of the breed of South-Down sheep, and the younger Mr. John Ellman not less justly blamed for the part he had taken in propagating the errors of Webb Hall, and thereby, however unintentionally, assisting to lead thousands to cherish those false hopes that have been the cause of their ruin. Mr. Ellman may say that he thought he was right; but if he had read my New Year’s Gift to the Farmers, published in the preceding January, he could not think that he was right. If he had not read it, he ought to have read it, before he appeared in print. At any rate, if no other person had a right to censure his publications, I had that right. I will here notice a calumny, to which the above visit to Lewes gave rise; namely, that I went into the neighbourhood of the Ellmans, to find out whether they ill-treated their labourers! No man that knows me will believe this. The facts are these: the Ellmans, celebrated farmers, had made a great figure in the evidence taken before the Committee. I was at Worth, about twenty miles from Lewes. The harvest was begun. Worth is a woodland country. I wished to know the state of the crops; for I was, at that very time, as will be seen by referring to the date, beginning to write my First Letter to the Landlords. Without knowing anything of the matter myself, I asked my host, Mr. Brazier, what good corn country was nearest to us. He said Lewes. Off I went, and he with me, in a post-chaise. We had 20 miles to go and 20 back in the same chaise. A bad road, and rain all the day. We put up at the White Hart, took another chaise, went round, and saw the farms, through the window of the chaise, having stopped at a little public-house to ask which were they, and[Pg 64] having stopped now and then to get a sample out of the sheaves of wheat, came back to the White Hart, after being absent only about an hour and a half, got our dinner, and got back to Worth before it was dark; and never asked, and never intended to ask, one single question of any human being as to the conduct or character of the Ellmans. Indeed the evidence of the elder Mr. Ellman was so fair, so honest, and so useful, particularly as relating to the labourers, that I could not possibly suspect him of being a cruel or hard master. He told the Committee, that when he began business, forty-five years ago, every man in the parish brewed his own beer, and that now, not one man did it, unless he gave him the malt! Why, here was by far the most valuable part of the whole volume of evidence. Then, Mr. Ellman did not present a parcel of estimates and God knows what; but a plain and honest statement of facts, the rate of day wages, of job wages, for a long series of years, by which it clearly appeared how the labourer had been robbed and reduced to misery, and how the poor-rates had been increased. He did not, like Mr. George and other Bull-frogs, sink these interesting facts; but honestly told the truth. Therefore, whatever I might think of his endeavours to uphold the mischievous errors of Webb Hall, I could have no suspicion that he was a hard master.

 

Lewes,
Wednesday, 9 Jan. 1822.

The Meeting and the Dinner are now over. Mr. Davies Giddy was in the Chair: the place the County Hall. A Mr. Partington, a pretty little oldish smart truss nice cockney-looking gentleman, with a yellow and red handkerchief round his neck, moved the petition, which was seconded by Lord Chichester, who lives in the neighbourhood. Much as I had read of that great Doctor of virtual representation and Royal Commissioner of Inimitable Bank Notes, Mr. Davies Giddy, I had never seen him before. He called to my mind one of those venerable persons, who administer spiritual comfort to the sinners of the “sister-kingdom;” and, whether I looked at the dress or the person, I could almost have sworn that it was the identical Father Luke, that I saw about twenty-three years ago, at Philadelphia, in the farce of the Poor Soldier. Mr. Blackman (of Lewes I believe) disapproved of the petition, and, in a speech of considerable length, and also of considerable ability, stated to the meeting that the evils complained of arose from the currency, and not from the importation of foreign corn. A Mr. Donavon, an Irish gentleman, who, it seems, is a magistrate in this “disturbed county,” disapproved of discussing [Pg 65]anything at such a meeting, and thought that the meeting should merely state its distresses, and leave it to the wisdom of Parliament to discover the remedy. Upon which Mr. Chatfield observed: “So, Sir, we are in a trap. We cannot get ourselves out though we know the way. There are others, who have got us in, and are able to get us out, but they do not know how. And we are to tell them, it seems, that we are in the trap; but are not to tell them the way to get us out. I don’t like long speeches, Sir; but I like common sense.” This was neat and pithy. Fifty professed orators could not, in a whole day, have thrown so much ridicule on the speech of Mr. Donavon.—A Mr. Mabbott proposed an amendment to include all classes of the community, and took a hit at Mr. Curteis for his speech at Battle. Mr. Curteis defended himself, and I thought very fairly. A Mr. Woodward, who said he was a farmer, carried us back to the necessity of the war against France; and told us of the horrors of plunder and murder and rape that the war had prevented. This gentleman put an end to my patience, which Mr. Donavon had put to an extremely severe test; and so I withdrew.—After I went away Mr. Blackman proposed some resolutions, which were carried by a great majority by show of hands. But, pieces of paper were then handed about, for the voters to write their names on for and against the petition. The greater part of the people were gone away by this time; but, at any rate, there were more signatures for the petition than for the resolutions. A farmer in Pennsylvania having a visitor, to whom he was willing to show how well he treated his negroes as to food, bid the fellows (who were at dinner) to ask for a second or third cut of pork if they had not enough. Quite surprised at the novelty, but emboldened by a repetition of the injunction, one of them did say, “Massa, I wants another cut.” He had it; but as soon as the visitor was gone away, “D—n you,” says the master, while he belaboured him with the “cowskin,” “I’ll make you know how to understand me another time!” The signers of this petition were in the dark while the show of hands was going on; but when it came to signing they knew well what Massa meant! This is a petition to be sure; but it is no more the petition of the farmers in the Rapes of Lewes and Pevensey than it is the petition of the Mermaids of Lapland.—There was a dinner after the meeting at the Star-Inn, at which there occurred something rather curious regarding myself. When at Battle, I had no intention of going to Lewes, till on the evening of my arrival at Battle, a gentleman, who had heard of the before-mentioned calumny, observed to me that I would do well not to go to Lewes. That very observation, made me resolve to go. I went, as a[Pg 66] spectator, to the meeting; and I left no one ignorant of the place where I was to be found. I did not covet the noise of a dinner of from 200 to 300 persons, and I did not intend to go to it; but, being pressed to go, I finally went. After some previous common-place occurrences, Mr. Kemp, formerly a member for Lewes, was called to the chair; and he having given as a toast, “the speedy discovery of a remedy for our distresses,” Mr. Ebenezer Johnstone, a gentleman of Lewes, whom I had never seen or heard of until that day, but who, I understand, is a very opulent and most respectable man, proposed my health, as that of a person likely to be able to point out the wished-for remedy.—This was the signal for the onset. Immediately upon the toast being given, a Mr. Hitchins, a farmer of Seaford, duly prepared for the purpose, got upon the table, and, with candle in one hand and Register in the other, read the following garbled passage from my Letter to Lord Egremont.—“But, let us hear what the younger Ellman said: ‘He had seen them employed in drawing beach gravel, as had been already described. One of them, the leader, worked with a bell about his neck.’ Oh! the envy of surrounding nations and admiration of the world! Oh! what a ‘glorious Constitution!’ ‘Oh! what a happy country! Impudent Radicals, to want to reform a Parliament, under which men enjoy such blessings! On such a subject it is impossible (under Six-Acts) to trust one’s pen! However, this I will say; that here is much more than enough to make me rejoice in the ruin of the farmers; and I do, with all my heart, thank God for it; seeing, that it appears absolutely necessary, that the present race of them should be totally broken up, in Sussex at any rate, in order to put an end to this cruelty and insolence towards the labourers, who are by far the greater number and who are men, and a little better men too, than such employers as these, who are, in fact, monsters in human shape!’”

I had not the Register by me, and could not detect the garbling. All the words that I have put in Italics, this Hitchins left out in the reading. What sort of man he must be the public will easily judge.—No sooner had Hitchins done, than up started Mr. Ingram, a farmer of Rottendean, who was the second person in the drama (for all had been duly prepared), and moved that I should be put out of the room! Some few of the Webb Hallites, joined by about six or eight of the dark, dirty-faced, half-whiskered, tax-eaters from Brighton (which is only eight miles off) joined in this cry. I rose, that they might see the man that they had to put out. Fortunately for themselves, not one of them attempted to approach me. They were like the mice that resolved that a bell should be put round the cat’s neck!—However,[Pg 67] a considerable hubbub took place. At last, however, the Chairman, Mr. Kemp, whose conduct was fair and manly, having given my health, I proceeded to address the company in substance as stated here below; and, it is curious enough, that even those who, upon my health being given, had taken their hats and gone out of the room (and amongst whom Mr. Ellman the younger was one) came back, formed a crowd, and were just as silent and attentive as the rest of the company!

[NOTE, written at Kensington, 13 Jan.—I must here, before I insert the speech, which has appeared in the Morning Chronicle, the Brighton papers, and in most of the London papers, except the base sinking Old Times and the brimstone-smelling Tramper, or Traveller, which is, I well know, a mere tool in the hands of two snap-dragon Whig-Lawyers, whose greediness and folly I have so often had to expose, and which paper is maintained by a contrivance which I will amply expose in my next; I must, before I insert this speech, remark, that Mr. Ellman the younger has, to a gentleman whom I know to be incapable of falsehood, disavowed the proceeding of Hitchins; on which I have to observe, that the disavowal, to have any weight, must be public, or be made to me.

As to the provocation that I have given the Ellmans, I am, upon reflection, ready to confess that I may have laid on the lash without a due regard to mercy. The fact is, that I have so long had the misfortune to be compelled to keep a parcel of badger-hided fellows, like Scarlett, in order, that I am, like a drummer that has been used to flog old offenders, become heavy handed. I ought to have considered the Ellmans as recruits and to have suited my tickler to the tenderness of their backs.—I hear that Mr. Ingram of Rottendean, who moved for my being turned out of the room, and who looked so foolish when he had to turn himself out, is an Officer of Yeomanry “Gavaltry.” A ploughman spoiled! This man would, I dare say, have been a very good husbandman; but the unnatural working of the paper-system has sublimated him out of his senses. That greater Doctor, Mr. Peel, will bring him down again.—Mr. Hitchins, I am told, after going away, came back, stood on the landing-place (the door being open), and, while I was speaking, exclaimed, “Oh! the fools! How they open their mouths! How they suck it all in.”—Suck what in, Mr. Hitchins? Was it honey that dropped from my lips? Was it flattery? Amongst other things, I said that I liked the plain names of farmer and husbandman better than that of agriculturist; and, the prospect I held out to them, was that of a description to catch their applause?—But this Hitchins seems to be a very silly person indeed.]

[Pg 68]The following is a portion of the speech:—

“The toast having been opposed, and that, too, in the extraordinary manner we have witnessed, I will, at any rate, with your permission, make a remark or two on that manner. If the person who has made the opposition had been actuated by a spirit of fairness and justice, he would not have confined himself to a detached sentence of the paper from which he has read; but, would have taken the whole together; for, by taking a particular sentence, and leaving out all the rest, what writing is there that will not admit of a wicked interpretation? As to the particular part which has been read, I should not, perhaps, if I had seen it in print, and had had time to cool a little [it was in a Register sent from Norfolk], have sent it forth in terms so very general as to embrace all the farmers of this county; but, as to those of them who put the bell round the labourer’s neck, I beg leave to be now repeating, in its severest sense, every word of the passage that has been read.—Born in a farm-house, bred up at the plough-tail, with a smock-frock on my back, taking great delight in all the pursuits of farmers, liking their society, and having amongst them my most esteemed friends, it is natural, that I should feel, and I do feel, uncommonly anxious to prevent, as far as I am able, that total ruin which now menaces them. But the labourer, was I to have no feeling for him? Was not he my countryman too? And was I not to feel indignation against those farmers, who had had the hard-heartedness to put the bell round his neck, and thus wantonly insult and degrade the class to whose toils they owed their own ease? The statement of the fact was not mine; I read it in the newspaper as having come from Mr. Ellman the younger; he, in a very laudable manner, expressed his horror at it; and was not I to express indignation at what Mr. Ellman felt horror? That Gentleman and Mr. Webb Hall may monopolize all the wisdom in matters of political economy; but are they, or rather is Mr. Ellman alone, to engross all the feeling too? [It was here denied that Mr. Ellman had said the bell had been put on by farmers.] Very well, then, the complained of passage has been productive of benefit to the farmers of this county; for, as the thing stood in the newspapers, the natural and unavoidable inference was, that that atrocious, that inhuman act, was an act of Sussex farmers.”

 

Brighton,
Thursday, 10 Jan., 1822.

Lewes is in a valley of the South Downs, this town is at eight miles’ distance, to the south south-west or thereabouts. There is a great extent of rich meadows above and below Lewes. The[Pg 69] town itself is a model of solidity and neatness. The buildings all substantial to the very out-skirts; the pavements good and complete; the shops nice and clean; the people well-dressed; and, though last not least, the girls remarkably pretty, as, indeed, they are in most parts of Sussex; round faces, features small, little hands and wrists, plump arms, and bright eyes. The Sussex men, too, are remarkable for their good looks. A Mr. Baxter, a stationer at Lewes, showed me a farmer’s account book which is a very complete thing of the kind. The Inns are good at Lewes, the people civil and not servile, and the charges really (considering the taxes) far below what one could reasonably expect.—From Lewes to Brighton the road winds along between the hills of the South Downs, which, in this mild weather, are mostly beautifully green even at this season, with flocks of sheep feeding on them.—Brighton itself lies in a valley cut across at one end by the sea, and its extension, or Wen, has swelled up the sides of the hills and has run some distance up the valley.—The first thing you see in approaching Brighton from Lewes is a splendid horse-barrack on one side of the road, and a heap of low, shabby, nasty houses, irregularly built, on the other side. This is always the case where there is a barrack. How soon a Reformed Parliament would make both disappear! Brighton is a very pleasant place. For a wen remarkably so. The Kremlin, the very name of which has so long been a subject of laughter all over the country, lies in the gorge of the valley, and amongst the old houses of the town. The grounds, which cannot, I think, exceed a couple or three acres, are surrounded by a wall neither lofty nor good-looking. Above this rise some trees, bad in sorts, stunted in growth, and dirty with smoke. As to the “palace” as the Brighton newspapers call it, the apartments appear to be all upon the ground floor; and, when you see the thing from a distance, you think you see a parcel of cradle-spits, of various dimensions, sticking up out of the mouths of so many enormous squat decanters. Take a square box, the sides of which are three feet and a half, and the height a foot and a half. Take a large Norfolk-turnip, cut off the green of the leaves, leave the stalks 9 inches long, tie these round with a string three inches from the top, and put the turnip on the middle of the top of the box. Then take four turnips of half the size, treat them in the same way, and put them on the corners of the box. Then take a considerable number of bulbs of the crown-imperial, the narcissus, the hyacinth, the tulip, the crocus, and others; let the leaves of each have sprouted to about an inch, more or less according to the size of the bulb; put all these, pretty promiscuously, but pretty thickly, on the top of the box. Then stand off and look at your architecture.[Pg 70] There! That’s “a Kremlin”! Only you must cut some church-looking windows in the sides of the box. As to what you ought to put into the box, that is a subject far above my cut.—Brighton is naturally a place of resort for expectants, and a shifty ugly-looking swarm is, of course, assembled here. Some of the fellows, who had endeavoured to disturb our harmony at the dinner at Lewes, were parading, amongst this swarm, on the cliff. You may always know them by their lank jaws, the stiffeners round their necks, their hidden or no shirts, their stays, their false shoulders, hips, and haunches, their half-whiskers, and by their skins, colour of veal kidney-suet, warmed a little, and then powdered with dirty dust.—These vermin excepted, the people at Brighton make a very fine figure. The trades-people are very nice in all their concerns. The houses are excellent, built chiefly with a blue or purple brick; and bow-windows appear to be the general taste. I can easily believe this to be a very healthy place: the open downs on the one side and the open sea on the other. No inlet, cove, or river; and, of course, no swamps.—I have spent this evening very pleasantly in a company of reformers, who, though plain tradesmen and mechanics, know I am quite satisfied, more about the questions that agitate the country, than any equal number of Lords.

 

Kensington,
Friday, 11 January, 1822.

Came home by the way of Cuckfield, Worth, and Red-Hill, instead of by Uckfield, Grinstead and Godstone, and got into the same road again at Croydon. The roads being nearly parallel lines and at no great distance from each other, the soil is nearly the same, with the exception of the fine oak country between Godstone and Grinstead, which does not go so far westward as my homeward bound road, where the land, opposite the spot just spoken of, becomes more of a moor than a clay, and though there are oaks, they are not nearly so fine as those on the other road. The tops are flatter; the side shoots are sometimes higher than the middle shoot; a certain proof that the tap-root has met with something that it does not like.—I see (Jan. 15) that Mr. Curteis has thought it necessary to state in the public papers, that he had nothing to do with my being at the dinner at Battle! Who the Devil thought he had? Why, was it not an ordinary; and had I not as much right there as he? He has said, too, that he did not know that I was to be at the dinner. How should he? Why was it necessary to apprise him of it any more than the porter of the inn? He has said, that he did not hear of any deputation to[Pg 71] invite me to the dinner, and, “upon inquiry,” cannot find that there was any. Have I said that there was any invitation at all? There was; but I have not said so. I went to the dinner for my half-crown like another man, without knowing, or caring, who would be at it. But, if Mr. Curteis thought it necessary to say so much, he might have said a little more. He might have said, that he twice addressed himself to me in a very peculiar manner, and that I never addressed myself to him except in answer; and, if he had thought “inquiry” necessary upon this subject also, he might have found that, though always the first to speak or hold out the hand to a hard-fisted artisan or labourer, I never did the same to a man of rank or riches in the whole course of my life. Mr. Curteis might have said, too, that unless I had gone to the dinner, the party would, according to appearances, have been very select; that I found him at the head of one of the tables, with less than thirty persons in the room; that the number swelled up to about one hundred and thirty; that no person was at the other table; that I took my seat at it; and that that table became almost immediately crowded from one end to the other. To these Mr. Curteis, when his hand was in, might have added, that he turned himself in his chair and listened to my speech with the greatest attention; that he bade me, by name, good night, when he retired; that he took not a man away with him; and that the gentleman who was called on to replace him in the chair (whose name I have forgotten) had got from his seat during the evening to come and shake me by the hand. All these things Mr. Curteis might have said; but the fact is, he has been bullied by the base newspapers, and he has not been able to muster up courage to act the manly part, and which, too, he would have found to be the wise part in the end. When he gave the toast “more money and less taxes,” he turned himself towards me, and said, “That is a toast that I am sure you approve of, Mr. Cobbett.” To which I answered, “It would be made good, Sir, if members of Parliament would do their duty.”—I appeal to all the gentlemen present for the truth of what I say. Perhaps Mr. Curteis, in his heart, did not like to give my health. If that was the case, he ought to have left the chair, and retired. Straight forward is the best course; and, see what difficulties Mr. Curteis has involved himself in by not pursuing it! I have no doubt that he was agreeably surprised when he saw and heard me. Why not say then: “After all that has been said about Cobbett, he is a devilish pleasant, frank, and clever fellow, at any rate.”—How much better this would have been, than to act the part that Mr. Curteis has acted.——The Editors of the Brighton Chronicle and Lewes Express have, out of mere[Pg 72] modesty, I dare say, fallen a little into Mr. Curteis’s strain. In closing their account (in their paper of the 15th) of the Lewes Meeting, they say that I addressed the company at some length, as reported in their Supplement published on Thursday the 10th. And then they think it necessary to add: “For OURSELVES, we can say, that we never saw Mr. Cobbett until the meeting at Battle.” Now, had it not been for pure maiden-like bashfulness, they would, doubtless, have added, that when they did see me, they were profuse in expressions of their gratitude to me for having merely named their paper in my Register a thing, which, as I told them, I myself had forgotten. When, too, they were speaking, in reference to a speech made in the Hall, of “one of the finest specimens of oratory that has ever been given in any assembly,” it was, without doubt, out of pure compassion for the perverted taste of their Lewes readers, that they suppressed the fact, that the agent of the paper at Lewes sent them word, that it was useless for them to send any account of the meeting, unless that account contained Mr. Cobbett’s speech; that he, the agent, could have sold a hundred papers that morning, if they had contained Mr. Cobbett’s speech; but could not sell one without it. I myself, by mere accident, heard this message delivered to a third person by their agent at Lewes. And, as I said before, it must have been pure tenderness towards their readers that made the editors suppress a fact so injurious to the reputation of those readers in point of taste! However, at last, these editors seem to have triumphed over all feelings of this sort; for, having printed off a placard, advertising their Supplement, in which placard no mention was made of me, they, grown bold all of a sudden, took a painting brush, and in large letters put into their placard, “Mr. Cobbett’s Speech at Lewes;” so that, at a little distance, the placard seemed to relate to nothing else; and there was “the finest specimen of oratory” left to find its way into the world under the auspices of my rustic harangue. Good God! What will this world come to! We shall, by-and-bye, have to laugh at the workings of envy in the very worms that we breed in our bodies!—The fast-sinking Old Times news-paper, its cat-and-dog opponent the New Times, the Courier, and the Whig-Lawyer Tramper, called the “Traveller;” the fellows who conduct these vehicles; these wretched fellows, their very livers burning with envy, have hasted to inform their readers, that “they have authority to state that Lord Ashburnham and Mr. Fuller were not present at the dinner at Battle where Cobbett’s health was drunk.” These fellows have now “authority” to state, that there were no two men who dined at Battle, that I should not prefer as companions to Lord Ashburnham and Mr. Fuller, commonly called[Pg 73] “Jack Fuller,” seeing that I am no admirer of lofty reserve, and that, of all things on earth, I abhor a head like a drum, all noise and emptiness. These scribes have also “authority” to state, that they amuse me and the public too by declining rapidly in their sale from their exclusion of my country lectures, which have only begun. In addition to this The Tramper editor has “authority” to state, that one of his papers of 5th Jan. has been sent to the Register-office by post, with these words written on it: “This scoundrel paper has taken no notice of Mr. Cobbett’s speech.” All these papers have “authority” to state beforehand, that they will insert no account of what shall take place, within these three or four weeks, at Huntingdon, at Lynn, at Chichester, and other places where I intend to be. And, lastly, the editors have full “authority” to state, that they may employ, without let or molestation of any sort, either private or public, the price of the last number that they shall sell in the purchase of hemp or ratsbane, as the sure means of a happy deliverance from their present state of torment.

 

 


HUNTINGDON JOURNAL: THROUGH WARE AND ROYSTON, TO HUNTINGDON.

 

Royston,
Monday morning, 21st Jan., 1822.

Came from London, yesterday noon, to this town on my way to Huntingdon. My road was through Ware. Royston is just within the line (on the Cambridgeshire side), which divides Hertfordshire from Cambridgeshire. On this road, as on almost all the others going from it, the enormous Wen has swelled out to the distance of about six or seven miles.—The land till you come nearly to Ware which is in Hertfordshire, and which is twenty-three miles from the Wen, is chiefly a strong and deep loam, with the gravel a good distance from the surface. The land is good wheat-land; but I observed only three fields of Swedish turnips in the 23 miles, and no wheat drilled. The wheat is sown on ridges of great width here-and-there; sometimes on ridges of ten, at others on ridges of seven, on those of five, four, three, and even two, feet wide. Yet the bottom is manifestly not very wet generally; and that there is not a bottom of clay is clear from the poor growth of the oak trees. All the trees are shabby in this country; and the eye is incessantly offended by the sight of pollards,[Pg 74] which are seldom suffered to disgrace even the meanest lands in Hampshire or Sussex. As you approach Ware the bottom becomes chalk of a dirtyish colour, and, in some parts, far below the surface. After you quit Ware, which is a mere market town, the land grows by degrees poorer; the chalk lies nearer and nearer to the surface, till you come to the open common-fields within a few miles of Royston. Along here the land is poor enough. It is not the stiff red loam mixed with large blue-grey flints, lying upon the chalk, such as you see in the north of Hampshire; but a whitish sort of clay, with little yellow flattish stones amongst it; sure signs of a hungry soil. Yet this land bears wheat sometimes.—Royston is at the foot of this high poor land; or, rather in a dell, the open side of which looks towards the North. It is a common market town. Not mean, but having nothing of beauty about it; and having on it, on three of the sides out of the four, those very ugly things, common-fields, which have all the nakedness, without any of the smoothness, of Downs.

 

Huntingdon,
Tuesday morning, 22nd Jan., 1822.

Immediately upon quitting Royston, you come along, for a considerable distance, with enclosed fields on the left and open common-fields on the right. Here the land is excellent. A dark, rich loam, free from stones, on chalk beneath at a great distance. The land appears, for a mile or two, to resemble that at and near Faversham in Kent, which I have before noticed. The fields on the left seem to have been enclosed by Act of Parliament; and they certainly are the most beautiful tract of fields that I ever saw. Their extent may be from ten to thirty acres each. Divided by quick-set hedges, exceedingly well planted and raised. The whole tract is nearly a perfect level. The cultivation neat, and the stubble heaps, such as remain out, giving a proof of great crops of straw, while, on land with a chalk bottom, there is seldom any want of a proportionate quantity of grain. Even here, however, I saw but few Swedish turnips, and those not good. Nor did I see any wheat drilled; and observed that, in many parts, the broad-cast sowing had been performed in a most careless manner, especially at about three miles from Royston, where some parts of the broad lands seemed to have had the seed flung along them with a shovel, while other parts contained only here and there a blade; or, at least, were so thinly supplied as to make it almost doubtful whether they had not been wholly missed. In some parts the middles only of the ridges were sown thickly. This is shocking husbandry. A Norfolk or a Kentish farmer would[Pg 75] have sowed a bushel and a half of seed to the acre here, and would have had a far better plant of wheat.—About four miles, I think it is, from Royston you come to the estate of Lord Hardwicke. You see the house at the end of an avenue about two miles long, which, however, wants the main thing, namely, fine and lofty trees. The soil here begins to be a very stiff loam at top; clay beneath for a considerable distance; and, in some places, beds of yellow gravel with very large stones mixed in it. The land is generally cold; a great deal of draining is wanted; and yet the bottom is such as not to be favourable to the growth of the oak, of which sort I have not seen one handsome tree since I left London. A grove, such as I saw at Weston in Herefordshire, would, here, be a thing to attract the attention of all ranks and all ages. What, then, would they say, on beholding a wood of Oaks, Hickories, Chestnuts, Walnuts, Locusts, Gum-trees, and Maples in America!—Lord Hardwicke’s avenue appears to be lined with Elms chiefly. They are shabby. He might have had ash; for the ash will grow anywhere; on sand, on gravel, on clay, on chalk, or in swamps. It is surprising that those who planted these rows of trees did not observe how well the ash grows here! In the hedge-rows, in the plantations, everywhere the ash is fine. The ash is the hardiest of all our large trees. Look at trees on any part of the sea coast. You will see them all, even the firs, lean from the sea breeze, except the ash. You will see the oak shaved up on the side of the breeze. But the ash stands upright, as if in a warm woody dell. We have no tree that attains a greater height than the ash; and certainly none that equals it in beauty of leaf. It bears pruning better than any other tree. Its timber is one of the most useful; and as underwood and fire-wood it far exceeds all others of English growth. From the trees of an avenue like that of Lord Hardwicke a hundred pounds worth of fuel might, if the trees were ash, be cut every year in prunings necessary to preserve the health and beauty of the trees. Yet, on this same land, has his lordship planted many acres of larches and firs. These appear to have been planted about twelve years. If instead of these he had planted ash, four years from the seed bed and once removed; had cut them down within an inch of the ground the second year after planting; and had planted them at four feet apart, he would now have had about six thousand ash-poles, on an average twelve feet long, on each acre of land in his plantation; which, at three-halfpence each, would have been worth somewhere nearly forty pounds an acre. He might now have cut the poles, leaving about 600 to stand upon an acre to come to trees; and while these were growing to timber, the underwood would, for poles, hoops, [Pg 76]broom-sticks, spars, rods, and faggots, have been worth twenty-five or thirty pounds an acre every ten years. Can beggarly stuff, like larches and firs, ever be profitable to this extent? Ash is timber, fit for the wheelwright, at the age of twenty years, or less. What can you do with a rotten fir thing at that age?——This estate of Lord Hardwicke appears to be very large. There is a part which is, apparently, in his own hands, as, indeed, the whole must soon be, unless he give up all idea of rent, or, unless he can choack off the fundholder or get again afloat on the sea of paper-money. In this part of his land there is a fine piece of Lucerne in rows at about eighteen inches distant from each other. They are now manuring it with burnt-earth mixed with some dung; and I see several heaps of burnt-earth hereabouts. The directions for doing this are contained in my Year’s Residence, as taught me by Mr. William Gauntlet, of Winchester.—The land is, all along here, laid up in those wide and high ridges, which I saw in Gloucestershire, going from Gloucester to Oxford, as I have already mentioned. These ridges are ploughed back or down; but they are ploughed up again for every sowing.—At an Inn near Lord Hardwicke’s I saw the finest parcel of dove-house pigeons I ever saw in my life.—Between this place and Huntingdon is the village of Caxton, which very much resembles almost a village of the same size in Picardy, where I saw the women dragging harrows to harrow in the corn. Certainly this village resembles nothing English, except some of the rascally rotten boroughs in Cornwall and Devonshire, on which a just Providence seems to have entailed its curse. The land just about here does seem to be really bad. The face of the country is naked. The few scrubbed trees that now-and-then meet the eye, and even the quick-sets, are covered with a yellow moss. All is bleak and comfortless; and, just on the most dreary part of this most dreary scene, stands almost opportunely, “Caxton Gibbet,” tendering its friendly one arm to the passers-by. It has recently been fresh-painted, and written on in conspicuous characters, for the benefit, I suppose, of those who cannot exist under the thought of wheat at four shillings a bushel.—Not far from this is a new house, which, the coachman says, belongs to a Mr. Cheer, who, if report speaks truly, is not, however, notwithstanding his name, guilty of the sin of making people either drunkards or gluttons. Certainly the spot, on which he has built his house, is one of the most ugly that I ever saw. Few spots have everything that you could wish to find; but this, according to my judgment, has everything that every man of ordinary taste would wish to avoid.—The country changes but little till you get quite to Huntingdon. The land is generally quite open, or in large fields. Strong, [Pg 77]wheat-land, that wants a good deal of draining. Very few turnips of any sort are raised; and, of course, few sheep and cattle kept. Few trees, and those scrubbed. Few woods, and those small. Few hills, and those hardly worthy of the name. All which, when we see them, make us cease to wonder, that this country is so famous for fox-hunting. Such it has doubtless been in all times, and to this circumstance Huntingdon, that is to say, Huntingdun, or Huntingdown, unquestionably owes its name; because down does not mean unploughed land, but open and unsheltered land, and the Saxon word is dun.—When you come down near to the town itself, the scene suddenly, totally, and most agreeably, changes. The River Ouse separates Godmanchester from Huntingdon, and there is, I think, no very great difference in the population of the two. Both together do not make up a population of more than about five thousand souls. Huntingdon is a slightly built town, compared with Lewes, for instance. The houses are not in general so high, nor made of such solid and costly materials. The shops are not so large and their contents not so costly. There is not a show of so much business and so much opulence. But Huntingdon is a very clean and nice place, contains many elegant houses, and the environs are beautiful. Above and below the bridge, under which the Ouse passes, are the most beautiful, and by far the most beautiful, meadows that I ever saw in my life. The meadows at Lewes, at Guildford, at Farnham, at Winchester, at Salisbury, at Exeter, at Gloucester, at Hereford, and even at Canterbury, are nothing, compared with those of Huntingdon in point of beauty. Here are no reeds, here is no sedge, no unevennesses of any sort. Here are bowling-greens of hundreds of acres in extent, with a river winding through them, full to the brink. One of these meadows is the race-course; and so pretty a spot, so level, so smooth, so green, and of such an extent I never saw, and never expected to see. From the bridge you look across the valleys, first to the West and then to the East; the valleys terminate at the foot of rising ground, well set with trees, from amongst which church spires raise their heads here-and-there. I think it would be very difficult to find a more delightful spot than this in the world. To my fancy (and every one to his taste) the prospect from this bridge far surpasses that from Richmond Hill.—All that I have yet seen of Huntingdon I like exceedingly. It is one of those pretty, clean, unstenched, unconfined places that tend to lengthen life and make it happy.

 

 


[Pg 78]

JOURNAL: HERTFORDSHIRE, AND BUCKINGHAMSHIRE: TO ST. ALBANS, THROUGH EDGWARE, STANMORE, AND WATFORD, RETURNING BY REDBOURN, HEMPSTEAD, AND CHESHAM.

 

Saint Albans, June 19, 1822.

From Kensington to this place, through Edgware, Stanmore, and Watford, the crop is almost entirely hay, from fields of permanent grass, manured by dung and other matter brought from the Wen. Near the Wen, where they have had the first haul of the Irish and other perambulating labourers, the hay is all in rick. Some miles further down it is nearly all in. Towards Stanmore and Watford, a third, perhaps, of the grass remains to be cut. It is curious to see how the thing regulates itself. We saw, all the way down, squads of labourers, of different departments, migrating from tract to tract; leaving the cleared fields behind them and proceeding on towards the work to be yet performed; and then, as to the classes of labourers, the mowers, with their scythes on their shoulders, were in front, going on towards the standing crops, while the haymakers were coming on behind towards the grass already cut or cutting. The weather is fair and warm; so that the public-houses on the road are pouring out their beer pretty fast, and are getting a good share of the wages of these thirsty souls. It is an exchange of beer for sweat; but the tax-eaters get, after all, the far greater part of the sweat; for, if it were not for the tax, the beer would sell for three-halfpence a pot instead of fivepence. Of this threepence-halfpenny the Jews and Jobbers get about twopence-halfpenny. It is curious to observe how the different labours are divided as to the nations. The mowers are all English; the haymakers all Irish. Scotchmen toil hard enough in Scotland; but when they go from home it is not to work, if you please. They are found in gardens, and especially in gentlemen’s gardens. Tying up flowers, picking dead leaves off exotics, peeping into melon-frames, publishing the banns of marriage between the “male” and “female” blossoms, tap-tap-tapping against a wall with a hammer that weighs half an ounce. They have backs as straight and shoulders as square as heroes of Waterloo; and who can blame them? The digging, the mowing, the carrying of loads, all the break-back and sweat-extracting work, they leave to be performed by those who have less prudence than they have. The great purpose of human art, the great end of human study, is to obtain ease, to throw the burden of labour from our own shoulders, and fix it on those of others. The crop of hay is very large, and that part which is[Pg 79] in, is in very good order. We shall have hardly any hay that is not fine and sweet; and we shall have it, carried to London, at less, I dare say, than 3l. a load, that is 18 cwt. So that here the evil of “over-production” will be great indeed! Whether we shall have any projects for taking hay into pawn is more than any of us can say; for, after what we have seen, need we be surprised if we were to hear it proposed to take butter and even milk into pawn. In after times, the mad projects of these days will become proverbial. The Oracle and the over-production men will totally supplant the March-hare.—This is, all along here, and especially as far as Stanmore, a very dull and ugly country: flat, and all grass-fields and elms. Few birds of any kind, and few constant labourers being wanted; scarcely any cottages and gardens, which form one of the great beauties of a country. Stanmore is on a hill; but it looks over a country of little variety, though rich. What a difference between the view here and those which carry the eye over the coppices, the corn-fields, the hop-gardens and the orchards of Kent! It is miserable land from Stanmore to Watford, where we get into Hertfordshire. Hence to Saint Albans there is generally chalk at bottom with a red tenacious loam at top, with flints, grey on the outside and dark blue within. Wherever this is the soil, the wheat grows well. The crops, and especially that of the barley, are very fine and very forward. The wheat, in general, does not appear to be a heavy crop; but the ears seem as if they would be full from bottom to top; and we have had so much heat, that the grain is pretty sure to be plump, let the weather, for the rest of the summer, be what it may. The produce depends more on the weather, previous to the coming out of the ear, than on the subsequent weather. In the Northern parts of America, where they have, some years, not heat enough to bring the Indian Corn to perfection, I have observed that, if they have about fifteen days with the thermometer at ninety, before the ear makes its appearance, the crop never fails, though the weather may be ever so unfavourable afterwards. This allies with the old remark of the country people in England, that “May makes or mars the wheat;” for it is in May that the ear and the grains are formed.

 

Kensington,
June 24, 1822.

Set out at four this morning for Redbourn, and then turned off to the Westward to go to High Wycombe, through Hempstead and Chesham. The wheat is good all the way. The barley and oats good enough till I came to Hempstead. But[Pg 80] the land along here is very fine: a red tenacious flinty loam upon a bed of chalk at a yard or two beneath, which, in my opinion, is the very best corn land that we have in England. The fields here, like those in the rich parts of Devonshire, will bear perpetual grass. Any of them will become upland meadows. The land is, in short, excellent, and it is a real corn-country. The trees, from Redbourn to Hempstead are very fine; oaks, ashes, and beeches. Some of the finest of each sort, and the very finest ashes I ever saw in my life. They are in great numbers, and make the fields look most beautiful. No villanous things of the fir-tribe offend the eye here. The custom is in this part of Hertfordshire (and I am told it continues into Bedfordshire) to leave a border round the ploughed part of the fields to bear grass and to make hay from, so that, the grass being now made into hay, every corn field has a closely mowed grass walk about ten feet wide all round it, between the corn and the hedge. This is most beautiful! The hedges are now full of the shepherd’s rose, honeysuckles, and all sorts of wild flowers; so that you are upon a grass walk, with this most beautiful of all flower gardens and shrubberies on your one hand, and with the corn on the other. And thus you go from field to field (on foot or on horseback), the sort of corn, the sort of underwood and timber, the shape and size of the fields, the height of the hedge-rows, the height of the trees, all continually varying. Talk of pleasure-grounds indeed! What, that man ever invented, under the name of pleasure-grounds, can equal these fields in Hertfordshire?—This is a profitable system too; for the ground under hedges bears little corn, and it bears very good grass. Something, however, depends on the nature of the soil: for it is not all land that will bear grass, fit for hay, perpetually; and, when the land will not do that, these headlands would only be a harbour for weeds and couch-grass, the seeds of which would fill the fields with their mischievous race.—Mr. Tull has observed upon the great use of headlands.—It is curious enough, that these headlands cease soon after you get into Buckinghamshire. At first you see now-and-then a field without a grass headland; then it comes to now-and-then a field with one; and, at the end of five or six miles, they wholly cease. Hempstead is a very pretty town, with beautiful environs, and there is a canal that comes near it, and that goes on to London. It lies at the foot of a hill. It is clean, substantially built, and a very pretty place altogether. Between Hempstead and Chesham the land is not so good. I came into Buckinghamshire before I got into the latter place. Passed over two commons. But, still, the land is not bad. It is drier; nearer the chalk, and not so red. The wheat continues good, though not heavy; but the[Pg 81] barley, on the land that is not very good, is light, begins to look blue, and the backward oats are very short. On the still thinner lands the barley and oats must be a very short crop.—People do not sow turnips, the ground is so dry, and, I should think, that the Swede-crop will be very short; for Swedes ought to be up at least by this time. If I had Swedes to sow, I would sow them now, and upon ground very deeply and finely broken. I would sow directly after the plough, not being half an hour behind it, and would roll the ground as hard as possible. I am sure the plants would come up, even without rain. And, the moment the rain came, they would grow famously.—Chesham is a nice little town, lying in a deep and narrow valley, with a stream of water running through it. All along the country that I have come the labourers’ dwellings are good. They are made of what they call brick-nog; that is to say, a frame of wood, and a single brick thick, filling up the vacancies between the timber. They are generally covered with tile. Not pretty by any means; but they are good; and you see here, as in Kent, Susses, Surrey, and Hampshire, and, indeed, in almost every part of England, that most interesting of all objects, that which is such an honour to England, and that which distinguishes it from all the rest of the world, namely, those neatly kept and productive little gardens round the labourers’ houses, which are seldom unornamented with more or less of flowers. We have only to look at these to know what sort of people English labourers are: these gardens are the answer to the Malthuses and the Scarletts. Shut your mouths, you Scotch Economists; cease bawling, Mr. Brougham, and you Edinburgh Reviewers, till you can show us something, not like, but approaching towards a likeness of this!

The orchards all along this country are by no means bad. Not like those of Herefordshire and the north of Kent; but a great deal better than in many other parts of the kingdom. The cherry-trees are pretty abundant and particularly good. There are not many of the merries, as they call them in Kent and Hampshire; that is to say, the little black cherry, the name of which is a corruption from the French, merise, in the singular, and merises in the plural. I saw the little boys, in many places, set to keep the birds off the cherries, which reminded me of the time when I followed the same occupation, and also of the toll that I used to take in payment. The children are all along here, I mean the little children, locked out of the doors, while the fathers and mothers are at work in the fields. I saw many little groups of this sort; and this is one advantage of having plenty of room on the outside of a house. I never saw the country children better clad, or look cleaner and fatter[Pg 82] than they look here, and I have the very great pleasure to add, that I do not think I saw three acres of potatoes in this whole tract of fine country, from St. Albans to Redbourn, from Redbourn to Hempstead, and from Hempstead to Chesham. In all the houses where I have been, they use the roasted rye instead of coffee or tea, and I saw one gentleman who had sown a piece of rye (a grain not common in this part of the country) for the express purpose. It costs about three farthings a pound, roasted and ground into powder.—The pay of the labourers varies from eight to twelve shillings a-week. Grass mowers get two shillings a-day, two quarts of what they call strong beer, and as much small beer as they can drink. After quitting Chesham, I passed through a wood, resembling, as nearly as possible, the woods in the more cultivated parts of Long Island, with these exceptions, that there the woods consist of a great variety of trees, and of more beautiful foliage. Here there are only two sorts of trees, beech and oak: but the wood at bottom was precisely like an American wood: none of that stuff which we generally call underwood: the trees standing very thick in some places: the shade so complete as never to permit herbage below: no bushes of any sort; and nothing to impede your steps but little spindling trees here and there grown up from the seed. The trees here are as lofty, too, as they generally are in the Long Island woods, and as straight, except in cases where you find clumps of the tulip-tree, which sometimes go much above a hundred feet high as straight as a line. The oaks seem here to vie with the beeches, in size as well as in loftiness and straightness. I saw several oaks which I think were more than eighty feet high, and several with a clear stem of more than forty feet, being pretty nearly as far through at that distance from the ground as at bottom; and I think I saw more than one, with a clear stem of fifty feet, a foot and a half through at that distance from the ground. This is by far the finest plank oak that I ever saw in England. The road through the wood is winding and brings you out at the corner of a field, lying sloping to the south, three sides of it bordered by wood and the field planted as an orchard. This is precisely what you see in so many thousands of places in America. I had passed through Hempstead a little while before, which certainly gave its name to the Township in which I lived in Long Island, and which I used to write Hampstead, contrary to the orthography of the place, never having heard of such a place as Hempstead in England. Passing through Hempstead I gave my mind a toss back to Long Island, and this beautiful wood and orchard really made me almost conceit that I was there, and gave rise to a thousand interesting and pleasant reflections. On quitting the wood I crossed the[Pg 83] great road from London to Wendover, went across the park of Mr. Drake, and up a steep hill towards the great road leading to Wycombe. Mr. Drake’s is a very beautiful place, and has a great deal of very fine timber upon it. I think I counted pretty nearly 200 oak trees, worth, on an average, five pounds a-piece, growing within twenty yards of the road that I was going along. Mr. Drake has some thousands of these, I dare say, besides his beech; and, therefore, he will be able to stand a tug with the fundholders for some time. When I got to High Wycombe, I found everything a week earlier than in the rich part of Hertfordshire. High Wycombe, as if the name was ironical, lies along the bottom of a narrow and deep valley, the hills on each side being very steep indeed. The valley runs somewhere about from east to west, and the wheat on the hills facing the south will, if this weather continue, be fit to reap in ten days. I saw one field of oats that a bold farmer would cut next Monday. Wycombe is a very fine and very clean market town; the people all looking extremely well; the girls somewhat larger featured and larger boned than those in Sussex, and not so fresh-coloured and bright-eyed. More like the girls of America, and that is saying quite as much as any reasonable woman can expect or wish for. The Hills on the south side of Wycombe form a park and estate now the property of Smith, who was a banker or stocking-maker at Nottingham, who was made a Lord in the time of Pitt, and who purchased this estate of the late Marquis of Landsdowne, one of whose titles is Baron Wycombe. Wycombe is one of those famous things called Boroughs, and 34 votes in this Borough send Sir John Dashwood and Sir Thomas Baring to the “collective wisdom.” The landlord where I put up “remembered” the name of Dashwood, but had “forgotten” who the “other” was! There would be no forgettings of this sort, if these thirty-four, together with their representatives, were called upon to pay the share of the National Debt due from High Wycombe. Between High Wycombe and Beaconsfield, where the soil is much about that last described, the wheat continued to be equally early with that about Wycombe. As I approached Uxbridge I got off the chalk upon a gravelly bottom, and then from Uxbridge to Shepherd’s Bush on a bottom of clay. Grass-fields and elm-trees, with here and there a wheat or a bean-field, form the features of this most ugly country, which would have been perfectly unbearable after quitting the neighbourhoods of Hempstead, Chesham and High Wycombe, had it not been for the diversion I derived from meeting, in all the various modes of conveyance, the cockneys going to Ealing Fair, which is one of those things which nature herself would almost seem to have[Pg 84] provided for drawing off the matter and giving occasional relief to the overcharged Wen. I have traversed to-day what I think may be called an average of England as to corn-crops. Some of the best, certainly; and pretty nearly some of the worst. My observation as to the wheat is, that it will be a fair and average crop, and extremely early; because, though it is not a heavy crop, though the ears are not long they will be full; and the earliness seems to preclude the possibility of blight, and to ensure plump grain. The barley and oats must, upon an average, be a light crop. The peas a light crop; and as to beans, unless there have been rains where beans are mostly grown, they cannot be half a crop; for they will not endure heat. I tried masagan beans in Long Island, and could not get them to bear more than a pod or two upon a stem. Beans love cold land and shade. The earliness of the harvest (for early it must be) is always a clear advantage. This fine summer, though it may not lead to a good crop of turnips, has already put safe into store such a crop of hay as I believe England never saw before. Looking out of the window, I see the harness of the Wiltshire wagon-horses (at this moment going by) covered with the chalk-dust of that county; so that the fine weather continues in the West. The saint-foin hay has all been got in, in the chalk countries, without a drop of wet; and when that is the case, the farmers stand in no need of oats. The grass crops have been large everywhere, as well as got in in good order. The fallows must be in excellent order. It must be a sloven indeed that will sow his wheat in foul ground next autumn; and the sun, where the fallows have been well stirred, will have done more to enrich the land than all the dung-carts and all the other means employed by the hand of man. Such a summer is a great blessing; and the only draw-back is, the dismal apprehension of not seeing such another for many years to come. It is favourable for poultry, for colts, for calves, for lambs, for young animals of all descriptions, not excepting the game. The partridges will be very early. They are now getting into the roads with their young ones, to roll in the dust. The first broods of partridges in England are very frequently killed by the wet and cold; and this is one reason why the game is not so plenty here as it is in countries more blest with sun. This will not be the case this year; and, in short, this is one of the finest years that I ever knew.

Wm. COBBETT.

 

 


[Pg 85]

RURAL RIDE, OF 104 MILES, FROM KENSINGTON TO UPHUSBAND; INCLUDING A RUSTIC HARANGUE AT WINCHESTER, AT A DINNER WITH THE FARMERS, ON THE 28TH SEPTEMBER.

 

Chilworth, near Guildford, Surrey,
Wednesday, 25th Sept., 1822.

This morning I set off, in rather a drizzling rain, from Kensington, on horseback, accompanied by my son, with an intention of going to Uphusband, near Andover, which is situated in the North West corner of Hampshire. It is very true that I could have gone to Uphusband by travelling only about 66 miles, and in the space of about eight hours. But my object was not to see inns and turnpike-roads, but to see the country; to see the farmers at home, and to see the labourers in the fields; and to do this you must go either on foot or on horse-back. With a gig you cannot get about amongst bye-lanes and across fields, through bridle-ways and hunting-gates; and to tramp it is too slow, leaving the labour out of the question, and that is not a trifle.

We went through the turnpike-gate at Kensington, and immediately turned down the lane to our left, proceeded on to Fulham, crossed Putney bridge into Surrey, went over Barnes Common, and then, going on the upper side of Richmond, got again into Middlesex by crossing Richmond bridge. All Middlesex is ugly, notwithstanding the millions upon millions which it is continually sucking up from the rest of the kingdom; and, though the Thames and its meadows now-and-then are seen from the road, the country is not less ugly from Richmond to Chertsey bridge, through Twickenham, Hampton, Sunbury, and Sheperton, than it is elsewhere. The soil is a gravel at bottom with a black loam at top near the Thames; further back it is a sort of spewy gravel; and the buildings consist generally of tax-eaters’ showy, tea-garden-like boxes, and of shabby dwellings of labouring people who, in this part of the country, look to be about half Saint Giles’s: dirty, and have every appearance of drinking gin.

At Chertsey, where we came into Surrey again, there was a Fair for horses, cattle, and pigs. I did not see any sheep. Everything was exceedingly dull. Cart colts, two and three years old, were selling for less than a third of what they sold for in 1813. The cattle were of an inferior description to be sure; but the price was low almost beyond belief. Cows, which would have sold for 15l. in 1813, did not get buyers at 3l. I had no time to inquire much about the pigs, but a man told[Pg 86] me that they were dirt-cheap. Near Chertsey is Saint Anne’s Hill and some other pretty spots. Upon being shown this hill I was put in mind of Mr. Fox; and that brought into my head a grant that he obtained of Crown lands in this neighbourhood, in, I think, 1806. The Duke of York obtained, by Act of Parliament, a much larger grant of these lands, at Oatlands, in 1804, I think it was. But this was natural enough; this is what would surprise nobody. Mr. Fox’s was another affair; and especially when taken into view with what I am now going to relate. In 1804 or 1805, Fordyce, the late Duchess of Gordon’s brother, was Collector General (or had been) of taxes in Scotland, and owed a large arrear to the public. He was also Surveyor of Crown lands. The then Opposition were for hauling him up. Pitt was again in power. Mr. Creevey was to bring forward the motion in the House of Commons, and Mr. Fox was to support it, and had actually spoken once or twice, in a preliminary way on the subject. Notice of the motion was regularly given; it was put off from time to time, and, at last, dropped, Mr. Fox declining to support it. I have no books at hand; but the affair will be found recorded in the Register. It was not owing to Mr. Creevey that the thing did not come on. I remember well that it was owing to Mr. Fox. Other motives were stated; and those others might be the real motives; but, at any rate, the next year, or the year after, Mr. Fox got transferred to him a part of that estate, which belongs to the public, and which was once so great, called the Crown lands; and of these lands Fordyce long had been, and then was, the Surveyor. Such are the facts: let the reader reason upon them and draw the conclusion.

This county of Surrey presents to the eye of the traveller a greater contrast than any other county in England. It has some of the very best and some of the worst lands, not only in England, but in the world. We were here upon those of the latter description. For five miles on the road towards Guildford the land is a rascally common covered with poor heath, except where the gravel is so near the top as not to suffer even the heath to grow. Here we entered the enclosed lands, which have the gravel at bottom, but a nice light, black mould at top; in which the trees grow very well. Through bye-lanes and bridle-ways we came out into the London road, between Ripley and Guildford, and immediately crossing that road, came on towards a village called Merrow. We came out into the road just mentioned, at the lodge-gates of a Mr. Weston, whose mansion and estate have just passed (as to occupancy) into the hands of some new man. At Merrow, where we came into the Epsom road, we found that Mr. Webb Weston, whose[Pg 87] mansion and park are a little further on towards London, had just walked out, and left it in possession of another new man. This gentleman told us, last year, at the Epsom Meeting, that he was losing his income; and I told him how it was that he was losing it! He is said to be a very worthy man; very much respected; a very good landlord; but, I dare say, he is one of those who approved of yeomanry cavalry to keep down the “Jacobins and Levellers;” but who, in fact, as I always told men of this description, have put down themselves and their landlords; for without them this thing never could have been done. To ascribe the whole to contrivance would be to give to Pitt and his followers too much credit for profundity; but if the knaves who assembled at the Crown and Anchor in the Strand, in 1793, to put down, by the means of prosecutions and spies, those whom they called “Republicans and Levellers;” if these knaves had said, “Let us go to work to induce the owners and occupiers of the land to convey their estates and their capital into our hands,” and if the Government had corresponded with them in views, the effect could not have been more complete than it has, thus far, been. The yeomanry actually, as to the effect, drew their swords to keep the reformers at bay, while the tax-eaters were taking away the estates and the capital. It was the sheep surrendering up the dogs into the hands of the wolves.

Lord Onslow lives near Merrow. This is the man that was, for many years, so famous as a driver of four-in-hand. He used to be called Tommy Onslow. He has the character of being a very good landlord. I know he called me “a d——d Jacobin” several years ago, only, I presume, because I was labouring to preserve to him the means of still driving four-in-hand, while he, and others like him, and their yeomanry cavalry, were working as hard to defeat my wishes and endeavours. They say here, that, some little time back, his Lordship, who has, at any rate, had the courage to retrench in all sorts of ways, was at Guildford in a gig with one horse, at the very moment, when Spicer, the Stock-broker, who was a Chairman of the Committee for prosecuting Lord Cochrane, and who lives at Esher, came rattling in with four horses and a couple of out-riders! They relate an observation made by his Lordship, which may, or may not, be true, and which therefore, I shall not repeat. But, my Lord, there is another sort of courage; courage other than that of retrenching, that would become you in the present emergency: I mean political courage, and especially the courage of acknowledging your errors; confessing that you were wrong when you called the reformers Jacobins and levellers; the courage of now joining them in their[Pg 88] efforts to save their country, to regain their freedom, and to preserve to you your estate, which is to be preserved, you will observe, by no other means than that of a Reform of the Parliament. It is now manifest, even to fools, that it has been by the instrumentality of a base and fraudulent paper-money that loan-jobbers, stock-jobbers and Jews have got the estates into their hands. With what eagerness, in 1797, did the nobility, gentry, and clergy rush forward to give their sanction and their support to the system which then began, and which has finally produced, what we now behold! They assembled in all the counties, and put forth declarations that they would take the paper of the Bank, and that they would support the system. Upon this occasion the county of Surrey was the very first county; and on the list of signatures the very first name was Onslow! There may be sales and conveyances; there may be recoveries, deeds, and other parchments; but this was the real transfer; this was the real signing away of the estates.

To come to Chilworth, which lies on the south side of St. Martha’s Hill, most people would have gone along the level road to Guildford and come round through Shawford under the hills; but we, having seen enough of streets and turnpikes, took across over Merrow Down, where the Guildford race-course is, and then mounted the “Surrey Hills,” so famous for the prospects they afford. Here we looked back over Middlesex, and into Buckinghamshire and Berkshire, away towards the North-West, into Essex and Kent towards the East, over part of Sussex to the South, and over part of Hampshire to the West and South-West. We are here upon a bed of chalk, where the downs always afford good sheep food. We steered for St. Martha’s Chapel, and went round at the foot of the lofty hill on which it stands. This brought us down the side of a steep hill, and along a bridle-way, into the narrow and exquisitely beautiful vale of Chilworth, where we were to stop for the night. This vale is skirted partly by woodlands and partly by sides of hills tilled as corn fields. The land is excellent, particularly towards the bottom. Even the arable fields are in some places, towards their tops, nearly as steep as the roof of a tiled house; and where the ground is covered with woods the ground is still more steep. Down the middle of the vale there is a series of ponds, or small lakes, which meet your eye, here and there, through the trees. Here are some very fine farms, a little strip of meadows, some hop-gardens, and the lakes have given rise to the establishment of powder-mills and paper-mills. The trees of all sorts grow well here; and coppices yield poles for the hop-gardens and wood to make charcoal for the powder-mills.

[Pg 89]They are sowing wheat here, and the land, owing to the fine summer that we have had, is in a very fine state. The rain, too, which, yesterday, fell here in great abundance, has been just in time to make a really good wheat-sowing season. The turnips, all the way that we have come, are good. Rather backward in some places; but in sufficient quantity upon the ground, and there is yet a good while for them to grow. All the fall fruit is excellent, and in great abundance. The grapes are as good as those raised under glass. The apples are much richer than in ordinary years. The crop of hops has been very fine here, as well as everywhere else. The crop not only large, but good in quality. They expect to get six pounds a hundred for them at Weyhill fair. That is one more than I think they will get. The best Sussex hops were selling in the Borough of Southwark at three pounds a hundred a few days before I left London. The Farnham hops may bring double that price; but that, I think, is as much as they will; and this is ruin to the hop-planter. The tax, with its attendant inconveniences, amounts to a pound a hundred; the picking, drying, and bagging, to 50s. The carrying to market not less than 5s. Here is the sum of 3l. 10s. of the money. Supposing the crop to be half a ton to the acre, the bare tillage will be 10s. The poles for an acre cannot cost less than 2l. a-year; that is another 4s. to each hundred of hops. This brings the outgoings to 82s. Then comes the manure, then come the poor-rates, and road-rates, and county rates; and if these leave one single farthing for rent I think it is strange.

I hear that Mr. Birkbeck is expected home from America! It is said that he is coming to receive a large legacy; a thing not to be overlooked by a person who lives in a country where he can have land for nothing! The truth is, I believe, that there has lately died a gentleman, who has bequeathed a part of his property to pay the creditors of a relation of his who some years ago became a bankrupt, and one of whose creditors Mr. Birkbeck was. What the amount may be I know not; but I have heard, that the bankrupt had a partner at the time of the bankruptcy; so that there must be a good deal of difficulty in settling the matter in an equitable manner. The Chancery would drawl it out (supposing the present system to continue) till, in all human probability, there would not be as much left for Mr. Birkbeck as would be required to pay his way back again to the Land of Promise. I hope he is coming here to remain here. He is a very clever man, though he has been very abusive and very unjust with regard to me.

[Pg 90]

 

Lea, near Godalming, Surrey, Thursday, 26 Sept.

We started from Chilworth this morning, came down the vale, left the village of Shawford to our right, and that of Wonersh to our left, and crossing the river Wey, got into the turnpike-road between Guildford and Godalming, went on through Godalming, and got to Lea, which lies to the north-east snugly under Hindhead, about 11 o’clock. This was coming only about eight miles, a sort of rest after the 32 miles of the day before. Coming along the road, a farmer overtook us, and as he had known me from seeing me at the Meeting at Epsom last year, I had a part of my main business to perform, namely, to talk politics. He was going to Haslemere fair. Upon the mention of that sink-hole of a Borough, which sends, “as clearly as the sun at noonday,” the celebrated Charles Long, and the scarcely less celebrated Robert Ward, to the celebrated House of Commons, we began to talk, as it were, spontaneously, about Lord Lonsdale and the Lowthers. The farmer wondered why the Lowthers, that were the owners of so many farms, should be for a system which was so manifestly taking away the estates of the landlords and the capital of the farmers, and giving them to Jews, loan-jobbers, stock-jobbers, placemen, pensioners, sinecure people, and people of the “dead weight.” But his wonder ceased; his eyes were opened; and “his heart seemed to burn within him as I talked to him on the way,” when I explained to him the nature of Crown lands and “Crown tenants,” and when I described to him certain districts of property in Westmoreland and other parts. I had not the book in my pocket, but my memory furnished me with quite a sufficiency of matter to make him perceive that, in supporting the present system, the Lowthers were by no means so foolish as he appeared to think them. From the Lowthers I turned to Mr. Poyntz, who lives at Midhurst in Sussex, and whose name as a “Crown tenant” I find in a Report lately laid before the House of Commons, and the particulars of which I will state another time for the information of the people of Sussex. I used to wonder myself what made Mr. Poyntz call me a Jacobin. I used to think that Mr. Poyntz must be a fool to support the present system. What I have seen in that Report convinces me that Mr. Poyntz is no fool, as far as relates to his own interest, at any rate. There is a mine of wealth in these “Crown lands.” Here are farms, and manors, and mines, and woods, and forests, and houses, and streets, incalculable in value. What can be so proper as to apply this public property towards the discharge of a part, at[Pg 91] least, of that public debt, which is hanging round the neck of this nation like a mill-stone? Mr. Ricardo proposes to seize upon a part of the private property of every man, to be given to the stock-jobbing race. At an act of injustice like this the mind revolts. The foolishness of it, besides, is calculated to shock one. But in the public property we see the suitable thing. And who can possibly object to this, except those, who, amongst them, now divide the possession or benefit of this property? I have once before mentioned, but I will repeat it, that Marlborough House in Pall Mall, for which the Prince of Saxe Coburg pays a rent to the Duke of Marlborough of three thousand pounds a-year, is rented of this generous public by that most Noble Duke at the rate of less than forty pounds a-year. There are three houses in Pall Mall, the whole of which pay a rent to the public of about fifteen pounds a-year, I think it is. I myself, twenty-two years ago, paid three hundred pounds a-year for one of them, to a man that I thought was the owner of them; but I now find that these houses belong to the public. The Duke of Buckingham’s house in Pall Mall, which is one of the grandest in all London, and which is not worth less than seven or eight hundred pounds a-year, belongs to the public. The Duke is the tenant; and I think he pays for it much less than twenty pounds a-year. I speak from memory here all the way along; and therefore not positively; I will, another time, state the particulars from the books. The book that I am now referring to is also of a date of some years back; but I will mention all the particulars another time. Talk of reducing rents, indeed! Talk of generous landlords! It is the public that is the generous landlord. It is the public that lets its houses and manors and mines and farms at a cheap rate. It certainly would not be so good a landlord if it had a Reformed Parliament to manage its affairs, nor would it suffer so many snug Corporations to carry on their snugglings in the manner that they do, and therefore it is obviously the interest of the rich tenants of this poor public, as well as the interest of the snugglers in Corporations, to prevent the poor public from having such a Parliament.

We got into free-quarter again at Lea; and there is nothing like free-quarter, as soldiers well know. Lea is situated on the edge of that immense heath which sweeps down from the summit of Hindhead across to the north over innumerable hills of minor altitude and of an infinite variety of shapes towards Farnham, to the north-east, towards the Hog’s Back, leading from Farnham to Guildford, and to the east, or nearly so, towards Godalming. Nevertheless, the enclosed lands at Lea are very good and singularly beautiful. The timber of all[Pg 92] sorts grows well; the land is light, and being free from stones, very pleasant to work. If you go southward from Lea about a mile you get down into what is called, in the old Acts of Parliament, the Weald of Surrey. Here the land is a stiff tenacious loam at top with blue and yellow clay beneath. This Weald continues on eastward, and gets into Sussex near East Grinstead: thence it winds about under the hills, into Kent. Here the oak grows finer than in any part of England. The trees are more spiral in their form. They grow much faster than upon any other land. Yet the timber must be better; for, in some of the Acts of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, it is provided, that the oak for the Royal Navy shall come out of the Wealds of Surrey, Sussex, or Kent.

 

Odiham, Hampshire, Friday, 27 Sept.

From Lea we set off this morning about six o’clock to get free-quarter again at a worthy old friend’s at this nice little plain market-town. Our direct road was right over the heath through Tilford to Farnham; but we veered a little to the left after we came to Tilford, at which place on the Green we stopped to look at an oak tree, which, when I was a little boy, was but a very little tree, comparatively, and which is now, take it altogether, by far the finest tree that I ever saw in my life. The stem or shaft is short; that is to say, it is short before you come to the first limbs; but it is full thirty feet round, at about eight or ten feet from the ground. Out of the stem there come not less than fifteen or sixteen limbs, many of which are from five to ten feet round, and each of which would, in fact, be considered a decent stick of timber. I am not judge enough of timber to say anything about the quantity in the whole tree, but my son stepped the ground, and as nearly as we could judge, the diameter of the extent of the branches was upwards of ninety feet, which would make a circumference of about three hundred feet. The tree is in full growth at this moment. There is a little hole in one of the limbs; but with that exception, there appears not the smallest sign of decay. The tree has made great shoots in all parts of it this last summer and spring; and there are no appearances of white upon the trunk, such as are regarded as the symptoms of full growth. There are many sorts of oak in England; two very distinct; one with a pale leaf, and one with a dark leaf: this is of the pale leaf. The tree stands upon Tilford-green, the soil of which is a light loam with a hard sand stone a good way beneath, and, probably, clay beneath that. The spot where the tree stands is about a hundred and twenty feet from the edge of a little river,[Pg 93] and the ground on which it stands may be about ten feet higher than the bed of that river.

In quitting Tilford we came on to the land belonging to Waverly Abbey, and then, instead of going on to the town of Farnham, veered away to the left towards Wrecklesham, in order to cross the Farnham and Alton turnpike-road, and to come on by the side of Crondall to Odiham. We went a little out of the way to go to a place called the Bourn, which lies in the heath at about a mile from Farnham. It is a winding narrow valley, down which, during the wet season of the year, there runs a stream beginning at the Holt Forest, and emptying itself into the Wey just below Moor-Park, which was the seat of Sir William Temple when Swift was residing with him. We went to this Bourn in order that I might show my son the spot where I received the rudiments of my education. There is a little hop-garden in which I used to work when from eight to ten years old; from which I have scores of times run to follow the hounds, leaving the hoe to do the best that it could to destroy the weeds; but the most interesting thing was a sand-hill, which goes from a part of the heath down to the rivulet. As a due mixture of pleasure with toil, I, with two brothers, used occasionally to desport ourselves, as the lawyers call it, at this sand-hill. Our diversion was this: we used to go to the top of the hill, which was steeper than the roof of a house; one used to draw his arms out of the sleeves of his smock-frock, and lay himself down with his arms by his sides; and then the others, one at head and the other at feet, sent him rolling down the hill like a barrel or a log of wood. By the time he got to the bottom, his hair, eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, were all full of this loose sand; then the others took their turn, and at every roll there was a monstrous spell of laughter. I had often told my sons of this while they were very little, and I now took one of them to see the spot. But that was not all. This was the spot where I was receiving my education; and this was the sort of education; and I am perfectly satisfied that if I had not received such an education, or something very much like it; that, if I had been brought up a milksop, with a nursery-maid everlastingly at my heels, I should have been at this day as great a fool, as inefficient a mortal, as any of those frivolous idiots that are turned out from Winchester and Westminster Schools, or from any of those dens of dunces called Colleges and Universities. It is impossible to say how much I owe to that sand-hill; and I went to return it my thanks for the ability which it probably gave me to be one of the greatest terrors, to one of the greatest and most powerful bodies of knaves and fools, that ever were permitted to afflict this or any other country.

[Pg 94]From the Bourn we proceeded on to Wrecklesham, at the end of which we crossed what is called the river Wey. Here we found a parcel of labourers at parish-work. Amongst them was an old playmate of mine. The account they gave of their situation was very dismal. The harvest was over early. The hop-picking is now over; and now they are employed by the Parish; that is to say, not absolutely digging holes one day and filling them up the next; but at the expense of half-ruined farmers and tradesmen and landlords, to break stones into very small pieces to make nice smooth roads lest the jolting, in going along them, should create bile in the stomachs of the overfed tax-eaters. I call upon mankind to witness this scene; and to say, whether ever the like of this was heard of before. It is a state of things, where all is out of order; where self-preservation, that great law of nature, seems to be set at defiance; for here are farmers unable to pay men for working for them, and yet compelled to pay them for working in doing that which is really of no use to any human being. There lie the hop-poles unstripped. You see a hundred things in the neighbouring fields that want doing. The fences are not nearly what they ought to be. The very meadows, to our right and our left in crossing this little valley, would occupy these men advantageously until the setting in of the frost; and here are they, not, as I said before, actually digging holes one day and filling them up the next; but, to all intents and purposes, as uselessly employed. Is this Mr. Canning’s “Sun of Prosperity?” Is this the way to increase or preserve a nation’s wealth? Is this a sign of wise legislation and of good government? Does this thing “work well,” Mr. Canning? Does it prove that we want no change? True, you were born under a Kingly Government; and so was I as well as you; but I was not born under Six-Acts; nor was I born under a state of things like this. I was not born under it, and I do not wish to live under it; and, with God’s help, I will change it if I can.

We left these poor fellows, after having given them, not “religious Tracts,” which would, if they could, make the labourer content with half starvation, but something to get them some bread and cheese and beer, being firmly convinced that it is the body that wants filling and not the mind. However, in speaking of their low wages, I told them that the farmers and hop-planters were as much objects of compassion as themselves, which they acknowledged.

We immediately, alter this, crossed the road, and went on towards Crondall upon a soil that soon became stiff loam and flint at top with a bed of chalk beneath. We did not go to Crondall; but kept along over Slade Heath, and through a[Pg 95] very pretty place called Well. We arrived at Odiham about half after eleven, at the end of a beautiful ride of about seventeen miles, in a very fine and pleasant day.

 

Winchester,
Saturday, 28th September.

Just after daylight we started for this place. By the turnpike we could have come through Basingstoke by turning off to the right, or through Alton and Alresford by turning off to the left. Being naturally disposed towards a middle course, we chose to wind down through Upton-Gray, Preston-Candover, Chilton-Candover, Brown-Candover, then down to Ovington, and into Winchester by the north entrance. From Wrecklesham to Winchester we have come over roads and lanes of flint and chalk. The weather being dry again, the ground under you, as solid as iron, makes a great rattling with the horses’ feet. The country where the soil is stiff loam upon chalk is never bad for corn. Not rich, but never poor. There is at no time anything deserving to be called dirt in the roads. The buildings last a long time, from the absence of fogs and also the absence of humidity in the ground. The absence of dirt makes the people habitually cleanly; and all along through this country the people appear in general to be very neat. It is a country for sheep, which are always sound and good upon this iron soil. The trees grow well, where there are trees. The woods and coppices are not numerous; but they are good, particularly the ash, which always grows well upon the chalk. The oaks, though they do not grow in the spiral form, as upon the clays, are by no means stunted; and some of them very fine trees; I take it that they require a much greater number of years to bring them to perfection than in the Wealds. The wood, perhaps, may be harder; but I have heard that the oak, which grows upon these hard bottoms, is very frequently what the carpenters call shaky. The underwoods here consist, almost entirely, of hazle, which is very fine, and much tougher and more durable than that which grows on soils with a moist bottom. This hazle is a thing of great utility here. It furnishes rods wherewith to make fences; but its principal use is, to make wattles for the folding of sheep in the fields. These things are made much more neatly here than in the south of Hampshire and in Sussex, or in any other part that I have seen. Chalk is the favourite soil of the yew-tree; and at Preston-Candover there is an avenue of yew-trees, probably a mile long, each tree containing, as nearly as I can guess, from twelve to twenty feet of timber, which, as the reader knows, implies a tree of considerable size. They have probably been a century[Pg 96] or two in growing; but, in any way that timber can be used, the timber of the yew will last, perhaps, ten times as long as the timber of any other tree that we grow in England.

Quitting the Candovers, we came along between the two estates of the two Barings. Sir Thomas, who has supplanted the Duke of Bedford, was to our right, while Alexander, who has supplanted Lord Northington, was on our left. The latter has enclosed, as a sort of outwork to his park, a pretty little down called Northington Down, in which he has planted, here and there, a clump of trees. But Mr. Baring, not reflecting that woods are not like funds, to be made at a heat, has planted his trees too large; so that they are covered with moss, are dying at the top, and are literally growing downward instead of upward. In short, this enclosure and plantation have totally destroyed the beauty of this part of the estate. The down, which was before very beautiful, and formed a sort of glacis up to the park pales, is now a marred, ragged, ugly-looking thing. The dying trees, which have been planted long enough for you not to perceive that they have been planted, excite the idea of sterility in the soil. They do injustice to it; for, as a down, it was excellent. Everything that has been done here is to the injury of the estate, and discovers a most shocking want of taste in the projector. Sir Thomas’s plantations, or, rather, those of his father, have been managed more judiciously.

I do not like to be a sort of spy in a man’s neighbourhood; but I will tell Sir Thomas Baring what I have heard; and if he be a man of sense I shall have his thanks, rather than his reproaches, for so doing. I may have been misinformed; but this is what I have heard, that he, and also Lady Baring, are very charitable; that they are very kind and compassionate to their poor neighbours; but that they tack a sort of condition to this charity; that they insist upon the objects of it adopting their notions with regard to religion; or, at least, that where the people are not what they deem pious, they are not objects of their benevolence. I do not say, that they are not perfectly sincere themselves, and that their wishes are not the best that can possibly be; but of this I am very certain, that, by pursuing this principle of action, where they make one good man or woman, they will make one hundred hypocrites. It is not little books that can make a people good; that can make them moral; that can restrain them from committing crimes. I believe that books of any sort never yet had that tendency. Sir Thomas does, I dare say, think me a very wicked man, since I aim at the destruction of the funding system, and what he would call a robbery of what he calls the public creditor; and yet, God help me, I have read books enough, and amongst[Pg 97] the rest, a great part of the religious tracts. Amongst the labouring people, the first thing you have to look after is, common honesty, speaking the truth, and refraining from thieving; and to secure these, the labourer must have his belly-full and be free from fear; and this belly-full must come to him from out of his wages, and not from benevolence of any description. Such being my opinion, I think Sir Thomas Baring would do better, that he would discover more real benevolence, by using the influence which he must naturally have in his neighbourhood, to prevent a diminution in the wages of labour.

 

Winchester,
Sunday Morning, 29 Sept.

Yesterday was market-day here. Everything cheap and falling instead of rising. If it were over-production last year that produced the distress, when are our miseries to have an end! They will end when these men cease to have sway, and not before.

I had not been in Winchester long before I heard something very interesting about the manifesto, concerning the poor, which was lately issued here, and upon which I remarked in my last Register but one, in my Letter to Sir Thomas Baring. Proceeding upon the true military principle, I looked out for free-quarter, which the reader will naturally think difficult for me to find in a town containing a Cathedral. Having done this, I went to the Swan Inn to dine with the farmers. This is the manner that I like best of doing the thing. Six-Acts do not, to be sure, prevent us from dining together. They do not authorize Justices of the Peace to kill us, because we meet to dine without their permission. But I do not like Dinner-Meetings on my account. I like much better to go and fall in with the lads of the land, or with anybody else, at their own places of resort; and I am going to place myself down at Uphusband, in excellent free-quarter, in the midst of all the great fairs of the West, in order, before the winter campaign begins, that I may see as many farmers as possible, and that they may hear my opinions, and I theirs. I shall be at Weyhill fair on the 10th of October, and, perhaps, on some of the succeeding days; and, on one or more of those days, I intend to dine at the White Hart, at Andover. What other fairs or places I shall go to I shall notify hereafter. And this I think the frankest and fairest way. I wish to see many people, and to talk to them: and there are a great many people who wish to see and to talk to me. What better reason can be given for a man’s going about the country and dining at fairs and markets?

At the dinner at Winchester we had a good number of [Pg 98]opulent yeomen, and many gentlemen joined us after the dinner. The state of the country was well talked over; and, during the session (much more sensible than some other sessions that I have had to remark on), I made the following


RUSTIC HARANGUE.

Gentlemen,—Though many here are, I am sure, glad to see me, I am not vain enough to suppose that anything other than that of wishing to hear my opinions on the prospects before us can have induced many to choose to be here to dine with me to-day. I shall, before I sit down, propose to you a toast, which you will drink, or not, as you choose: but I shall state one particular wish in that shape, that it may be the more distinctly understood, and the better remembered.

The wish to which I allude relates to the tithes. Under that word I mean to speak of all that mass of wealth which is vulgarly called Church property: but which is, in fact, public property, and may, of course, be disposed of as the Parliament shall please. There appears at this moment an uncommon degree of anxiety on the part of the parsons to see the farmers enabled to pay rents. The business of the parsons being only with tithes, one naturally, at first sight, wonders why they should care so much about rents. The fact is this: they see clearly enough, that the landlords will never long go without rents, and suffer them to enjoy the tithes. They see, too, that there must be a struggle between the land and the funds: they see that there is such a struggle. They see, that it is the taxes that are taking away the rent of the landlord and the capital of the farmer. Yet the parsons are afraid to see the taxes reduced. Why? Because, if the taxes be reduced in any great degree (and nothing short of a great degree will give relief), they see that the interest of the Debt cannot be paid; and they know well, that the interest of the Debt can never be reduced, until their tithes have been reduced. Thus, then, they find themselves in a great difficulty. They wish the taxes to be kept up and rents to be paid too. Both cannot be, unless some means or other be found out of putting into, or keeping in, the farmer’s pocket, money that is not now there.

The scheme that appears to have been fallen upon for this purpose is the strangest in the world, and it must, if attempted to be put into execution, produce something little short of open and general commotion; namely, that of reducing the wages of labour to a mark so low as to make the labourer a walking skeleton. Before I proceed further, it is right that I communicate[Pg 99] to you an explanation, which, not an hour ago, I received from Mr. Poulter, relative to the manifesto, lately issued in this town by a Bench of Magistrates of which that gentleman was Chairman. I have not the honour to be personally acquainted with Mr. Poulter, but certainly, if I had misunderstood the manifesto, it was right that I should be, if possible, made to understand it. Mr. Poulter, in company with another gentleman, came to me in this Inn, and said, that the bench did not mean that their resolutions should have the effect of lowering the wages: and that the sums, stated in the paper, were sums to be given in the way of relief. We had not the paper before us, and, as the paper contained a good deal about relief, I, in recollection, confounded the two, and said, that I had understood the paper agreeably to the explanation. But upon looking at the paper again, I see, that, as to the words, there was a clear recommendation to make the wages what is there stated. However, seeing that the Chairman himself disavows this, we must conclude that the bench put forth words not expressing their meaning. To this I must add, as connected with the manifesto, that it is stated in that document, that such and such justices were present, and a large and respectable number of yeomen who had been invited to attend. Now, Gentlemen, I was, I must confess, struck with this addition to the bench. These gentlemen have not been accustomed to treat farmers with so much attention. It seemed odd, that they should want a set of farmers to be present, to give a sort of sanction to their acts. Since my arrival in Winchester, I have found, however, that having them present was not all; for that the names of some of these yeomen were actually inserted in the manuscript of the manifesto, and that those names were expunged at the request of the parties named. This is a very singular proceeding, then, altogether. It presents to us a strong picture of the diffidence, or modesty (call it which you please) of the justices; and it shows us, that the yeomen present did not like to have their names standing as giving sanction to the resolutions contained in the manifesto. Indeed, they knew well, that those resolutions never could be acted upon. They knew that they could not live in safety even in the same village with labourers, paid at the rate of 3, 4, and 5 shillings a-week.

To return, now, Gentlemen, to the scheme for squeezing rents out of the bones of the labourer, is it not, upon the face of it, most monstrously absurd, that this scheme should be resorted to, when the plain and easy and just way of insuring rents must present itself to every eye, and can be pursued by the Parliament whenever it choose? We hear loud outcries against the poor-rates; the enormous poor-rates; the [Pg 100]all-devouring poor-rates; but what are the facts? Why, that, in Great Britain, six millions are paid in poor-rates, seven millions (or thereabouts) in tithes, and sixty millions to the fund-people, the army, placemen, and the rest. And yet nothing of all this seems to be thought of but the six millions. Surely the other and so much larger sums might to be thought of. Even the six millions are, for the far greater part, wages and not poor-rates. And yet all this outcry is made about these six millions, while not a word is said about the other sixty-seven millions.

Gentlemen, to enumerate all the ways, in which the public money is spent, would take me a week. I will mention two classes of persons who are receivers of taxes: and you will then see with what reason it is, that this outcry is set up against the poor-rates and against the amount of wages. There is a thing called the Dead Weight. Incredible as it may seem, that such a vulgar appellation should be used in such a way and by such persons, it is a fact, that the Ministers have laid before the Parliament an account, called the account of the Dead Weight. This account tells how five millions three hundred thousand pounds are distributed annually amongst half-pay officers, pensioners, retired commissaries, clerks, and so forth, employed during the last war. If there were nothing more entailed upon us by that war, this is pretty smart-money. Now unjust, unnecessary as that war was, detestable as it was in all its principles and objects, still, to every man, who really did fight, or who performed a soldier’s duty abroad, I would give something: he should not be left destitute. But, Gentlemen, is it right for the nation to keep on paying for life crowds of young fellows such as make up the greater part of this dead weight? This is not all, however, for, there are the widows and the children, who have, and are to have, pensions too. You seem surprised, and well you may; but this is the fact. A young fellow who has a pension for life, aye, or an old fellow either, will easily get a wife to enjoy it with him, and he will, I’ll warrant him, take care that she shall not be old. So that here is absolutely a premium for entering into the holy state of matrimony. The husband, you will perceive, cannot prevent the wife from having the pension after his death. She is our widow, in this respect, not his. She marries, in fact, with a jointure settled on her. The more children the husband leaves the better for the widow; for each child has a pension for a certain number of years. The man, who, under such circumstances, does not marry, must be a woman-hater. An old man actually going into the grave, may, by the mere ceremony of marriage, give any woman a pension for life. Even the widows and children of insane officers are not excluded. If an officer, now insane,[Pg 101] but at large, were to marry, there is nothing, as the thing now stands, to prevent his widow and children from having pensions. Were such things as these ever before heard of in the world? Were such premiums ever before given for breeding gentlemen and ladies, and that, too, while all sorts of projects are on foot to check the breeding of the labouring classes? Can such a thing go on? I say it cannot; and, if it could, it must inevitably render this country the most contemptible upon the face of the earth. And yet, not a word of complaint is heard about these five millions and a quarter, expended in this way, while the country rings, fairly resounds, with the outcry about the six millions that are given to the labourers in the shape of poor-rates, but which, in fact, go, for the greater part, to pay what ought to be called wages. Unless, then, we speak out here; unless we call for redress here; unless we here seek relief, we shall not only be totally ruined, but we shall deserve it.

The other class of persons, to whom I have alluded, as having taxes bestowed on them, are the poor clergy. Not of the church as by law established, to be sure, you will say! Yes, Gentlemen, even to the poor clergy of the established Church. We know well how rich that Church is; we know well how many millions it annually receives; we know how opulent are the bishops, how rich they die; how rich, in short, a body it is. And yet fifteen hundred thousand pounds have, within the same number of years, been given, out of the taxes, partly raised on the labourers, for the relief of the poor clergy of that Church, while it is notorious that the livings are given in numerous cases by twos and threes to the same person, and while a clamour, enough to make the sky ring, is made about what is given in the shape of relief to the labouring classes! Why, Gentlemen, what do we want more than this one fact? Does not this one fact sufficiently characterize the system under which we live? Does not this prove that a change, a great change, is wanted? Would it not be more natural to propose to get this money back from the Church, than to squeeze so much out of the bones of the labourers? This the Parliament can do if it pleases; and this it will do, if you do your duty.

Passing over several other topics, let me, Gentlemen, now come to what, at the present moment, most nearly affects you; namely, the prospect as to prices. In the first place, this depends upon whether Peel’s Bill will be repealed. As this depends a good deal upon the Ministers, and as I am convinced, that they know no more what to do in the present emergency than the little boys and girls that are running up and down the street before this house, it is impossible for me, or for any one, to say what will be done in this respect. But my opinion is decided, that[Pg 102] the Bill will not be repealed. The Ministers see, that, if they were now to go back to the paper, it would not be the paper of 1819; but a paper never to be redeemed by gold; that it would be assignats to all intents and purposes. That must of necessity cause the complete overthrow of the Government in a very short time. If, therefore, the Ministers see the thing in this light, it is impossible, that they should think of a repeal of Peel’s Bill. There appeared, last winter, a strong disposition to repeal the Bill; and I verily believe, that a repeal in effect, though not in name, was actually in contemplation. A Bill was brought in, which was described beforehand as intended to prolong the issue of small notes, and also to prolong the time for making Bank of England notes a legal tender. This would have been a repealing of Peel’s Bill in great part. The Bill, when brought in, and when passed, as it finally was, contained no clause relative to legal tender; and without that clause it was perfectly nugatory. Let me explain to you, Gentlemen, what this Bill really is. In the seventeenth year of the late King’s reign, an act was passed for a time limited, to prevent the issue of notes payable to bearer on demand, for any sums less than five pounds. In the twenty-seventh year of the late King’s reign, this Act was made perpetual; and the preamble of the Act sets forth, that it is made perpetual, because the preventing of small notes being made has been proved to be for the good of the nation. Nevertheless, in just ten years afterwards; that is to say, in the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety-seven, when the Bank stopped payment, this salutary Act was suspended; indeed, it was absolutely necessary, for there was no gold to pay with. It continued suspended until 1819, when Mr. Peel’s Bill was passed, when a Bill was passed to suspend it still further, until the year 1825. You will observe, then, that, last winter there were yet three years to come, during which the banks might make small notes if they would. Yet this new Bill was passed last winter to authorize them to make small notes until the year 1833. The measure was wholly uncalled for. It appeared to be altogether unnecessary; but, as I have just said, the intention was to introduce into this Bill a clause to continue the legal tender until 1833; and that would, indeed, have made a great alteration in the state of things; and, if extended to the Bank of England, would have been, in effect, a complete repeal of Peel’s Bill.

It was fully expected by the country bankers, that the legal tender clause would have been inserted; but, before it came to the trial, the Ministers gave way, and the clause was not inserted. The reason for their giving way, I do verily believe, had its principal foundation in their perceiving, that the public would[Pg 103] clearly see, that such a measure would make the paper-money merely assignats. The legal tender not having been enacted, the Small-note Bill can do nothing towards augmenting the quantity of circulating medium. As the law now stands, Bank of England notes are, in effect, a legal tender. If I owe a debt of twenty pounds, and tender Bank of England notes in payment, the law says that you shall not arrest me; that you may bring your action, if you like; that I may pay the notes into Court; that you may go on with your action; that you shall pay all the costs, and I none. At last you gain your action; you obtain judgment and execution, or whatever else the everlasting law allows of. And what have you got then? Why the notes; the same identical notes the Sheriff will bring you. You will not take them. Go to law with the Sheriff then. He pays the notes into Court. More costs for you to pay. And thus you go on; but without ever touching or seeing gold!

Now, Gentlemen, Peel’s Bill puts an end to all this pretty work on the first day of next May. If you have a handful of a country banker’s rags now, and go to him for payment, he will tender you Bank of England notes; and if you like the paying of costs you may go to law for gold. But when the first of next May comes, he must put gold into your hands in exchange for your notes, if you choose it; or you may clap a bailiff’s hand upon his shoulder: and if he choose to pay into Court, he must pay in gold, and pay your costs also as far as you have gone.

This makes a strange alteration in the thing! And everybody must see, that the Bank of England, and the country bankers; that all, in short, are preparing for the first of May. It is clear that there must be a farther diminution of the paper-money. It is hard to say the precise degree of effect that this will have upon prices; but that it must bring them down is clear; and, for my own part, I am fully persuaded, that they will come down to the standard of prices in France, be those prices what they may. This, indeed, was acknowledged by Mr. Huskisson in the Agricultural Report of 1821. That two countries so near together, both having gold as a currency or standard, should differ very widely from each other, in the prices of farm-produce, is next to impossible; and therefore, when our legal tender shall be completely done away, to the prices of France you must come; and those prices cannot, I think, in the present state of Europe, much exceed three or four shillings a bushel for good wheat.

You know, as well as I do, that it is impossible, with the present taxes and rates and tithes, to pay any rent at all with prices upon that scale. Let loan-jobbers, stock-jobbers, Jews, and the whole tribe of tax-eaters say what they will, you know[Pg 104] that it is impossible, as you also know it would be cruelly unjust to wring from the labourer the means of paying rent, while those taxes and tithes remain. Something must be taken off. The labourers’ wages have already been reduced as low as possible. All public pay and salaries ought to be reduced; and the tithes also ought to be reduced, as they might be to a great amount without any injury to religion. The interest of the debt ought to be largely reduced; but, as none of the others can, with any show of justice, take place, without a reduction of the tithes, and as I am for confining myself to one object at present, I will give you as a Toast, leaving you to drink it or not, as you please, A large Reduction of Tithes.


Somebody proposed to drink this Toast with three times three, which was accordingly done, and the sound might have been heard down to the close.—Upon some Gentleman giving my health, I took occasion to remind the company that the last time I was at Winchester we had the memorable fight with Lockhart “the Brave” and his sable friends. I reminded them that it was in that same room that I told them that it would not be long before Mr. Lockhart and those sable gentlemen would become enlightened; and I observed that, if we were to judge from a man’s language, there was not a land-owner in England that more keenly felt than Mr. Lockhart the truth of those predictions which I had put forth at the Castle on the day alluded to. I reminded the company that I sailed for America in a few days after that meeting; that they must be well aware that, on the day of the meeting, I knew that I was taking leave of the country, but, I observed, that I had not been in the least depressed by that circumstance; because I relied, with perfect confidence, on being in this same place again, to enjoy, as I now did, a triumph over my adversaries.

After this, Mr. Hector gave a Constitutional Reform in the Commons’ House of Parliament, which was drunk with great enthusiasm; and Mr. Hector’s health having been given, he, in returning thanks, urged his brother yeomen and freeholders to do their duty by coming forward in county meeting and giving their support to those noblemen and gentlemen that were willing to stand forward for a reform and for a reduction of taxation. I held forth to them the example of the county of Kent, which had done itself so much honour by its conduct last spring. What these gentlemen in Hampshire will do it is not for me to say. If nothing be done by them, they will certainly be ruined, and that ruin they will certainly deserve.[Pg 105] It was to the farmers that the Government owed its strength to carry on the war. Having them with it, in consequence of a false and bloated prosperity, it cared not a straw for anybody else. If they, therefore, now do their duty; if they all, like the yeomen and farmers of Kent, come boldly forward, everything will be done necessary to preserve themselves and their country; and if they do not come forward, they will, as men of property, be swept from the face of the earth. The noblemen and gentlemen who are in Parliament, and who are disposed to adopt measures of effectual relief, cannot move with any hope of success unless backed by the yeomen and farmers, and the middling classes throughout the country generally. I do not mean to confine myself to yeomen and farmers, but to take in all tradesmen and men of property. With these at their back, or rather, at the back of these, there are men enough in both Houses of Parliament to propose and to urge measures suitable to the exigency of the case. But without the middling classes to take the lead, those noblemen and gentlemen can do nothing. Even the Ministers themselves, if they were so disposed (and they must be so disposed at last) could make none of the reforms that are necessary, without being actually urged on by the middle classes of the community. This is a very important consideration. A new man, as Minister, might indeed propose the reforms himself; but these men, Opposition as well as Ministry, are so pledged to the things that have brought all this ruin upon the country, that they absolutely stand in need of an overpowering call from the people to justify them in doing that which they themselves may think just, and which they may know to be necessary for the salvation of the country. They dare not take the lead in the necessary reforms. It is too much to be expected of any men upon the face of the earth, pledged and situated as these Ministers are; and therefore, unless the people will do their duty, they will have themselves, and only themselves, to thank for their ruin, and for that load of disgrace, and for that insignificance worse than disgrace which seems, after so many years of renown, to be attaching themselves to the name of England.

 

Uphusband,
Sunday Evening, 29 Sept. 1822.

We came along the turnpike-road, through Wherwell and Andover, and got to this place about 2 o’clock. This country, except at the village and town just mentioned, is very open, a thinnish soil upon a bed of chalk. Between Winchester and Wherwell we came by some hundreds of acres of ground that[Pg 106] was formerly most beautiful down, which was broken up in dear-corn times, and which is now a district of thistles and other weeds. If I had such land as this I would soon make it down again. I would for once (that is to say if I had the money) get it quite clean, prepare it as for sowing turnips, get the turnips if possible, feed them off early, or plough the ground if I got no turnips; sow thick with Saint-foin and meadow-grass seeds of all sorts, early in September; let the crop stand till the next July; feed it then slenderly with sheep, and dig up all thistles and rank weeds that might appear; keep feeding it, but not too close, during the summer and the fall; and keep on feeding it for ever after as a down. The Saint-foin itself would last for many years; and as it disappeared, its place would be supplied by the grass; that sort which was most congenial to the soil, would at last stifle all other sorts, and the land would become a valuable down as formerly.

I see that some plantations of ash and of hazle have been made along here; but, with great submission to the planters, I think they have gone the wrong way to work, as to the mode of preparing the ground. They have planted small trees, and that is right; they have trenched the ground, and that is also right; but they have brought the bottom soil to the top; and that is wrong, always; and especially where the bottom soil is gravel or chalk, or clay. I know that some people will say that this is a puff; and let it pass for that; but if any gentleman that is going to plant trees will look into my Book on Gardening, and into the Chapter on Preparing the Soil, he will, I think, see how conveniently ground may be trenched without bringing to the top that soil in which the young trees stand so long without making shoots.

This country, though so open, has its beauties. The homesteads in the sheltered bottoms with fine lofty trees about the houses and yards form a beautiful contrast with the large open fields. The little villages, running straggling along the dells (always with lofty trees and rookeries) are very interesting objects, even in the winter. You feel a sort of satisfaction, when you are out upon the bleak hills yourself, at the thought of the shelter which is experienced in the dwellings in the valleys.

Andover is a neat and solid market-town. It is supported entirely by the agriculture around it; and how the makers of population returns ever came to think of classing the inhabitants of such a town as this under any other head than that of “persons employed in agriculture,” would appear astonishing to any man who did not know those population return makers as well as I do.

The village of Uphusband, the legal name of which is [Pg 107]Hurstbourn Tarrant, is, as the reader will recollect, a great favourite with me, not the less so certainly on account of the excellent free-quarter that it affords.

 

 


THROUGH HAMPSHIRE, BERKSHIRE, SURREY, AND SUSSEX, BETWEEN 7th OCTOBER AND 1ST DECEMBER, 1822, 327 MILES.

 

7th to 10th Oct. 1822.

At Uphusband, a little village in a deep dale, about five miles to the North of Andover, and about three miles to the South of the Hills at Highclere. The wheat is sown here, and up, and, as usual, at this time of the year, looks very beautiful. The wages of the labourers brought down to six shillings a week! a horrible thing to think of; but, I hear, it is still worse in Wiltshire.

 

11th October.

Went to Weyhill fair, at which I was about 46 years ago, when I rode a little pony, and remember how proud I was on the occasion; but I also remember that my brothers, two out of three of whom were older than I, thought it unfair that my father selected me; and my own reflections upon the occasion have never been forgotten by me. The 11th of October is the Sheep-fair. About 300,000l. used, some few years ago, to be carried home by the sheep-sellers. To-day, less, perhaps, than 70,000l., and yet the rents of these sheep-sellers are, perhaps, as high, on an average, as they were then. The countenances of the farmers were descriptive of their ruinous state. I never, in all my life, beheld a more mournful scene. There is a horse-fair upon another part of the down; and there I saw horses keeping pace in depression with the sheep. A pretty numerous group of the tax-eaters, from Andover and the neighbourhood, were the only persons that had smiles on their faces. I was struck with a young farmer trotting a horse backward and forward to show him off to a couple of gentlemen, who were bargaining for the horse, and one of whom finally purchased him. These gentlemen were two of our “dead-weight,” and the horse was that on which the farmer had pranced in the Yeomanry Troop! Here is a turn of things! Distress; pressing distress; dread of the bailiffs alone could have made the farmer sell his horse. If he had the firmness to keep the tears out of his eyes, his heart must have paid the penalty. What,[Pg 108] then, must have been his feelings, if he reflected, as I did, that the purchase-money for the horse had first gone from his pocket into that of the dead-weight! And, further, that the horse had pranced about for years for the purpose of subduing all opposition to those very measures, which had finally dismounted the owner!

From this dismal scene, a scene formerly so joyous, we set off back to Uphusband pretty early, were overtaken by the rain, and got a pretty good soaking. The land along here is very good. This whole country has a chalk bottom; but, in the valley on the right of the hill over which you go from Andover to Weyhill, the chalk lies far from the top, and the soil has few flints in it. It is very much like the land about Malden and Maidstone. Met with a farmer who said he must be ruined, unless another “good war” should come! This is no uncommon notion. They saw high prices with war, and they thought that the war was the cause.

 

12 to 16 of October.

The fair was too dismal for me to go to it again. My sons went two of the days, and their account of the hop-fair was enough to make one gloomy for a month, particularly as my townsmen of Farnham were, in this case, amongst the sufferers. On the 12th I went to dine with and to harangue the farmers at Andover. Great attention was paid to what I had to say. The crowding to get into the room was a proof of nothing, perhaps, but curiosity; but there must have been a cause for the curiosity, and that cause would, under the present circumstances, be matter for reflection with a wise government.

 

17 October.

Went to Newbury to dine with and to harangue the farmers. It was a fair-day. It rained so hard that I had to stop at Burghclere to dry my clothes, and to borrow a great coat to keep me dry for the rest of the way; so as not to have to sit in wet clothes. At Newbury the company was not less attentive or less numerous than at Andover. Some one of the tax-eating crew had, I understand, called me an “incendiary.” The day is passed for those tricks. They deceive no longer. Here, at Newbury, I took occasion to notice the base accusation of Dundas, the Member for the County. I stated it as something that I had heard of, and I was proceeding to charge him conditionally, when Mr. Tubb of Shillingford rose from his seat, and said, “I myself, Sir, heard him say the words.” I had heard of his vile conduct long before; but I abstained from charging him[Pg 109] with it till an opportunity should offer for doing it in his own country. After the dinner was over I went back to Burghclere.

 

18 to 20 October.

At Burghclere, one half the time writing, and the other half hare-hunting.

 

21 October.

Went back to Uphusband.

 

22 October.

Went to dine with the farmers at Salisbury, and got back to Uphusband by ten o’clock at night, two hours later than I have been out of bed for a great many months.

In quitting Andover to go to Salisbury (17 miles from each other) you cross the beautiful valley that goes winding down amongst the hills to Stockbridge. You then rise into the open country that very soon becomes a part of that large tract of downs, called Salisbury Plain. You are not in Wiltshire, however, till you are about half the way to Salisbury. You leave Tidworth away to your right. This is the seat of Asheton Smith; and the fine coursing that I once saw there I should have called to recollection with pleasure, if I could have forgotten the hanging of the men at Winchester last Spring for resisting one of this Smith’s game-keepers! This Smith’s son and a Sir John Pollen are the members for Andover. They are chosen by the Corporation. One of the Corporation, an Attorney, named Etwall, is a Commissioner of the Lottery, or something in that way. It would be a curious thing to ascertain how large a portion of the “public services” is performed by the voters in Boroughs and their relations. These persons are singularly kind to the nation. They not only choose a large part of the “representatives of the people;” but they come in person, or by deputy, and perform a very considerable part of the “public services.” I should like to know how many of them are employed about the Salt-Tax, for instance. A list of these public-spirited persons might be produced to show the benefit of the Boroughs.

Before you get to Salisbury, you cross the valley that brings down a little river from Amesbury. It is a very beautiful valley. There is a chain of farmhouses and little churches all the way up it. The farms consist of the land on the flats on each side of the river, running out to a greater or less extent, at different places, towards the hills and downs. Not far above Amesbury is a little village called Netherhaven, where I once saw an acre of hares. We were coursing at Everly, a few miles[Pg 110] off; and one of the party happening to say, that he had seen “an acre of hares” at Mr. Hicks Beech’s at Netherhaven, we, who wanted to see the same, or to detect our informant, sent a messenger to beg a day’s coursing, which being granted, we went over the next day. Mr. Beech received us very politely. He took us into a wheat stubble close by his paddock; his son took a gallop round, cracking his whip at the same time; the hares (which were very thickly in sight before) started all over the field, ran into a flock like sheep; and we all agreed, that the flock did cover an acre of ground. Mr. Beech had an old greyhound, that I saw lying down in the shrubbery close by the house, while several hares were sitting and skipping about, with just as much confidence as cats sit by a dog in a kitchen or a parlour. Was this instinct in either dog or hares? Then, mind, this same greyhound went amongst the rest to course with us out upon the distant hills and lands; and then he ran as eagerly as the rest, and killed the hares with as little remorse. Philosophers will talk a long while before they will make men believe, that this was instinct alone. I believe that this dog had much more reason than half of the Cossacks have; and I am sure he had a great deal more than many a Negro that I have seen.

In crossing this valley to go to Salisbury, I thought of Mr. Beech’s hares; but I really have neither thought of nor seen any game with pleasure, since the hanging of the two men at Winchester. If no other man will petition for the repeal of the law, under which those poor fellows suffered, I will. But let us hope, that there will be no need of petitioning. Let us hope, that it will be repealed without any express application for it. It is curious enough that laws of this sort should increase, while Sir James Mackintosh is so resolutely bent on “softening the criminal code!” The company at Salisbury was very numerous; not less than 500 farmers were present. They were very attentive to what I said, and, which rather surprised me, they received very docilely what I said against squeezing the labourers. A fire in a farmyard had lately taken place near Salisbury; so that the subject was a ticklish one. But it was my very first duty to treat of it, and I was resolved, be the consequence what it might, not to neglect that duty.

 

23 to 26 October.

At Uphusband. At this village, which is a great thoroughfare for sheep and pigs, from Wiltshire and Dorsetshire to Berkshire, Oxfordshire, and away to the North and North East, we see many farmers from different parts of the country; and, if I had had any doubts before, as to the deplorableness of their[Pg 111] state, those would now no longer exist. I did, indeed, years ago, prove, that if we returned to cash payments without a reduction of the Debt, and without a rectifying of contracts, the present race of farmers must be ruined. But still, when the thing actually comes, it astounds one. It is like the death of a friend or relation. We talk of its approach without much emotion. We foretell the when without much seeming pain. We know it must be. But, when it comes, we forget our foretellings, and feel the calamity as acutely as if we had never expected it. The accounts we hear, daily, and almost hourly, of the families of farmers actually coming to the parish-book, are enough to make any body but a Boroughmonger feel. That species of monster is to be moved by nothing but his own pecuniary sufferings; and, thank God, the monster is now about to be reached. I hear, from all parts, that the parsons are in great alarm! Well they may, if their hearts be too much set upon the treasures of this world; for I can see no possible way of settling this matter justly, without resorting to their temporalities. They have long enough been calling upon all the industrious classes for “sacrifices for the good of the country.” The time seems to be come for them to do something in this way themselves. In a short time there will be, because there can be, no rents. And, we shall see, whether the landlords will then suffer the parsons to continue to receive a tenth part of the produce of the land! In many places the farmers have had the sense and the spirit to rate the tithes to the poor-rates. This they ought to do in all cases, whether the tithes be taken up in kind or not. This, however, sweats the fire-shovel hat gentleman. It “bothers his wig.” He does not know what to think of it. He does not know who to blame; and, where a parson finds things not to his mind, the first thing he always does is, to look about for somebody to accuse of sedition and blasphemy. Lawyers always begin, in such cases, to hunt the books, to see if there be no punishment to apply. But the devil of it is, neither of them have now any body to lay on upon! I always told them, that there would arise an enemy, that would laugh at all their anathemas, informations, dungeons, halters and bayonets. One positive good has, however, arisen out of the present calamities, and that is, the parsons are grown more humble than they were. Cheap corn and a good thumping debt have greatly conduced to the producing of the Christian virtue, humility, necessary in us all, but doubly necessary in the priesthood. The parson is now one of the parties who is taking away the landlord’s estate and the farmer’s capital. When the farmer’s capital is gone, there will be no rents; but, without a law upon the subject, the parson will still have his tithe, and a[Pg 112] tithe upon the taxes too, which the land has to bear! Will the landlords stand this? No matter. If there be no reform of the Parliament, they must stand it. The two sets may, for aught I care, worry each other as long as they please. When the present race of farmers are gone (and that will soon be) the landlord and the parson may settle the matter between them. They will be the only parties interested; and which of them shall devour the other appears to be of little consequence to the rest of the community. They agreed most cordially in creating the Debt. They went hand in hand in all the measures against the Reformers. They have made, actually made, the very thing that now frightens them, which now menaces them with total extinction. They cannot think it unjust, if their prayers be now treated as the prayers of the Reformers were.

 

27 to 29 October.

At Burghclere. Very nasty weather. On the 28th the fox-hounds came to throw off at Penwood, in this parish. Having heard that Dundas would be out with the hounds, I rode to the place of meeting, in order to look him in the face, and to give him an opportunity to notice, on his own peculiar dunghill, what I had said of him at Newbury. He came. I rode up to him and about him; but he said not a word. The company entered the wood, and I rode back towards my quarters. They found a fox, and quickly lost him. Then they came out of the wood and came back along the road, and met me, and passed me, they as well as I going at a foot pace. I had plenty of time to survey them all well, and to mark their looks. I watched Dundas’s eyes, but the devil a bit could I get them to turn my way. He is paid for the present. We shall see, whether he will go, or send an ambassador, or neither, when I shall be at Reading on the 9th of next month.

 

30 October.

Set off for London. Went by Alderbridge, Crookham, Brimton, Mortimer, Strathfield Say, Heckfield Heath, Eversley, Blackwater, and slept at Oakingham. This is, with trifling exceptions, a miserably poor country. Burghclere lies along at the foot of a part of that chain of hills, which, in this part, divide Hampshire from Berkshire. The parish just named is, indeed, in Hampshire, but it forms merely the foot of the Highclere and Kingsclere Hills. These hills, from which you can see all across the country, even to the Isle of Wight, are of chalk, and with them, towards the North, ends the chalk. The soil over which I have come to-day, is generally a stony sand upon[Pg 113] a bed of gravel. With the exception of the land just round Crookham and the other villages, nothing can well be poorer or more villanously ugly. It is all first cousin to Hounslow Heath, of which it is, in fact, a continuation to the Westward. There is a clay at the bottom of the gravel; so that you have here nasty stagnant pools without fertility of soil. The rushes grow amongst the gravel; sure sign that there is clay beneath to hold the water; for, unless there be water constantly at their roots, rushes will not grow. Such land is, however, good for oaks wherever there is soil enough on the top of the gravel for the oak to get hold, and to send its tap-root down to the clay. The oak is the thing to plant here; and, therefore, this whole country contains not one single plantation of oaks! That is to say, as far as I observed. Plenty of fir-trees and other rubbish have been recently planted; but no oaks.

At Strathfield Say is that everlasting monument of English Wisdom Collective, the Heir Loom Estate of the “greatest Captain of the Age!” In his peerage it is said, that it was wholly out of the power of the nation to reward his services fully; but, that “she did what she could!” Well, poor devil! And what could any body ask for more? It was well, however, that she give what she did while she was drunk; for, if she had held her hand till now, I am half disposed to think, that her gifts would have been very small. I can never forget that we have to pay interest on 50,000l. of the money merely owing to the coxcombery of the late Mr. Whitbread, who actually moved that addition to one of the grants proposed by the Ministers! Now, a great part of the grants is in the way of annuity or pension. It is notorious, that, when the grants were made, the pensions would not purchase more than a third part of as much wheat as they will now. The grants, therefore, have been augmented threefold. What right, then, has any one to say, that the labourers’ wages ought to fall, unless he say, that these pensions ought to be reduced! The Hampshire Magistrates, when they were putting forth their manifesto about the allowances to labourers, should have noticed these pensions of the Lord Lieutenant of the County. However, real starvation cannot be inflicted to any very great extent. The present race of farmers must give way, and the attempts to squeeze rents out of the wages of labour must cease. And the matter will finally rest to be settled by the landlords, parsons, and tax-eaters. If the landlords choose to give the greatest captain three times as much as was granted to him, why, let him have it. According to all account, he is no miser at any rate; and the estates that pass through his hands may, perhaps, be full as well disposed of as they are at present. Considering the [Pg 114]miserable soil I have passed over to-day, I am rather surprised to find Oakingham so decent a town. It has a very handsome market-place, and is by no means an ugly country-town.

 

31 October.

Set off at daylight and got to Kensington about noon. On leaving Oakingham for London, you get upon what is called Windsor Forest; that is to say, upon as bleak, as barren, and as villanous a heath as ever man set his eyes on. However, here are new enclosures without end. And here are houses too, here and there, over the whole of this execrable tract of country. “What!” Mr. Canning will say, “will you not allow that the owners of these new enclosures and these houses know their own interests? And are not these improvements, and are they not a proof of an addition to the national capital?” To the first I answer, May be so; to the two last, No. These new enclosures and houses arise out of the beggaring of the parts of the country distant from the vortex of the funds. The farmhouses have long been growing fewer and fewer; the labourers’ houses fewer and fewer; and it is manifest to every man who has eyes to see with, that the villages are regularly wasting away. This is the case all over the parts of the kingdom where the tax-eaters do not haunt. In all the really agricultural villages and parts of the kingdom, there is a shocking decay; a great dilapidation and constant pulling down or falling down of houses. The farmhouses are not so many as they were forty years ago by three-fourths. That is to say, the infernal system of Pitt and his followers has annihilated three parts out of four of the farm houses. The labourers’ houses disappear also. And all the useful people become less numerous. While these spewy sands and gravel near London are enclosed and built on, good lands in other parts are neglected. These enclosures and buildings are a waste; they are means misapplied; they are a proof of national decline and not of prosperity. To cultivate and ornament these villanous spots the produce and the population are drawn away from the good lands. There all manner of schemes have been resorted to to get rid of the necessity of hands; and, I am quite convinced, that the population, upon the whole, has not increased, in England, one single soul since I was born; an opinion that I have often expressed, in support of which I have as often offered arguments, and those arguments have never been answered. As to this rascally heath, that which has ornamented it has brought misery on millions. The spot is not far distant from the Stock-Jobbing crew. The roads to it are level. They are[Pg 115] smooth. The wretches can go to it from the ’Change without any danger to their worthless necks. And thus it is “vastly improved, Ma’am!” A set of men who can look upon this as “improvement,” who can regard this as a proof of the “increased capital of the country,” are pretty fit, it must be allowed, to get the country out of its present difficulties! At the end of this blackguard heath you come (on the road to Egham) to a little place called Sunning Hill, which is on the Western side of Windsor Park. It is a spot all made into “grounds” and gardens by tax-eaters. The inhabitants of it have beggared twenty agricultural villages and hamlets.

From this place you go across a corner of Windsor Park, and come out at Virginia Water. To Egham is then about two miles. A much more ugly country than that between Egham and Kensington would with great difficulty be found in England. Flat as a pancake, and, until you come to Hammersmith, the soil is a nasty stony dirt upon a bed of gravel. Hounslow-heath, which is only a little worse than the general run, is a sample of all that is bad in soil and villanous in look. Yet this is now enclosed, and what they call “cultivated.” Here is a fresh robbery of villages, hamlets, and farm and labourers’ buildings and abodes! But here is one of those “vast improvements, Ma’am,” called Barracks. What an “improvement!” What an “addition to the national capital!” For, mind, Monsieur de Snip, the Surrey Norman, actually said, that the new buildings ought to be reckoned an addition to the national capital! What, Snip! Do you pretend that the nation is richer, because the means of making this barrack have been drawn away from the people in taxes? Mind, Monsieur le Normand, the barrack did not drop down from the sky nor spring up out of the earth. It was not created by the unhanged knaves of paper-money. It came out of the people’s labour; and, when you hear Mr. Ellman tell the Committee of 1821, that forty-five years ago every man in his parish brewed his own beer, and that now not one man in that same parish does it; when you hear this, Monsieur de Snip, you might, if you had brains in your skull, be able to estimate the effects of what has produced the barrack. Yet, barracks there must be, or Gatton and Old Sarum must fall; and the fall of these would break poor Mr. Canning’s heart.

 

8 November.

From London to Egham in the evening.

 

9 November.

Started at day-break in a hazy frost, for Reading. The horses’ manes and ears covered with the hoar before we got[Pg 116] across Windsor Park, which appeared to be a blackguard soil, pretty much like Hounslow Heath, only not flat. A very large part of the Park is covered with heath or rushes, sure sign of execrable soil. But the roads are such as might have been made by Solomon. “A greater than Solomon is here!” some one may exclaim. Of that I know nothing. I am but a traveller; and the roads in this park are beautiful indeed. My servant, whom I brought from amongst the hills and flints of Uphusband, must certainly have thought himself in Paradise as he was going through the Park. If I had told him that the buildings and the labourers’ clothes and meals, at Uphusband, were the worse for those pretty roads with edgings cut to the line, he would have wondered at me, I dare say. It would, nevertheless, have been perfectly true; and this is feelosofee of a much more useful sort than that which is taught by the Edinburgh Reviewers.

When you get through the Park you come to Winkfield, and then (bound for Reading) you go through Binfield, which is ten miles from Egham and as many from Reading. At Binfield I stopped to breakfast, at a very nice country inn called the Stag and Hounds. Here you go along on the North border of that villanous tract of country that I passed over in going from Oakingham to Egham. Much of the land even here is but newly enclosed; and it was really not worth a straw before it was loaded with the fruit of the labour of the people living in the parts of the country distant from the Fund-Wen. What injustice! What unnatural changes! Such things cannot be, without producing convulsion in the end! A road as smooth as a die, a real stock-jobber’s road, brought us to Reading by eleven o’clock. We dined at one; and very much pleased I was with the company. I have seldom seen a number of persons assembled together, whose approbation I valued more than that of the company of this day. Last year the prime Minister said, that his speech (the grand speech) was rendered necessary by the “pains that had been taken, in different parts of the country,” to persuade the farmers, that the distress had arisen out of the measures of the government, and not from over-production! To be sure I had taken some pains to remove that stupid notion about over-production, from the minds of the farmers; but did the stern-path-man succeed in counteracting the effect of my efforts? Not he, indeed. And, after his speech was made, and sent forth cheek by jowl with that of the sane Castlereagh, of hole-digging memory, the truths inculcated by me were only the more manifest. This has been a fine meeting at Reading! I feel very proud of it. The morning was fine for me to ride in, and the rain began as soon as I was housed.

[Pg 117]I came on horse-back 40 miles, slept on the road, and finished my harangue at the end of twenty-two hours from leaving Kensington; and, I cannot help saying, that is pretty well for “Old Cobbett.” I am delighted with the people that I have seen at Reading. Their kindness to me is nothing in my estimation compared with the sense and spirit which they appear to possess. It is curious to observe how things have worked with me. That combination, that sort of instinctive union, which has existed for so many years, amongst all the parties, to keep me down generally, and particularly, as the County-Club called it, to keep me out of Parliament “at any rate,” this combination has led to the present haranguing system, which, in some sort, supplies the place of a seat in Parliament. It may be said, indeed, that I have not the honour to sit in the same room with those great Reformers, Lord John Russell, Sir Massey Lopez, and his guest, Sir Francis Burdett; but man’s happiness here below is never perfect; and there may be, besides, people to believe, that a man ought not to break his heart on account of being shut out of such company, especially when he can find such company as I have this day found at Reading.

 

10 November.

Went from Reading, through Aldermaston for Burghclere. The rain has been very heavy, and the water was a good deal out. Here, on my way, I got upon Crookham Common again, which is a sort of continuation of the wretched country about Oakingham. From Highclere I looked, one day, over the flat towards Marlborough; and I there saw some such rascally heaths. So that this villanous tract, extends from East to West, with more or less of exceptions, from Hounslow to Hungerford. From North to South it extends from Binfield (which cannot be far from the borders of Buckinghamshire) to the South Downs of Hampshire, and terminates somewhere between Liphook and Petersfield, after stretching over Hindhead, which is certainly the most villanous spot that God ever made. Our ancestors do, indeed, seem to have ascribed its formation to another power; for the most celebrated part of it is called “the Devil’s Punch Bowl.” In this tract of country there are certainly some very beautiful spots. But these are very few in number, except where the chalk-hills run into the tract. The neighbourhood of Godalming ought hardly to be considered as an exception; for there you are just on the outside of the tract, and begin to enter on the Wealds; that is to say, clayey woodlands. All the part of Berkshire, of which I have been recently passing over, if I except the tract from Reading to Crookham, is very bad land and a very ugly country.

[Pg 118]

 

11 November.

Uphusband once more, and, for the sixth time this year, over the North Hampshire Hills, which, notwithstanding their everlasting flints, I like very much. As you ride along, even in a green lane, the horses’ feet make a noise like hammering. It seems as if you were riding on a mass of iron. Yet the soil is good, and bears some of the best wheat in England. All these high, and indeed, all chalky lands, are excellent for sheep. But, on the top of some of these hills, there are as fine meadows as I ever saw. Pasture richer, perhaps, than that about Swindon in the North of Wiltshire. And the singularity is, that this pasture is on the very tops of these lofty hills, from which you can see the Isle of Wight. There is a stiff loam, in some places twenty feet deep, on a bottom of chalk. Though the grass grows so finely, there is no apparent wetness in the land. The wells are more than three hundred feet deep. The main part of the water, for all uses, comes from the clouds; and, indeed, these are pretty constant companions of these chalk hills, which are very often enveloped in clouds and wet, when it is sunshine down at Burghclere or Uphusband. They manure the land here by digging wells in the fields, and bringing up the chalk, which they spread about on the land; and which, being free-chalk, is reduced to powder by the frosts. A considerable portion of the land is covered with wood; and as, in the clearing of the land, the clearers followed the good soil, without regard to shape of fields, the forms of the woods are of endless variety, which, added to the never-ceasing inequalities of the surface of the whole, makes this, like all the others of the same description, a very pleasant country.

 

17 November.

Set off from Uphusband for Hambledon. The first place I had to get to was Whitchurch. On my way, and at a short distance from Uphusband, down the valley, I went through a village called Bourn, which takes its name from the water that runs down this valley. A bourn, in the language of our forefathers, seems to be a river, which is, part of the year, without water. There is one of these bourns down this pretty valley. It has, generally, no water till towards Spring, and then it runs for several months. It is the same at the Candovers, as you go across the downs from Odiham to Winchester.

The little village of Bourn, therefore, takes its name from its situation. Then there are two Hurstbourns, one above and one below this village of Bourn. Hurst means, I believe, a Forest. There were, doubtless, one of those on each side of[Pg 119] Bourn; and when they became villages, the one above was called Up-hurstbourn, and the one below, Down-hurstbourn; which names have become Uphusband and Downhusband. The lawyers, therefore, who, to the immortal honour of high-blood and Norman descent, are making such a pretty story out for the Lord Chancellor, relative to a Noble Peer who voted for the Bill against the Queen, ought to leave off calling the seat of the noble person Hursperne; for it is at Downhurstbourn where he lives, and where he was visited by Dr. Bankhead!

Whitchurch is a small town, but famous for being the place where the paper has been made for the Borough-Bank! I passed by the mill on my way out to get upon the downs to go to Alresford, where I intended to sleep. I hope the time will come, when a monument will be erected where that mill stands, and when on that monument will be inscribed the curse of England. This spot ought to be held accursed in all time henceforth and for evermore. It has been the spot from which have sprung more and greater mischiefs than ever plagued mankind before. However, the evils now appear to be fast recoiling on the merciless authors of them; and, therefore, one beholds this scene of paper-making with a less degree of rage than formerly. My blood used to boil when I thought of the wretches who carried on and supported the system. It does not boil now, when I think of them. The curse, which they intended solely for others, is now falling on themselves; and I smile at their sufferings. Blasphemy! Atheism! Who can be an Atheist, that sees how justly these wretches are treated; with what exact measure they are receiving the evils which they inflicted on others for a time, and which they intended to inflict on them for ever! If, indeed, the monsters had continued to prosper, one might have been an Atheist. The true history of the rise, progress and fall of these monsters, of their power, their crimes and their punishment, will do more than has been done before to put an end to the doubts of those who have doubts upon this subject.

Quitting Whitchurch, I went off to the left out of the Winchester-road, got out upon the high-lands, took an “observation,” as the sailors call it, and off I rode, in a straight line, over hedge and ditch, towards the rising ground between Stratton Park and Micheldever-Wood; but, before I reached this point, I found some wet meadows and some running water in my way in a little valley running up from the turnpike road to a little place called West Stratton. I, therefore, turned to my left, went down to the turnpike, went a little way along it, then turned to my left, went along by Stratton Park pales down East Stratton-street, and then on towards the Grange Park. Stratton Park is the seat of Sir Thomas Baring, who has here several thousands[Pg 120] of acres of land; who has the living of Micheldever, to which, I think, Northington and Swallowfield are joined. Above all, he has Micheldever Wood, which, they say, contains a thousand acres, and which is one of the finest oak-woods in England. This large and very beautiful estate must have belonged to the Church at the time of Henry the Eighth’s “reformation.” It was, I believe, given by him to the family of Russell; and it was, by them, sold to Sir Francis Baring about twenty years ago. Upon the whole, all things considered, the change is for the better. Sir Thomas Baring would not have moved, nay, he did not move, for the pardon of Lopez, while he left Joseph Swann in gaol for four years and a half, without so much as hinting at Swann’s case! Yea, verily, I would rather see this estate in the hands of Sir Thomas Baring than in those of Lopez’s friend. Besides, it seems to be acknowledged that any title is as good as those derived from the old wife-killer. Castlereagh, when the Whigs talked in a rather rude manner about the sinecure places and pensions, told them, that the title of the sinecure man or woman was as good as the titles of the Duke of Bedford! this was plagiarism, to the sure; for Burke had begun it. He called the Duke the Leviathan of grants; and seemed to hint at the propriety of over-hauling them a little. When the men of Kent petitioned for a “just reduction of the National Debt,” Lord John Russell, with that wisdom for which he is renowned, reprobated the prayer; but, having done this in terms not sufficiently unqualified and strong, and having made use of a word of equivocal meaning, the man, that cut his own throat at North Cray, pitched on upon him and told him, that the fundholder had as much right to his dividends, as the Duke of Bedford had to his estates. Upon this the noble reformer and advocate for Lopez mended his expressions; and really said what the North Cray philosopher said he ought to say! Come, come: Micheldever Wood is in very proper hands! A little girl, of whom I asked my way down into East Stratton, and who was dressed in a camlet gown, white apron and plaid cloak (it was Sunday), and who had a book in her hand, told me that Lady Baring gave her the clothes, and had her taught to read and to sing hymns and spiritual songs.

As I came through the Strattons, I saw not less than a dozen girls clad in this same way. It is impossible not to believe that this is done with a good motive; but it is possible not to believe that it is productive of good. It must create hypocrites, and hypocrisy is the great sin of the age. Society is in a queer state when the rich think, that they must educate the poor in order to insure their own safety: for this, at bottom, is the great motive now at work in pushing on the education scheme, though[Pg 121] in this particular case, perhaps, there may be a little enthusiasm at work. When persons are glutted with riches; when they have their fill of them; when they are surfeited of all earthly pursuits, they are very apt to begin to think about the next world; and, the moment they begin to think of that, they begin to look over the account that they shall have to present. Hence the far greater part of what are called “charities.” But it is the business of governments to take care that there shall be very little of this glutting with riches, and very little need of “charities.”

From Stratton I went on to Northington Down; then round to the South of the Grange Park (Alex. Baring’s), down to Abbotson, and over some pretty little green hills to Alresford, which is a nice little town of itself, but which presents a singularly beautiful view from the last little hill coming from Abbotson. I could not pass by the Grange Park without thinking of Lord and Lady Henry Stuart, whose lives and deaths surpassed what we read of in the most sentimental romances. Very few things that I have met with in my life ever filled me with sorrow equal to that which I felt at the death of this most virtuous and most amiable pair.

It began raining soon after I got to Alresford, and rained all the evening. I heard here, that a Requisition for a County Meeting was in the course of being signed in different parts of the county. They mean to petition for Reform, I hope. At any rate, I intend to go to see what they do. I saw the parsons at the county meeting in 1817. I should like, of all things, to see them at another meeting now. These are the persons that I have most steadily in my eye. The war and the debt were for the tithes and the boroughs. These must stand or fall together now. I always told the parsons, that they were the greatest fools in the world to put the tithes on board the same boat with the boroughs. I told them so in 1817; and, I fancy, they will soon see all about it.

 

November 18.

Came from Alresford to Hambledon, through Titchbourn, Cheriton, Beauworth, Kilmston, and Exton. This is all a high, hard, dry, fox-hunting country. Like that, indeed, over which I came yesterday. At Titchbourn, there is a park, and “great house,” as the country-people call it. The place belongs, I believe, to a Sir somebody Titchbourne, a family, very likely half as old as the name of the village, which, however, partly takes its name from the bourn that runs down the valley. I thought, as I was riding alongside of this park, that I had heard good of this family of Titchbourne, and, I therefore saw[Pg 122] the park pales with sorrow. There is not more than one pale in a yard, and those that remain, and the rails and posts and all, seem tumbling down. This park-paling is perfectly typical of those of the landlords who are not tax-eaters. They are wasting away very fast. The tax-eating landlords think to swim out the gale. They are deceived. They are “deluded” by their own greediness.

Kilmston was my next place after Titchbourn, but I wanted to go to Beauworth, so that I had to go through Cheriton; a little, hard, iron village, where all seems to be as old as the hills that surround it. In coming along you see Titchbourn church away to the right, on the side of the hill, a very pretty little view; and this, though such a hard country, is a pretty country.

At Cheriton I found a grand camp of Gipsys, just upon the move towards Alresford. I had met some of the scouts first, and afterwards the advanced guard, and here the main body was getting in motion. One of the scouts that I met was a young woman, who, I am sure, was six feet high. There were two or three more in the camp of about the same height; and some most strapping fellows of men. It is curious that this race should have preserved their dark skin and coal-black straight and coarse hair, very much like that of the American Indians. I mean the hair, for the skin has nothing of the copper-colour as that of the Indians has. It is not, either, of the Mulatto cast; that is to say, there is no yellow in it. It is a black mixed with our English colours of pale, or red, and the features are small, like those of the girls in Sussex, and often singularly pretty. The tall girl that I met at Titchbourn, who had a huckster basket on her arm, had most beautiful features. I pulled up my horse, and said, “Can you tell me my fortune, my dear?” She answered in the negative, giving me a look at the same time, that seemed to say, it was too late; and that if I had been thirty years younger she might have seen a little what she could do with me. It is, all circumstances considered, truly surprising, that this race should have preserved so perfectly all its distinctive marks.

I came on to Beauworth to inquire after the family of a worthy old farmer, whom I knew there some years ago, and of whose death I had heard at Alresford. A bridle road over some fields and through a coppice took me to Kilmston, formerly a large village, but now mouldered into two farms, and a few miserable tumble-down houses for the labourers. Here is a house, that was formerly the residence of the landlord of the place, but is now occupied by one of the farmers. This is a fine country for fox-hunting, and Kilmston belonged to a Mr.[Pg 123] Ridge who was a famous fox-hunter, and who is accused of having spent his fortune in that way. But what do people mean? He had a right to spend his income, as his fathers had done before him. It was the Pitt-system, and not the fox-hunting, that took away the principal. The place now belongs to a Mr. Long, whose origin I cannot find out.

From Kilmston I went right over the downs to the top of a hill called Beacon Hill, which is one of the loftiest hills in the country. Here you can see the Isle of Wight in detail, a fine sweep of the sea; also away into Sussex, and over the New Forest into Dorsetshire. Just below you, to the East, you look down upon the village of Exton; and you can see up this valley (which is called a Bourn too) as far as West Meon, and down it as far as Soberton. Corhampton, Warnford, Meon-Stoke and Droxford come within these two points; so that here are six villages on this bourn within the space of about five miles. On the other side of the main valley down which the bourn runs, and opposite Beacon Hill, is another such a hill, which they call Old Winchester Hill. On the top of this hill there was once a camp, or, rather fortress; and the ramparts are now pretty nearly as visible as ever. The same is to be seen on the Beacon Hill at Highclere. These ramparts had nothing of the principles of modern fortification in their formation. You see no signs of salliant angles. It was a ditch and a bank, and that appears to have been all. I had, I think, a full mile to go down from the top of Beacon Hill to Exton. This is the village where that Parson Baines lives who, as described by me in 1817, bawled in Lord Cochrane’s ear at Winchester in the month of March of that year. Parson Poulter lives at Meon-Stoke, which is not a mile further down. So that this valley has something in it besides picturesque views! I asked some countrymen how Poulter and Baines did; but their answer contained too much of irreverence for me to give it here.

At Exton I crossed the Gosport turnpike road, came up the cross valley under the South side of Old Winchester Hill, over Stoke down, then over West-End down, and then to my friend’s house at West-End in the parish of Hambledon.

Thus have I crossed nearly the whole of this country from the North-West to the South-East, without going five hundred yards on a turnpike road, and, as nearly as I could do it, in a straight line.

The whole country that I have crossed is loam and flints, upon a bottom of chalk. At Alresford there are some watered meadows, which are the beginning of a chain of meadows that goes all the way down to Winchester, and hence to Southampton; but even these meadows have, at Alresford, chalk under them.[Pg 124] The water that supplies them comes out of a pond, called Alresford Pond, which is fed from the high hills in the neighbourhood. These counties are purely agricultural; and they have suffered most cruelly from the accursed Pitt-system. Their hilliness, bleakness, roughness of roads, render them unpleasant to the luxurious, effeminate, tax-eating crew, who never come near them, and who have pared them down to the very bone. The villages are all in a state of decay. The farm-buildings dropping down, bit by bit. The produce is, by a few great farmers, dragged to a few spots, and all the rest is falling into decay. If this infernal system could go on for forty years longer, it would make all the labourers as much slaves as the negroes are, and subject to the same sort of discipline and management.

 

November 19 to 23.

At West End. Hambledon is a long, straggling village, lying in a little valley formed by some very pretty but not lofty hills. The environs are much prettier than the village itself, which is not far from the North side of Portsdown Hill. This must have once been a considerable place; for here is a church pretty nearly as large as that at Farnham in Surrey, which is quite sufficient for a large town. The means of living has been drawn away from these villages, and the people follow the means. Cheriton and Kilmston and Hambledon and the like have been beggared for the purpose of giving tax-eaters the means of making “vast improvements, Ma’am,” on the villanous spewy gravel of Windsor Forest! The thing, however, must go back. Revolution here or revolution there: bawl, bellow, alarm, as long as the tax-eaters like, back the thing must go. Back, indeed, it is going in some quarters. Those scenes of glorious loyalty, the sea-port places, are beginning to be deserted. How many villages has that scene of all that is wicked and odious, Portsmouth, Gosport, and Portsea; how many villages has that hellish assemblage beggared! It is now being scattered itself! Houses which there let for forty or fifty pounds a-year each, now let for three or four shillings a-week each; and thousands, perhaps, cannot be let at all to any body capable of paying rent. There is an absolute tumbling down taking place, where, so lately, there were such “vast improvements, Ma’am!” Does Monsieur de Snip call those improvements, then? Does he insist, that those houses form “an addition to the national capital?” Is it any wonder that a country should be miserable when such notions prevail? And when they can, even in the Parliament, be received with cheering?

[Pg 125]

 

Nov. 24, Sunday.

Set off from Hambledon to go to Thursley in Surrey, about five miles from Godalming. Here I am at Thursley, after as interesting a day as I ever spent in all my life. They say that “variety is charming,” and this day I have had of scenes and of soils a variety indeed!

To go to Thursley from Hambledon the plain way was up the downs to Petersfield, and then along the turnpike-road through Liphook, and over Hindhead, at the north-east foot of which Thursley lies. But, I had been over that sweet Hindhead, and had seen too much of turnpike-road and of heath, to think of taking another so large a dose of them. The map of Hampshire (and we had none of Surrey) showed me the way to Headley, which lies on the West of Hindhead, down upon the flat. I knew it was but about five miles from Headley to Thursley; and I, therefore, resolved to go to Headley, in spite of all the remonstrances of friends, who represented to me the danger of breaking my neck at Hawkley and of getting buried in the bogs of Woolmer Forest. My route was through East-Meon, Froxfield, Hawkley, Greatham, and then over Woolmer Forest (a heath if you please), to Headley.

Off we set over the downs (crossing the bottom sweep of Old Winchester Hill) from West-End to East-Meon. We came down a long and steep hill that led us winding round into the village, which lies in a valley that runs in a direction nearly east and west, and that has a rivulet that comes out of the hills towards Petersfield. If I had not seen anything further to-day, I should have dwelt long on the beauties of this place. Here is a very fine valley, in nearly an eliptical form, sheltered by high hills sloping gradually from it; and not far from the middle of this valley there is a hill nearly in the form of a goblet-glass with the foot and stem broken off and turned upside down. And this is clapped down upon the level of the valley, just as you would put such goblet upon a table. The hill is lofty, partly covered with wood, and it gives an air of great singularity to the scene. I am sure that East-Meon has been a large place. The church has a Saxon Tower, pretty nearly equal, as far as I recollect, to that of the Cathedral at Winchester. The rest of the church has been rebuilt, and, perhaps, several times; but the tower is complete; it has had a steeple put upon it; but it retains all its beauty, and it shows that the church (which is still large) must, at first, have been a very large building. Let those, who talk so glibly of the increase of the population in England, go over the country from Highclere to Hambledon. Let them look at the size of the[Pg 126] churches, and let them observe those numerous small enclosures on every side of every village, which had, to a certainty, each its house in former times. But let them go to East-Meon, and account for that church. Where did the hands come from to make it? Look, however, at the downs, the many square miles of downs near this village, all bearing the marks of the plough, and all out of tillage for many many years; yet, not one single inch of them but what is vastly superior in quality to any of those great “improvements” on the miserable heaths of Hounslow, Bagshot, and Windsor Forest. It is the destructive, the murderous paper-system, that has transferred the fruit of the labour, and the people along with it, from the different parts of the country to the neighbourhood of the all-devouring Wen. I do not believe one word of what is said of the increase of the population. All observation and all reason is against the fact; and, as to the parliamentary returns, what need we more than this: that they assert, that the population of Great Britain has increased from ten to fourteen millions in the last twenty years! That is enough! A man that can suck that in will believe, literally believe, that the moon is made of green cheese. Such a thing is too monstrous to be swallowed by any body but Englishmen, and by any Englishman not brutified by a Pitt-system.


to Mr. Canning.

Worth (Sussex),
10 December, 1822.

Sir,

The agreeable news from France, relative to the intended invasion of Spain, compelled me to break off, in my last Letter, in the middle of my Rural Ride of Sunday, the 24th of November. Before I mount again, which I shall do in this Letter, pray let me ask you what sort of apology is to be offered to the nation, if the French Bourbons be permitted to take quiet possession of Cadiz and of the Spanish naval force? Perhaps you may be disposed to answer, when you have taken time to reflect; and, therefore, leaving you to muse on the matter, I will resume my ride.

 

November 24.

(Sunday.) From Hambledon to Thursley (continued).

From East-Meon, I did not go on to Froxfield church, but turned off to the left to a place (a couple of houses) called Bower. Near this I stopped at a friend’s house, which is in about as lonely a situation as I ever saw. A very pleasant place [Pg 127]however. The lands dry, a nice mixture of woods and fields, and a great variety of hill and dell.

Before I came to East-Meon, the soil of the hills was a shallow loam with flints, on a bottom of chalk; but on this side of the valley of East-Meon; that is to say, on the north side, the soil on the hills is a deep, stiff loam, on a bed of a sort of gravel mixed with chalk; and the stones, instead of being grey on the outside and blue on the inside, are yellow on the outside and whitish on the inside. In coming on further to the North, I found, that the bottom was sometimes gravel and sometime chalk. Here, at the time when whatever it was that formed these hills and valleys, the stuff of which Hindhead is composed seems to have run down and mixed itself with the stuff of which Old Winchester Hill is composed. Free chalk (which is the sort found here) is excellent manure for stiff land, and it produces a complete change in the nature of clays. It is, therefore, dug here, on the North of East-Meon, about in the fields, where it happens to be found, and is laid out upon the surface, where it is crumbled to powder by the frost, and thus gets incorporated with the loam.

At Bower I got instructions to go to Hawkley, but accompanied with most earnest advice not to go that way, for that it was impossible to get along. The roads were represented as so bad; the floods so much out; the hills and bogs so dangerous; that, really, I began to doubt; and, if I had not been brought up amongst the clays of the Holt Forest and the bogs of the neighbouring heaths, I should certainly have turned off to my right, to go over Hindhead, great as was my objection to going that way. “Well, then,” said my friend at Bower, “if you will go that way, by G—, you must go down Hawkley Hanger;” of which he then gave me such a description! But, even this I found to fall short of the reality. I inquired simply, whether people were in the habit of going down it; and, the answer being in the affirmative, on I went through green lanes and bridle-ways till I came to the turnpike-road from Petersfield to Winchester, which I crossed, going into a narrow and almost untrodden green lane, on the side of which I found a cottage. Upon my asking the way to Hawkley, the woman at the cottage said, “Right up the lane, Sir: you’ll come to a hanger presently: you must take care, Sir: you can’t ride down: will your horses go alone?”

On we trotted up this pretty green lane; and indeed, we had been coming gently and generally up hill for a good while. The lane was between highish banks and pretty high stuff growing on the banks, so that we could see no distance from us, and could receive not the smallest hint of what was so near[Pg 128] at hand. The lane had a little turn towards the end; so that, out we came, all in a moment, at the very edge of the hanger! And never, in all my life, was I so surprised and so delighted! I pulled up my horse, and sat and looked; and it was like looking from the top of a castle down into the sea, except that the valley was land and not water. I looked at my servant, to see what effect this unexpected sight had upon him. His surprise was as great as mine, though he had been bred amongst the North Hampshire hills. Those who had so strenuously dwelt on the dirt and dangers of this route, had said not a word about beauties, the matchless beauties of the scenery. These hangers are woods on the sides of very steep hills. The trees and underwood hang, in some sort, to the ground, instead of standing on it. Hence these places are called Hangers. From the summit of that which I had now to descend, I looked down upon the villages of Hawkley, Greatham, Selborne and some others.

From the south-east, round, southward, to the north-west, the main valley has cross-valleys running out of it, the hills on the sides of which are very steep, and, in many parts, covered with wood. The hills that form these cross-valleys run out into the main valley, like piers into the sea. Two of these promontories, of great height, are on the west side of the main valley, and were the first objects that struck my sight when I came to the edge of the hanger, which was on the south. The ends of these promontories are nearly perpendicular, and their tops so high in the air, that you cannot look at the village below without something like a feeling of apprehension. The leaves are all off, the hop-poles are in stack, the fields have little verdure; but, while the spot is beautiful beyond description even now, I must leave to imagination to suppose what it is, when the trees and hangers and hedges are in leaf, the corn waving, the meadows bright, and the hops upon the poles!

From the south-west, round, eastward, to the north, lie the heaths, of which Woolmer Forest makes a part, and these go gradually rising up to Hindhead, the crown of which is to the north-west, leaving the rest of the circle (the part from north to north-west) to be occupied by a continuation of the valley towards Headley, Binstead, Frensham and the Holt Forest. So that even the contrast in the view from the top of the hanger is as great as can possibly be imagined. Men, however, are not to have such beautiful views as this without some trouble. We had had the view; but we had to go down the hanger. We had, indeed, some roads to get along, as we could, afterwards; but we had to get down the hanger first. The horses took the lead, and crept partly down upon their feet and partly[Pg 129] upon their hocks. It was extremely slippery too; for the soil is a sort of marle, or, as they call it here, maume, or mame, which is, when wet, very much like grey soap. In such a case it was likely that I should keep in the rear, which I did, and I descended by taking hold of the branches of the underwood, and so letting myself down. When we got to the bottom, I bade my man, when he should go back to Uphusband, tell the people there, that Ashmansworth Lane is not the worst piece of road in the world. Our worst, however, was not come yet, nor had we by any means seen the most novel sights.

After crossing a little field and going through a farm-yard, we came into a lane, which was, at once, road and river. We found a hard bottom, however; and when we got out of the water, we got into a lane with high banks. The banks were quarries of white stone, like Portland-stone, and the bed of the road was of the same stone; and, the rains having been heavy for a day or two before, the whole was as clean and as white as the steps of a fund-holder or dead-weight door-way in one of the Squares of the Wen. Here were we, then, going along a stone road with stone banks, and yet the underwood and trees grew well upon the tops of the banks. In the solid stone beneath us, there were a horse-track and wheel-tracks, the former about three and the latter about six inches deep. How many many ages it must have taken the horses’ feet, the wheels, and the water, to wear down this stone, so as to form a hollow way! The horses seemed alarmed at their situation; they trod with fear; but they took us along very nicely, and, at last, got us safe into the indescribable dirt and mire of the road from Hawkley Green to Greatham. Here the bottom of all the land is this solid white stone, and the top is that mame, which I have before described. The hop-roots penetrate down into this stone. How deep the stone may go I know not; but, when I came to look up at the end of one of the piers, or promontories, mentioned above, I found that it was all of this same stone.

At Hawkley Green, I asked a farmer the way to Thursley. He pointed to one of two roads going from the green; but it appearing to me, that that would lead me up to the London road and over Hindhead, I gave him to understand that I was resolved to get along, somehow or other, through the “low countries.” He besought me not to think of it. However, finding me resolved, he got a man to go a little way to put me into the Greatham road. The man came, but the farmer could not let me go off without renewing his entreaties, that I would go away to Liphook, in which entreaties the man joined, though he was to be paid very well for his trouble.

Off we went, however, to Greatham. I am thinking, whether[Pg 130] I ever did see worse roads. Upon the whole, I think, I have; though I am not sure that the roads of New Jersey, between Trenton and Elizabeth-Town, at the breaking up of winter, be worse. Talk of shows, indeed! Take a piece of this road; just a cut across, and a rod long, and carry it up to London. That would be something like a show!

Upon leaving Greatham we came out upon Woolmer Forest. Just as we were coming out of Greatham, I asked a man the way to Thursley. “You must go to Liphook, Sir,” said he. “But,” I said, “I will not go to Liphook.” These people seemed to be posted at all these stages to turn me aside from my purpose, and to make me go over that Hindhead, which I had resolved to avoid. I went on a little further, and asked another man the way to Headley, which, as I have already observed, lies on the western foot of Hindhead, whence I knew there must be a road to Thursley (which lies at the North East foot) without going over that miserable hill. The man told me, that I must go across the forest. I asked him whether it was a good road: “It is a sound road,” said he, laying a weighty emphasis upon the word sound. “Do people go it?” said I. “Ye-es,” said he. “Oh then,” said I, to my man, “as it is a sound road, keep you close to my heels, and do not attempt to go aside, not even for a foot.” Indeed, it was a sound road. The rain of the night had made the fresh horse tracks visible. And we got to Headley in a short time, over a sand-road, which seemed so delightful after the flints and stone and dirt and sloughs that we had passed over and through since the morning! This road was not, if we had been benighted, without its dangers, the forest being full of quags and quicksands. This is a tract of Crown lands, or, properly speaking, public lands, on some parts of which our Land Steward, Mr. Huskisson, is making some plantations of trees, partly fir, and partly other trees. What he can plant the fir for, God only knows, seeing that the country is already over-stocked with that rubbish. But this public land concern is a very great concern.

If I were a Member of Parliament, I would know what timber has been cut down, and what it has been sold for, since year 1790. However, this matter must be investigated, first or last. It never can be omitted in the winding up of the concern; and that winding up must come out of wheat at four shillings a bushel. It is said, hereabouts, that a man who lives near Liphook, and who is so mighty a hunter and game pursuer, that they call him William Rufus; it is said that this man is Lord of the Manor of Woolmer Forest. This he cannot be without a grant to that effect; and, if there be a grant, there must have been a reason for the grant. This reason I should very much[Pg 131] like to know; and this I would know if I were a Member of Parliament. That the people call him the Lord of the Manor is certain; but he can hardly make preserves of the plantations; for it is well known how marvellously hares and young trees agree together! This is a matter of great public importance; and yet, how, in the present state of things, is an investigation to be obtained? Is there a man in Parliament that will call for it? Not one. Would a dissolution of Parliament mend the matter? No; for the same men would be there still. They are the same men that have been there for these thirty years; and the same men they will be, and they must be, until there be a reform. To be sure when one dies, or cuts his throat (as in the case of Castlereagh), another one comes; but it is the same body. And, as long as it is that same body, things will always go on as they now go on. However, as Mr. Canning says the body “works well,” we must not say the contrary.

The soil of this tract is, generally, a black sand, which, in some places, becomes peat, which makes very tolerable fuel. In some parts there is clay at bottom; and there the oaks would grow; but not while there are hares in any number on the forest. If trees be to grow here, there ought to be no hares, and as little hunting as possible.

We got to Headly, the sign of the Holly-Bush, just at dusk, and just as it began to rain. I had neither eaten nor drunk since eight o’clock in the morning; and as it was a nice little public-house, I at first intended to stay all night, an intention that I afterwards very indiscreetly gave up. I had laid my plan, which included the getting to Thursley that night. When, therefore, I had got some cold bacon and bread, and some milk, I began to feel ashamed of stopping short of my plan, especially after having so heroically persevered in the “stern path,” and so disdainfully scorned to go over Hindhead. I knew that my road lay through a hamlet called Churt, where they grow such fine bennet-grass seed. There was a moon; but there was also a hazy rain. I had heaths to go over, and I might go into quags. Wishing to execute my plan, however, I at last brought myself to quit a very comfortable turf-fire, and to set off in the rain, having bargained to give a man three shillings to guide me out to the Northern foot of Hindhead. I took care to ascertain, that my guide knew the road perfectly well; that is to say, I took care to ascertain it as far as I could, which was, indeed, no farther than his word would go. Off we set, the guide mounted on his own or master’s horse, and with a white smock frock, which enabled us to see him clearly. We trotted on pretty fast for about half an hour; and I perceived, not without some surprise, that the rain, which I[Pg 132] knew to be coming from the South, met me full in the face, when it ought, according to my reckoning, to have beat upon my right cheek. I called to the guide repeatedly to ask him if he was sure that he was right, to which he always answered “Oh! yes, Sir, I know the road.” I did not like this, “I know the road.” At last, after going about six miles in nearly a Southern direction, the guide turned short to the left. That brought the rain upon my right cheek, and, though I could not very well account for the long stretch to the South, I thought, that, at any rate, we were now in the right track; and, after going about a mile in this new direction, I began to ask the guide how much further we had to go; for I had got a pretty good soaking, and was rather impatient to see the foot of Hindhead. Just at this time, in raising my head and looking forward as I spoke to the guide, what should I see, but a long, high, and steep hanger arising before us, the trees along the top of which I could easily distinguish! The fact was, we were just getting to the outside of the heath, and were on the brow of a steep hill, which faced this hanging wood. The guide had begun to descend, and I had called to him to stop; for the hill was so steep, that, rain as it did and wet as my saddle must be, I got off my horse in order to walk down. But, now behold, the fellow discovered, that he had lost his way!—Where we were I could not even guess. There was but one remedy, and that was to get back, if we could. I became guide now; and did as Mr. Western is advising the Ministers to do, retraced my steps. We went back about half the way that we had come, when we saw two men, who showed us the way that we ought to go. At the end of about a mile, we fortunately found the turnpike-road; not, indeed, at the foot, but on the tip-top of that very Hindhead, on which I had so repeatedly vowed I would not go! We came out on the turnpike some hundred yards on the Liphook side of the buildings called the Hut; so that we had the whole of three miles of hill to come down at not much better than a foot pace, with a good pelting rain at our backs.

It is odd enough how differently one is affected by the same sight, under different circumstances. At the “Holly Bush” at Headly there was a room full of fellows in white smock frocks, drinking and smoking and talking, and I, who was then dry and warm, moralized within myself on their folly in spending their time in such a way. But, when I got down from Hindhead to the public-house at Road-Lane, with my skin soaking and my teeth chattering, I thought just such another group, whom I saw through the window sitting round a good fire with pipes in their mouths, the wisest assembly I had ever set my eyes on. A real Collective Wisdom. And, I most solemnly declare,[Pg 133] that I felt a greater veneration for them than I have ever felt even for the Privy Council, notwithstanding the Right Honorable Charles Wynn and the Right Honorable Sir John Sinclair belong to the latter.

It was now but a step to my friend’s house, where a good fire and a change of clothes soon put all to rights, save and except the having come over Hindhead after all my resolutions. This mortifying circumstance; this having been beaten, lost the guide the three shillings that I had agreed to give him. “Either,” said I, “you did not know the way well, or you did: if the former, it was dishonest in you to undertake to guide me: if the latter, you have wilfully led me miles out of my way.” He grumbled; but off he went. He certainly deserved nothing; for he did not know the way, and he prevented some other man from earning and receiving the money. But, had he not caused me to get upon Hindhead, he would have had the three shillings. I had, at one time, got my hand in my pocket; but the thought of having been beaten pulled it out again.

Thus ended the most interesting day, as far as I know, that I ever passed in all my life. Hawkley-hangers, promontories, and stone-roads will always come into my mind when I see, or hear of, picturesque views. I forgot to mention, that, in going from Hawkley to Greatham, the man, who went to show me the way, told me at a certain fork, “That road goes to Selborne.” This put me in mind of a book, which was once recommended to me, but which I never saw, entitled “The History and Antiquities of Selborne,” (or something of that sort) written, I think, by a parson of the name of White, brother of Mr. White, so long a Bookseller in Fleet-street. This parson had, I think, the living of the parish of Selborne. The book was mentioned to me as a work of great curiosity and interest. But, at that time, the THING was biting so very sharply that one had no attention to bestow on antiquarian researches. Wheat at 39s. a quarter, and Southdown ewes at 12s. 6d. have so weakened the THING’S jaws and so filed down its teeth, that I shall now certainly read this book if I can get it. By-the-bye if all the parsons had, for the last thirty years, employed their leisure time in writing the histories of their several parishes, instead of living, as many of them have, engaged in pursuits that I need not here name, neither their situation nor that of their flocks would, perhaps, have been the worse for it at this day.

 

Thursley (Surrey), Nov. 25.

In looking back into Hampshire, I see with pleasure the farmers bestirring themselves to get a County Meeting called.[Pg 134] There were, I was told, nearly five hundred names to a Requisition, and those all of land-owners or occupiers.—Precisely what they mean to petition for I do not know; but (and now I address myself to you, Mr. Canning,) if they do not petition for a reform of the Parliament, they will do worse than nothing. You, Sir, have often told us, that the HOUSE, however got together, “works well.” Now, as I said in 1817, just before I went to America to get out of the reach of our friend, the Old Doctor, and to use my long arm; as I said then, in a Letter addressed to Lord Grosvenor, so I say now, show me the inexpediency of reform, and I will hold my tongue. Show us, prove to us, that the House “works well,” and I, for my part, give the matter up. It is not the construction or the motions of a machine that I ever look at: all I look after is the effect. When, indeed, I find that the effect is deficient or evil, I look to the construction. And, as I now see, and have for many years seen, evil effect, I seek a remedy in an alteration in the machine. There is now nobody; no, not a single man, out of the regions of Whitehall, who will pretend, that the country can, without the risk of some great and terrible convulsion, go on, even for twelve months longer, unless there be a great change of some sort in the mode of managing the public affairs.

Could you see and hear what I have seen and heard during this Rural Ride, you would no longer say, that the House “works well.” Mrs. Canning and your children are dear to you; but, Sir, not more dear than are to them the wives and children of, perhaps, two hundred thousand men, who, by the Acts of this same House, see those wives and children doomed to beggary, and to beggary, too, never thought of, never regarded as more likely than a blowing up of the earth or a falling of the sun. It was reserved for this “working well” House to make the fire-sides of farmers scenes of gloom. These fire-sides, in which I have always so delighted, I now approach with pain. I was, not long ago, sitting round the fire with as worthy and as industrious a man as all England contains. There was his son, about 19 years of age; two daughters from 15 to 18; and a little boy sitting on the father’s knee. I knew, but not from him, that there was a mortgage on his farm. I was anxious to induce him to sell without delay. With this view I, in an hypothetical and round-about way, approached his case, and at last I came to final consequences. The deep and deeper gloom on a countenance, once so cheerful, told me what was passing in his breast, when turning away my looks in order to seem not to perceive the effect of my words, I saw the eyes of his wife full of tears. She had made the application; and there were her children before her! And am I to be banished for life if I express what[Pg 135] I felt upon this occasion! And does this House, then, “work well?” How many men, of the most industrious, the most upright, the most exemplary, upon the face of the earth, have been, by this one Act of this House, driven to despair, ending in madness or self-murder, or both! Nay, how many scores! And, yet, are we to be banished for life, if we endeavour to show, that this House does not “work well?”—However, banish or banish not, these facts are notorious: the House made all the Loans which constitute the debt: the House contracted for the Dead Weight: the House put a stop to gold-payments in 1797: the House unanimously passed Peel’s Bill. Here are all the causes of the ruin, the misery, the anguish, the despair, and the madness and self-murders. Here they are all. They have all been Acts of this House; and yet, we are to be banished if we say, in words suitable to the subject, that this House does not “work well!”

This one Act, I mean this Banishment Act, would be enough, with posterity, to characterize this House. When they read (and can believe what they read) that it actually passed a law to banish for life any one who should write, print, or publish anything having a tendency to bring it into contempt; when posterity shall read this, and believe it, they will want nothing more to enable them to say what sort of an assembly it was! It was delightful, too, that they should pass this law just after they had passed Peel’s Bill! Oh, God! thou art just! As to reform, it must come. Let what else will happen, it must come. Whether before, or after, all the estates be transferred, I cannot say. But, this I know very well; that the later it come, the deeper will it go.

I shall, of course, go on remarking, as occasion offers, upon what is done by and said in this present House; but I know that it can do nothing efficient for the relief of the country. I have seen some men of late, who seem to think, that even a reform, enacted, or begun, by this House, would be an evil; and that it would be better to let the whole thing go on, and produce its natural consequence. I am not of this opinion: I am for a reform as soon as possible, even though it be not, at first, precisely what I could wish; because, if the debt blow up before the reform take place, confusion and uproar there must be; and I do not want to see confusion and uproar. I am for a reform of some sort, and soon; but, when I say of some sort, I do not mean of Lord John Russell’s sort; I do not mean a reform in the Lopez way. In short, what I want is, to see the men changed. I want to see other men in the House; and as to who those other men should be, I really should not be very nice. I have seen the Tierneys, the Bankeses, the Wilberforces, the[Pg 136] Michael Angelo Taylors, the Lambs, the Lowthers, the Davis Giddies, the Sir John Sebrights, the Sir Francis Burdetts, the Hobhouses, old or young, Whitbreads the same, the Lord Johns and the Lord Williams and the Lord Henries and the Lord Charleses, and, in short, all the whole family; I have seen them all there, all the same faces and names, all my life time; I see that neither adjournment nor prorogation nor dissolution makes any change in the men; and, caprice let it be if you like, I want to see a change in the men. These have done enough in all conscience; or, at least, they have done enough to satisfy me. I want to see some fresh faces, and to hear a change of some sort or other in the sounds. A “hear, hear,” coming everlastingly from the same mouths, is what I, for my part, am tired of.

I am aware that this is not what the “great reformers” in the House mean. They mean, on the contrary, no such thing as a change of men. They mean that Lopez should sit there for ever; or, at least, till succeeded by a legitimate heir. I believe that Sir Francis Burdett, for instance, has not the smallest idea of an Act of Parliament ever being made without his assistance, if he chooses to assist, which is not very frequently the case. I believe that he looks upon a seat in the House as being his property; and that the other seat is, and ought to be, held as a sort of leasehold or copyhold under him. My idea of reform, therefore; my change of faces and of names and of sounds will appear quite horrible to him. However, I think the nation begins to be very much of my way of thinking; and this I am very sure of, that we shall never see that change in the management of affairs, which we most of us want to see, unless there be a pretty complete change of men.

Some people will blame me for speaking out so broadly upon this subject. But I think it the best way to disguise nothing; to do what is right; to be sincere; and to let come what will.

 

Godalming, November 26 to 28.

I came here to meet my son, who was to return to London when we had done our business.—The turnips are pretty good all over the country, except upon the very thin soils on the chalk. At Thursley they are very good, and so they are upon all these nice light and good lands round about Godalming.

This is a very pretty country. You see few prettier spots than this. The chain of little hills that run along to the South and South-East of Godalming, and the soil, which is a good loam upon a sand-stone bottom, run down on the South side, into what is called the Weald. This Weald is a bed of clay, in which nothing grows well but oak trees. It is first the Weald of Surrey[Pg 137] and then the Weald of Sussex. It runs along on the South of Dorking, Reigate, Bletchingley, Godstone, and then winds away down into Kent. In no part of it, as far as I have observed, do the oaks grow finer than between the sand-hill on the South of Godstone and a place called Fellbridge, where the county of Surrey terminates on the road to East Grinstead.

At Godalming we heard some account of a lawsuit between Mr. Holme Sumner and his tenant, Mr. Nash; but the particulars I must reserve till I have them in black and white.

In all parts of the country, I hear of landlords that begin to squeak, which is a certain proof that they begin to feel the bottom of their tenants’ pockets. No man can pay rent; I mean any rent at all, except out of capital; or, except under some peculiar circumstances, such as having a farm near a spot where the fundholders are building houses. When I was in Hampshire, I heard of terrible breakings up in the Isle of Wight. They say, that the general rout is very near at hand there. I heard of one farmer, who held a farm at seven hundred pounds a-year, who paid his rent annually, and punctually, who had, of course, seven hundred pounds to pay to his landlord last Michaelmas; but who, before Michaelmas came, thrashed out and sold (the harvest being so early) the whole of his corn; sold off his stock, bit by bit; got the very goods out of his house, leaving only a bed and some trifling things; sailed with a fair wind over to France with his family; put his mother-in-law into the house to keep possession of the house and farm, and to prevent the landlord from entering upon the land for a year or better, unless he would pay to the mother-in-law a certain sum of money! Doubtless the landlord had already sucked away about three or four times seven hundred pounds from this farmer. He would not be able to enter upon his farm without a process that would cost him some money, and without the farm being pretty well stocked with thistles and docks, and perhaps laid half to common. Farmers on the coast opposite France are not so firmly bounden as those in the interior. Some hundreds of these will have carried their allegiance, their capital (what they have left), and their skill, to go and grease the fat sow, our old friends the Bourbons. I hear of a sharp, greedy, hungry shark of a landlord, who says that “some law must be passed;” that “Parliament must do something to prevent this!” There is a pretty fool for you! There is a great jackass (I beg the real jackass’s pardon), to imagine that the people at Westminster can do anything to prevent the French from suffering people to come with their money to settle in France! This fool does not know, perhaps, that there are Members of Parliament that live in France more than they do in England. I have heard of[Pg 138] one, who not only lives there, but carries on vineyards there, and is never absent from them, except when he comes over “to attend to his duties in Parliament.” He perhaps sells his wine at the same time, and that being genuine, doubtless brings him a good price; so that the occupations harmonize together very well. The Isle of Wight must be rather peculiarly distressed; for it was the scene of monstrous expenditure. When the pure Whigs were in power, in 1806, it was proved to them and to the Parliament, that in several instances, a barn in the Isle of Wight was rented by the “envy of surrounding nations” for more money than the rest of the whole farm! These barns were wanted as barracks; and, indeed, such things were carried on in that Island as never could have been carried on under anything that was not absolutely “the admiration of the world.” These sweet pickings, caused, doubtless, a great rise in the rent of the farms; so that, in this Island, there is not only the depression of price, and a greater depression than anywhere else, but also the loss of the pickings, and these together leave the tenants but this simple choice; beggary or flight; and as most of them have had a pretty deal of capital, and will be likely to have some left as yet, they will, as they perceive the danger, naturally flee for succour to the Bourbons. This is, indeed, something new in the History of English Agriculture; and were not Mr. Canning so positive to the contrary, one would almost imagine that the thing which has produced it does not work so very well. However, that gentleman seems resolved to prevent us, by his King of Bohemia and his two Red Lions, from having any change in this thing; and therefore the landlords, in the Isle of Wight, as well as elsewhere, must make the best of the matter.

 

November 29.

Went on to Guildford, where I slept. Everybody, that has been from Godalming to Guildford, knows, that there is hardly another such a pretty four miles in all England. The road is good; the soil is good; the houses are neat; the people are neat: the hills, the woods, the meadows, all are beautiful. Nothing wild and bold, to be sure, but exceedingly pretty; and it is almost impossible to ride along these four miles without feelings of pleasure, though you have rain for your companion, as it happened to be with me.

 

Dorking, November 30.

I came over the high hill on the south of Guildford, and came down to Chilworth, and up the valley to Albury. I noticed, in my first Rural Ride, this beautiful valley, its hangers, its meadows, its hop-gardens, and its ponds. This valley of Chilworth[Pg 139] has great variety, and is very pretty; but after seeing Hawkley, every other place loses in point of beauty and interest. This pretty valley of Chilworth has a run of water which comes out of the high hills, and which, occasionally, spreads into a pond; so that there is in fact a series of ponds connected by this run of water. This valley, which seems to have been created by a bountiful providence, as one of the choicest retreats of man; which seems formed for a scene of innocence and happiness, has been, by ungrateful man, so perverted as to make it instrumental in effecting two of the most damnable of purposes; in carrying into execution two of the most damnable inventions that ever sprang from the minds of man under the influence of the devil! namely, the making of gunpowder and of banknotes! Here in this tranquil spot, where the nightingales are to be heard earlier and later in the year than in any other part of England; where the first bursting of the buds is seen in Spring, where no rigour of seasons can ever be felt; where everything seems formed for precluding the very thought of wickedness; here has the devil fixed on as one of the seats of his grand manufactory; and perverse and ungrateful man not only lends him his aid, but lends it cheerfully! As to the gunpowder, indeed, we might get over that. In some cases that may be innocently, and, when it sends the lead at the hordes that support a tyrant, meritoriously employed. The alders and the willows, therefore, one can see, without so much regret, turned into powder by the waters of this valley; but, the Bank-notes! To think that the springs which God has commanded to flow from the sides of these happy hills, for the comfort and the delight of man; to think that these springs should be perverted into means of spreading misery over a whole nation; and that, too, under the base and hypocritical pretence of promoting its credit and maintaining its honour and its faith! There was one circumstance, indeed, that served to mitigate the melancholy excited by these reflections; namely, that a part of these springs have, at times, assisted in turning rags into Registers! Somewhat cheered by the thought of this, but, still, in a more melancholy mood than I had been for a long while, I rode on with my friend towards Albury, up the valley, the sand-hills on one side of us and the chalk-hills on the other. Albury is a little village consisting of a few houses, with a large house or two near it. At the end of the village we came to a park, which is the residence of Mr. Drummond.—Having heard a great deal of this park, and of the gardens, I wished very much to see them. My way to Dorking lay through Shire, and it went along on the outside of the park. I guessed, as the Yankees say, that there must be a way through the park to Shire; and I fell upon the scheme of going into the[Pg 140] park as far as Mr. Drummond’s house, and then asking his leave to go out at the other end of it. This scheme, though pretty bare-faced, succeeded very well. It is true that I was aware that I had not a Norman to deal with; or, I should not have ventured upon the experiment. I sent in word that, having got into the park, I should be exceedingly obliged to Mr. Drummond if he would let me go out of it on the side next to Shire. He not only granted this request, but, in the most obliging manner, permitted us to ride all about the park, and to see his gardens, which, without any exception, are, to my fancy, the prettiest in England; that is to say, that I ever saw in England.

They say that these gardens were laid out for one of the Howards, in the reign of Charles the Second, by Mr. Evelyn, who wrote the Sylva. The mansion-house, which is by no means magnificent, stands on a little flat by the side of the parish church, having a steep, but not lofty, hill rising up on the south side of it. It looks right across the gardens, which lie on the slope of a hill which runs along at about a quarter of a mile distant from the front of the house. The gardens, of course, lie facing the south. At the back of them, under the hill, is a high wall; and there is also a wall at each end, running from north to south. Between the house and the gardens there is a very beautiful run of water, with a sort of little wild narrow sedgy meadow. The gardens are separated from this by a hedge, running along from east to west. From this hedge there go up the hill, at right angles, several other hedges, which divide the land here into distinct gardens, or orchards. Along at the top of these there goes a yew hedge, or, rather, a row of small yew trees, the trunks of which are bare for about eight or ten feet high, and the tops of which form one solid head of about ten feet high, while the bottom branches come out on each side of the row about eight feet horizontally. This hedge, or row, is a quarter of a mile long. There is a nice hard sand-road under this species of umbrella; and, summer and winter, here is a most delightful walk! Behind this row of yews, there is a space, or garden (a quarter of a mile long you will observe) about thirty or forty feet wide, as nearly as I can recollect. At the back of this garden, and facing the yew-tree row, is a wall probably ten feet high, which forms the breastwork of a terrace; and it is this terrace which is the most beautiful thing that I ever saw in the gardening way. It is a quarter of a mile long, and, I believe, between thirty and forty feet wide; of the finest green sward, and as level as a die.

The wall, along at the back of this terrace, stands close against the hill, which you see with the trees and underwood upon it rising above the wall. So that here is the finest spot for fruit[Pg 141] trees that can possibly be imagined. At both ends of this garden the trees in the park are lofty, and there are a pretty many of them. The hills on the south side of the mansion-house are covered with lofty trees, chiefly beeches and chestnut: so that a warmer, a more sheltered, spot than this, it seems to be impossible to imagine. Observe, too, how judicious it was to plant the row of yew trees at the distance which I have described from the wall which forms the breastwork of the terrace: that wall, as well as the wall at the back of the terrace, are covered with fruit trees, and the yew tree row is just high enough to defend the former from winds, without injuring it by its shade. In the middle of the wall, at the back of the terrace, there is a recess about thirty feet in front and twenty feet deep, and here is a basin, into which rises a spring coming out of the hill. The overflowings of this basin go under the terrace and down across the garden into the rivulet below. So that here is water at the top, across the middle, and along at the bottom of this garden. Take it altogether, this, certainly, is the prettiest garden that I ever beheld. There was taste and sound judgment at every step in the laying out of this place. Everywhere utility and convenience is combined with beauty. The terrace is by far the finest thing of the sort that I ever saw, and the whole thing altogether is a great compliment to the taste of the times in which it was formed. I know there are some ill-natured persons who will say that I want a revolution that would turn Mr. Drummond out of this place and put me into it. Such persons will hardly believe me, but upon my word I do not. From everything that I hear, Mr. Drummond is very worthy of possessing it himself, seeing that he is famed for his justice and his kindness towards the labouring classes, who, God knows, have very few friends amongst the rich. If what I have heard be true, Mr. Drummond is singularly good in this way; for, instead of hunting down an unfortunate creature who has exposed himself to the lash of the law; instead of regarding a crime committed as proof of an inherent disposition to commit crime; instead of rendering the poor creatures desperate by this species of proscription, and forcing them on to the gallows, merely because they have once merited the Bridewell; instead of this, which is the common practice throughout the country, he rather seeks for such unfortunate creatures to take them into his employ, and thus to reclaim them, and to make them repent of their former courses. If this be true, and I am credibly informed that it is, I know of no man in England so worthy of his estate. There may be others to act in like manner; but I neither know nor have heard of any other. I had, indeed, heard of this, at Alresford in Hampshire; and, to say the truth, it was this[Pg 142] circumstance, and this alone, which induced me to ask the favour of Mr. Drummond to go through his park. But, besides that Mr. Drummond is very worthy of his estate, what chance should I have of getting it if it came to a scramble? There are others who like pretty gardens as well as I; and if the question were to be decided according to the law of the strongest, or, as the French call it, by the droit du plus fort, my chance would be but a very poor one. The truth is, that you hear nothing but fools talk about revolutions made for the purpose of getting possession of people’s property. They never have their spring in any such motives. They are caused by Governments themselves; and though they do sometimes cause a new distribution of property to a certain extent, there never was, perhaps, one single man in this world that had anything to do, worth speaking of, in the causing of a revolution, that did it with any such view. But what a strange thing it is, that there should be men at this time to fear the loss of estates as the consequence of a convulsive revolution; at this time, when the estates are actually passing away from the owners before their eyes, and that, too, in consequence of measures which have been adopted for what has been called the preservation of property, against the designs of Jacobins and Radicals! Mr. Drummond has, I dare say, the means of preventing his estate from being actually taken away from him; but I am quite certain that that estate, except as a place to live at, is not worth to him, at this moment, one single farthing. What could a revolution do for him more than this? If one could suppose the power of doing what they like placed in the hands of the labouring classes; if one could suppose such a thing as this, which never was yet seen; if one could suppose anything so monstrous as that of a revolution that would leave no public authority anywhere; even in such a case, it is against nature to suppose that the people would come and turn him out of his house and leave him without food; and yet that they must do, to make him, as a landholder, worse off than he is; or, at least, worse off than he must be in a very short time. I saw, in the gardens at Albury Park, what I never saw before in all my life; that is, some plants of the American Cranberry. I never saw them in America; for there they grow in those swamps, into which I never happened to go at the time of their bearing fruit. I may have seen the plant, but I do not know that I ever did. Here it not only grows, but bears; and there are still some cranberries on the plants now. I tasted them, and they appeared to me to have just the same taste as those in America. They grew in a long bed near the stream of water which I have spoken about, and therefore it is clear that they may be cultivated with great ease in this country. The road,[Pg 143] through Shire along to Dorking, runs up the valley between the chalk-hills and the sand-hills; the chalk to our left and the sand to our right. This is called the Home Dale. It begins at Reigate and terminates at Shalford Common, down below Chilworth.

 

Reigate, December 1.

I set off this morning with an intention to go across the Weald to Worth; but the red rising of the sun and the other appearances of the morning admonished me to keep upon high ground; so I crossed the Mole, went along under Boxhill, through Betchworth and Buckland, and got to this place just at the beginning of a day of as heavy rain, and as boisterous wind, as, I think, I have ever known in England. In one rotten borough, one of the most rotten too, and with another still more rotten up upon the hill, in Reigate, and close by Gatton, how can I help reflecting, how can my mind be otherwise than filled with reflections on the marvellous deeds of the Collective Wisdom of the nation! At present, however (for I want to get to bed) I will notice only one of those deeds, and that one yet “incohete,” a word which Mr. Canning seems to have coined for the nonce (which is not a coined word), when Lord Castlereagh (who cut his throat the other day) was accused of making a swap, as the horse-jockeys call it, of a writer-ship against a seat. It is barter, truck, change, dicker, as the Yankees call it, but as our horse-jockeys call it swap, or chop. The case was this: the chop had been begun; it had been entered on; but had not been completed; just as two jockeys may have agreed on a chop and yet not actually delivered the horses to one another. Therefore, Mr. Canning said that the act was incohete, which means, without cohesion, without consequence. Whereupon the House entered on its Journals a solemn resolution, that it was its duty to watch over its purity with the greatest care; but that the said act being “incohete” the House did not think it necessary to proceed any further in the matter! It unfortunately happened, however, that in a very few days afterwards—that is to say, on the memorable eleventh of June, 1809—Mr. Maddocks accused the very same Castlereagh of having actually sold and delivered a seat to Quintin Dick for three thousand pounds. The accuser said he was ready to bring to the bar proof of the fact; and he moved that he might be permitted so to do. Now, then, what did Mr. Canning say? Why, he said that the reformers were a low degraded crew, and he called upon the House to make a stand against democratical encroachment? And the House did not listen to him, surely? Yes, but it did! And it voted by a thundering majority, that it would not hear the evidence.[Pg 144] And this vote was, by the leader of the Whigs, justified upon the ground that the deed complained of by Mr. Maddocks was according to a practice which was as notorious as the sun at noon day. So much for the word “incohete,” which has led me into this long digression. The deed, or achievement, of which I am now about to speak is not the Marriage Act; for that is cohete enough: that has had plenty of consequences. It is the New Turnpike Act, which, though passed, is as yet “incohete;” and is not to be cohete for some time yet to come. I hope it will become cohete during the time that Parliament is sitting, for otherwise it will have cohesion pretty nearly equal to that of the Marriage Act. In the first place this Act makes chalk and lime everywhere liable to turnpike duty, which in many cases they were not before. This is a monstrous oppression upon the owners and occupiers of clay lands; and comes just at the time, too, when they are upon the point, many of them, of being driven out of cultivation, or thrown up to the parish, by other burdens. But it is the provision with regard to the wheels which will create the greatest injury, distress and confusion. The wheels which this law orders to be used on turnpike roads, on pain of enormous toll, cannot be used on the cross-roads throughout more than nine-tenths of the kingdom. To make these roads and the drove-lanes (the private roads of farms) fit for the cylindrical wheels described in this Bill, would cost a pound an acre, upon an average, upon all the land in England, and especially in the counties where the land is poorest. It would, in these counties, cost a tenth part of the worth of the fee-simple of the land. And this is enacted, too, at a time when the wagons, the carts, and all the dead stock of a farm; when the whole is falling into a state of irrepair; when all is actually perishing for want of means in the farmer to keep it in repair! This is the time that the Lord Johns and the Lord Henries and the rest of that Honourable body have thought proper to enact that the whole of the farmers in England shall have new wheels to their wagons and carts, or, that they shall be punished by the payment of heavier tolls! It is useless, perhaps, to say anything about the matter; but I could not help noticing a thing which has created such a general alarm amongst the farmers in every part of the country where I have recently been.

 

Worth (Sussex),
December 2.

I set off from Reigate this morning, and after a pleasant ride of ten miles, got here to breakfast.—Here, as everywhere else, the farmers appear to think that their last hour is approaching.—Mr. Charles B——’s farms; I believe it is Sir Charles[Pg 145] B——; and I should be sorry to withhold from him his title, though, being said to be a very good sort of a man, he might, perhaps, be able to shift without it: this gentleman’s farms are subject of conversation here. The matter is curious in itself, and very well worthy of attention, as illustrative of the present state of things. These farms were, last year, taken into hand by the owner. This was stated in the public papers about a twelvemonth ago. It was said that his tenants would not take the farms again at the rent which he wished to have, and that therefore he took the farms into hand. These farms lie somewhere down in the west of Sussex. In the month of August last I saw (and I think in one of the Brighton newspapers) a paragraph stating that Mr. B——, who had taken his farms into hand the Michaelmas before, had already got in his harvest, and that he had had excellent crops! This was a sort of bragging paragraph; and there was an observation added which implied that the farmers were great fools for not having taken the farms! We now hear that Mr. B—— has let his farms. But, now, mark how he has let them. The custom in Sussex is this: when a tenant quits a farm, he receives payment, according to valuation, for what are called the dressings, the half-dressings, for seeds and lays, and for the growth of underwood in coppices and hedge-rows; for the dung in the yards; and, in short, for whatever he leaves behind him, which, if he had stayed, would have been of value to him. The dressings and half-dressings include not only the manure that has been recently put into the land, but also the summer ploughings; and, in short, everything which has been done to the land, and the benefit of which has not been taken out again by the farmer. This is a good custom; because it ensures good tillage to the land. It ensures, also, a fair start to the new tenant; but then, observe, it requires some money, which the new tenant must pay down before he can begin, and therefore this custom presumes a pretty deal of capital to be possessed by farmers. Bearing these general remarks in mind, we shall see, in a moment, the case of Mr. B——. If my information be correct, he has let his farms: he has found tenants for his farms; but not tenants to pay him anything for dressings, half-dressings, and the rest. He was obliged to pay the out-going tenants for these things. Mind that! He was obliged to pay them according to the custom of the country; but he has got nothing of this sort from his in-coming tenants! It must be a poor farm, indeed, where the valuation does not amount to some hundreds of pounds. So that here is a pretty sum sunk by Mr. B——; and yet even on conditions like these, he has, I dare say, been glad to get his farms off his hands. There can be very little[Pg 146] security for the payment of rent where the tenant pays no in-coming; but even if he get no rent at all, Mr. B—— has done well to get his farms off his hands. Now, do I wish to insinuate that Mr. B—— asked too much for his farms last year, and that he wished to squeeze the last shilling out of his farmers? By no means. He bears the character of a mild, just, and very considerate man, by no means greedy, but the contrary. A man very much beloved by his tenants; or, at least, deserving it. But the truth is, he could not believe it possible that his farms were so much fallen in value. He could not believe it possible that his estate had been taken away from him by the legerdemain of the Pitt System, which he had been supporting all his life: so that he thought, and very naturally thought, that his old tenants were endeavouring to impose upon him, and therefore resolved to take his farms into hand. Experience has shown him that farms yield no rent, in the hands of the landlord at least; and therefore he has put them into the hands of other people. Mr. B——, like Mr. Western, has not read the Register. If he had, he would have taken any trifle from his old tenants, rather than let them go. But he surely might have read the speech of his neighbour and friend Mr. Huskisson, made in the House of Commons in 1814, in which that gentleman said that, with wheat at less than double the price that it bore before the war, it would be impossible for any rent at all to be paid. Mr. B—— might have read this; and he might, having so many opportunities, have asked Mr. Huskisson for an explanation of it. This gentleman is now a great advocate for national faith; but may not Mr. B—— ask him whether there be no faith to be kept with the landlord? However, if I am not deceived, Mr. B—— or Sir Charles B—— (for I really do not know which it is) is a member of the Collective! If this be the case he has had something to do with the thing himself; and he must muster up as much as he can of that “patience” which is so strongly recommended by our great new state doctor Mr. Canning.

I cannot conclude my remarks on this Rural Ride without noticing the new sort of language that I hear everywhere made use of with regard to the parsons, but which language I do not care to repeat. These men may say that I keep company with none but those who utter “sedition and blasphemy;” and if they do say so, there is just as much veracity in their words as I believe there to be charity and sincerity in the hearts of the greater part of them. One thing is certain; indeed, two things: the first is, that almost the whole of the persons that I have conversed with are farmers; and the second is, that they are in this respect all of one mind! It was my intention, at one time,[Pg 147] to go along the south of Hampshire to Portsmouth, Fareham, Botley, Southampton, and across the New Forest into Dorsetshire. My affairs made me turn from Hambledon this way; but I had an opportunity of hearing something about the neighbourhood of Botley. Take any one considerable circle where you know everybody, and the condition of that circle will teach you how to judge pretty correctly of the condition of every other part of the country. I asked about the farmers of my old neighbourhood, one by one; and the answers I received only tended to confirm me in the opinion that the whole race will be destroyed; and that a new race will come, and enter upon farms without capital and without stock; be a sort of bailiffs to the landlords for a while, and then, if this system go on, bailiffs to the Government as trustee for the fundholders. If the account which I have received of Mr. B——’s new mode of letting be true, here is one step further than has been before taken. In all probability the stock upon the farms belongs to him, to be paid for when the tenant can pay for it. Who does not see to what this tends? The man must be blind indeed who cannot see confiscation here; and can he be much less than blind if he imagine that relief is to be obtained by the patience recommended by Mr. Canning?


Thus, Sir, have I led you about the country. All sorts of things have I talked of, to be sure; but there are very few of these things which have not their interest of one sort or another. At the end of a hundred miles or two of travelling, stopping here and there; talking freely with everybody; hearing what gentlemen, farmers, tradesmen, journeymen, labourers, women, girls, boys, and all have to say; reasoning with some, laughing with others, and observing all that passes; and especially if your manner be such as to remove every kind of reserve from every class; at the end of a tramp like this, you get impressed upon your mind a true picture, not only of the state of the country, but of the state of the people’s minds throughout the country. And, Sir, whether you believe me or not, I have to tell you that it is my decided opinion that the people, high and low, with one unanimous voice, except where they live upon the taxes, impute their calamities to the House of Commons. Whether they be right or wrong is not so much the question in this case. That such is the fact I am certain; and having no power to make any change myself, I must leave the making or the refusing of the change to those who have the power. I repeat, and with perfect sincerity, that it would give me as much pain as it would give to any man in England, to see a change in the form of the Government.[Pg 148] With King, Lords, and Commons, this nation enjoyed many ages of happiness and of glory. Without Commons, my opinion is, it never can again see anything but misery and shame; and when I say Commons I mean Commons; and by Commons, I mean men elected by the free voice of the untitled and unprivileged part of the people, who, in fact as well as in law, are the Commons of England.

I am, Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,

WM. COBBETT.

 

 


JOURNAL: RIDE FROM KENSINGTON TO WORTH, IN SUSSEX.

 

Monday, May 5, 1823.

From London to Reigate, through Sutton, is about as villanous a tract as England contains. The soil is a mixture of gravel and clay, with big yellow stones in it, sure sign of really bad land. Before you descend the hill to go into Reigate, you pass Gatton (“Gatton and Old Sarum”), which is a very rascally spot of earth. The trees are here a week later than they are at Tooting. At Reigate they are (in order to save a few hundred yards length of road) cutting through a hill. They have lowered a little hill on the London side of Sutton. Thus is the money of the country actually thrown away: the produce of labour is taken from the industrious, and given to the idlers. Mark the process; the town of Brighton, in Sussex, 50 miles from the Wen, is on the seaside, and is thought by the stock-jobbers to afford a salubrious air. It is so situated that a coach, which leaves it not very early in the morning, reaches London by noon; and, starting to go back in two hours and a half afterwards, reaches Brighton not very late at night. Great parcels of stock-jobbers stay at Brighton with the women and children. They skip backward and forward on the coaches, and actually carry on stock-jobbing, in ’Change Alley, though they reside at Brighton. This place is, besides, a place of great resort with the whiskered gentry. There are not less than about twenty coaches that leave the Wen every day for this place; and there being three or four different roads, there is a great rivalship for the custom. This sets the people to work to shorten and to level the roads; and here you see hundreds of men and horses constantly at work to make pleasant and quick travelling for the Jews and jobbers. The Jews and jobbers pay the turnpikes, to be sure; but they get the money from the land and labourer.[Pg 149] They drain these, from John-a-Groat’s House to the Land’s End, and they lay out some of the money on the Brighton roads! “Vast improvements, ma’am!” as Mrs. Scrip said to Mrs. Omnium, in speaking of the new enclosures on the villanous heaths of Bagshot and Windsor.—Now, some will say, “Well, it is only a change from hand to hand.” Very true, and if Daddy Coke of Norfolk like the change, I know not why I should dislike it. More and more new houses are building as you leave the Wen to come on this road. Whence come the means of building these new houses and keeping the inhabitants? Do they come out of trade and commerce? Oh, no! they come from the land; but if Daddy Coke like this, what has any one else to do with it? Daddy Coke and Lord Milton like “national faith;” it would be a pity to disappoint their liking. The best of this is, it will bring down to the very dirt; it will bring down their faces to the very earth, and fill their mouths full of sand; it will thus pull down a set of the basest lick-spittles of power and the most intolerable tyrants towards their inferiors in wealth that the sun ever shone on. It is time that these degenerate dogs were swept away at any rate. The Blackthorns are in full bloom, and make a grand show. When you quit Reigate to go towards Crawley, you enter on what is called the Weald of Surrey. It is a level country, and the soil is a very, very strong loam, with clay beneath to a great depth. The fields are small, and about a third of the land covered with oak-woods and coppice-woods. This is a country of wheat and beans; the latter of which are about three inches high, the former about seven, and both looking very well. I did not see a field of bad-looking wheat from Reigate-hill foot to Crawley, nor from Crawley across to this place, where, though the whole country is but poorish, the wheat looks very well; and if this weather hold about twelve days, we shall recover the lost time. They have been stripping trees (taking the bark off) about five or six days. The nightingales sing very much, which is a sign of warm weather. The house-martins and the swallows are come in abundance; and they seldom do come until the weather be set in for mild.

 

Wednesday, 7th May.

The weather is very fine and warm; the leaves of the Oaks are coming out very fast: some of the trees are nearly in half-leaf. The Birches are out in leaf. I do not think that I ever saw the wheat look, take it all together, so well as it does at this time. I see in the stiff land no signs of worm or slug. The winter, which destroyed so many turnips, must, at any rate, have destroyed these mischievous things. The oats look[Pg 150] well. The barley is very young; but I do not see anything amiss with regard to it.—The land between this place and Reigate is stiff. How the corn may be in other places I know not; but in coming down I met with a farmer of Bedfordshire, who said that the wheat looked very well in that county; which is not a county of clay, like the Weald of Surrey. I saw a Southdown farmer, who told me that the wheat is good there, and that is a fine corn-country. The bloom of the fruit trees is the finest I ever saw in England. The pear-bloom is, at a distance, like that of the Gueldre Rose; so large and bold are the bunches. The plum is equally fine; and even the Blackthorn (which is the hedge-plum) has a bloom finer than I ever saw it have before. It is rather early to offer any opinion as to the crop of corn; but if I were compelled to bet upon it, I would bet upon a good crop. Frosts frequently come after this time; and if they come in May, they cause “things to come about” very fast. But if we have no more frosts: in short, if we have, after this, a good summer, we shall have a fine laugh at the Quakers’ and the Jews’ press. Fifteen days’ sun will bring things about in reality. The wages of labour in the country have taken a rise, and the poor-rates an increase, since first of March. I am glad to hear that the Straw Bonnet affair has excited a good deal of attention. In answer to applications upon the subject, I have to observe, that all the information on the subject will be published in the first week of June. Specimens of the straw and plat will then be to be seen at No. 183, Fleet Street.

 

 


FROM THE (LONDON) WEN ACROSS SURREY, ACROSS THE WEST OF SUSSEX, AND INTO THE SOUTH EAST OF HAMPSHIRE.

 

Reigate (Surrey),
Saturday, 26 July, 1823.

Came from the Wen, through Croydon. It rained nearly all the way. The corn is good. A great deal of straw. The barley very fine; but all are backward; and if this weather continue much longer, there must be that “heavenly blight” for which the wise friends of “social order” are so fervently praying. But if the wet now cease, or cease soon, what is to become of the “poor souls of farmers” God only knows! In one article the wishes of our wise Government appear to have been gratified to the utmost; and that, too, without the aid of any express form of prayer. I allude to the hops, of which[Pg 151] it is said that there will be, according to all appearance, none at all! Bravo! Courage, my Lord Liverpool! This article, at any rate, will not choak us, will not distress us, will not make us miserable by “over-production!”—The other day a gentleman (and a man of general good sense too) said to me: “What a deal of wet we have: what do you think of the weather now?”—“More rain,” said I. “D—n those farmers,” said he, “what luck they have! They will be as rich as Jews!”—Incredible as this may seem, it is a fact. But, indeed, there is no folly, if it relate to these matters, which is, now-a-days, incredible. The hop affair is a pretty good illustration of the doctrine of “relief” from “diminished production.” Mr. Ricardo may now call upon any of the hop-planters for proof of the correctness of his notions. They are ruined, for the greater part, if their all be embarked in hops. How are they to pay rent? I saw a planter the other day who sold his hops (Kentish) last fall for sixty shillings a hundred. The same hops will now fetch the owner of them eight pounds, or a hundred and sixty shillings.

Thus the Quaker gets rich, and the poor devil of a farmer is squeezed into a gaol. The Quakers carry on the far greater part of this work. They are, as to the products of the earth, what the Jews are as to gold and silver. How they profit, or, rather, the degree in which they profit, at the expense of those who own and those who till the land, may be guessed at if we look at their immense worth, and if we at the same time reflect that they never work. Here is a sect of non-labourers. One would think that their religion bound them under a curse not to work. Some part of the people of all other sects work; sweat at work; do something that is useful to other people; but here is a sect of buyers and sellers. They make nothing; they cause nothing to come; they breed as well as other sects; but they make none of the raiment or houses, and cause none of the food to come. In order to justify some measure for paring the nails of this grasping sect, it is enough to say of them, which we may with perfect truth, that if all the other sects were to act like them, the community must perish. This is quite enough to say of this sect, of the monstrous privileges of whom we shall, I hope, one of these days, see an end. If I had the dealing with them, I would soon teach them to use the spade and the plough, and the musket too when necessary.

The rye along the road side is ripe enough; and some of it is reaped and in shock. At Mearstam there is a field of cabbages, which, I was told, belonged to Colonel Joliffe. They appear to be early Yorks, and look very well. The rows seem to be about eighteen inches apart. There may be from 15,000[Pg 152] to 20,000 plants to the acre; and I dare say that they will weigh three pounds each, or more. I know of no crop of cattle food equal to this. If they be early Yorks, they will be in perfection in October, just when the grass is almost gone. No five acres of common grass land will, during the year, yield cattle food equal, either in quantity or quality, to what one acre of land in early Yorks will produce during three months.

 

Worth (Sussex),
Wednesday, 30 July.

Worth is ten miles from Reigate on the Brighton-road, which goes through Horley. Reigate has the Surrey chalk hills close to it on the North, and sand-hills along on its South, and nearly close to it also. As soon as you are over the sand-hills, you come into a country of deep clay; and this is called the Weald of Surrey. This Weald winds away round, towards the West, into Sussex, and towards the East, into Kent. In this part of Surrey it is about eight miles wide, from North to South, and ends just as you enter the parish of Worth, which is the first parish (in this part) in the county of Sussex. All across the Weald (the strong and stiff clays) the corn looks very well. I found it looking well from the Wen to Reigate, on the villanous spewy soil between the Wen and Croydon; on the chalk from Croydon to near Reigate; on the loam, sand and chalk (for there are all three) in the valley of Reigate; but not quite so well on the sand. On the clay all the corn looks well. The wheat, where it has begun to die, is dying of a good colour, not black, nor in any way that indicates blight. It is, however, all backward. Some few fields of white wheat are changing colour; but for the greater part it is quite green; and though a sudden change of weather might make a great alteration in a short time, it does appear that the harvest must be later than usual. When I say this, however, I by no means wish to be understood as saying that it must be so late as to be injurious to the crop. In 1816, I saw a barley-rick making in November. In 1821, I saw wheat uncut, in Suffolk, in October. If we were now to have good, bright, hot weather, for as long a time as we have had wet, the whole of the corn in these Southern counties would be housed, and great part of it threshed out, by the 10th of September. So that all depends on the weather, which appears to be clearing up in spite of Saint Swithin. This Saint’s birth-day is the 15th of July; and it is said that if rain fall on his birth-day it will fall on forty days successively. But I believe that you reckon retrospectively as well as prospectively; and if this be the case, we may, this time, escape the[Pg 153] extreme unction; for it began to rain on the 26th of June; so that it rained 19 days before the 15th of July; and as it has rained 16 days since, it has rained, in the whole, 35 days, and, of course, five days more will satisfy this wet soul of a saint. Let him take his five days; and there will be plenty of time for us to have wheat at four shillings a bushel. But if the Saint will give us no credit for the 19 days, and will insist upon his forty daily drenchings after the fifteenth of July; if he will have such a soaking as this at the celebration of the anniversary of his birth, let us hope that he is prepared with a miracle for feeding us, and with a still more potent miracle for keeping the farmers from riding over us, filled, as Lord Liverpool thinks their pockets will be, by the annihilation of their crops!

The upland meadow grass is, a great deal of it, not cut yet along the Weald. So that in these parts there has been not a great deal of hay spoiled. The clover hay was got in very well; and only a small part of the meadow hay has been spoiled in this part of the country. This is not the case, however, in other parts, where the grass was forwarder, and where it was cut before the rain came. Upon the whole, however, much hay does not appear to have been spoiled as yet. The farmers along here, have, most of them, begun to cut to-day. This has been a fine day; and it is clear that they expect it to continue. I saw but two pieces of Swedish turnips between the Wen and Reigate, but one at Reigate, and but one between Reigate and Worth. During a like distance in Norfolk or Suffolk, you would see two or three hundred fields of this sort of root. Those that I do see here look well. The white turnips are just up, or just sown, though there are some which have rough leaves already. This Weald is, indeed, not much of land for turnips; but from what I see here, and from what I know of the weather, I think that the turnips must be generally good. The after-grass is surprisingly fine. The lands which have had hay cut and carried from them are, I think, more beautiful than I ever saw them before. It should, however, always be borne in mind that this beautiful grass is by no means the best. An acre of this grass will not make a quarter part so much butter as an acre of rusty-looking pasture, made rusty by the rays of the sun. Sheep on the commons die of the beautiful grass produced by long-continued rains at this time of the year. Even geese, hardy as they are, die from the same cause. The rain will give quantity; but without sun the quality must be poor at the best. The woods have not shot much this year. The cold winds, the frosts, that we had up to Midsummer, prevented the trees from growing much. They are beginning to shoot now; but the wood must be imperfectly ripened.

[Pg 154]I met at Worth a beggar, who told me, in consequence of my asking where he belonged, that he was born in South Carolina. I found, at last, that he was born in the English army, during the American rebel-war; that he became a soldier himself; and that it had been his fate to serve under the Duke of York, in Holland; under General Whitelock, at Buenos Ayres; under Sir John Moore, at Corunna; and under “the Greatest Captain,” at Talavera! This poor fellow did not seem to be at all aware that in the last case he partook in a victory! He had never before heard of its being a victory. He, poor fool, thought that it was a defeat. “Why,” said he, “we ran away, Sir.” Oh, yes! said I, and so you did afterwards, perhaps, in Portugal, when Massena was at your heels; but it is only in certain cases that running away is a mark of being defeated; or, rather, it is only with certain commanders. A matter of much more interest to us, however, is that the wars for “social order,” not forgetting Gatton and Old Sarum, have filled the country with beggars, who have been, or who pretend to have been, soldiers and sailors. For want of looking well into this matter, many good and just, and even sensible men are led to give to these army and navy beggars what they refuse to others. But if reason were consulted, she would ask what pretensions these have to a preference? She would see in them men who had become soldiers or sailors because they wished to live without that labour by which other men are content to get their bread. She would ask the soldier beggar whether he did not voluntarily engage to perform services such as were performed at Manchester; and if she pressed him for the motive to this engagement, could he assign any motive other than that of wishing to live without work upon the fruit of the work of other men? And why should reason not be listened to? Why should she not be consulted in every such case? And if she were consulted, which would she tell you was the most worthy of your compassion, the man who, no matter from what cause, is become a beggar after forty years spent in the raising of food and raiment for others as well as for himself; or the man who, no matter again from what cause, is become a beggar after forty years living upon the labour of others, and during the greater part of which time he has been living in a barrack, there kept for purposes explained by Lord Palmerston, and always in readiness to answer those purposes? As to not giving to beggars, I think there is a law against giving! However, give to them people will, as long as they ask. Remove the cause of the beggary, and we shall see no more beggars; but as long as there are boroughmongers there will be beggars enough.

[Pg 155]

 

Horsham (Sussex),
Thursday, 31 July.

I left Worth this afternoon about 5 o’clock, and am got here to sleep, intending to set off for Petworth in the morning, with a view of crossing the South Downs and then going into Hampshire through Havant, and along at the southern foot of Portsdown Hill, where I shall see the earliest corn in England. From Worth you come to Crawley along some pretty good land; you then turn to the left and go two miles along the road from the Wen to Brighton; then you turn to the right, and go over six of the worst miles in England, which miles terminate but a few hundred yards before you enter Horsham. The first two of these miserable miles go through the estate of Lord Erskine. It was a bare heath, with here and there, in the better parts of it, some scrubby birch. It has been, in part, planted with fir-trees, which are as ugly as the heath was: and, in short, it is a most villanous tract. After quitting it, you enter a forest; but a most miserable one; and this is followed by a large common, now enclosed, cut up, disfigured, spoiled, and the labourers all driven from its skirts. I have seldom travelled over eight miles so well calculated to fill the mind with painful reflections. The ride has, however, this in it: that the ground is pretty much elevated, and enables you to look about you. You see the Surrey hills away to the North; Hindhead and Blackdown to the North West and West; and the South Downs from the West to the East. The sun was shining upon all these, though it was cloudy where I was. The soil is a poor, miserable, clayey-looking sand, with a sort of sandstone underneath. When you get down into this town, you are again in the Weald of Sussex. I believe that Weald meant clay, or low, wet, stiff land. This is a very nice, solid, country town. Very clean, as all the towns in Sussex are. The people very clean. The Sussex women are very nice in their dress and in their houses. The men and boys wear smock-frocks more than they do in some counties. When country people do not they always look dirty and comfortless. This has been a pretty good day; but there was a little rain in the afternoon; so that St. Swithin keeps on as yet, at any rate. The hay has been spoiled here, in cases where it has been cut; but a great deal of it is not yet cut. I speak of the meadows; for the clover-hay was all well got in. The grass, which is not cut, is receiving great injury. It is, in fact, in many cases rotting upon the ground. As to corn, from Crawley to Horsham there is none worth speaking of. What there is is very good, in general, considering the quality of the soil. It is about as[Pg 156] backward as at Worth: the barley and oats green, and the wheat beginning to change colour.

 

Billingshurst (Sussex),
Friday Morning, 1 Aug.

This village is 7 miles from Horsham, and I got here to breakfast about seven o’clock. A very pretty village, and a very nice breakfast in a very neat little parlour of a very decent public-house. The landlady sent her son to get me some cream, and he was just such a chap as I was at his age, and dressed just in the same sort of way, his main garment being a blue smock-frock, faded from wear, and mended with pieces of new stuff, and, of course, not faded. The sight of this smock-frock brought to my recollection many things very dear to me. This boy will, I dare say, perform his part at Billingshurst, or at some place not far from it. If accident had not taken me from a similar scene, how many villains and fools, who have been well teazed and tormented, would have slept in peace at night, and have fearlessly swaggered about by day! When I look at this little chap; at his smock-frock, his nailed shoes, and his clean, plain, and coarse shirt, I ask myself, will anything, I wonder, ever send this chap across the ocean to tackle the base, corrupt, perjured Republican Judges of Pennsylvania? Will this little, lively, but, at the same time, simple boy, ever become the terror of villains and hypocrites across the Atlantic? What a chain of strange circumstances there must be to lead this boy to thwart a miscreant tyrant like Mackeen, the Chief Justice and afterwards Governor of Pennsylvania, and to expose the corruptions of the band of rascals, called a “Senate and a House of Representatives,” at Harrisburgh, in that state!

I was afraid of rain, and got on as fast as I could: that is to say, as fast as my own diligence could help me on; for, as to my horse, he is to go only so fast. However, I had no rain; and got to Petworth, nine miles further, by about ten o’clock.

 

Petworth (Sussex),
Friday Evening, 1 Aug.

No rain, until just at sunset, and then very little. I must now look back. From Horsham to within a few miles of Petworth is in the Weald of Sussex; stiff land, small fields, broad hedge-rows, and invariably thickly planted with fine, growing oak trees. The corn here consists chiefly of wheat and oats. There are some bean-fields, and some few fields of peas; but very little barley along here. The corn is very good all along the Weald; backward; the wheat almost green; the oats[Pg 157] quite green; but, late as it is, I see no blight; and the farmers tell me that there is no blight. There may be yet, however; and therefore our Government, our “paternal Government,” so anxious to prevent “over production,” need not despair as yet, at any rate. The beans in the Weald are not very good. They got lousy before the wet came; and it came rather too late to make them recover what they had lost. What peas there are look well. Along here the wheat, in general, may be fit to cut in about 16 days’ time; some sooner; but some later, for some is perfectly green. No Swedish turnips all along this country. The white turnips are just up, coming up, or just sown. The farmers are laying out lime upon the wheat fallows, and this is the universal practice of the country. I see very few sheep. There are a good many orchards along in the Weald, and they have some apples this year; but, in general, not many. The apple trees are planted very thickly, and, of course, they are small; but they appear healthy in general; and in some places there is a good deal of fruit, even this year. As you approach Petworth, the ground rises and the soil grows lighter. There is a hill which I came over, about two miles from Petworth, whence I had a clear view of the Surrey chalk-hills, Leithhill, Hindhead, Blackdown, and of the South Downs, towards one part of which I was advancing. The pigs along here are all black, thin-haired, and of precisely the same sort of those that I took from England to Long Island, and with which I pretty well stocked the American states. By-the-by, the trip, which Old Sidmouth and crew gave me to America, was attended with some interesting consequences; amongst which were the introducing of the Sussex pigs into the American farmyards; the introduction of the Swedish turnip into the American fields; the introduction of American apple trees into England; and the introduction of the making, in England, of the straw plat, to supplant the Italian; for, had my son not been in America, this last would not have taken place; and in America he would not have been, had it not been for Old Sidmouth and crew. One thing more, and that is of more importance than all the rest, Peel’s Bill arose out of the “puff-out” Registers; these arose out of the trip to Long Island; and out of Peel’s Bill has arisen the best bothering that the wigs of the Boroughmongers ever received, which bothering will end in the destruction of the Boroughmongering. It is curious, and very useful, thus to trace events to their causes.

Soon after quitting Billingshurst I crossed the river Arun, which has a canal running alongside of it. At this there are large timber and coal yards, and kilns for lime. This appears to be a grand receiving and distributing place. The river[Pg 158] goes down to Arundale, and, together with the valley that it runs through, gives the town its name. This valley, which is very pretty, and which winds about a good deal, is the dale of the Arun: and the town is the town of the Arun-dale. To-day, near a place called Westborough Green, I saw a woman bleaching her home-spun and home-woven linen. I have not seen such a thing before, since I left Long Island. There, and, indeed, all over the American States, North of Maryland, and especially in the New England States, almost the whole of both linen and woollen used in the country, and a large part of that used in towns, is made in the farmhouses. There are thousands and thousands of families who never use either, except of their own making. All but the weaving is done by the family. There is a loom in the house, and the weaver goes from house to house. I once saw about three thousand farmers, or rather country people, at a horse-race in Long Island, and my opinion was, that there were not five hundred who were not dressed in home-spun coats. As to linen, no farmer’s family thinks of buying linen. The Lords of the Loom have taken from the land, in England, this part of its due; and hence one cause of the poverty, misery, and pauperism that are becoming so frightful throughout the country. A national debt and all the taxation and gambling belonging to it have a natural tendency to draw wealth into great masses. These masses produce a power of congregating manufactures, and of making the many work at them, for the gain of a few. The taxing Government finds great convenience in these congregations. It can lay its hand easily upon a part of the produce; as ours does with so much effect. But the land suffers greatly from this, and the country must finally feel the fatal effects of it. The country people lose part of their natural employment. The women and children, who ought to provide a great part of the raiment, have nothing to do. The fields must have men and boys; but where there are men and boys there will be women and girls; and as the Lords of the Loom have now a set of real slaves, by the means of whom they take away a great part of the employment of the countrywomen and girls, these must be kept by poor-rates in whatever degree they lose employment through the Lords of the Loom. One would think that nothing can be much plainer than this; and yet you hear the jolterheads congratulating one another upon the increase of Manchester, and such places! My straw affair will certainly restore to the land some of the employment of its women and girls. It will be impossible for any of the “rich ruffians;” any of the horse-power or steam-power or air-power ruffians; any of these greedy, grinding ruffians, to draw together[Pg 159] bands of men, women and children, and to make them slaves, in the working of straw. The raw material comes of itself, and the hand, and the hand alone, can convert it to use. I thought well of this before I took one single step in the way of supplanting the Leghorn bonnets. If I had not been certain that no rich ruffian, no white slave holder, could ever arise out of it, assuredly one line upon the subject never would have been written by me. Better a million times that the money should go to Italy; better that it should go to enrich even the rivals and enemies of the country; than that it should enable these hard, these unfeeling men, to draw English people into crowds and make them slaves, and slaves too of the lowest and most degraded cast.

As I was coming into this town I saw a new-fashioned sort of stone-cracking. A man had a sledge-hammer, and was cracking the heads of the big stones that had been laid on the road a good while ago. This is a very good way; but this man told me that he was set at this because the farmers had no employment for many of the men. “Well,” said I, “but they pay you to do this!” “Yes,” said he. “Well, then,” said I, “is it not better for them to pay you for working on their land?” “I can’t tell, indeed, Sir, how that is.” But only think; here is half the haymaking to do: I saw, while I was talking to this man, fifty people in one hay-field of Lord Egremont, making and carrying hay; and yet, at a season like this, the farmers are so poor as to be unable to pay the labourers to work on the land! From this cause there will certainly be some falling off in production. This will, of course, have a tendency to keep prices from falling so low as they would do if there were no falling off. But can this benefit the farmer and landlord? The poverty of the farmers is seen in their diminished stock. The animals are sold younger than formerly. Last year was a year of great slaughtering. There will be less of everything produced; and the quality of each thing will be worse. It will be a lower and more mean concern altogether. Petworth is a nice market town; but solid and clean. The great abundance of stone in the land hereabouts has caused a corresponding liberality in paving and wall building; so that everything of the building kind has an air of great strength, and produces the agreeable idea of durability. Lord Egremont’s house is close to the town, and, with its out-buildings, garden walls, and other erections, is, perhaps, nearly as big as the town; though the town is not a very small one. The Park is very fine, and consists of a parcel of those hills and dells which Nature formed here when she was in one of her most sportive modes. I have never seen the earth flung about in such a wild way as round about Hindhead and Blackdown; and this Park forms a part of this ground. From an elevated part of it,[Pg 160] and, indeed, from each of many parts of it, you see all around the country to the distance of many miles. From the South East to the North West, the hills are so lofty and so near, that they cut the view rather short; but for the rest of the circle you can see to a very great distance. It is, upon the whole, a most magnificent seat, and the Jews will not be able to get it from the present owner; though, if he live many years, they will give even him a twist. If I had time, I would make an actual survey of one whole county, and find out how many of the old gentry have lost their estates, and have been supplanted by the Jews, since Pitt began his reign. I am sure I should prove that in number they are one-half extinguished. But it is now that they go. The little ones are, indeed, gone; and the rest will follow in proportion as the present farmers are exhausted. These will keep on giving rents as long as they can beg or borrow the money to pay rents with. But a little more time will so completely exhaust them that they will be unable to pay; and as that takes place, the landlords will lose their estates. Indeed many of them, and even a large portion of them, have, in fact, no estates now. They are called theirs; but the mortgagees and annuitants receive the rents. As the rents fall off, sales must take place, unless in cases of entails; and if this thing go on, we shall see Acts passed to cut off entails, in order that the Jews may be put into full possession. Such, thus far, will be the result of our “glorious victories” over the French! Such will be, in part, the price of the deeds of Pitt, Addington, Perceval, and their successors. For having applauded such deeds; for having boasted of the Wellesleys; for having bragged of battles won by money and by money only, the nation deserves that which it will receive; and as to the landlords, they, above all men living, deserve punishment. They put the power into the hands of Pitt and his crew to torment the people; to keep the people down; to raise soldiers and to build barracks for this purpose. These base landlords laughed when affairs like that of Manchester took place. They laughed at the Blanketteers. They laughed when Canning jested about Ogden’s rupture. Let them, therefore, now take the full benefit of the measures of Pitt and his crew. They would fain have us believe that the calamities they endure do not arise from the acts of the Government. What do they arise from, then? The Jacobins did not contract the Debt of 800,000,000l. sterling. The Jacobins did not create a Dead Weight of 150,000,000l. The Jacobins did not cause a pauper-charge of 200,000,000l. by means of “new enclosure bills,” “vast improvements,” paper-money, potatoes, and other “proofs of prosperity.” The Jacobins did not do these things. And will the Government pretend that [Pg 161]“Providence” did it? That would be “blasphemy” indeed.——Poh! These things are the price of efforts to crush freedom in France, lest the example of France should produce a reform in England. These things are the price of that undertaking; which, however, has not yet been crowned with success; for the question is not yet decided. They boast of their victory over the French. The Pitt crew boast of their achievements in the war. They boast of the battle of Waterloo. Why! what fools could not get the same, or the like, if they had as much money to get it with? Shooting with a silver gun is a saying amongst game-eaters. That is to say, purchasing the game. A waddling, fat fellow that does not know how to prime and load will, in this way, beat the best shot in the country. And this is the way that our crew “beat” the people of France. They laid out, in the first place, six hundred millions which they borrowed, and for which they mortgaged the revenues of the nation. Then they contracted for a “dead weight” to the amount of one hundred and fifty millions. Then they stripped the labouring classes of the commons, of their kettles, their bedding, their beer-barrels; and, in short, made them all paupers, and thus fixed on the nation a permanent annual charge of about 8 or 9 millions, or a gross debt of 200,000,000l. By these means, by these anticipations, our crew did what they thought would keep down the French nation for ages; and what they were sure would, for the present, enable them to keep up the tithes and other things of the same sort in England. But the crew did not reflect on the consequences of the anticipations! Or, at least, the landlords, who gave the crew their power, did not thus reflect. These consequences are now come, and are coming; and that must be a base man indeed who does not see them with pleasure.

 

Singleton (Sussex),
Saturday, 2 Aug.

Ever since the middle of March I have been trying remedies for the hooping-cough, and have, I believe, tried everything, except riding, wet to the skin, two or three hours amongst the clouds on the South Downs. This remedy is now under trial. As Lord Liverpool said, the other day, of the Irish Tithe Bill, it is “under experiment.” I am treating my disorder (with better success, I hope) in somewhat the same way that the pretty fellows at Whitehall treat the disorders of poor Ireland. There is one thing in favour of this remedy of mine, I shall know the effect of it, and that, too, in a short time. It rained a little last night. I got off from Petworth without baiting my horse, thinking that[Pg 162] the weather looked suspicious; and that St. Swithin meaned to treat me to a dose. I had no great-coat, nor any means of changing my clothes. The hooping-cough made me anxious; but I had fixed on going along the South Downs from Donnington Hill down to Lavant, and then to go on the flat to the South foot of Portsdown Hill, and to reach Fareham to-night. Two men, whom I met soon after I set off, assured me that it would not rain. I came on to Donnington, which lies at the foot of that part of the South Downs which I had to go up. Before I came to this point, I crossed the Arun and its canal again; and here was another place of deposit for timber, lime, coals, and other things. White, in his history of Selborne, mentions a hill, which is one of the Hindhead group, from which two springs (one on each side of the hill) send water into the two seas: the Atlantic and the German Ocean! This is big talk: but it is a fact. One of the streams becomes the Arun, which falls into the Channel; and the other, after winding along amongst the hills and hillocks between Hindhead and Godalming, goes into the river Wey, which falls into the Thames at Weybridge. The soil upon leaving Petworth, and at Petworth, seems very good; a fine deep loam, a sort of mixture of sand and soft chalk. I then came to a sandy common; a piece of ground that seemed to have no business there; it looked as if it had been tossed from Hindhead or Blackdown. The common, however, during the rage for “improvements,” has been enclosed. That impudent fellow, Old Rose, stated the number of Enclosure Bills as an indubitable proof of “national prosperity.” There was some rye upon this common, the sight of which would have gladdened the heart of Lord Liverpool. It was, in parts, not more than eight inches high. It was ripe, and, of course, the straw dead; or I should have found out the owner, and have bought it to make bonnets of! I defy the Italians to grow worse rye than this. The reader will recollect that I always said that we could grow as poor corn as any Italians that ever lived. The village of Donton lies at the foot of one of these great chalk ridges which are called the South Downs. The ridge in this place is, I think, about three-fourths of a mile high, by the high road, which is obliged to go twisting about, in order to get to the top of it. The hill sweeps round from about West North West, to East South East; and, of course, it keeps off all the heavy winds, and especially the South West winds, before which, in this part of England (and all the South and Western part of it) even the oak trees seem as if they would gladly flee; for it shaves them up as completely as you see a quickset hedge shaved by hook or shears. Talking of hedges reminds me of having seen a box-hedge, just as I came out of Petworth, more than twelve feet broad, and about fifteen feet[Pg 163] high. I dare say it is several centuries old. I think it is about forty yards long. It is a great curiosity.

The apple trees at Donnington show their gratitude to the hill for its shelter; for I have seldom seen apple trees in England so large, so fine, and, in general, so flourishing. I should like to have, or to see, an orchard of American apples under this hill. The hill, you will observe, does not shade the ground at Donnington. It slopes too much for that. But it affords complete shelter from the mischievous winds. It is very pretty to look down upon this little village as you come winding up the hill.

From this hill I ought to have had a most extensive view. I ought to have seen the Isle of Wight and the sea before me; and to have looked back to Chalk Hill at Reigate, at the foot of which I had left some bonnet-grass bleaching. But, alas! Saint Swithin had begun his works for the day before I got to the top of the hill. Soon after the two turnip-hoers had assured me that there would be no rain, I saw, beginning to poke up over the South Downs (then right before me) several parcels of those white, curled clouds that we call Judges’ Wigs. And they are just like Judges’ wigs. Not the parson-like things which the Judges wear when they have to listen to the dull wrangling and duller jests of the lawyers; but those big wigs which hang down about their shoulders, when they are about to tell you a little of their intentions, and when their very looks say, “Stand clear!” These clouds (if rising from the South West) hold precisely the same language to the great-coatless traveller. Rain is sure to follow them. The sun was shining very beautifully when I first saw these Judges’ wigs rising over the hills. At the sight of them he soon began to hide his face! and before I got to the top of the hill of Donton, the white clouds had become black, had spread themselves all around, and a pretty decent and sturdy rain began to fall. I had resolved to come to this place (Singleton) to breakfast. I quitted the turnpike road (from Petworth to Chichester) at a village called Upwaltham, about a mile from Donnington Hill; and came down a lane, which led me first to a village called Eastdean; then to another called Westdean, I suppose; and then to this village of Singleton, and here I am on the turnpike road from Midhurst to Chichester. The lane goes along through some of the finest farms in the world. It is impossible for corn land and for agriculture to be finer than these. In cases like mine, you are pestered to death to find out the way to set out to get from place to place. The people you have to deal with are innkeepers, ostlers, and post-boys; and they think you mad if you express your wish to avoid turnpike roads; and a great deal more than half mad if you talk of going, even from necessity, by any other road. They think you a strange fellow if[Pg 164] you will not ride six miles on a turnpike road rather than two on any other road. This plague I experienced on this occasion. I wanted to go from Petworth to Havant. My way was through Singleton and Funtington. I had no business at Chichester, which took me too far to the South; nor at Midhurst, which took me too far to the West. But though I stayed all day (after my arrival) at Petworth, and though I slept there, I could get no directions how to set out to come to Singleton, where I am now. I started, therefore, on the Chichester road, trusting to my enquiries of the country people as I came on. By these means I got hither, down a long valley, on the South Downs, which valley winds and twists about amongst hills, some higher and some lower, forming cross dells, inlets, and ground in such a variety of shapes that it is impossible to describe; and the whole of the ground, hill as well as dell, is fine, most beautiful corn land, or is covered with trees or underwood. As to St. Swithin, I set him at defiance. The road was flinty, and very flinty. I rode a foot pace; and got here wet to the skin. I am very glad I came this road. The corn is all fine; all good; fine crops, and no appearance of blight. The barley extremely fine. The corn not forwarder than in the Weald. No beans here; few oats comparatively; chiefly wheat and barley; but great quantities of Swedish turnips, and those very forward. More Swedish turnips here upon one single farm than upon all the farms that I saw between the Wen and Petworth. These turnips are, in some places, a foot high, and nearly cover the ground. The farmers are, however, plagued by this St. Swithin, who keeps up a continual drip, which prevents the thriving of the turnips and the killing of the weeds. The orchards are good here in general. Fine walnut trees, and an abundant crop of walnuts. This is a series of villages all belonging to the Duke of Richmond, the outskirts of whose park and woods come up to these farming lands, all of which belong to him; and I suppose that every inch of land that I came through this morning belongs either to the Duke of Richmond or to Lord Egremont. No harm in that, mind, if those who till the land have fair play; and I should act unjustly towards these noblemen if I insinuated that the husbandmen have not fair play as far as the landlords are concerned; for everybody speaks well of them. There is, besides, no misery to be seen here. I have seen no wretchedness in Sussex; nothing to be at all compared to that which I have seen in other parts; and as to these villages in the South Downs, they are beautiful to behold. Hume and other historians rail against the feudal-system; and we, “enlightened” and “free” creatures as we are, look back with scorn, or, at least, with surprise and pity, to the “vassalage” of our forefathers. But if the matter[Pg 165] were well enquired into, not slurred over, but well and truly examined, we should find that the people of these villages were as free in the days of William Rufus as are the people of the present day; and that vassalage, only under other names, exists now as completely as it existed then. Well; but out of this, if true, arises another question: namely, Whether the millions would derive any benefit from being transferred from these great Lords who possess them by hundreds, to Jews and jobbers who would possess them by half-dozens, or by couples? One thing we may say with a certainty of being right: and that is, that the transfer would be bad for the Lords themselves. There is an appearance of comfort about the dwellings of the labourers all along here that is very pleasant to behold. The gardens are neat, and full of vegetables of the best kinds. I see very few of “Ireland’s lazy root;” and never, in this country, will the people be base enough to lie down and expire from starvation under the operation of the extreme unction! Nothing but a potato-eater will ever do that. As I came along between Upwaltham and Eastdean, I called to me a young man, who, along with other turnip-hoers, was sitting under the shelter of a hedge at breakfast. He came running to me with his victuals in his hand; and I was glad to see that his food consisted of a good lump of household bread and not a very small piece of bacon. I did not envy him his appetite, for I had at that moment a very good one of my own; but I wanted to know the distance I had to go before I should get to a good public-house. In parting with him, I said, “You do get some bacon then?” “Oh, yes! Sir,” said he, and with an emphasis and a swag of the head which seemed to say, “We must and will have that.” I saw, and with great delight, a pig at almost every labourer’s house. The houses are good and warm; and the gardens some of the very best that I have seen in England. What a difference, good God! what a difference between this country and the neighbourhood of those corrupt places Great Bedwin and Cricklade. What sort of breakfast would this man have had in a mess of cold potatoes? Could he have worked, and worked in the wet, too, with such food? Monstrous! No society ought to exist where the labourers live in a hog-like sort of way. The Morning Chronicle is everlastingly asserting the mischievous consequences of the want of enlightening these people “i’ th a Sooth;” and telling us how well they are off in the North. Now this I know, that in the North the “enlightened” people eat sowens, burgoo, porridge, and potatoes: that is to say, oatmeal and water, or the root of extreme unction. If this be the effect of their light, give me the darkness “o’ th a Sooth.” This is according to what I have heard. If, when I go to the North, I find the labourers eating[Pg 166] more meat than those of the “Sooth,” I shall then say that “enlightening” is a very good thing; but give me none of that “light,” or of that “grace,” which makes a man content with oatmeal and water, or that makes him patiently lie down and die of starvation amidst abundance of food. The Morning Chronicle hears the labourers crying out in Sussex. They are right to cry out in time. When they are actually brought down to the extreme unction it is useless to cry out. And next to the extreme unction is the porridge of the “enlightened” slaves who toil in the factories for the Lords of the Loom. Talk of vassals! Talk of villains! Talk of serfs! Are there any of these, or did feudal times ever see any of them, so debased, so absolutely slaves, as the poor creatures who, in the “enlightened” North, are compelled to work fourteen hours in a day, in a heat of eighty-four degrees; and who are liable to punishment for looking out at a window of the factory!

This is really a soaking day, thus far. I got here at nine o’clock. I stripped off my coat, and put it by the kitchen fire. In a parlour just eight feet square I have another fire, and have dried my shirt on my back. We shall see what this does for a hooping-cough. The clouds fly so low as to be seen passing by the sides of even little hills on these downs. The Devil is said to be busy in a high wind; but he really appears to be busy now in this South West wind. The Quakers will, next market day, at Mark Lane, be as busy as he. They and the Ministers and St. Swithin and Devil all seem to be of a mind.

I must not forget the churches. That of Donnington is very small for a church. It is about twenty feet wide and thirty long. It is, however, sufficient for the population, the amount of which is two hundred and twenty-two, not one half of whom are, of course, ever at church at one time. There is, however, plenty of room for the whole: the “tower” of this church is about double the size of a sentry-box. The parson, whose name is Davidson, did not, when the Return was laid before Parliament, in 1818, reside in the parish. Though the living is a large living, the parsonage house was let to “a lady and her three daughters.” What impudence a man must have to put this into a Return! The church at Upwaltham is about such another, and the “tower” still less than that at Donnington. Here the population is seventy-nine. The parish is a rectory, and in the Return before mentioned, the parson (whose name was Tripp) says that the church will hold the population, but that the parsonage house will not hold him! And why? Because it is “a miserable cottage.” I looked about for this “miserable cottage,” and could not find it. What on impudent fellow this must have been! And, indeed, what a state of[Pg 167] impudence have they not now arrived at! Did he, when he was ordained, talk anything about a fine house to live in? Did Jesus Christ and Saint Paul talk about fine houses? Did not this priest most solemnly vow to God, upon the altar, that he would be constant, in season and out of season, in watching over the souls of his flock? However, it is useless to remonstrate with this set of men. Nothing will have any effect upon them. They will keep grasping at the tithes as long as they can reach them. “A miserable cottage!” What impudence! What, Mr. Tripp, is it a fine house that you have been appointed and ordained to live in? Lord Egremont is the patron of Mr. Tripp; and he has a duty to perform too; for the living is not his: he is, in this case, only an hereditary trustee for the public; and he ought to see that this parson resides in the parish, which, according to his own Return, yields him 125l. a-year. Eastdean is a Vicarage, with a population of 353, a church which the parson says will hold 200, and which I say will hold 600 or 700, and a living worth 85l. a-year, in the gift of the Bishop of Chichester.

Westdean is united with Singleton, the living is in the gift of the Church at Chichester and the Duke of Richmond alternately; it is a large living, it has a population of 613, and the two churches, says the parson, will hold 200 people! What careless, or what impudent fellows these must have been. These two churches will hold a thousand people, packed much less close than they are in meeting houses.

At Upwaltham there is a toll gate, and when the woman opened the door of the house to come and let me through, I saw some straw plat lying in a chair. She showed it me; and I found that it was made by her husband, in the evenings, after he came home from work, in order to make him a hat for the harvest. I told her how to get better straw for the purpose; and when I told her that she must cut the grass, or the grain, green, she said, “Aye, I dare say it is so: and I wonder we never thought of that before; for we sometimes make hats out of rushes, cut green, and dried, and the hats are very durable.” This woman ought to have my Cottage Economy. She keeps the toll-gate at Upwaltham, which is called Waltham, and which is on the turnpike road from Petworth to Chichester. Now, if any gentleman who lives at Chichester will call upon my Son, at the Office of the Register in Fleet Street, and ask for a copy of Cottage Economy, to be given to this woman, he will receive the copy, and my thanks, if he will have the goodness to give it to her, and to point to her the Essay on Straw Plat.

 

Fareham (Hants), Saturday, 2 August.

Here I am in spite of St. Swithin!—The truth is, that the[Pg 168] Saint is like most other oppressors; rough him! rough him! and he relaxes. After drying myself, and sitting the better part of four hours at Singleton, I started in the rain, boldly setting the Saint at defiance, and expecting to have not one dry thread by the time I got to Havant, which is nine miles from Fareham, and four from Cosham. To my most agreeable surprise, the rain ceased before I got by Selsey, I suppose it is called, where Lord Selsey’s house and beautiful and fine estate is. On I went, turning off to the right to go to Funtington and Westbourn, and getting to Havant to bait my horse, about four o’clock.

From Lavant (about two miles back from Funtington) the ground begins to be a sea side flat. The soil is somewhat varied in quality and kind; but with the exception of an enclosed common between Funtington and Westbourn, it is all good soil. The corn of all kinds good and earlier than further back. They have begun cutting peas here, and near Lavant I saw a field of wheat nearly ripe. The Swedish turnips very fine, and still earlier than on the South Downs. Prodigious crops of walnuts; but the apples bad along here. The South West winds have cut them off; and, indeed, how should it be otherwise, if these winds happen to prevail in May, or early in June?

On the new enclosure, near Funtington, the wheat and oats are both nearly ripe.

In a new enclosure, near Westbourn, I saw the only really blighted wheat that I have yet seen this year. “Oh!” exclaimed I, “that my Lord Liverpool, that my much respected stern-path-of-duty-man, could but see that wheat, which God and the seedsman intended to be white; but which the Devil (listening to the prayers of the Quakers) has made black! Oh! could but my Lord see it, lying flat upon the ground, with the May-weed and the Couch-grass pushing up through it, and with a whole flock of rooks pecking away at its ears! Then would my much valued Lord say, indeed, that the ‘difficulties’ of agriculture are about to receive the ‘greatest abatement!’”

But now I come to one of the great objects of my journey: that is to say, to see the state of the corn along at the South foot and on the South side of Portsdown Hill. It is impossible that there can be, anywhere, a better corn country than this. The hill is eight miles long, and about three-fourths of a mile high, beginning at the road that runs along at the foot of the hill. On the hill-side the corn land goes rather better than half way up; and on the sea-side the corn land is about the third (it may be half) a mile wide. Portsdown Hill is very much in the shape of an oblong tin cover to a dish. From Bedhampton, which lies at the Eastern end of the hill, to Fareham, which is at the Western end of it, you have brought under your eye not less than eight[Pg 169] square miles of corn fields, with scarcely a hedge or ditch of any consequence, and being, on an average, from twenty to forty acres each in extent. The land is excellent. The situation good for manure. The spot the earliest in the whole kingdom. Here, if the corn were backward, then the harvest must be backward. We were talking at Reigate of the prospect of a backward harvest. I observed that it was a rule that if no wheat were cut under Portsdown Hill on the hill fair-day, 26th July, the harvest must be generally backward. When I made this observation the fair-day was passed; but I determined in my mind to come and see how the matter stood. When, therefore, I got to the village of Bedhampton, I began to look out pretty sharply. I came on to Wimmering, which is just about the mid-way along the foot of the hill, and there I saw, at a good distance from me, five men reaping in a field of wheat of about 40 acres. I found, upon enquiry, that they began this morning, and that the wheat belongs to Mr. Boniface, of Wimmering. Here the first sheaf is cut that is cut in England: that the reader may depend upon. It was never known that the average even of Hampshire was less than ten days behind the average of Portsdown Hill. The corn under the hill is as good as I ever saw it, except in the year 1813. No beans here. No peas. Scarcely any oats. Wheat, barley, and turnips. The Swedish turnips not so good as on the South Downs and near Funtington; but the wheat full as good, rather better; and the barley as good as it is possible to be. In looking at these crops one wonders whence are to come the hands to clear them off.

A very pleasant ride to-day; and the pleasanter for my having set the wet Saint at defiance. It is about thirty miles from Petworth to Fareham; and I got in in very good time. I have now come, if I include my boltings, for the purpose of looking at farms and woods, a round hundred miles from the Wen to this town of Fareham; and in the whole of the hundred miles I have not seen one single wheat-rick, though I have come through as fine corn countries as any in England, and by the homesteads of the richest of farmers. Not one single wheat-rick have I seen, and not one rick of any sort of corn. I never saw nor heard of the like of this before; and if I had not witnessed the fact with my own eyes I could not have believed it. There are some farmers who have corn in their barns, perhaps; but when there is no rick left, there is very little corn in the hands of farmers. Yet the markets, St. Swithin notwithstanding, do not rise. This harvest must be three weeks later than usual, and the last harvest was three weeks earlier than usual. The last crop was begun upon at once, on account of the badness of the wheat of the year before. So that the last crop will have[Pg 170] had to give food for thirteen months and a half. And yet the markets do not rise! And yet there are men, farmers, mad enough to think that they have “got past the bad place,” and that things will come about, and are coming about! And Lethbridge, of the Collective, withdraws his motion because he has got what he wanted: namely, a return of good and “remunerating prices!” The Morning Chronicle of this day, which has met me at this place, has the following paragraph. “The weather is much improved, though it does not yet assume the character of being fine. At the Corn Exchange since Monday the arrivals consist of 7,130 quarters of wheat, 450 quarters of barley, 8,300 quarters of oats, and 9,200 sacks of flour. The demand for wheat is next to Zero, and for oats it is extremely dull. To effect sales, prices are not much attended to, for the demand cannot be increased at the present currency. The farmers should pay attention to oats, for the foreign new, under the King’s lock, will be brought into consumption, unless a decline takes place immediately, and a weight will thereby be thrown over the markets, which under existing circumstances will be extremely detrimental to the agricultural interests. Its distress however does not deserve much sympathy, for as soon as there was a prospect of the payment of rents, the cause of the people was abandoned by the Representatives of Agriculture in the Collected Wisdom, and Mr. Brougham’s most excellent measure for increasing the consumption of Malt was neglected. Where there is no sympathy, none can be expected, and the land proprietors need not in future depend on the assistance of the mercantile and manufacturing interests, should their own distress again require a united effort to remedy the general grievances.” As to the mercantile and manufacturing people, what is the land to expect from them? But I agree with the Chronicle that the landlords deserve ruin. They abandoned the public cause the moment they thought that they saw a prospect of getting rents. That prospect will soon disappear, unless they pray hard to St. Swithin to insist upon forty days wet after his birth-day. I do not see what the farmers can do about the price of oats. They have no power to do anything, unless they come with their cavalry horses and storm the “King’s lock.” In short, it is all confusion in men’s minds as well as in their pockets. There must be something completely out of joint when the Government are afraid of the effects of a good crop. I intend to set off to-morrow for Botley, and go thence to Easton; and then to Alton and Crondall and Farnham, to see how the hops are there. By the time that I get back to the Wen I shall know nearly the real state of the case as to crops; and that, at this time, is a great matter.

 

 


[Pg 171]

THROUGH THE SOUTH-EAST OF HAMPSHIRE, BACK THROUGH THE SOUTH-WEST OF SURREY, ALONG THE WEALD OF SURREY, AND THEN OVER THE SURREY HILLS DOWN TO THE WEN.

 

Batley (Hampshire),
5th August, 1823.

I got to Fareham on Saturday night, after having got a soaking on the South Downs on the morning of that day. On the Sunday morning, intending to go and spend the day at Titchfield (about three miles and a half from Fareham), and perceiving, upon looking out of the window, about 5 o’clock in the morning, that it was likely to rain, I got up, struck a bustle, got up the ostler, set off and got to my destined point before 7 o’clock in the morning. And here I experienced the benefits of early rising; for I had scarcely got well and safely under cover, when St. Swithin began to pour down again, and he continued to pour during the whole of the day. From Fareham to Titchfield village a large part of the ground is a common enclosed some years ago. It is therefore amongst the worst of the land in the country. Yet I did not see a bad field of corn along here, and the Swedish turnips were, I think, full as fine as any that I saw upon the South Downs. But it is to be observed that this land is in the hands of dead-weight people, and is conveniently situated for the receiving of manure from Portsmouth. Before I got to my friend’s house, I passed by a farm where I expected to find a wheat-rick standing. I did not, however; and this is the strongest possible proof that the stock of corn is gone out of the hands of the farmers. I set out from Titchfield at 7 o’clock in the evening, and had seven miles to go to reach Botley. It rained, but I got myself well furnished forth as a defence against the rain. I had not gone two hundred yards before the rain ceased; so that I was singularly fortunate as to rain this day; and I had now to congratulate myself on the success of the remedy for the hooping-cough which I used the day before on the South Downs; for really, though I had a spell or two of coughing on Saturday morning when I set out from Petworth, I have not had, up to this hour, any spell at all since I got wet upon the South Downs. I got to Botley about nine o’clock, having stopped two or three times to look about me as I went along; for I had, in the first place, to ride, for about three miles of my road, upon a turnpike road of which I was the projector, and, indeed, the maker. In the next place I had to ride, for something better than half a mile of my way, along between fields and coppices that were mine until they came into the hands of the mortgagee, and by[Pg 172] the side of cottages of my own building. The only matter of much interest with me was the state of the inhabitants of those cottages. I stopped at two or three places, and made some little enquiries; I rode up to two or three houses in the village of Botley, which I had to pass through, and just before it was dark I got to a farmhouse close by the church, and what was more, not a great many yards from the dwelling of that delectable creature, the Botley parson, whom, however, I have not seen during my stay at this place.

Botley lies in a valley, the soil of which is a deep and stiff clay. Oak trees grow well; and this year the wheat grows well, as it does upon all the clays that I have seen. I have never seen the wheat better in general, in this part of the country, than it is now. I have, I think, seen it heavier; but never clearer from blight. It is backward compared to the wheat in many other parts; some of it is quite green; but none of it has any appearance of blight. This is not much of a barley country. The oats are good. The beans that I have seen, very indifferent.

The best news that I have learnt here is, that the Botley parson is become quite a gentle creature, compared to what he used to be. The people in the village have told me some most ridiculous stories about his having been hoaxed in London! It seems that somebody danced him up from Botley to London, by telling him that a legacy had been left him, or some such story. Up went the parson on horseback, being in too great a hurry to run the risk of coach. The hoaxers, it appears, got him to some hotel, and there set upon him a whole tribe of applicants, wet-nurses, dry-nurses, lawyers with deeds of conveyance for borrowed money, curates in want of churches, coffin-makers, travelling companions, ladies’ maids, dealers in Yorkshire hams, Newcastle coals, and dealers in dried night-soil at Islington. In short, if I am rightly informed, they kept the parson in town for several days, bothered him three parts out of his senses, compelled him to escape, as it were, from a fire; and then, when he got home, he found the village posted all over with handbills giving an account of his adventure, under the pretence of offering 500l. reward for a discovery of the hoaxers! The good of it was the parson ascribed his disgrace to me, and they say that he perseveres to this hour in accusing me of it. Upon my word, I had nothing to do with the matter, and this affair only shows that I am not the only friend that the parson has in the world. Though this may have had a tendency to produce in the parson that amelioration of deportment which is said to become him so well, there is something else that has taken place, which has, in all probability, had a more powerful influence in this way; namely, a great reduction in the value[Pg 173] of the parson’s living, which was at one time little short of five hundred pounds a year, and which, I believe, is now not the half of that sum! This, to be sure, is not only a natural but a necessary consequence of the change in the value of money. The parsons are neither more nor less than another sort of landlords. They must fall, of course, in their demands, or their demands will not be paid. They may take in kind, but that will answer them no purpose at all. They will be less people than they have been, and will continue to grow less and less, until the day when the whole of the tithes and other Church property, as it is called, shall be applied to public purposes.

 

Easton (Hampshire),
Wednesday Evening, 6th August.

This village of Easton lies at a few miles towards the north-east from Winchester. It is distant from Botley, by the way which I came, about fifteen or sixteen miles. I came through Durley, where I went to the house of farmer Mears. I was very much pleased with what I saw at Durley, which is about two miles from Botley, and is certainly one of the most obscure villages in this whole kingdom. Mrs. Mears, the farmer’s wife, had made, of the crested dog’s tail grass, a bonnet which she wears herself. I there saw girls platting the straw. They had made plat of several degrees of fineness; and they sell it to some person or persons at Fareham, who, I suppose, makes it into bonnets. Mrs. Mears, who is a very intelligent and clever woman, has two girls at work, each of whom earns per week as much (within a shilling) as her father, who is a labouring man, earns per week. The father has at this time only 7s. per week. These two girls (and not very stout girls) earn six shillings a week each: thus the income of this family is, from seven shillings a week, raised to nineteen shillings a week. I shall suppose that this may in some measure be owing to the generosity of ladies in the neighbourhood, and to their desire to promote this domestic manufacture; but if I suppose that these girls receive double compared to what they will receive for the same quantity of labour when the manufacture becomes more general, is it not a great thing to make the income of the family nineteen shillings a week instead of seven? Very little, indeed, could these poor things have done in the field during the last forty days. And, besides, how clean; how healthful; how everything that one could wish is this sort of employment! The farmer, who is also a very intelligent person, told me that he should endeavour to introduce the manufacture as a thing to assist the obtaining of employment, in order to lessen the amount of the poor-rates. I think it very likely that this will be done in the parish of[Pg 174] Durley. A most important matter it is, to put paupers in the way of ceasing to be paupers. I could not help admiring the zeal as well as the intelligence of the farmer’s wife, who expressed her readiness to teach the girls and women of the parish, in order to enable them to assist themselves. I shall hear, in all probability, of their proceedings at Durley, and if I do, I shall make a point of communicating to the Public an account of those interesting proceedings. From the very first, from the first moment of my thinking about this straw affair, I regarded it as likely to assist in bettering the lot of the labouring people. If it has not this effect, I value it not. It is not worth the attention of any of us; but I am satisfied that this is the way in which it will work. I have the pleasure to know that there is one labouring family, at any rate, who are living well through my means. It is I, who, without knowing them, without ever having seen them, without even now knowing their names, have given the means of good living to a family who were before half-starved. This is indisputably my work; and when I reflect that there must necessarily be, now, some hundreds of families, and shortly, many thousands of families, in England, who are and will be, through my means, living well instead of being half-starved, I cannot but feel myself consoled; I cannot but feel that I have some compensation for the sentence passed upon me by Ellenborough, Grose, Le Blanc, and Bailey; and I verily believe, that in the case of this one single family in the parish of Durley I have done more good than Bailey ever did in the whole course of his life, notwithstanding his pious Commentary on the Book of Common Prayer. I will allow nothing to be good, with regard to the labouring classes, unless it make an addition to their victuals, drink, or clothing. As to their minds, that is much too sublime matter for me to think about. I know that they are in rags, and that they have not a belly-full; and I know that the way to make them good, to make them honest, to make them dutiful, to make them kind to one another, is to enable them to live well; and I also know that none of these things will ever be accomplished by Methodist sermons, and by those stupid, at once stupid and malignant things, and roguish things, called Religious Tracts.

It seems that this farmer at Durley has always read the Register, since the first appearance of little Two-penny Trash. Had it not been for this reading, Mrs. Mears would not have thought about the grass; and had she not thought about the grass, none of the benefits above mentioned would have arisen to her neighbours. The difference between this affair and the spinning-jenny affairs is this: that the spinning-jenny affairs fill the pockets of “rich ruffians,” such as those who would have [Pg 175]murdered me at Coventry; and that this straw affair makes an addition to the food and raiment of the labouring classes, and gives not a penny to be pocketed by the rich ruffians.

From Durley I came on in company with farmer Mears through Upham. This Upham is the place where Young, who wrote that bombastical stuff, called “Night Thoughts,” was once the parson, and where, I believe, he was born. Away to the right of Upham lies the little town of Bishop’s Waltham, whither I wished to go very much, but it was too late in the day. From Upham we came on upon the high land, called Black Down. This has nothing to do with that Black-down Hill, spoken of in my last ride. We are here getting up upon the chalk hills, which stretch away towards Winchester. The soil here is a poor blackish stuff, with little white stones in it, upon a bed of chalk. It was a down not many years ago. The madness and greediness of the days of paper-money led to the breaking of it up. The corn upon it is miserable; but as good as can be expected upon such land.

At the end of this tract we come to a spot called Whiteflood, and here we cross the old turnpike road which leads from Winchester to Gosport through Bishop’s Waltham. Whiteflood is at the foot of the first of a series of hills over which you come to get to the top of that lofty ridge called Morning Hill. The farmer came to the top of the first hill along with me; and he was just about to turn back, when I, looking away to the left, down a valley which stretched across the other side of the down, observed a rather singular appearance, and said to the farmer, “What is that coming up that valley? is it smoke, or is it a cloud?” The day had been very fine hitherto; the sun was shining very bright where we were. The farmer answered, “Oh, it’s smoke; it comes from Ouselberry, which is down in that bottom behind those trees.” So saying, we bid each other good day; he went back, and I went on. Before I had got a hundred and fifty yards from him, the cloud which he had taken for the Ouselberry smoke came upon the hill and wet me to the skin. He was not far from the house at Whiteflood; but I am sure that he could not entirely escape it. It is curious to observe how the clouds sail about in the hilly countries, and particularly, I think, amongst the chalk-hills. I have never observed the like amongst the sand-hills, or amongst rocks.

From Whiteflood you come over a series of hills, part of which form a rabbit-warren called Longwood warren, on the borders of which is the house and estate of Lord Northesk. These hills are amongst the most barren of the downs of England; yet a part of them was broken up during the rage for improvements; during the rage for what empty men think was an augmenting[Pg 176] of the capital of the country. On about twenty acres of this land, sown with wheat, I should not suppose that there would be twice twenty bushels of grain! A man must be mad, or nearly mad, to sow wheat upon such a spot. However, a large part of what was enclosed has been thrown out again already, and the rest will be thrown out in a very few years. The down itself was poor; what, then, must it be as corn-land! Think of the destruction which has here taken place. The herbage was not good, but it was something; it was something for every year, and without trouble. Instead of grass it will now, for twenty years to come, bear nothing but that species of weeds which is hardy enough to grow where the grass will not grow. And this was “augmenting the capital of the nation.” These new enclosure-bills were boasted of by George Rose and by Pitt as proofs of national prosperity! When men in power are ignorant to this extent, who is to expect anything but consequences such as we now behold.

From the top of this high land called Morning Hill, and the real name of which is Magdalen Hill, from a chapel which once stood there dedicated to Mary Magdalen; from the top of this land you have a view of a circle which is upon an average about seventy miles in diameter; and I believe in no one place so little as fifty miles in diameter. You see the Isle of Wight in one direction, and in the opposite direction you see the high lands in Berkshire. It is not a pleasant view, however. The fertile spots are all too far from you. Descending from this hill, you cross the turnpike-road (about two miles from Winchester), leading from Winchester to London through Alresford and Farnham. As soon as you cross the road, you enter the estate of the descendant of Rollo, Duke of Buckingham, which estate is in the parish of Avington. In this place the Duke has a farm, not very good land. It is in his own hands. The corn is indifferent, except the barley, which is everywhere good. You come a full mile from the roadside down through this farm, to the Duke’s mansion-house at Avington, and to the little village of that name, both of them beautifully situated, amidst fine and lofty trees, fine meadows, and streams of clear water. On this farm of the Duke I saw (in a little close by the farmhouse) several hens in coops with broods of pheasants instead of chickens. It seems that a gamekeeper lives in the farmhouse, and I dare say the Duke thinks much more of the pheasants than of the corn. To be very solicitous to preserve what has been raised with so much care and at so much expense is by no means unnatural; but, then, there is a measure to be observed here; and that measure was certainly outstretched in the case of Mr. Deller. I here saw, at this gamekeeping farmhouse, what I had not seen[Pg 177] since my departure from the Wen; namely, a wheat-rick! Hard, indeed, would it have been if a Plantagenet, turned farmer, had not a wheat-rick in his hands. This rick contains, I should think, what they call in Hampshire ten loads of wheat, that is to say, fifty quarters, or four hundred bushels. And this is the only rick, not only of wheat, but of any corn whatever, that I have seen since I left London. The turnips upon this farm are by no means good; but I was in some measure compensated for the bad turnips by the sight of the Duke’s turnip-hoers, about a dozen females, amongst whom there were several very pretty girls, and they were as merry as larks. There had been a shower that had brought them into a sort of huddle on the road side. When I came up to them, they all fixed their eyes upon me, and, upon my smiling, they bursted out into laughter. I observed to them that the Duke of Buckingham was a very happy man to have such turnip-hoers, and really they seemed happier and better off than any work-people that I saw in the fields all the way from London to this spot. It is curious enough, but I have always observed that the women along this part of the country are usually tall. These girls were all tall, straight, fair, round-faced, excellent complexion, and uncommonly gay. They were well dressed too, and I observed the same of all the men that I saw down at Avington. This could not be the case if the Duke were a cruel or hard master; and this is an act of justice due from me to the descendant of Rollo. It is in the house of Mr. Deller that I make these notes, but as it is injustice that we dislike, I must do Rollo justice; and I must again say that the good looks and happy faces of his turnip-hoers spoke much more in his praise than could have been spoken by fifty lawyers, like that Storks who was employed, the other day, to plead against the Editor of the Bucks Chronicle, for publishing an account of the selling-up of farmer Smith, of Ashendon, in that county. I came through the Duke’s Park to come to Easton, which is the next village below Avington. A very pretty park. The house is quite in the bottom; it can be seen in no direction from a distance greater than that of four or five hundred yards. The river Itchen, which rises near Alresford, which runs down through Winchester to Southampton, goes down the middle of this valley, and waters all its immense quantity of meadows. The Duke’s house stands not far from the river itself. A stream of water is brought from the river to feed a pond before the house. There are several avenues of trees which are very beautiful, and some of which give complete shelter to the kitchen garden, which has, besides, extraordinarily high walls. Never was a greater contrast than that presented by this place and the place of Lord Egremont. The latter is all loftiness. [Pg 178]Everything is high about it; it has extensive views in all directions. It sees and can be seen by all the country around. If I had the ousting of one of these noblemen, I certainly, however, would oust the Duke, who, I dare say, will by no means be desirous of seeing arise the occasion of putting the sincerity of the compliment to the test. The village of Easton is, like that of Avington, close by the waterside. The meadows are the attraction; and, indeed, it is the meadows that have caused the villages to exist.

 

Selborne (Hants),
Thursday, 7th August, Noon.

I took leave of Mr. Deller this morning, about 7 o’clock. Came back through Avington Park, through the village of Avington, and, crossing the Itchen river, came over to the village of Itchen Abas. Abas means below. It is a French word that came over with Duke Rollo’s progenitors. There needs no better proof of the high descent of the Duke, and of the antiquity of his family. This is that Itchen Abas where that famous Parson-Justice, the Reverend Robert Wright, lives, who refused to hear Mr. Deller’s complaint against the Duke’s servant at his own house, and who afterwards, along with Mr. Poulter, bound Mr. Deller over to the Quarter Sessions for the alleged assault. I have great pleasure in informing the public that Mr. Deller has not had to bear the expenses in this case himself; but that they have been borne by his neighbours, very much to the credit of those neighbours. I hear of an affair between the Duke of Buckingham and a Mr. Bird, who resides in this neighbourhood. If I had had time I should have gone to see Mr. Bird, of whose treatment I have heard a great deal, and an account of which treatment ought to be brought before the public. It is very natural for the Duke of Buckingham to wish to preserve that game which he calls his hobby-horse; it is very natural for him to delight in his hobby; but hobbies, my Lord Duke, ought to be gentle, inoffensive, perfectly harmless little creatures. They ought not to be suffered to kick and fling about them: they ought not to be rough-shod, and, above all things, they ought not to be great things like those which are ridden by the Life-guards: and, like them, be suffered to dance, and caper, and trample poor devils of farmers under foot. Have your hobbies, my Lords of the Soil, but let them be gentle; in short, let them be hobbies in character with the commons and forests, and not the high-fed hobbies from the barracks at Knightsbridge, such as put poor Mr. Sheriff Waithman’s life in jeopardy. That the game should be preserved, every one that knows anything of the[Pg 179] country will allow; but every man of any sense must see that it cannot be preserved by sheer force. It must be rather through love than through fear; rather through good-will than through ill-will. If the thing be properly managed, there will be plenty of game without any severity towards any good man. Mr. Deller’s case was so plain: it was so monstrous to think that a man was to be punished for being on his own ground in pursuit of wild animals that he himself had raised: this was so monstrous, that it was only necessary to name it to excite the indignation of the country. And Mr. Deller has, by his spirit and perseverance, by the coolness and the good sense which he has shown throughout the whole of this proceeding, merited the commendation of every man who is not in his heart an oppressor. It occurs to me to ask here, who it is that finally pays for those “counsels’ opinions” which Poulter and Wright said they took in the case of Mr. Deller; because, if these counsels’ opinions are paid for by the county, and if a Justice of the Peace can take as many counsels’ opinions as he chooses, I should like to know what fellow, who chooses to put on a bobtail wig and call himself a lawyer, may not have a good living given to him by any crony Justice at the expense of the county. This never can be legal. It never can be binding on the county to pay for these counsels’ opinions. However, leaving this to be enquired into another time, we have here, in Mr. Deller’s case, an instance of the worth of counsels’ opinions. Mr. Deller went to the two Justices, showed them the Register with the Act of Parliament in it, called upon them to act agreeably to that Act of Parliament; but they chose to take counsels’ opinion first. The two “counsel,” the two “lawyers,” the two “learned friends,” told them that they were right in rejecting the application of Mr. Deller and in binding him over for the assault; and, after all, this Grand Jury threw out the Bill, and in that throwing out showed that they thought the counsels’ opinions not worth a straw.

Being upon the subject of matter connected with the conduct of these Parson-Justices, I will here mention what is now going on in Hampshire respecting the accounts of the Treasurer of the County. At the last Quarter Sessions, or at a Meeting of the Magistrates previous to the opening of the Sessions, there was a discussion relative to this matter. The substance of which appears to have been this; that the Treasurer, Mr. George Hollis, whose accounts had been audited, approved of, and passed every year by the Magistrates, is in arrear to the county to the amount of about four thousand pounds. Sir Thomas Baring appears to have been the great stickler against Mr. Hollis, who was but feebly defended by his friends. The Treasurer[Pg 180] of a county is compelled to find securities. These securities have become exempted, in consequence of the annual passing of the accounts by the Magistrates! Nothing can be more just than this exemption. I am security, suppose, for a Treasurer. The Magistrates do not pass his accounts on account of a deficiency. I make good the deficiency. But the Magistrates are not to go on year after year passing his accounts, and then, at the end of several years, come and call upon me to make good the deficiencies. Thus say the securities of Mr. Hollis. The Magistrates, in fact, are to blame. One of the Magistrates, a Reverend Mr. Orde, said that the Magistrates were more to blame than the Treasurer; and really I think so too; for, though Mr. Hollis has been a tool for many many years, of Old George Rose and the rest of that crew, it seems impossible to believe that he could have intended anything dishonest, seeing that the detection arose out of an account published by himself in the newspaper, which account he need not have published until three months later than the time when he did publish it. This is, as he himself states, the best possible proof that he was unconscious of any error or any deficiency. The fact appears to be this; that Mr. Hollis, who has for many years been Under Sheriff as well as Treasurer of the County, who holds several other offices, and who has, besides, had large pecuniary transactions with his bankers, has for years had his accounts so blended that he has not known how this money belonging to the county stood. His own statement shows that it was all a mass of confusion. The errors, he says, have arisen entirely from the negligence of his clerks, and from causes which produced a confusion in his accounts. This is the fact; but he has been in good fat offices too long not to have made a great many persons think that his offices would be better in their hands; and they appear resolved to oust him. I, for my part, am glad of it; for I remember his coming up to me in the Grand Jury Chamber, just after the people at St. Stephen’s had passed Power-of-Imprisonment Bill in 1817; I remember his coming up to me as the Under Sheriff of Willis, the man that we now call Flemming, who has begun to build a house at North Stoneham; I remember his coming up to me, and with all the base sauciness of a thorough-paced Pittite, telling me to disperse or he would take me into custody! I remember this of Mr. Hollis, and I am therefore glad that calamity has befallen him; but I must say that after reading his own account of the matter; after reading the debate of the Magistrates; and after hearing the observations and opinions of well-informed and impartial persons in Hampshire who dislike Mr. Hollis as much as I do; I must say that I think him perfectly clear of all intention to[Pg 181] commit anything like fraud, or to make anything worthy of the name of false account; and I am convinced that this affair, which will now prove extremely calamitous to him, might have been laughed at by him at the time when wheat was fifteen shillings a bushel. This change in the affairs of the Government; this penury now experienced by the Pittites at Whitehall, reaches, in its influence, to every part of the country. The Barings are now the great men in Hampshire. They were not such in the days of George Rose while George was able to make the people believe that it was necessary to give their money freely to preserve the “blessed comforts of religion.” George Rose would have thrown his shield over Mr. Hollis; his broad and brazen shield. In Hampshire the Bishop, too, is changed. The present is doubtless as pious as the last, every bit; and has the same Bishop-like views; but it is not the same family; it is not the Garniers and Poulters and Norths and De Grays and Haygarths; it is not precisely the same set who have the power in their hands. Things, therefore, take another turn. The Pittite jolter-heads are all broken-backed; and the Barings come forward with their well-known weight of metal. It was exceedingly unfortunate for Mr. Hollis that Sir Thomas Baring happened to be against him. However, the thing will do good altogether. The county is placed in a pretty situation: its Treasurer has had his accounts regularly passed by the Magistrates; and these Magistrates come at last and discover that they have for a long time been passing accounts that they ought not to pass. These Magistrates have exempted the securities of Mr. Hollis, but not a word do they say about making good the deficiencies. What redress, then, have the people of the county? They have no redress, unless they can obtain it by petitioning the Parliament; and if they do not petition, if they do not state their case, and that boldly too, they deserve everything that can befall them from similar causes. I am astonished at the boldness of the Magistrates. I am astonished that they should think of calling Mr. Hollis to account without being prepared for rendering an account of their own conduct. However, we shall see what they will do in the end. And when we have seen that, we shall see whether the county will rest quietly under the loss which it is likely to sustain.

I must now go back to Itchen Abas, where, in the farm-yard of a farmer, Courtenay, I saw another wheat-rick. From Itchen Abas I came up the valley to Itchen Stoke. Soon after that I crossed the Itchen river, came out into the Alresford turnpike road, and came on towards Alresford, having the valley now upon my left. If the hay be down all the way to[Pg 182] Southampton in the same manner that it is along here, there are thousands of acres of hay rotting on the sides of this Itchen river. Most of the meadows are watered artificially. The crops of grass are heavy, and they appear to have been cut precisely in the right time to be spoiled. Coming on towards Alresford, I saw a gentleman (about a quarter of a mile beyond Alresford) coming out of his gate with his hat off, looking towards the south-west, as if to see what sort of weather it was likely to be. This was no other than Mr. Rolleston or Rawlinson, who, it appears, has a box and some land here. This gentleman was, when I lived in Hampshire, one of those worthy men, who, in the several counties of England, executed “without any sort of remuneration” such a large portion of that justice which is the envy of surrounding nations and admiration of the world. We are often told, especially in Parliament, of the disinterestedness of these persons; of their worthiness, their piety, their loyalty, their excellent qualities of all sorts, but particularly of their disinterestedness, in taking upon them the office of Justice of the Peace; spending so much time, taking so much trouble, and all for nothing at all, but for the pure love of their King and country. And the worst of it is, that our Ministers impose upon this disinterestedness and generosity; and, as in the case of Mr. Rawlinson, at the end of, perhaps, a dozen years of services voluntarily rendered to “King and country,” they force him, sorely against his will, no doubt, to become a Police Magistrate in London! To be sure there are five or six hundred pounds a-year of public money attached to this; but what are these paltry pounds to a “country gentleman,” who so disinterestedly rendered us services for so many years? Hampshire is fertile in persons of this disinterested stamp. There is a ’Squire Greme, who lives across the country, not many miles from the spot where I saw “Mr. Justice” Rawlinson. This ’Squire also has served the country for nothing during a great many years; and of late years, the ’Squire Junior, eager, apparently to emulate his sire, has become a distributor of stamps for this famous county of Hants! What sons ’Squire Rawlinson may have is more than I know at present, though I will endeavour to know it, and to find out whether they also be serving us. A great deal has been said about the debt of gratitude due from the people to the Justices of the Peace. An account, containing the names and places of abode of the Justices, and of the public money, or titles, received by them and by their relations; such an account would be a very useful thing. We should then know the real amount of this debt of gratitude. We shall see such an account by-and-by; and we should have seen it long ago if there[Pg 183] had been, in a certain place, only one single man disposed to do his duty.

I came through Alresford about eight o’clock, having loitered a good deal in coming up the valley. After quitting Alresford you come (on the road towards Alton) to the village of Bishop’s Sutton; and then to a place called Ropley Dean, where there is a house or two. Just before you come to Ropley Dean, you see the beginning of the Valley of Itchen. The Itchen river falls into the salt water at Southampton. It rises, or rather has its first rise, just by the road side at Ropley Dean, which is at the foot of that very high land which lies between Alresford and Alton. All along by the Itchen river, up to its very source, there are meadows; and this vale of meadows, which is about twenty-five miles in length, and is in some places a mile wide, is, at the point of which I am now speaking, only about twice as wide as my horse is long! This vale of Itchen is worthy of particular attention. There are few spots in England more fertile or more pleasant; and none, I believe, more healthy. Following the bed of the river, or, rather, the middle of the vale, it is about five-and-twenty miles in length, from Ropley Dean to the village of South Stoneham, which is just above Southampton. The average width of the meadows is, I should think, a hundred rods at the least; and if I am right in this conjecture, the vale contains about five thousand acres of meadows, large part of which is regularly watered. The sides of the vale are, until you come down to within about six or eight miles of Southampton, hills or rising grounds of chalk, covered more or less thickly with loam. Where the hills rise up very steeply from the valley the fertility of the corn-lands is not so great; but for a considerable part of the way the corn-lands are excellent, and the farmhouses, to which those lands belong, are, for the far greater part, under covert of the hills on the edge of the valley. Soon after the rising of the stream, it forms itself into some capital ponds at Alresford. These, doubtless, were augmented by art, in order to supply Winchester with fish. The fertility of this vale, and of the surrounding country, is best proved by the fact that, besides the town of Alresford and that of Southampton, there are seventeen villages, each having its parish church, upon its borders. When we consider these things we are not surprised that a spot situated about half way down this vale should have been chosen for the building of a city, or that that city should have been for a great number of years a place of residence for the Kings of England.

Winchester, which is at present a mere nothing to what it once was, stands across the vale at a place where the vale[Pg 184] is made very narrow by the jutting forward of two immense hills. From the point where the river passes through the city, you go, whether eastward or westward, a full mile up a very steep hill all the way. The city is, of course, in one of the deepest holes that can be imagined. It never could have been thought of as a place to be defended since the discovery of gunpowder; and, indeed, one would think that very considerable annoyance might be given to the inhabitants even by the flinging of the flint-stones from the hills down into the city.

At Ropley Dean, before I mounted the hill to come on towards Rotherham Park, I baited my horse. Here the ground is precisely like that at Ashmansworth on the borders of Berkshire, which, indeed, I could see from the ground of which I am now speaking. In coming up the hill, I had the house and farm of Mr. Duthy to my right. Seeing some very fine Swedish turnips, I naturally expected that they belonged to this gentleman, who is Secretary to the Agricultural Society of Hampshire; but I found that they belonged to a farmer Mayhew. The soil is, along upon this high land, a deep loam, bordering on a clay, red in colour, and pretty full of large, rough, yellow-looking stones, very much like some of the land in Huntingdonshire; but here is a bed of chalk under this. Everything is backward here. The wheat is perfectly green in most places; but it is everywhere pretty good. I have observed, all the way along, that the wheat is good upon the stiff, strong land. It is so here; but it is very backward. The greater part of it is full three weeks behind the wheat under Portsdown Hill. But few farmhouses come within my sight along here; but in one of them there was a wheat-rick, which is the third I have seen since I quitted the Wen. In descending from this high ground, in order to reach the village of East Tisted, which lies on the turnpike road from the Wen to Gosport through Alton, I had to cross Rotherham Park. On the right of the park, on a bank of land facing the north-east, I saw a very pretty farmhouse, having everything in excellent order, with fine corn-fields about it, and with a wheat-rick standing in the yard. This farm, as I afterwards found, belongs to the owner of Rotherham Park, who is also the owner of East Tisted, who has recently built a new house in the park, who has quite metamorphosed the village of Tisted within these eight years, who has, indeed, really and truly improved the whole country just round about here, whose name is Scot, well known as a brickmaker at North End, Fulham, and who has, in Hampshire, supplanted a Norman of the name of Powlet. The process by which this transfer has taken place is visible enough, to all eyes but the[Pg 185] eyes of the jolterheads. Had there been no Debt created to crush liberty in France and to keep down reformers in England, Mr. Scot would not have had bricks to burn to build houses for the Jews and jobbers and other eaters of taxes; and the Norman Powlet would not have had to pay in taxes, through his own hands and those of his tenants and labourers, the amount of the estate at Tisted, first to be given to the Jews, jobbers, and tax-eaters, and then by them to be given to “’Squire Scot” for his bricks. However, it is not ’Squire Scot who has assisted to pass laws to make people pay double toll on a Sunday. ’Squire Scot had nothing to do with passing the New Game-laws and Old Ellenborough’s Act; ’Squire Scot never invented the New Trespass law, in virtue of which John Cockbain of Whitehaven in the county of Cumberland was, by two clergymen and three other magistrates of that county, sentenced to pay one half-penny for damages and seven shillings costs, for going upon a field, the property of William, Earl of Lonsdale. In the passing of this Act, which was one of the first passed in the present reign, ’Squire Scot, the brickmaker, had nothing to do. Go on, good ’Squire, thrust out some more of the Normans: with the fruits of the augmentations which you make to the Wen, go, and take from them their mansions, parks, and villages!

At Tisted I crossed the turnpike road before mentioned, and entered a lane which, at the end of about four miles, brought me to this village of Selborne. My readers will recollect that I mentioned this Selborne when I was giving an account of Hawkley Hanger, last fall. I was desirous of seeing this village, about which I have read in the book of Mr. White, and which a reader has been so good as to send me. From Tisted I came generally up hill till I got within half a mile of this village, when, all of a sudden, I came to the edge of a hill, looked down over all the larger vale of which the little vale of this village makes a part. Here Hindhead and Black-down Hill came full in my view. When I was crossing the forest in Sussex, going from Worth to Horsham, these two great hills lay to my west and north-west. To-day I am got just on the opposite side of them, and see them, of course, towards the east and the south-east, while Leith Hill lies away towards the north-east. This hill, from which you descend down into Selborne, is very lofty; but, indeed, we are here amongst some of the highest hills in the island, and amongst the sources of rivers. The hill over which I have come this morning sends the Itchen river forth from one side of it, and the river Wey, which rises near Alton, from the opposite side of it. Hindhead which lies before me, sends, as I observed upon a former occasion, the Arun forth towards the south and a stream forth towards[Pg 186] the north, which meets the river Wey, somewhere above Godalming. I am told that the springs of these two streams rise in the Hill of Hindhead, or, rather, on one side of the hill, at not many yards from each other. The village of Selborne is precisely what it is described by Mr. White. A straggling irregular street, bearing all the marks of great antiquity, and showing, from its lanes and its vicinage generally, that it was once a very considerable place. I went to look at the spot where Mr. White supposes the convent formerly stood. It is very beautiful. Nothing can surpass in beauty these dells and hillocks and hangers, which last are so steep that it is impossible to ascend them, except by means of a serpentine path. I found here deep hollow ways, with beds and sides of solid white stone; but not quite so white and so solid, I think, as the stone which I found in the roads at Hawkley. The churchyard of Selborne is most beautifully situated. The land is good, all about it. The trees are luxuriant and prone to be lofty and large. I measured the yew-tree in the churchyard, and found the trunk to be, according to my measurement, twenty-three feet, eight inches, in circumference. The trunk is very short, as is generally the case with yew-trees; but the head spreads to a very great extent, and the whole tree, though probably several centuries old, appears to be in perfect health. Here are several hop-plantations in and about this village; but for this once the prayers of the over-production men will be granted, and the devil of any hops there will be. The bines are scarcely got up the poles; the bines and the leaves are black, nearly, as soot; full as black as a sooty bag or dingy coal-sack, and covered with lice. It is a pity that these hop-planters could not have a parcel of Spaniards and Portuguese to louse their hops for them. Pretty devils to have liberty, when a favourite recreation of the Donna is to crack the lice in the head of the Don! I really shrug up my shoulders thinking of the beasts. Very different from such is my landlady here at Selborne, who, while I am writing my notes, is getting me a rasher of bacon, and has already covered the table with a nice clean cloth. I have never seen such quantities of grapes upon any vines as I see upon the vines in this village, badly pruned as all the vines have been. To be sure, this is a year for grapes, such, I believe, as has been seldom known in England, and the cause is the perfect ripening of the wood by the last beautiful summer. I am afraid, however, that the grapes come in vain; for this summer has been so cold, and is now so wet, that we can hardly expect grapes which are not under glass to ripen. As I was coming into this village, I observed to a farmer who was standing at his gateway, that people ought to be happy here, for that[Pg 187] God had done everything for them. His answer was, that he did not believe there was a more unhappy place in England: for that there were always quarrels of some sort or other going on. This made me call to mind the King’s proclamation, relative to a reward for discovering the person who had recently shot at the parson of this village. This parson’s name is Cobbold, and it really appears that there was a shot fired through his window. He has had law-suits with the people; and I imagine that it was these to which the farmer alluded. The hops are of considerable importance to the village, and their failure must necessarily be attended with consequences very inconvenient to the whole of a population so small as this. Upon inquiry, I find that the hops are equally bad at Alton, Froyle, Crondall, and even at Farnham. I saw them bad in Sussex; I hear that they are bad in Kent; so that hop-planters, at any rate, will be, for once, free from the dreadful evils of abundance. A correspondent asks me what is meant by the statements which he sees in the Register, relative to the hop-duty? He sees it, he says, continually falling in amount; and he wonders what this means. The thing has not, indeed, been properly explained. It is a gamble; and it is hardly right for me to state, in a publication like the Register, anything relative to a gamble. However, the case is this: a taxing system is necessarily a system of gambling; a system of betting; stock-jobbing is no more than a system of betting, and the wretched dogs that carry on the traffic are little more, except that they are more criminal, than the waiters at an E O Table, or the markers at billiards. The hop duty is so much per pound. The duty was imposed at two separate times. One part of it, therefore, is called the Old Duty, and the other part the New Duty. The old duty was a penny to the pound of hops. The amount of this duty, which can always be ascertained at the Treasury as soon as the hopping season is over, is the surest possible guide in ascertaining the total amount of the growth of hops for the year. If, for instance, the duty were to amount to no more than eight shillings and fourpence, you would be certain that only a hundred pounds of hops had been grown during the year. Hence a system of gambling precisely like the gambling in the funds. I bet you that the duty will not exceed so much. The duty has sometimes exceeded two hundred thousand pounds. This year it is supposed that it will not exceed twenty, thirty, or forty thousand. The gambling fellows are betting all this time; and it is, in fact, an account of the betting which is inserted in the Register.

This vile paper-money and funding-system; this system of Dutch descent, begotten by Bishop Burnet, and born in[Pg 188] hell; this system has turned everything into a gamble. There are hundreds of men who live by being the agents to carry on gambling. They reside here in the Wen; many of the gamblers live in the country; they write up to their gambling agent, whom they call their stockbroker; he gambles according to their order; and they receive the profit or stand to the loss. Is it possible to conceive a viler calling than that of an agent for the carrying on of gambling? And yet the vagabonds call themselves gentlemen; or, at least, look upon themselves as the superiors of those who sweep the kennels. In like manner is the hop-gamble carried on. The gambling agents in the Wen make the bets for the gamblers in the country; and, perhaps, millions are betted during the year, upon the amount of a duty, which, at the most, scarcely exceeds a quarter of a million. In such a state of things how are you to expect young men to enter on a course of patient industry? How are you to expect that they will seek to acquire fortune and fame by study or by application of any kind?

Looking back over the road that I have come to-day, and perceiving the direction of the road going from this village in another direction, I perceive that this is a very direct road from Winchester to Farnham. The road, too, appears to have been, from ancient times, sufficiently wide; and when the Bishop of Winchester selected this beautiful spot whereon to erect a monastery, I dare say the roads along here were some of the best in the country.

 

Thursley (Surrey),
Thursday, 7th August.

I got a boy at Selborne to show me along the lanes out into Woolmer forest on my way to Headley. The lanes were very deep; the wet malme just about the colour of rye-meal mixed up with water, and just about as clammy, came in many places very nearly up to my horse’s belly. There was this comfort, however, that I was sure that there was a bottom, which is by no means the case when you are among clays or quick-sands. After going through these lanes, and along between some fir-plantations, I came out upon Woolmer Forest, and, to my great satisfaction, soon found myself on the side of those identical plantations which have been made under the orders of the smooth Mr. Huskisson, and which I noticed last year in my ride from Hambledon to this place. These plantations are of fir, or, at least, I could see nothing else, and they never can be of any more use to the nation than the sprigs of heath which cover the rest of the forest. Is there nobody to inquire what becomes of the income of the Crown lands? No, and there never will[Pg 189] be, until the whole system be changed. I have seldom ridden on pleasanter ground than that which I found between Woolmer Forest and this beautiful village of Thursley. The day has been fine, too; notwithstanding I saw the Judges’ terrific wigs as I came up upon the turnpike road from the village of Itchen. I had but one little scud during the day: just enough for St. Swithin to swear by; but when I was upon the hills I saw some showers going about the country. From Selborne, I had first to come to Headley, about five miles. I came to the identical public-house where I took my blind guide last year, who took me such a dance to the southward, and led me up to the top of Hindhead at last. I had no business there. My route was through a sort of hamlet called Churt, which lies along on the side and towards the foot of the north of Hindhead, on which side, also, lies the village of Thursley. A line is hardly more straight than is the road from Headley to Thursley; and a prettier ride I never had in the course of my life. It was not the less interesting from the circumstance of its giving me all the way a full view of Crooksbury Hill, the grand scene of my exploits when I was a taker of the nests of crows and magpies.

At Churt I had, upon my left, three hills out upon the common, called the Devil’s Jumps. The Unitarians will not believe in the Trinity, because they cannot account for it. Will they come here to Churt, go and look at these “Devil’s Jumps,” and account to me for the placing of these three hills, in the shape of three rather squat sugar-loaves, along in a line upon this heath, or the placing of a rock-stone upon the top of one of them as big as a church tower? For my part, I cannot account for this placing of these hills. That they should have been formed by mere chance is hardly to be believed. How could waters rolling about have formed such hills? How could such hills have bubbled up from beneath? But, in short, it is all wonderful alike: the stripes of loam running down through the chalk-hills; the circular parcels of loam in the midst of chalk-hills; the lines of flint running parallel with each other horizontally along the chalk-hills; the flints placed in circles as true as a hair in the chalk-hills; the layers of stone at the bottom of hills of loam; the chalk first soft, then some miles further on, becoming chalk-stone; then, after another distance, becoming burr-stone, as they call it; and at last becoming hard, white stone, fit for any buildings; the sand-stone at Hindhead becoming harder and harder till it becomes very nearly iron in Herefordshire, and quite iron in Wales; but, indeed, they once dug iron out of this very Hindhead. The clouds, coming and settling upon the hills, sinking down and[Pg 190] creeping along, at last coming out again in springs, and those becoming rivers. Why, it is all equally wonderful, and as to not believing in this or that, because the thing cannot be proved by logical deduction, why is any man to believe in the existence of a God any more than he is to believe in the doctrine of the Trinity? For my part, I think the “Devil’s jumps,” as the people here call them, full as wonderful and no more wonderful than hundreds and hundreds of other wonderful things. It is a strange taste which our ancestors had, to ascribe no inconsiderable part of these wonders of nature to the Devil. Not far from the Devil’s jumps is that singular place which resembles a sugar-loaf inverted, hollowed out, and an outside rim only left. This is called the “Devil’s Punch Bowl;” and it is very well known in Wiltshire, that the forming, or, perhaps, it is the breaking up, of Stonehenge is ascribed to the Devil, and that the mark of one of his feet is now said to be seen in one of the stones.

I got to Thursley about sunset, and without experiencing any inconvenience from the wet. I have mentioned the state of the corn as far as Selborne. On this side of that village I find it much forwarder than I found it between Selborne and Ropley Dean. I am here got into some of the very best barley-land in the kingdom; a fine, buttery, stoneless loam, upon a bottom of sand or sand-stone. Finer barley and turnip-land it is impossible to see. All the corn is good here. The wheat not a heavy crop; but not a light one; and the barley all the way along from Headley to this place as fine, if not finer, than I ever saw it in my life. Indeed I have not seen a bad field of barley since I left the Wen. The corn is not so forward here as under Portsdown Hill; but some farmers intend to begin reaping wheat in a few days. It is monstrous to suppose that the price of corn will not come down. It must come down, good weather or bad weather. If the weather be bad, it will be so much the worse for the farmer, as well as for the nation at large, and can be of no benefit to any human being but the Quakers, who must now be pretty busy, measuring the crops all over the kingdom. It will be recollected that in the Report of the Agricultural Committee of 1821, it appeared, from the evidence of one Hodgson, a partner of Cropper, Benson, and Co. Quakers, of Liverpool, that these Quakers sent a set of corn-gaugers into the several counties, just before every harvest; that these fellows stopped here and there, went into the fields, measured off square yards of wheat, clipped off the ears, and carried them off. These they afterwards packed up and sent off to Cropper and Co. at Liverpool. When the whole of the packets were got together, they were rubbed out, measured,[Pg 191] weighed, and an estimate made of the amount of the coming crop. This, according to the confession of Hodgson himself, enabled these Quakers to speculate in corn, with the greater chance of gain. This has been done by these men for many years. Their disregard of worldly things; their desire to lay up treasures in heaven; their implicit yielding to the Spirit; these have induced them to send their corn-gaugers over the country regularly year after year; and I will engage that they are at it at this moment. The farmers will bear in mind that the New Trespass-law, though clearly not intended for any such purpose, enables them to go and seize by the throat any of these gaugers that they may catch in their fields. They could not do this formerly; to cut off standing corn was merely a trespass, for which satisfaction was to be attained by action at law. But now you can seize the caitiff who is come as a spy amongst your corn. Before, he could be off and leave you to find out his name as you could; but now you can lay hold of him, as Mr. Deller did of the Duke’s man, and bring him before a Magistrate at once. I do hope that the farmers will look sharp out for these fellows, who are neither more nor less than so many spies. They hold a great deal of corn; they want blight, mildew, rain, hurricanes; but happy I am to see that they will get no blight, at any rate. The grain is formed; everywhere everybody tells me that there is no blight in any sort of corn, except in the beans.

I have not gone through much of a bean country. The beans that I have seen are some of them pretty good, more of them but middling, and still more of them very indifferent.

I am very happy to hear that that beautiful little bird, the American partridge, has been introduced with success to this neighbourhood, by Mr. Leech at Lea. I am told that they have been heard whistling this summer; that they have been frequently seen, and that there is no doubt that they have broods of young ones. I tried several times to import some of these birds; but I always lost them, by some means or other, before the time arrived for turning them out. They are a beautiful little partridge, and extremely interesting in all their manner. Some persons call them quail. If any one will take a quail and compare it with one of these birds, he will see that they cannot be of the same sort. In my “Year’s Residence in America,” I have, I think, clearly proved that these birds are partridges, and not quails. In the United States, north of New Jersey, they are called quail: south and south-west of New Jersey they are called partridges. They have been called quail solely on account of their size; for they have none of the manners of quail belonging to them. Quails assemble in flocks like larks,[Pg 192] starlings, or rooks. Partridges keep in distinct coveys; that is to say, the brood lives distinct from all other broods until the ensuing spring, when it forms itself into pairs and separates. Nothing can be a distinction more clear than this. Our own partridges stick to the same spot from the time that they are hatched to the time that they pair off, and these American partridges do the same. Quails, like larks, get together in flocks at the approach of winter, and move about according to the season, to a greater or less distance from the place where they were bred. These, therefore, which have been brought to Thursley, are partridges; and if they be suffered to live quietly for a season or two, they will stock the whole of that part of the country, where the delightful intermixture of corn-fields, coppices, heaths, furze-fields, ponds, and rivulets is singularly favourable to their increase.

The turnips cannot fail to be good in such a season and in such land; yet the farmers are most dreadfully tormented with the weeds, and with the superabundant turnips. Here, my Lord Liverpool, is over production indeed! They have sown their fields broad-cast; they have no means of destroying the weeds by the plough; they have no intervals to bury them in; and they hoe, or scratch, as Mr. Tull calls it; and then comes St. Swithin and sets the weeds and the hoed-up turnips again. Then there is another hoeing or scratching; and then comes St. Swithin again: so that there is hoe, hoe, muddle, muddle, and such a fretting and stewing; such a looking up to Hindhead to see when it is going to be fine; when, if that beautiful field of twenty acres, which I have now before my eyes, and wherein I see half a dozen men hoeing and poking and muddling, looking up to see how long it is before they must take to their heels to get under the trees to obtain shelter from the coming shower; when, I say, if that beautiful field had been sowed upon ridges at four feet apart, according to the plan in my Year’s Residence, not a weed would have been to be seen in the field, the turnip-plants would have been three times the size that they now are, the expense would have not been a fourth part of that which has already taken place, and all the muddling and poking about of weeds, and all the fretting and all the stewing would have been spared; and as to the amount of the crop, I am now looking at the best land in England for Swedish turnips, and I have no scruple to assert that if it had been sown after my manner, it would have had a crop double the weight of that which it now will have. I think I know of a field of turnips, sown much later than the field now before me, and sown in rows at nearly four feet apart, which have a crop double the weight of that which will be produced in yon beautiful field.

[Pg 193]

 

Reigate (Surrey),
Friday, 8th August.

At the end of a long, twisting-about ride, but a most delightful ride, I got to this place about nine o’clock in the evening. From Thursley I came to Brook, and there crossed the turnpike-road from London to Chichester through Godalming and Midhurst. Thence I came on, turning upon the left upon the sand-hills of Hambledon (in Surrey, mind). On one of these hills is one of those precious jobs, called “Semaphores.” For what reason this pretty name is given to a sort of Telegraph house, stuck up at public expense upon a high hill; for what reason this outlandish name is given to the thing, I must leave the reader to guess; but as to the thing itself; I know that it means this: a pretence for giving a good sum of the public money away every year to some one that the Borough-system has condemned this labouring and toiling nation to provide for. The Dead Weight of nearly about six millions sterling a year; that is to say, this curse entailed upon the country on account of the late wars against the liberties of the French people, this Dead Weight is, however, falling, in part, at least, upon the landed jolterheads who were so eager to create it, and who thought that no part of it would fall upon themselves. Theirs has been a grand mistake. They saw the war carried on without any loss or any cost to themselves. By the means of paper-money and loans, the labouring classes were made to pay the whole of the expenses of the war. When the war was over, the jolterheads thought they would get gold back again to make all secure; and some of them really said, I am told, that it was high time to put an end to the gains of the paper-money people. The jolterheads quite overlooked the circumstance that, in returning to gold, they doubled and trebled what they had to pay on account of the debt, and that, at last, they were bringing the burden upon themselves. Grand, also, was the mistake of the jolterheads when they approved of the squanderings upon the Dead Weight. They thought that the labouring classes were going to pay the whole of the expenses of the Knights of Waterloo, and of the other heroes of the war. The jolterheads thought that they should have none of this to pay. Some of them had relations belonging to the Dead Weight, and all of them were willing to make the labouring classes toil like asses for the support of those who had what was called “fought and bled” for Gatton and Old Sarum. The jolterheads have now found, however, that a pretty good share of the expense is to fall upon themselves. Their mortagees are letting them know that Semaphores and such pretty things cost[Pg 194] something, and that it is unreasonable for a loyal country gentleman, a friend of “social order” and of the “blessed comforts of religion” to expect to have Semaphores and to keep his estate too.

This Dead Weight is, unquestionably, a thing, such as the world never saw before. Here are not only a tribe of pensioned naval and military officers, commissaries, quartermasters, pursers, and God knows what besides; not only these, but their wives and children are to be pensioned, after the death of the heroes themselves. Nor does it signify, it seems, whether the hero were married before he became part of the Dead Weight or since. Upon the death of the man, the pension is to begin with the wife, and a pension for each child; so that, if there be a large family of children, the family, in many cases, actually gains by the death of the father! Was such a thing as this ever before heard of in the world? Any man that is going to die has nothing to do but to marry a girl to give her a pension for life to be paid out of the sweat of the people; and it was distinctly stated, during the Session of Parliament before the last, that the widows and children of insane officers were to have the same treatment as the rest! Here is the envy of surrounding nations and the admiration of the world! In addition, then, to twenty thousand parsons, more than twenty thousand stock-brokers and stock-jobbers perhaps; forty or fifty thousand tax-gatherers; thousands upon thousands of military and naval officers in full pay; in addition to all these, here are the thousands upon thousands of pairs of this Dead Weight, all busily engaged in breeding gentlemen and ladies; and all while Malthus is wanting to put a check upon the breeding of the labouring classes; all receiving a premium for breeding! Where is Malthus? Where is this check-population parson? Where are his friends, the Edinburgh Reviewers? Faith, I believe they have given him up. They begin to be ashamed of giving countenance to a man who wants to check the breeding of those who labour, while he says not a word about those two hundred thousand breeding pairs, whose offspring are necessarily to be maintained at the public charge. Well may these fatteners upon the labour of others rail against the Radicals! Let them once take the fan to their hand, and they will, I warrant it, thoroughly purge the floor. However, it is a consolation to know, that the jolterheads who have been the promoters of the measures that have led to these heavy charges; it is a consolation to know that the jolterheads have now to bear part of the charges, and that they cannot any longer make them fall exclusively upon the shoulders of the labouring classes. The disgust that one feels at seeing the whiskers, and hearing[Pg 195] the copper heels rattle, is in some measure compensated for by the reflection, that the expense of them is now beginning to fall upon the malignant and tyrannical jolterheads who are the principal cause of their being created.

Bidding the Semaphore good-bye, I came along by the church at Hambledon, and then crossed a little common and the turnpike-road from London to Chichester through Godalming and Petworth; not Midhurst, as before. The turnpike-road here is one of the best that I ever saw. It is like the road upon Horley Common, near Worth, and like that between Godstone and East Grinstead; and the cause of this is, that it is made of precisely the same sort of stone, which, they tell me, is brought, in some cases, even from Blackdown Hill, which cannot be less, I should think, than twelve miles distant. This stone is brought, in great lumps, and then cracked into little pieces. The next village I came to after Hambledon was Hascomb, famous for its beech, insomuch that it is called Hascomb Beech.

There are two lofty hills here, between which you go out of the sandy country down into the Weald. Here are hills of all heights and forms. Whether they came in consequence of a boiling of the earth, I know not; but, in form, they very much resemble the bubbles upon the top of the water of a pot which is violently boiling. The soil is a beautiful loam upon a bed of sand. Springs start here and there at the feet of the hills; and little rivulets pour away in all directions. The roads are difficult merely on account of their extreme unevenness; the bottom is everywhere sound, and everything that meets the eye is beautiful; trees, coppices, corn-fields, meadows; and then the distant views in every direction. From one spot I saw this morning Hindhead, Blackdown Hill, Lord Egremont’s house and park at Petworth, Donnington Hill, over which I went to go on the South Downs, the South Downs near Lewes; the forest at Worth, Turner’s Hill, and then all the way round into Kent and back to the Surrey Hills at Godstone. From Hascomb I began to descend into the low country. I had Leith Hill before me; but my plan was, not to go over it or any part of it, but to go along below it in the real Weald of Surrey. A little way back from Hascomb, I had seen a field of carrots; and now I was descending into a country where, strictly speaking, only three things will grow well,—grass, wheat, and oak trees. At Goose Green I crossed a turnpike-road leading from Guildford to Horsham and Arundel. I next came, after crossing a canal, to a common called Smithwood Common. Leith Hill was full in front of me, but I turned away to the right, and went through the lanes to come to Ewhurst, leaving Crawley to my right. Before I got to Ewhurst, I crossed another turnpike-road, leading[Pg 196] from Guildford to Horsham, and going on to Worthing or some of those towns.

At Ewhurst, which is a very pretty village, and the Church of which is most delightfully situated, I treated my horse to some oats, and myself to a rasher of bacon. I had now to come, according to my project, round among the lanes at about a couple of miles distance from the foot of Leith Hill, in order to get first to Ockley, then to Holmwood, and then to Reigate. From Ewhurst the first three miles was the deepest clay that I ever saw, to the best of my recollection. I was warned of the difficulty of getting along; but I was not to be frightened at the sound of clay. Wagons, too, had been dragged along the lanes by some means or another; and where a wagon-horse could go, my horse could go. It took me, however, a good hour and a half to get along these three miles. Now, mind, this is the real weald, where the clay is bottomless; where there is no stone of any sort underneath, as at Worth and all along from Crawley to Billingshurst through Horsham. This clayey land is fed with water soaking from the sand-hills; and in this particular place from the immense hill of Leith. All along here the oak-woods are beautiful. I saw scores of acres by the road-side, where the young oaks stood as regularly as if they had been planted. The orchards are not bad along here, and, perhaps, they are a good deal indebted to the shelter they receive. The wheat very good, all through the weald, but backward.

At Ockley I passed the house of a Mr. Steer, who has a great quantity of hay-land, which is very pretty. Here I came along the turnpike-road that leads from Dorking to Horsham. When I got within about two or three miles of Dorking, I turned off to the right, came across the Holmwood into the lanes leading down to Gadbrook Common, which has of late years been enclosed. It is all clay here; but in the whole of my ride I have not seen much finer fields of wheat than I saw here. Out of these lanes I turned up to “Betchworth” (I believe it is), and from Betchworth came along a chalk-hill to my left and the sand-hills to my right, till I got to this place.

 

Wen,
Sunday, 10th August.

I stayed at Reigate yesterday, and came to the Wen to-day, every step of the way in a rain; as good a soaking as any devotee of St. Swithin ever underwent for his sake. I promised that I would give an account of the effect which the soaking on the South Downs, on Saturday the 2nd instant, had upon the hooping-cough. I do not recommend the remedy to others; but this I will say, that I had a spell of the hooping-cough, the[Pg 197] day before I got that soaking, and that I have not had a single spell since; though I have slept in several different beds, and got a second soaking in going from Botley to Easton. The truth is, I believe, that rain upon the South Downs, or at any place near the sea, is by no means the same thing with rain in the interior. No man ever catches cold from getting wet with sea-water; and, indeed, I have never known an instance of a man catching cold at sea. The air upon the South Downs is saltish, I dare say; and the clouds may bring something a little partaking of the nature of sea-water.

At Thursley I left the turnip-hoers poking and pulling and muddling about the weeds, and wholly incapable, after all, of putting the turnips in anything like the state in which they ought to be. The weeds that had been hoed up twice were growing again, and it was the same with the turnips that had been hoed up. In leaving Reigate this morning, it was with great pleasure that I saw a field of Swedish turnips, drilled upon ridges at about four feet distance, the whole field as clean as the cleanest of garden ground. The turnips standing at equal distances in the row, and having the appearance of being, in every respect, in a prosperous state. I should not be afraid to bet that these turnips, thus standing in rows at nearly four feet distance, will be a crop twice as large as any in the parish of Thursley, though there is, I imagine, some of the finest turnip-land in the kingdom. It seems strange that men are not to be convinced of the advantage of the row-culture for turnips. They will insist upon believing that there is some ground lost. They will also insist upon believing that the row-culture is the most expensive. How can there be ground lost if the crop be larger? And as to the expense, take one year with another, the broad-cast method must be twice as expensive as the other. Wet as it has been to-day, I took time to look well about me as I came along. The wheat, even in this ragamuffin part of the country, is good, with the exception of one piece, which lies on your left hand as you come down from Banstead Down. It is very good at Banstead itself, though that is a country sufficiently poor. Just on the other side of Sutton there is a little good land, and in a place or two I thought I saw the wheat a little blighted. A labouring man told me that it was where the heaps of dung had been laid. The barley here is most beautiful, as, indeed, it is all over the country.

Between Sutton and the Wen there is, in fact, little besides houses, gardens, grass plats and other matters to accommodate the Jews and jobbers, and the mistresses and bastards that are put out a-keeping. But, in a dell, which the turnpike-road crosses about a mile on this side of Sutton, there are two fields of as stiff[Pg 198] land, I think, as I ever saw in my life. In summer time this land bakes so hard that they cannot plough it unless it be wet. When you have ploughed it, and the sun comes again, it bakes again. One of these fields had been thus ploughed and cross-ploughed in the month of June, and I saw the ground when it was lying in lumps of the size of portmanteaus, and not very small ones either. It would have been impossible to reduce this ground to small particles, except by the means of sledge hammers. The two fields, to which I alluded just now, are alongside of this ploughed field, and they are now in wheat. The heavy rain of to-day, aided by the south-west wind, made the wheat bend pretty nearly to lying down; but you shall rarely see two finer fields of wheat. It is red wheat; a coarsish kind, and the straw stout and strong; but the ears are long, broad and full; and I did not perceive anything approaching towards a speck in the straw. Such land as this, such very stiff land, seldom carries a very large crop; but I should think that these fields would exceed four quarters to an acre; and the wheat is by no means so backward as it is in some places. There is no corn, that I recollect, from the spot just spoken of, to almost the street of Kensington. I came up by Earl’s Court, where there is, amongst the market gardens, a field of wheat. One would suppose that this must be the finest wheat in the world. By no means. It rained hard, to be sure, and I had not much time for being particular in my survey; but this field appears to me to have some blight in it; and as to crop, whether of corn or of straw, it is nothing to compare to the general run of the wheat in the wealds of Sussex or of Surrey; what, then, is it, if compared with the wheat on the South Downs, under Portsdown Hill, on the sea-flats at Havant and at Tichfield, and along on the banks of the Itchen!

Thus I have concluded this “rural ride,” from the Wen and back again to the Wen, being, taking in all the turnings and windings, as near as can be, two hundred miles in length. My objects were to ascertain the state of the crops, both of hops and of corn. The hop-affair is soon settled, for there will be no hops. As to the corn, my remark is this: that on all the clays, on all the stiff lands upon the chalk; on all the rich lands, indeed, but more especially on all the stiff lands, the wheat is as good as I recollect ever to have seen it, and has as much straw. On all the light lands and poor lands the wheat is thin, and, though not short, by no means good. The oats are pretty good almost everywhere; and I have not seen a bad field of barley during the whole of my ride; though there is no species of soil in England, except that of the fens, over which I have not passed. The state of the farmers is much worse than it was last year, notwithstanding the ridiculous falsehoods of the London [Pg 199]newspapers, and the more ridiculous delusion of the jolterheads. In numerous instances the farmers, who continue in their farms, have ceased to farm for themselves, and merely hold the land for the landlords. The delusion caused by the rise of the price of corn has pretty nearly vanished already; and if St. Swithin would but get out of the way with his drippings for about a month, this delusion would disappear, never to return. In the meanwhile, however, the London newspapers are doing what they can to keep up the delusion; and in a paper called Bell’s Weekly Messenger, edited, I am told, by a place-hunting lawyer; in that stupid paper of this day I find the following passage:—“So late as January last, the average price of wheat was 39s. per quarter, and on the 29th ult. it was above 62s. As it has been rising ever since, it may now be quoted as little under 65s. So that in this article alone there is a rise of more than thirty-five per cent. Under these circumstances, it is not likely that we shall hear anything of agricultural distress. A writer of considerable talents, but no prophet, had frightened the kingdom by a confident prediction that wheat, after the 1st of May, would sink to 4s. per bushel, and that under the effects of Mr. Peel’s Bill, and the payments in cash by the Bank of England, it would never again exceed that price! Nay, so assured was Mr. Cobbett of the mathematical certainty of his deductions on the subject, that he did not hesitate to make use of the following language: ‘And farther, if what I say do not come to pass, I will give any one leave to broil me on a gridiron, and for that purpose I will get one of the best gridirons I can possibly get made, and it shall be hung out as near to my premises as possible, in the Strand, so that it shall be seen by everybody as they pass along.’ The 1st of May has now passed, Mr. Peel’s Bill has not been repealed, and the Bank of England has paid its notes in cash, and yet wheat has risen nearly 40 per cent.”

Here is a tissue of falsehoods! But only think of a country being “frightened” by the prospect of a low price of provisions! When such an idea can possibly find its way even into the shallow brain of a cracked-skull lawyer; when such an idea can possibly be put into print at any rate, there must be something totally wrong in the state of the country. Here is this lawyer telling his readers that I had frightened the kingdom by saying that wheat would be sold at four shillings a bushel. Again I say that there must be something wrong, something greatly out of place, some great disease at work in the community, or such an idea as this could never have found its way into print. Into the head of a cracked-skull lawyer it might, perhaps, have entered at any time; but for it to find its way into print there must be[Pg 200] something in the state of society wholly out of joint. As to the rest of this article, it is a tissue of downright lies. The writer says that the price of wheat is sixty-five shillings a quarter. The fact is that, on the second instant, the price was fifty-nine shillings and seven-pence: and it is now about two shillings less than that. Then again, this writer must know that I never said that wheat would not rise above four shillings a bushel; but that, on the contrary, I always expressly said that the price would be affected by the seasons, and that I thought that the price would vibrate between three shillings a bushel and seven shillings a bushel. Then again, Peel’s Bill has, in part, been repealed; if it had not, there could have been no small note in circulation at this day. So that this lawyer is “All Lie.” In obedience to the wishes of a lady, I have been reading about the plans of Mr. Owen; and though I do not as yet see my way clear as to how we can arrange matters with regard to the young girls and the young fellows, I am quite clear that his institution would be most excellent for the disposal of the lawyers. One of his squares would be at a great distance from all other habitations; in the midst of Lord Erskine’s estate for instance, mentioned by me in a former ride; and nothing could be so fitting, his Lordship long having been called the father of the Bar; in the midst of this estate, with no town or village within miles of them, we might have one of Mr. Owen’s squares, and set the bob-tailed brotherhood most effectually at work. Pray can any one pretend to say that a spade or shovel would not become the hands of this blunder-headed editor of Bell’s Messenger better than a pen? However, these miserable falsehoods can cause the delusion to exist but for a very short space of time.

The quantity of the harvest will be great. If the quality be bad, owing to wet weather, the price will be still lower than it would have been in case of dry weather. The price, therefore, must come down; and if the newspapers were conducted by men who had any sense of honour or shame, those men must be covered with confusion.

 

 


RIDE THROUGH THE NORTH-EAST PART OF SUSSEX, AND ALL ACROSS KENT, FROM THE WEALD OF SUSSEX, TO DOVER.

 

Worth (Sussex),
Friday, 29 August 1823.

I have so often described the soil and other matters appertaining to the country between the Wen and this place that my[Pg 201] readers will rejoice at being spared the repetition here. As to the harvest, however, I find that they were deluged here on Tuesday last, though we got but little, comparatively, at Kensington. Between Mitcham and Sutton they were making wheat-ricks. The corn has not been injured here worth notice. Now and then an ear in the butts grown; and grown wheat is a sad thing! You may almost as well be without wheat altogether. However, very little harm has been done here as yet.

At Walton Heath I saw a man who had suffered most terribly from the game-laws. He saw me going by, and came out to tell me his story; and a horrible story it is, as the public will find, when it shall come regularly and fully before them. Apropos of game-works: I asked who was the Judge at the Somersetshire Assizes the other day. A correspondent tells me that it was Judge Burrough. I am well aware that, as this correspondent observes, “gamekeepers ought not to be shot at.” This is not the point. It is not a gamekeeper in the usual sense of that word; it is a man seizing another without a warrant. That is what it is; and this, and Old Ellenborough’s Act, are new things in England, and things of which the laws of England, “the birthright of Englishmen,” knew nothing. Yet farmer Voke ought not to have shot at the gamekeeper, or seizer, without warrant: he ought not to have shot at him; and he would not had it not been for the law that put him in danger of being transported on the evidence of this man. So that it is clearly the terrible law that, in these cases, produces the violence. Yet, admire with me, reader, the singular turn of the mind of Sir James Mackintosh, whose whole soul appears to have been long bent on the “amelioration of the Penal Code,” and who has never said one single word about this new and most terrible part of it! Sir James, after years of incessant toil, has, I believe, succeeded in getting a repeal of the laws for the punishment of “witchcraft,” of the very existence of which laws the nation was unacquainted. But the devil a word has he said about the game-laws, which put into the gaols a full third part of the prisoners, and to hold which prisoners the gaols have actually been enlarged in all parts of the country! Singular turn of mind! Singular “humanity!” Ah! Sir James knows very well what he is at. He understands the state of his constituents at Knaresborough too well to meddle with game-laws. He has a “friend,” I dare say, who knows more about game-laws than he does. However, the poor witches are safe: thank Sir James for that. Mr. Carlile’s sister and Mrs. Wright are in gaol, and may be there for life! But the poor witches are safe. No hypocrite: no base pretender to religion; no atrocious, savage, black-hearted wretch, who would murder half mankind rather than not[Pg 202] live on the labours of others; no monster of this kind can now persecute the poor witches, thanks to Sir James who has obtained security for them in all their rides through the air, and in all their sailings upon the horseponds!

 

Tonbridge Wells (Kent),
Saturday, 30 August.

I came from Worth about seven this morning, passed through East Grinstead, over Holthigh Common, through Ashurst, and thence to this place. The morning was very fine, and I left them at Worth, making a wheat-rick. There was no show for rain till about one o’clock, as I was approaching Ashurst. The shattering that came at first I thought nothing of; but the clouds soon grew up all round, and the rain set in for the afternoon. The buildings at Ashurst (which is the first parish in Kent on quitting Sussex) are a mill, an alehouse, a church, and about six or seven other houses. I stopped at the alehouse to bait my horse; and, for want of bacon, was compelled to put up with bread and cheese for myself. I waited in vain for the rain to cease or to slacken, and the want of bacon made me fear as to a bed. So, about five o’clock, I, without great coat, got upon my horse, and came to this place, just as fast and no faster than if it had been fine weather. A very fine soaking! If the South Downs have left any little remnant of the hooping-cough, this will take it away to be sure. I made not the least haste to get out of the rain, I stopped, here and there, as usual, and asked questions about the corn, the hops, and other things. But the moment I got in I got a good fire, and set about the work of drying in good earnest. It costing me nothing for drink, I can afford to have plenty of fire. I have not been in the house an hour; and all my clothes are now as dry as if they had never been wet. It is not getting wet that hurts you, if you keep moving while you are wet. It is the suffering of yourself to be inactive while the wet clothes are on your back.

The country that I have come over to-day is a very pretty one. The soil is a pale yellow loam, looking like brick earth, but rather sandy; but the bottom is a softish stone. Now-and-then, where you go through hollow ways (as at East Grinstead) the sides are solid rock. And, indeed, the rocks sometimes (on the sides of hills) show themselves above ground, and, mixed amongst the woods, make very interesting objects. On the road from the Wen to Brighton, through Godstone and over Turner’s Hill, and which road I crossed this morning in coming from Worth to East Grinstead; on that road, which goes through Lindfield, and which is by far the pleasantest coach-road from the Wen to Brighton; on the side of this road, on which coaches now go from the Wen to Brighton, there is a long chain of rocks, or, rather,[Pg 203] rocky hills, with trees growing amongst the rocks, or apparently out of them, as they do in the woods near Ross in Herefordshire, and as they do in the Blue Mountains in America, where you can see no earth at all; where all seems rock, and yet where the trees grow most beautifully. At the place of which I am now speaking, that is to say, by the side of this pleasant road to Brighton, and between Turner’s Hill and Lindfield, there is a rock, which they call “Big-upon-Little;” that is to say, a rock upon another, having nothing else to rest upon, and the top one being longer and wider than the top of the one it lies on. This big rock is no trifling concern, being as big, perhaps, as a not very small house. How, then, came this big upon little? What lifted up the big? It balances itself naturally enough; but what tossed it up? I do not like to pay a parson for teaching me, while I have “God’s own word” to teach me; but, if any parson will tell me how big came upon little, I do not know that I shall grudge him a trifle. And if he cannot tell me this: if he say, All that we have to do is to admire and adore; then I tell him that I can admire and adore without his aid, and that I will keep my money in my pocket.

To return to the soil of this country, it is such a loam as I have described with this stone beneath; sometimes the top soil is lighter and sometimes heavier; sometimes the stone is harder and sometimes softer; but this is the general character of it all the way from Worth to Tonbridge Wells. This land is what may be called the middle kind. The wheat crop about 20 to 24 bushels to an acre, on an average of years. The grass fields not bad, and all the fields will grow grass; I mean make upland meadows. The woods good, though not of the finest. The land seems to be about thus divided: 3-tenths woods, 2-tenths grass, a tenth of a tenth hops, and the rest corn-land. These make very pretty surface, especially as it is a rarity to see a pollard tree, and as nobody is so beastly as to trim trees up like the elms near the Wen. The country has no flat spot in it; yet the hills are not high. My road was a gentle rise or a gentle descent all the way. Continual new views strike the eye; but there is little variety in them: all is pretty, but nothing strikingly beautiful. The labouring people look pretty well. They have pigs. They invariably do best in the woodland and forest and wild countries. Where the mighty grasper has all under his eye, they can get but little. These are cross-roads, mere parish roads; but they are very good. While I was at the alehouse at Ashurst, I heard some labouring men talking about the roads; and they having observed that the parish roads had become so wonderfully better within the last seven or eight years, I put in my word, and said: “It is odd enough, too, that the parish[Pg 204] roads should become better and better as the farmers become poorer and poorer!” They looked at one another, and put on a sort of expecting look; for my observation seemed to ask for information. At last one of them said, “Why, it is because the farmers have not the money to employ men, and so they are put on the roads.” “Yes,” said I, “but they must pay them there.” They said no more, and only looked hard at one another. They had, probably, never thought about this before. They seemed puzzled by it, and well they might, for it has bothered the wigs of boroughmongers, parsons and lawyers, and will bother them yet. Yes, this country now contains a body of occupiers of the land, who suffer the land to go to decay for want of means to pay a sufficiency of labourers; and, at the same time, are compelled to pay those labourers for doing that which is of no use to the occupiers! There, Collective Wisdom! Go: brag of that! Call that “the envy of surrounding nations and the admiration of the world.”

This is a great nut year. I saw them hanging very thick on the way-side during a great part of this day’s ride; and they put me in mind of the old saying, “That a great nut year is a great year for that class whom the lawyers, in their Latin phrase, call the ‘sons and daughters of nobody.’” I once asked a farmer, who had often been overseer of the poor, whether he really thought that there was any ground for this old saying, or whether he thought it was mere banter? He said that he was sure that there were good grounds for it; and he even cited instances in proof, and mentioned one particular year, when there were four times as many of this class as ever had been born in a year in the parish before; an effect which he ascribed solely to the crop of nuts of the year before. Now, if this be the case, ought not Parson Malthus, Lawyer Scarlett, and the rest of that tribe, to turn their attention to the nut-trees? The Vice Society, too, with that holy man Wilberforce at its head, ought to look out sharp after these mischievous nut-trees. A law to cause them all to be grubbed up, and thrown into the fire, would, certainly, be far less unreasonable than many things which we have seen and heard of.

The corn, from Worth to this place, is pretty good. The farmers say it is a small crop; other people, and especially the labourers, say that it is a good crop. I think it is not large and not small; about an average crop; perhaps rather less, for the land is rather light, and this is not a year for light lands. But there is no blight, no mildew, in spite of all the prayers of the “loyal.” The wheat about a third cut, and none carried. No other corn begun upon. Hops very bad till I came within a few miles of this place, when I saw some which I should suppose would bear about six hundredweight to the acre. The orchards no great things along here. Some apples[Pg 205] here and there; but small and stunted. I do not know that I have seen to-day any one tree well loaded with fine apples.

 

Tenterden (Kent),
Sunday, 31 August.

Here I am after a most delightful ride of twenty-four miles, through Frant, Lamberhurst, Goudhurst, Milkhouse Street, Benenden, and Rolvenden. By making a great stir in rousing waiters and “boots” and maids, and by leaving behind me the name of “a d—d noisy, troublesome fellow,” I got clear of “the Wells,” and out of the contagion of its Wen-engendered inhabitants, time enough to meet the first rays of the sun, on the hill that you come up in order to get to Frant, which is a most beautiful little village at about two miles from “the Wells.” Here the land belongs, I suppose, to Lord Abergavenny, who has a mansion and park here. A very pretty place, and kept, seemingly, in very nice order. I saw here what I never saw before: the bloom of the common heath we wholly overlook; but it is a very pretty thing; and here, when the plantations were made, and as they grew up, heath was left to grow on the sides of the roads in the plantations. The heath is not so much of a dwarf as we suppose. This is four feet high; and, being in full bloom, it makes the prettiest border that can be imagined. This place of Lord Abergavenny is, altogether, a very pretty place; and, so far from grudging him the possession of it, I should feel pleasure at seeing it in his possession, and should pray God to preserve it to him, and from the unholy and ruthless touch of the Jews and jobbers; but I cannot forget this Lord’s sinecure! I cannot forget that he has, for doing nothing, received of the public money more than sufficient to buy such an estate as this. I cannot forget that this estate may, perhaps, have actually been bought with that money. Not being able to forget this, and with my mind filled with reflections of this sort, I got up to the church at Frant, and just by I saw a School-house with this motto on it: “Train up a child as he should walk,” &c. That is to say, try to breed up the Boys and Girls of this village in such a way that they may never know anything about Lord Abergavenny’s sinecure; or, knowing about it, that they may think it right that he should roll in wealth coming to him in such a way. The projectors deceive nobody but themselves! They are working for the destruction of their own system. In looking back over “the Wells” I cannot but admire the operation of the gambling system. This little toad-stool is a thing created entirely by the gamble; and the means have, hitherto, come out of the wages of labour. These means are now coming out of the[Pg 206] farmer’s capital and out of the landlord’s estate; the labourers are stripped; they can give no more: the saddle is now fixing itself upon the right back.

In quitting Frant I descended into a country more woody than that behind me. I asked a man whose fine woods those were that I pointed to, and I fairly gave a start when he said the Marquis Camden’s. Milton talks of the Leviathan in a way to make one draw in one’s shoulders with fear; and I appeal to any one, who has been at sea when a whale has come near the ship, whether he has not, at the first sight of the monster, made a sort of involuntary movement, as if to get out of the way. Such was the movement that I now made. However, soon coming to myself, on I walked my horse by the side of my pedestrian informant. It is Bayham Abbey that this great and awful sinecure placeman owns in this part of the county. Another great estate he owns near Sevenoaks. But here alone he spreads his length and breadth over more, they say, than ten or twelve thousand acres of land, great part of which consists of oak-woods. But, indeed, what estates might he not purchase? Not much less than thirty years he held a place, a sinecure place, that yielded him about thirty thousand pounds a-year! At any rate, he, according to Parliamentary accounts, has received, of public money, little short of a million of guineas. These, at 30 guineas an acre, would buy thirty thousand acres of land. And what did he have all this money for? Answer me that question, Wilberforce, you who called him a “bright star,” when he gave up a part of his enormous sinecure. He gave up all but the trifling sum of nearly three thousand pounds a-year! What a bright star! And when did he give it up? When the Radical had made the country ring with it. When his name was, by their means, getting into every mouth in the kingdom; when every Radical speech and petition contained the name of Camden. Then it was, and not till then, that this “bright star” let fall part of its “brilliancy.” So that Wilberforce ought to have thanked the Radicals, and not Camden. When he let go his grasp, he talked of the merits of his father. His father was a lawyer, who was exceedingly well paid for what he did without a million of money being given to his son. But there is something rather out of common-place to be observed about this father. This father was the contemporary of Yorke, who became Lord Hardwicke. Pratt and Yorke, and the merit of Pratt was that he was constantly opposed to the principles of Yorke. Yorke was called a Tory and Pratt a Whig; but the devil of it was, both got to be Lords; and, in one shape or another, the families of both have, from that day to this, been receiving great parcels of the public money! Beautiful system![Pg 207] The Tories were for rewarding Yorke; the Whigs were for rewarding Pratt. The Ministers (all in good time!) humoured both parties; and the stupid people, divided into tools of two factions, actually applauded, now one part of them, and now the other part of them, the squandering away of their substance. They were like the man and his wife in the fable, who, to spite one another, gave away to the cunning mumper the whole of their dinner bit by bit. This species of folly is over at any rate. The people are no longer fools enough to be partisans. They make no distinctions. The nonsense about “court party” and “country party” is at an end. Who thinks anything more of the name of Erskine than of that of Scott? As the people told the two factions at Maidstone when they, with Camden at their head, met to congratulate the Regent on the marriage of his daughter, “they are all tarred with the same brush;” and tarred with the same brush they must be, until there be a real reform of the Parliament. However, the people are no longer deceived. They are not duped. They know that the thing is that which it is. The people of the present day would laugh at disputes (carried on with so much gravity!) about the principles of Pratt and the principles of Yorke. “You are all tarred with the same brush,” said the sensible people of Maidstone; and, in those words, they expressed the opinion of the whole country, borough-mongers and tax-eaters excepted.

The country from Frant to Lamberhurst is very woody. I should think five-tenths woods and three grass. The corn, what there is of it, is about the same as farther back. I saw a hop-garden just before I got to Lamberhurst, which will have about two or three hundredweight to the acre. This Lamberhurst is a very pretty place. It lies in a valley with beautiful hills round it. The pastures about here are very fine; and the roads are as smooth and as handsome as those in Windsor Park.

From the last-mentioned place I had three miles to come to Goudhurst, the tower of the church of which is pretty lofty of itself, and the church stands upon the very summit of one of the steepest and highest hills in this part of the country. The church-yard has a view of about twenty-five miles in diameter; and the whole is over a very fine country, though the character of the country differs little from that which I have before described.

Before I got to Goudhurst, I passed by the side of a village called Horsenden, and saw some very large hop-grounds away to my right. I should suppose there were fifty acres; and they appeared to me to look pretty well. I found that they belonged to a Mr. Springate, and people say that it will grow half as many hops as he grew last year, while people in general will not grow a tenth part so many. This hop growing and dealing have[Pg 208] always been a gamble; and this puts me in mind of the horrible treatment which Mr. Waddington received on account of what was called his forestalling in hops! It is useless to talk: as long as that gentleman remains uncompensated for his sufferings there can be no hope of better days. Ellenborough was his counsel; he afterwards became Judge; but nothing was ever done to undo what Kenyon had done. However, Mr. Waddington will, I trust, yet live to obtain justice. He has, in the meanwhile, given the thing now-and-then a blow; and he has the satisfaction to see it reel about like a drunken man.

I got to Goudhurst to breakfast, and as I heard that the Dean of Rochester was to preach a sermon in behalf of the National Schools, I stopped to hear him. In waiting for his Reverence I went to the Methodist Meeting-house, where I found the Sunday School boys and girls assembled, to the almost filling of the place, which was about thirty feet long and eighteen wide. The “Minister” was not come, and the Schoolmaster was reading to the children out of a tract-book, and shaking the brimstone bag at them most furiously. This schoolmaster was a sleek-looking young fellow: his skin perfectly tight: well fed, I’ll warrant him: and he has discovered the way of living, without work, on the labour of those that do work. There were 36 little fellows in smock-frocks, and about as many girls listening to him; and I dare say he eats as much meat as any ten of them. By this time the Dean, I thought, would be coming on; and, therefore, to the church I went; but to my great disappointment I found that the parson was operating preparatory to the appearance of the Dean, who was to come on in the afternoon, when I, agreeably to my plan, must be off. The sermon was from 2 Chronicles, ch. 31. v. 21., and the words of this text described King Hezekiah as a most zealous man, doing whatever he did with all his heart. I write from memory, mind, and, therefore, I do not pretend to quote exact words; and I may be a little in error, perhaps, as to chapter or verse. The object of the preacher was to hold up to his hearers the example of Hezekiah, and particularly in the case of the school affair. He called upon them to subscribe with all their hearts; but, alas! how little of persuasive power was there in what he said! No effort to make them see the use of the schools. No inducement proved to exist. No argument, in short, nor anything to move. No appeal either to the reason, or to the feeling. All was general, common-place, cold observation; and that, too, in language which the far greater part of the hearers could not understand. This church is about 110 feet long and 70 feet wide in the clear. It would hold three thousand people, and it had in it 214, besides 53 Sunday School or National School boys; and these sat together,[Pg 209] in a sort of lodge, up in a corner, 16 feet long and 10 feet wide. Now, will any Parson Malthus, or anybody else, have the impudence to tell me that this church was built for the use of a population not more numerous than the present? To be sure, when this church was built, there could be no idea of a Methodist meeting coming to assist the church, and as little, I dare say, was it expected that the preachers in the church would ever call upon the faithful to subscribe money to be sent up to one Joshua Watson (living in a Wen) to be by him laid out in “promoting Christian knowledge;” but, at any rate, the Methodists cannot take away above four or five hundred; and what, then, was this great church built for, if there were no more people, in those days, at Goudhurst, than there are now? It is very true that the labouring people have, in a great measure, ceased to go to church. There were scarcely any of that class at this great country church to-day. I do not believe there were ten. I can remember when they were so numerous that the parson could not attempt to begin till the rattling of their nailed shoes ceased. I have seen, I am sure, five hundred boys and men in smock-frocks coming out of church at one time. To-day has been a fine day: there would have been many at church to-day, if ever there are; and here I have another to add to the many things that convince me that the labouring classes have, in great part, ceased to go to church; that their way of thinking and feeling with regard to both church and clergy are totally changed; and that there is now very little moral hold which the latter possess. This preaching for money to support the schools is a most curious affair altogether. The King sends a circular letter to the bishops (as I understand it) to cause subscriptions for the schools; and the bishops (if I am rightly told) tell the parish clergy to send the money, when collected, to Joshua Watson, the Treasurer of a Society in the Wen, “for promoting Christian Knowledge!” What! the church and all its clergy put into motion to get money from the people to send up to one Joshua Watson, a wine-merchant, or, late a wine-merchant, in Mincing Lane, Fenchurch Street, London, in order that the said wine-merchant may apply the money to the “promoting of Christian Knowledge!” What! all the deacons, priests, curates perpetual, vicars, rectors, prebends, doctors, deans, archdeacons and fathers in God, right reverend and most reverend; all! yea all, engaged in getting money together to send to a wine-merchant that he may lay it out in the promoting of Christian knowledge in their own flocks! Oh, brave wine-merchant! What a prince of godliness must this wine-merchant be! I say wine-merchant, or late wine-merchant, of Mincing Lane, Fenchurch Street, London. And, for God’s sake, some good parson, do send me up a copy of the King’s circular, and[Pg 210] also of the bishop’s order to send the money to Joshua Watson; for some precious sport we will have with Joshua and his “Society” before we have done with them!

After “service” I mounted my horse and jogged on through Milkhouse Street to Benenden, where I passed through the estate, and in sight of the house of Mr. Hodges. He keeps it very neat and has planted a good deal. His ash do very well; but the chestnut do not, as it seems to me. He ought to have the American chestnut, if he have any. If I could discover an everlasting hop-pole, and one, too, that would grow faster even than the ash, would not these Kentish hop-planters put me in the Kalendar along with their famous Saint Thomas of Canterbury? We shall see this one of these days.

Coming through the village of Benenden, I heard a man at my right talking very loud about houses! houses! houses! It was a Methodist parson, in a house close by the roadside. I pulled up, and stood still, in the middle of the road, but looking, in silent soberness, into the window (which was open) of the room in which the preacher was at work. I believe my stopping rather disconcerted him; for he got into shocking repetition. “Do you know,” said he, laying great stress on the word know: “do you know, that you have ready for you houses, houses I say; I say do you know; do you know that you have houses in the heavens not made with hands? Do you know this from experience? Has the blessed Jesus told you so?” And on he went to say that, if Jesus had told them so, they would be saved, and that if He had not, and did not, they would be damned. Some girls whom I saw in the room, plump and rosy as could be, did not seem at all daunted by these menaces; and, indeed, they appeared to me to be thinking much more about getting houses for themselves in this world first; just to see a little before they entered, or endeavoured to enter, or even thought much about, those “houses” of which the parson was speaking: houses with pig-styes and little snug gardens attached to them, together with all the other domestic and conjugal circumstances, these girls seemed to me to be preparing themselves for. The truth is, these fellows have no power on the minds of any but the miserable.

Scarcely had I proceeded a hundred yards from the place where this fellow was bawling, when I came to the very situation which he ought to have occupied, I mean the stocks, which the people of Benenden have, with singular humanity, fitted up with a bench, so that the patient, while he is receiving the benefit of the remedy, is not exposed to the danger of catching cold by sitting, as in other places, upon the ground, always damp, and sometimes actually wet. But I would ask the people of Benenden what is the use of this humane precaution, and, indeed, what is[Pg 211] the use of the stocks themselves, if, while a fellow is ranting and bawling in the manner just described, at the distance of a hundred yards from the stocks, the stocks (as is here actually the case) are almost hidden by grass and nettles? This, however, is the case all over the country; not nettles and grass indeed smothering the stocks, but I never see any feet peeping through the holes anywhere, though I find Methodist parsons everywhere, and though the law compels the parishes to keep up all the pairs of stocks that exist in all parts of them; and, in some parishes, they have to keep up several pairs. I am aware that a good part of the use of the stocks is the terror they ought to produce. I am not supposing that they are of no use because not continually furnished with legs. But there is a wide difference between always and never; and it is clear that a fellow who has had the stocks under his eye all his lifetime, and has never seen a pair of feet peeping through them, will stand no more in awe of the stocks than rooks do of an old shoyhoy, or than the Ministers or their agents do of Hobhouse and Burdett. Stocks that never pinch a pair of ankles are like Ministerial responsibility; a thing to talk about, but for no other use; a mere mockery; a thing laughed at by those whom it is intended to keep in check. It is time that the stocks were again in use, or that the expense of keeping them up were put an end to.

This mild, this gentle, this good-humoured sort of correction is not enough for our present rulers. But mark the consequence; gaols ten times as big as formerly; houses of correction; tread-mills; the hulks; and the country filled with spies of one sort and another, game-spies, or other spies, and if a hare or pheasant come to an untimely death, police-officers from the Wen are not unfrequently called down to find out and secure the bloody offender! Mark this, Englishmen! Mark how we take to those things which we formerly ridiculed in the French; and take them up too just as that brave and spirited people have shaken them off! I saw, not long ago, an account of a Wen police-officer being sent into the country, where he assumed a disguise, joined some poachers (as they are called), got into their secrets, went out in the night with them, and then (having laid his plans with the game-people) assisted to take them and convict them. What! is this England! Is this the land of “manly hearts?” Is this the country that laughed at the French for their submissions? What! are police-officers kept for this? Does the law say so? However, thank God Almighty, the estates are passing away into the hands of those who have had borrowed from them the money to uphold this monster of a system. The Debt! The blessed Debt, will, at last, restore to us freedom.

Just after I quitted Benenden, I saw some bunches of straw[Pg 212] lying upon the quickset hedge of a cottage garden. I found upon inquiry, that they were bunches of the straw of grass. Seeing a face through the window of the cottage, I called out and asked what that straw was for. The person within said, it was to make Leghorn-plat with. I asked him (it was a young man) how he knew how to do it. He said he had got a little book that had been made by Mr. Cobbett. I told him that I was the man, and should like to see some of his work; and asked him to bring it out to me, I being afraid to tie my horse. He told me that he was a cripple, and that he could not come out. At last I went in, leaving my horse to be held by a little girl. I found a young man, who has been a cripple for fourteen years. Some ladies in the neighbourhood had got him the book, and his family had got him the grass. He had made some very nice plat, and he had knitted the greater part of the crown of a bonnet, and had done the whole very nicely, though, as to the knitting, he had proceeded in a way to make it very tedious. He was knitting upon a block. However, these little matters will soon be set to rights. There will soon be persons to teach knitting in all parts of the country. I left this unfortunate young man with the pleasing reflection that I had, in all likelihood, been the cause of his gaining a good living, by his labour, during the rest of his life. How long will it be before my calumniators, the false and infamous London press, will, take the whole of it together, and leave out its evil, do as much good as my pen has done in this one instance! How long will it be ere the ruffians, the base hirelings, the infamous traders who own and who conduct that press; how long ere one of them, or all of them together, shall cause a cottage to smile; shall add one ounce to the meal of the labouring man!

Rolvenden was my next village, and thence I could see the lofty church of Tenterden on the top of a hill at three miles distance. This Rolvenden is a very beautiful village; and, indeed, such are all the places along here. These villages are not like those in the iron counties, as I call them; that is, the counties of flint and chalk. Here the houses have gardens in front of them as well as behind; and there is a good deal of show and finery about them and their gardens. The high roads are without a stone in them; and everything looks like gentility. At this place I saw several arbutuses in one garden, and much finer than we see them in general; though, mind, this is no proof of a mild climate; for the arbutus is a native of one much colder than that of England, and indeed than that of Scotland.

Coming from Benenden to Rolvenden I saw some Swedish turnips, and, strange as the reader will think it, the first I saw after leaving Worth! The reason I take to be this: the farms[Pg 213] are all furnished with grass-fields as in Devonshire about Honiton. These grass-fields give hay for the sheep and cattle in winter, or, at any rate, they do all that is not done by the white turnips. It may be a question whether it would be more profitable to break up and sow Swedes; but this is the reason of their not being cultivated along here. White turnips are more easily got than Swedes; they may be sown later; and, with good hay, they will fat cattle and sheep; but the Swedes will do this business without hay. In Norfolk and Suffolk the land is not generally of a nature to make hay-fields. Therefore the people there resort to Swedes. This has been a sad time for these hay-farmers, however, all along here. They have but just finished haymaking; and I see, all along my way, from East Grinstead to this place, hay-ricks the colour of dirt and smoking like dung-heaps.

Just before I got to this place (Tenterden), I crossed a bit of marsh land, which I found, upon inquiry, is a sort of little branch or spray running out of that immense and famous tract of country called Romney Marsh, which, I find, I have to cross to-morrow, in order to get to Dover, along by the sea-side, through Hythe and Folkestone.

This Tenterden is a market town, and a singularly bright spot. It consists of one street, which is, in some places, more, perhaps, than two hundred feet wide. On one side of the street the houses have gardens before them, from 20 to 70 feet deep. The town is upon a hill; the afternoon was very fine, and, just as I rose the hill and entered the street, the people had come out of church and were moving along towards their houses. It was a very fine sight. Shabbily-dressed people do not go to church. I saw, in short, drawn out before me, the dress and beauty of the town; and a great many very, very pretty girls I saw; and saw them, too, in their best attire. I remember the girls in the Pays de Caux, and, really, I think those of Tenterden resemble them. I do not know why they should not; for there is the Pays de Caux only just over the water, just opposite this very place.

The hops about here are not so very bad. They say that one man, near this town, will have eight tons of hops upon ten acres of land! This is a great crop any year: a very great crop. This man may, perhaps, sell his hops for 1,600 pounds! What a gambling concern it is! However, such hop-growing always was and always must be. It is a thing of perfect hazard.

The church at this place is a very large and fine old building. The tower stands upon a base thirty feet square. Like the church at Goudhurst, it will hold three thousand people. And let it be observed that, when these churches were built, people had not yet thought of cramming them with pews, as a stable is filled with[Pg 214] stalls. Those who built these churches had no idea that worshipping God meant going to sit to hear a man talk out what he called preaching. By worship they meant very different things; and, above all things, when they had made a fine and noble building, they did not dream of disfiguring the inside of it by filling its floor with large and deep boxes made of deal boards. In short, the floor was the place for the worshippers to stand or to kneel; and there was no distinction; no high place and no low place; all were upon a level before God at any rate. Some were not stuck into pews lined with green or red cloth, while others were crammed into corners to stand erect or sit on the floor. These odious distinctions are of Protestant origin and growth. This lazy lolling in pews we owe to what is called the Reformation. A place filled with benches and boxes looks like an eating or a drinking place; but certainly not like a place of worship. A Frenchman, who had been driven from St. Domingo to Philadelphia by the Wilberforces of France, went to church along with me one Sunday. He had never been in a Protestant place of worship before. Upon looking round him, and seeing everybody comfortably seated, while a couple of good stoves were keeping the place as warm as a slack oven, he exclaimed: “Pardi! On sert Dieu bien à son aise ici?” That is: “Egad! they serve God very much at their ease here!” I always think of this, when I see a church full of pews; as, indeed, is now always the case with our churches. Those who built these churches had no idea of this: they made their calculations as to the people to be contained in them, not making any allowance for deal boards. I often wonder how it is that the present parsons are not ashamed to call the churches theirs! They must know the origin of them; and how they can look at them, and at the same time revile the Catholics, is astonishing to me.

This evening I have been to the Methodist Meeting-house. I was attracted, fairly drawn all down the street, by the singing. When I came to the place the parson was got into prayer. His hands were clenched together and held up, his face turned up and back so as to be nearly parallel with the ceiling, and he was bawling away, with his “do thou,” and “mayest thou,” and “may we,” enough to stun one. Noisy, however, as he was, he was unable to fix the attention of a parcel of girls in the gallery, whose eyes were all over the place, while his eyes were so devoutly shut up. After a deal of this rigmarole called prayer, came the preachy, as the negroes call it; and a preachy it really was. Such a mixture of whining cant and of foppish affectation I scarcely ever heard in my life. The text was (I speak from memory) one of Saint Peter’s epistles (if he have more than one) the 4th Chapter and 18th Verse. The words were to this amount:[Pg 215] that, as the righteous would be saved with difficulty, what must become of the ungodly and the sinner! After as neat a dish of nonsense and of impertinences as one could wish to have served up, came the distinction between the ungodly and the sinner. The sinner was one who did moral wrong; the ungodly, one who did no moral wrong, but who was not regenerated. Both, he positively told us, were to be damned. One was just as bad as the other. Moral rectitude was to do nothing in saving the man. He was to be damned unless born again, and how was he to be born again unless he came to the regeneration-shop and gave the fellows money? He distinctly told us that a man perfectly moral might be damned; and that “the vilest of the vile and the basest of the base” (I quote his very words) “would be saved if they became regenerate; and that colliers, whose souls had been as black as their coals, had by regeneration become bright as the saints that sing before God and the Lamb.” And will the Edinburgh Reviewers again find fault with me for cutting at this bawling, canting crew? Monstrous it is to think that the Clergy of the Church really encourage these roving fanatics. The Church seems aware of its loss of credit and of power. It seems willing to lean even upon these men; who, be it observed, seem, on their part, to have taken the Church under their protection. They always pray for the Ministry; I mean the ministry at Whitehall. They are most “loyal” souls. The THING protects them; and they lend their aid in upholding the THING. What silly; nay, what base creatures those must be who really give their money, give their pennies, which ought to buy bread for their own children; who thus give their money to these lazy and impudent fellows, who call themselves ministers of God, who prowl about the country living easy and jovial lives upon the fruit of the labour of other people. However, it is, in some measure, these people’s fault. If they did not give, the others could not receive. I wish to see every labouring man well fed and well clad; but, really, the man who gives any portion of his earnings to these fellows deserves to want: he deserves to be pinched with hunger: misery is the just reward of this worst species of prodigality.

The singing makes a great part of what passes in these meeting-houses. A number of women and girls singing together make very sweet sounds. Few men there are who have not felt the power of sounds of this sort. Men are sometimes pretty nearly bewitched without knowing how. Eyes do a good deal, but tongues do more. We may talk of sparkling eyes and snowy bosoms as long as we please; but what are these with a croaking, masculine voice? The parson seemed to be fully aware of the importance of this part of the “service.” The subject of his[Pg 216] hymn was something about love: Christian love; love of Jesus; but still it was about love; and the parson read, or gave out, the verses in a singularly soft and sighing voice, with his head on one side, and giving it rather a swing. I am satisfied that the singing forms great part of the attraction. Young girls like to sing; and young men like to hear them. Nay, old ones too; and, as I have just said, it was the singing that drew me three hundred yards down the street at Tenterden, to enter this meeting-house. By-the-by, I wrote some Hymns myself, and published them in “Twopenny Trash.” I will give any Methodist parson leave to put them into his hymn-book.

 

Folkestone (Kent),
Monday (Noon), 1 Sept.

I have had a fine ride, and, I suppose, the Quakers have had a fine time of it at Mark Lane.

From Tenterden I set off at five o’clock, and got to Appledore after a most delightful ride, the high land upon my right, and the low land on my left. The fog was so thick and white along some of the low land, that I should have taken it for water, if little hills and trees had not risen up through it here and there. Indeed, the view was very much like those which are presented in the deep valleys, near the great rivers in New Brunswick (North America) at the time when the snows melt in the spring, and when, in sailing over those valleys, you look down from the side of your canoe and see the lofty woods beneath you! I once went in a log-canoe across a sylvan sea of this description, the canoe being paddled by two Yankees. We started in a stream; the stream became a wide water, and that water got deeper and deeper, as I could see by the trees (all was woods), till we got to sail amongst the top branches of the trees. By-and-by we got into a large open space; a piece of water a mile or two, or three or four wide, with the woods under us! A fog, with the tops of trees rising through it, is very much like this; and such was the fog that I saw this morning in my ride to Appledore. The church at Appledore is very large. Big enough to hold 3,000 people; and the place does not seem to contain half a thousand old enough to go to church.

In coming along I saw a wheat-rick making, though I hardly think the wheat can be dry under the bands. The corn is all good here; and I am told they give twelve shillings an acre for reaping wheat.

In quitting this Appledore I crossed a canal and entered on Romney Marsh. This was grass-land on both sides of me to a great distance. The flocks and herds immense. The sheep are of a breed that takes its name from the marsh. They are called[Pg 217] Romney Marsh sheep. Very pretty and large. The wethers, when fat, weigh about twelve stone; or, one hundred pounds. The faces of these sheep are white; and, indeed, the whole sheep is as white as a piece of writing-paper. The wool does not look dirty and oily like that of other sheep. The cattle appear to be all of the Sussex breed. Red, loosed-limbed, and, they say, a great deal better than the Devonshire. How curious is the natural economy of a country! The forests of Sussex; those miserable tracts of heath and fern and bushes and sand, called Ashdown Forest and Saint Leonard’s Forest, to which latter Lord Erskine’s estate belongs; these wretched tracts and the not much less wretched farms in their neighbourhood, breed the cattle, which we see fatting in Romney Marsh! They are calved in the spring; they are weaned in a little bit of grass-land; they are then put into stubbles and about in the fallows for the first summer; they are brought into the yard to winter on rough hay, peas-haulm, or barley-straw; the next two summers they spend in the rough woods or in the forest; the two winters they live on straw; they then pass another summer on the forest or at work; and then they come here or go elsewhere to be fatted. With cattle of this kind and with sheep such as I have spoken of before, this Marsh abounds in every part of it; and the sight is most beautiful.

At three miles from Appledore I came through Snargate, a village with five houses, and with a church capable of containing two thousand people! The vagabonds tell us, however, that we have a wonderful increase of population! These vagabonds will be hanged by-and-by, or else justice will have fled from the face of the earth.

At Brenzett (a mile further on) I with great difficulty got a rasher of bacon for breakfast. The few houses that there are are miserable in the extreme. The church here (only a mile from the last) nearly as large; and nobody to go to it. What! will the vagabonds attempt to make us believe that these churches were built for nothing! “Dark ages” indeed those must have been, if these churches were erected without there being any more people than there are now. But who built them? Where did the means, where did the hands come from? This place presents another proof of the truth of my old observation: rich land and poor labourers. From the window of the house, in which I could scarcely get a rasher of bacon, and not an egg, I saw numberless flocks and herds fatting, and the fields loaded with corn!

The next village, which was two miles further on, was Old Romney, and along here I had, for great part of the way, corn-fields on one side of me and grass-land on the other. I asked what the amount of the crop of wheat would be. They told me[Pg 218] better than five quarters to the acre. I thought so myself. I have a sample of the red wheat and another of the white. They are both very fine. They reap the wheat here nearly two feet from the ground; and even then they cut it three feet long! I never saw corn like this before. It very far exceeds the corn under Portsdown Hill, that at Gosport and Tichfield. They have here about eight hundred large, very large, sheaves to an acre. I wonder how long it will be after the end of the world before Mr. Birbeck will see the American “Prairies” half so good as this Marsh. In a garden here I saw some very fine onions, and a prodigious crop; sure sign of most excellent land. At this Old Romney there is a church (two miles only from the last, mind!) fit to contain one thousand five hundred people, and there are, for the people of the parish to live in, twenty-two, or twenty-three, houses! And yet the vagabonds have the impudence to tell us that the population of England has vastly increased! Curious system that depopulates Romney Marsh and peoples Bagshot Heath! It is an unnatural system. It is the vagabond’s system. It is a system that must be destroyed, or that will destroy the country.

The rotten borough of New Romney came next in my way; and here, to my great surprise, I found myself upon the sea-beach; for I had not looked at a map of Kent for years, and, perhaps, never. I had got a list of places from a friend in Sussex, whom I asked to give me a route to Dover, and to send me through those parts of Kent which he thought would be most interesting to me. Never was I so much surprised as when I saw a sail. This place, now that the squanderings of the THING are over, is, they say, become miserably poor.

From New Romney to Dimchurch is about four miles: all along I had the sea-beach on my right, and, on my left, sometimes grass-land and sometimes corn-land. They told me here, and also further back in the Marsh, that they were to have 15s. an acre for reaping wheat.

From Dimchurch to Hythe you go on the sea-beach, and nearly the same from Hythe to Sandgate, from which last place you come over the hill to Folkestone. But let me look back. Here has been the squandering! Here has been the pauper-making work! Here we see some of these causes that are now sending some farmers to the workhouse and driving others to flee the country or to cut their throats!

I had baited my horse at New Romney, and was coming jogging along very soberly, now looking at the sea, then looking at the cattle, then the corn, when my eye, in swinging round, lighted upon a great round building standing upon the beach. I had scarcely had time to think about what it could be when[Pg 219] twenty or thirty others, standing along the coast, caught my eye; and, if any one had been behind me, he might have heard me exclaim, in a voice that made my horse bound, “The Martello Towers by ——!” Oh, Lord! To think that I should be destined to behold these monuments of the wisdom of Pitt and Dundas and Perceval! Good God! Here they are, piles of bricks in a circular form about three hundred feet (guess) circumference at the base, about forty feet high, and about one hundred and fifty feet circumference at the top. There is a door-way, about midway up, in each, and each has two windows. Cannons were to be fired from the top of these things in order to defend the country against the French Jacobins!

I think I have counted along here upwards of thirty of these ridiculous things, which, I dare say, cost five, perhaps ten, thousand pounds each; and one of which was, I am told, sold on the coast of Sussex the other day for two hundred pounds! There is, they say, a chain of these things all the way to Hastings! I dare say they cost millions. But far indeed are these from being all, or half, or a quarter of the squanderings along here. Hythe is half barracks; the hills are covered with barracks; and barracks most expensive, most squandering, fill up the side of the hill. Here is a canal (I crossed it at Appledore) made for the length of thirty miles (from Hythe, in Kent, to Rye, in Sussex) to keep out the French; for those armies who had so often crossed the Rhine and the Danube were to be kept back by a canal, made by Pitt, thirty feet wide at the most! All along the coast there are works of some sort or other; incessant sinks of money; walls of immense dimensions; masses of stone brought and put into piles. Then you see some of the walls and buildings falling down; some that have never been finished. The whole thing, all taken together, looks as if a spell had been, all of a sudden, set upon the workmen; or, in the words of the Scripture, here is the “desolation of abomination, standing in high places.” However, all is right. These things were made with the hearty good will of those who are now coming to ruin in consequence of the Debt, contracted for the purpose of making these things! This is all just. The load will come, at last, upon the right shoulders.

Between Hythe and Sandgate (a village at about two miles from Hythe) I first saw the French coast. The chalk cliffs at Calais are as plain to the view as possible, and also the land, which they tell me is near Boulogne.

Folkestone lies under a hill here, as Reigate does in Surrey, only here the sea is open to your right as you come along. The corn is very early here, and very fine. All cut, even the beans; and they will be ready to cart in a day or two. Folkestone is[Pg 220] now a little place; probably a quarter part as big as it was formerly. Here is a church one hundred and twenty feet long and fifty feet wide. It is a sort of little Cathedral. The church-yard has evidently been three times as large as it is now.

Before I got into Folkestone I saw no less than eighty-four men, women, and boys and girls gleaning or leasing, in a field of about ten acres. The people all along here complain most bitterly of the change of times. The truth is, that the squandered millions are gone! The nation has now to suffer for this squandering. The money served to silence some; to make others bawl; to cause the good to be oppressed; to cause the bad to be exalted; to “crush the Jacobins:” and what is the result? What is the end? The end is not yet come; but as to the result thus far, go, ask the families of those farmers who, after having for so many years threatened to shoot Jacobins, have, in instances not a few, shot themselves! Go, ask the ghosts of Pitt and of Castlereagh what has thus far been the result! Go, ask the Hampshire farmer, who, not many months since, actually blowed out his own brains with one of those very pistols which he had long carried in his Yeomanry Cavalry holsters, to be ready “to keep down the Jacobins and Radicals!” Oh, God! inscrutable are Thy ways; but Thou art just, and of Thy justice what a complete proof have we in the case of these very Martello Towers! They were erected to keep out the Jacobin French, lest they should come and assist the Jacobin English. The loyal people of this coast were fattened by the building of them. Pitt and his loyal Cinque Ports waged interminable war against Jacobins. These very towers are now used to keep these loyal Cinque Ports themselves in order. These towers are now used to lodge men, whose business it is to sally forth, not upon Jacobins, but upon smugglers! Thus, after having sucked up millions of the nation’s money, these loyal Cinque Ports are squeezed again: kept in order, kept down, by the very towers which they rejoiced to see rise to keep down the Jacobins.

 

Dover,
Monday, Sept. 1st, Evening.

I got here this evening about six o’clock, having come to-day thirty-six miles; but I must defer my remarks on the country between Folkestone and this place; a most interesting spot, and well worthy of particular attention. What place I shall date from after Dover I am by no means certain; but be it from what place it may, the continuation of my Journal shall be published in due course. If the Atlantic Ocean could not cut off the communication between me and my readers, a mere[Pg 221] strip of water, not much wider than an American river, will hardly do it. I am, in real truth, undecided, as yet, whether I shall go on to France or back to the Wen. I think I shall, when I go out of this Inn, toss the bridle upon my horse’s neck, and let him decide for me. I am sure he is more fit to decide on such a point than our Ministers are to decide on any point connected with the happiness, greatness, and honour of this kingdom.

 

 


RURAL RIDE FROM DOVER, THROUGH THE ISLE OF THANET, BY CANTERBURY AND FAVERSHAM, ACROSS TO MAIDSTONE, UP TO TONBRIDGE, THROUGH THE WEALD OF KENT, AND OVER THE HILLS BY WESTERHAM AND HAYS, TO THE WEN.

 

Dover,
Wednesday, Sept. 3, 1823 (Evening).

On Monday I was balancing in my own mind whether I should go to France or not. To-day I have decided the question in the negative, and shall set off this evening for the Isle of Thanet, that spot so famous for corn.

I broke off without giving an account of the country between Folkestone and Dover, which is a very interesting one in itself, and was peculiarly interesting to me on many accounts. I have often mentioned, in describing the parts of the country over which I have travelled; I have often mentioned the chalk-ridge and also the sand-ridge, which I had traced, running parallel with each other from about Farnham, in Surrey, to Sevenoaks, in Kent. The reader must remember how particular I have been to observe that, in going up from Chilworth and Albury, through Dorking, Reigate, Godstone, and so on, the two chains, or ridges, approach so near to each other, that, in many places, you actually have a chalk-bank to your right and a sand-bank to your left, at not more than forty yards from each other. In some places, these chains of hills run off from each other to a great distance, even to a distance of twenty miles. They then approach again towards each other, and so they go on. I was always desirous to ascertain whether these chains, or ridges, continued on thus to the sea. I have now found that they do. And, if you go out into the channel, at Folkestone, there you see a sand-cliff and a chalk-cliff. Folkestone stands upon the sand, in a little dell about seven hundred or eight hundred yards from the very termination of the ridge. All the way along, the chalk-ridge is[Pg 222] the most lofty, until you come to Leith Hill and Hindhead; and here, at Folkestone, the sand-ridge tapers off in a sort of flat towards the sea. The land is like what it is at Reigate, a very steep hill; a hill of full a mile high, and bending exactly in the same manner as the hill at Reigate does. The turnpike-road winds up it and goes over it in exactly the same manner as that at Reigate. The land to the south of the hill begins a poor, thin, white loam upon the chalk; soon gets to be a very fine rich loam upon the chalk; goes on till it mingles the chalky loam with the sandy loam; and thus it goes on down to the sea-beach, or to the edge of the cliff. It is a beautiful bed of earth here, resembling in extent that on the south side of Portsdown Hill rather than that of Reigate. The crops here are always good if they are good anywhere. A large part of this fine tract of land, as well as the little town of Sandgate (which is a beautiful little place upon the beach itself), and also great part of the town of Folkestone belong, they tell me, to Lord Radnor, who takes his title of Viscount from Folkestone. Upon the hill begins, and continues on for some miles, that stiff red loam, approaching to a clay, which I have several times described as forming the soil at the top of this chalk-ridge. I spoke of it in the Register of the 16th of August last, page 409, and I then said, that it was like the land on the top of this very ridge at Ashmansworth in the north of Hampshire. At Reigate you find precisely the same soil upon the top of the hill, a very red, clayey sort of loam, with big yellow flint stones in it. Everywhere, the soil is the same upon the top of the high part of this ridge. I have now found it to be the same, on the edge of the sea, that I found it on the north-east corner of Hampshire.

From the hill, you keep descending all the way to Dover, a distance of about six miles, and it is absolutely six miles of down hill. On your right, you have the lofty land which forms a series of chalk cliffs, from the top of which you look into the sea; on your left, you have ground that goes rising up from you in the same sort of way. The turnpike-road goes down the middle of a valley, each side of which, as far as you can see, may be about a mile and a half. It is six miles long, you will remember; and here, therefore, with very little interruption, very few chasms, there are eighteen square miles of corn. It is a patch such as you very seldom see, and especially of corn so good as it is here. I should think that the wheat all along here would average pretty nearly four quarters to the acre. A few oats are sown. A great deal of barley, and that a very fine crop.

The town of Dover is like other sea-port towns; but really much more clean, and with less blackguard people in it than I ever observed in any sea-port before. It is a most picturesque[Pg 223] place, to be sure. On one side of it rises, upon the top of a very steep hill, the Old Castle, with all its fortifications. On the other side of it there is another chalk-hill, the side of which is pretty nearly perpendicular, and rises up from sixty to a hundred feet higher than the tops of the houses, which stand pretty nearly close to the foot of the hill.

I got into Dover rather late. It was dusk when I was going down the street towards the quay. I happened to look up, and was quite astonished to perceive cows grazing upon a spot apparently fifty feet above the tops of the houses, and measuring horizontally not, perhaps, more than ten or twenty feet from a line which would have formed a continuation into the air. I went up to the same spot, the next day, myself; and you actually look down upon the houses, as you look out of a window upon people in the street. The valley that runs down from Folkestone is, when it gets to Dover, crossed by another valley that runs down from Canterbury, or, at least, from the Canterbury direction. It is in the gorge of this cross valley that Dover is built. The two chalk-hills jut out into the sea, and the water that comes up between them forms a harbour for this ancient, most interesting, and beautiful place. On the hill to the north stands the Castle of Dover, which is fortified in the ancient manner, except on the sea-side, where it has the steep Cliff for a fortification. On the south side of the town, the hill is, I believe, rather more lofty than that on the north side; and here is that Cliff which is described by Shakspeare in the Play of King Lear. It is fearfully steep, certainly. Very nearly perpendicular for a considerable distance. The grass grows well, to the very tip of the cliff; and you see cows and sheep grazing there with as much unconcern as if grazing in the bottom of a valley.

It was not, however, these natural curiosities that took me over this hill; I went to see, with my own eyes, something of the sorts of means that had been made use of to squander away countless millions of money. Here is a hill containing, probably, a couple of square miles or more, hollowed like a honeycomb. Here are line upon line, trench upon trench, cavern upon cavern, bomb-proof upon bomb-proof; in short the very sight of the thing convinces you that either madness the most humiliating, or profligacy the most scandalous must have been at work here for years. The question that every man of sense asks, is: What reason had you to suppose that the French could ever come to this hill to attack it, while the rest of the country was so much more easy to assail? However, let any man of good plain understanding go and look at the works that have here been performed, and that are now all tumbling into ruin. Let him ask what this cavern was for; what that ditch was for; what this tank was[Pg 224] for; and why all these horrible holes and hiding-places at an expense of millions upon millions? Let this scene be brought and placed under the eyes of the people of England, and let them be told that Pitt and Dundas and Perceval had these things done to prevent the country from being conquered; with voice unanimous the nation would instantly exclaim: Let the French or let the devil take us, rather than let us resort to means of defence like these. This is, perhaps, the only set of fortifications in the world ever framed for mere hiding. There is no appearance of any intention to annoy an enemy. It is a parcel of holes made in a hill, to hide Englishmen from Frenchmen. Just as if the Frenchmen would come to this hill! Just as if they would not go (if they came at all) and land in Romney Marsh, or on Pevensey Level, or anywhere else, rather than come to this hill; rather than come to crawl up Shakspeare’s cliff. All the way along the coast, from this very hill to Portsmouth, or pretty nearly all the way, is a flat. What the devil should they come to this hill for, then? And, when you ask this question, they tell you that it is to have an army here behind the French, after they had marched into the country! And for a purpose like this; for a purpose so stupid, so senseless, so mad as this, and withal, so scandalously disgraceful, more brick and stone have been buried in this hill than would go to build a neat new cottage for every labouring man in the counties of Kent and of Sussex!

Dreadful is the scourge of such Ministers. However, those who supported them will now have to suffer. The money must have been squandered purposely, and for the worst ends. Fool as Pitt was; unfit as an old hack of a lawyer, like Dundas, was to judge of the means of defending the country, stupid as both these fellows were, and as their brother lawyer, Perceval, was too: unfit as these lawyers were to judge in any such a case, they must have known that this was an useless expenditure of money. They must have known that; and, therefore, their general folly, their general ignorance, is no apology for their conduct. What they wanted, was to prevent the landing, not of Frenchmen, but of French principles; that is to say, to prevent the example of the French from being alluring to the people of England. The devil a bit did they care for the Bourbons. They rejoiced at the killing of the king. They rejoiced at the atheistical decree. They rejoiced at everything calculated to alarm the timid and to excite horror in the people of England in general. They wanted to keep out of England those principles which had a natural tendency to destroy borough-mongering, and to put an end to peculation and plunder. No matter whether by the means of Martello Towers, making a great chalk-hill a honey-comb, cutting a canal thirty feet wide to stop the march[Pg 225] of the armies of the Danube and the Rhine: no matter how they squandered the money, so that it silenced some and made others bawl to answer their great purpose of preventing French example from having an influence in England. Simply their object was this: to make the French people miserable; to force back the Bourbons upon them as a means of making them miserable; to degrade France, to make the people wretched; and then to have to say to the people of England, Look there: see what they have got by their attempts to obtain liberty! This was their object. They did not want Martello Towers and honey-combed chalk-hills, and mad canals: they did not want these to keep out the French armies. The borough-mongers and the parsons cared nothing about the French armies. It was the French example that the lawyers, borough-mongers, and parsons wished to keep out. And what have they done? It is impossible to be upon this honey-combed hill, upon this enormous mass of anti-jacobin expenditure, without seeing the chalk-cliffs of Calais and the corn-fields of France. At this season, it is impossible to see those fields without knowing that the farmers are getting in their corn there as well as here; and it is impossible to think of that fact without reflecting, at the same time, on the example which the farmers of France hold out to the farmers of England. Looking down from this very anti-jacobin hill, this day, I saw the parsons’ shocks of wheat and barley, left in the field after the farmer had taken his away. Turning my head, and looking across the Channel, “There,” said I, pointing to France, “There the spirited and sensible people have ridded themselves of this burden, of which our farmers so bitterly complain.” It is impossible not to recollect here, that, in numerous petitions, sent up, too, by the loyal, complaints have been made that the English farmer has to carry on a competition against the French farmer who has no tithes to pay! Well, loyal gentlemen, why do not you petition, then, to be relieved from tithes? What do you mean else? Do you mean to call upon our big gentlemen at Whitehall for them to compel the French to pay tithes? Oh, you loyal fools! Better hold your tongues about the French not paying tithes. Better do that, at any rate; for never will they pay tithes again.

Here is a large tract of land upon these hills at Dover, which is the property of the public, having been purchased at an enormous expense. This is now let out as pasture land to people of the town. I dare say that the letting of this land is a curious affair. If there were a Member for Dover who would do what he ought to do, he would soon get before the public a list of the tenants, and of the rents paid by them. I should like very much to see such list. Butterworth, the bookseller in Fleet-street;[Pg 226] he who is a sort of metropolitan of the methodists, is one of the Members for Dover. The other is, I believe, that Wilbraham or Bootle or Bootle Wilbraham, or some such name, that is a Lancashire magistrate. So that Dover is prettily set up. However, there is nothing of this sort, that can in the present state of things, be deemed to be of any real consequence. As long as the people at Whitehall can go on paying the interest of the Debt in full, so long will there be no change worth the attention of any rational man. In the meanwhile, the French nation will be going on rising over us; and our Ministers will be cringing and crawling to every nation upon earth who is known to possess a cannon or a barrel of powder.

This very day I have read Mr. Canning’s Speech at Liverpool, with a Yankee Consul sitting on his right hand. Not a word now about the bits of bunting and the fir frigates; but now, America is the lovely daughter, who, in a moment of excessive love, has gone off with a lover (to wit, the French) and left the tender mother to mourn! What a fop! And this is the man that talked so big and so bold. This is the clever, the profound, the blustering, too, and, above all things, “the high spirited” Mr. Canning. However, more of this, hereafter. I must get from this Dover, as fast as I can.

 

Sandwich,
Wednesday, 3rd Sept. Night.

I got to this place about half an hour after the ringing of the eight o’clock bell, or Curfew, which I heard at about two miles’ distance from the place. From the town of Dover you come up the Castle-Hill, and have a most beautiful view from the top of it. You have the sea, the chalk cliffs of Calais, the high land at Boulogne, the town of Dover just under you, the valley towards Folkestone, and the much more beautiful valley towards Canterbury; and, going on a little further, you have the Downs and the Essex or Suffolk coast in full view, with a most beautiful corn country to ride along through. The corn was chiefly cut between Dover and Walmer. The barley almost all cut and tied up in sheaf. Nothing but the beans seemed to remain standing along here. They are not quite so good as the rest of the corn; but they are by no means bad. When I came to the village of Walmer, I enquired for the Castle; that famous place, where Pitt, Dundas, Perceval, and all the whole tribe of plotters against the French Revolution had carried on their plots. After coming through the village of Walmer, you see the entrance of the Castle away to the right. It is situated pretty nearly on the water’s edge, and at the bottom of a little dell, about a furlong or so from the turnpike-road. This is now[Pg 227] the habitation of our Great Minister, Robert Bankes Jenkinson, son of Charles of that name. When I was told, by a girl who was leasing in a field by the road side, that that was Walmer Castle, I stopped short, pulled my horse round, looked steadfastly at the gateway, and could not help exclaiming: “Oh, thou who inhabitest that famous dwelling; thou, who hast always been in place, let who might be out of place! Oh, thou everlasting placeman! thou sage of ‘over-production,’ do but cast thine eyes upon this barley-field, where, if I am not greatly deceived, there are from seven to eight quarters upon the acre! Oh, thou whose Courier newspaper has just informed its readers that wheat will be seventy shillings the quarter, in the month of November: oh, thou wise man, I pray thee come forth, from thy Castle, and tell me what thou wilt do if wheat should happen to be, at the appointed time, thirty-five shillings, instead of seventy shillings, the quarter. Sage of over-production, farewell. If thou hast life, thou wilt be Minister, as long as thou canst pay the interest of the Debt in full, but not one moment longer. The moment thou ceasest to be able to squeeze from the Normans a sufficiency to count down to the Jews their full tale, that moment, thou great stern-path-of-duty man, thou wilt begin to be taught the true meaning of the words Ministerial Responsibility.”

Deal is a most villanous place. It is full of filthy-looking people. Great desolation of abomination has been going on here; tremendous barracks, partly pulled down and partly tumbling down, and partly occupied by soldiers. Everything seems upon the perish. I was glad to hurry along through it, and to leave its inns and public-houses to be occupied by the tarred, and trowsered, and blue-and-buff crew whose very vicinage I always detest. From Deal you come along to Upper Deal, which, it seems, was the original village; thence upon a beautiful road to Sandwich, which is a rotten Borough. Rottenness, putridity is excellent for land, but bad for Boroughs. This place, which is as villanous a hole as one would wish to see, is surrounded by some of the finest land in the world. Along on one side of it, lies a marsh. On the other sides of it is land which they tell me bears seven quarters of wheat to an acre. It is certainly very fine; for I saw large pieces of radish-seed on the road side; this seed is grown for the seedsmen in London; and it will grow on none but rich land. All the corn is carried here except some beans and some barley.

 

Canterbury,
Thursday Afternoon, 4th Sept.

In quitting Sandwich, you immediately cross a river up[Pg 228] which vessels bring coals from the sea. This marsh is about a couple of miles wide. It begins at the sea-beach, opposite the Downs, to my right hand, coming from Sandwich, and it wheels round to my left and ends at the sea-beach, opposite Margate roads. This marsh was formerly covered with the sea, very likely; and hence the land within this sort of semi-circle, the name of which is Thanet, was called an Isle. It is, in fact, an island now, for the same reason that Portsea is an island, and that New York is an island; for there certainly is the water in this river that goes round and connects one part of the sea with the other. I had to cross this river, and to cross the marsh, before I got into the famous Isle of Thanet, which it was my intention to cross. Soon after crossing the river, I passed by a place for making salt, and could not help recollecting that there are no excisemen in these salt-making places in France, that, before the Revolution, the French were most cruelly oppressed by the duties on salt, that they had to endure, on that account, the most horrid tyranny that ever was known, except, perhaps, that practised in an Exchequer that shall here be nameless; that thousands and thousands of men and women were every year sent to the galleys for what was called smuggling salt; that the fathers and even the mothers were imprisoned or whipped if the children were detected in smuggling salt: I could not help reflecting, with delight, as I looked at these salt-pans in the Isle of Thanet; I could not help reflecting, that in spite of Pitt, Dundas, Perceval, and the rest of the crew, in spite of the caverns of Dover and the Martello Towers in Romney Marsh: in spite of all the spies and all the bayonets, and the six hundred millions of Debt and the hundred and fifty millions of dead-weight, and the two hundred millions of poor-rates that are now squeezing the borough-mongers, squeezing the farmers, puzzling the fellows at Whitehall and making Mark-lane a scene of greater interest than the Chamber of the Privy Council; with delight as I jogged along under the first beams of the sun, I reflected, that, in spite of all the malignant measures that had brought so much misery upon England, the gallant French people had ridded themselves of the tyranny which sent them to the galleys for endeavouring to use without tax the salt which God sent upon their shores. Can any man tell why we should still be paying five, or six, or seven shillings a bushel for salt, instead of one? We did pay fifteen shillings a bushel, tax. And why is two shillings a bushel kept on? Because, if they were taken off, the salt-tax-gathering crew must be discharged! This tax of two shillings a bushel, causes the consumer to pay five, at the least, more than he would if there were no tax at all! When, great God! when shall[Pg 229] we be allowed to enjoy God’s gifts, in freedom, as the people of France enjoy them?

On the marsh I found the same sort of sheep as on Romney Marsh; but the cattle here are chiefly Welsh; black, and called runts. They are nice hardy cattle; and, I am told, that this is the description of cattle that they fat all the way up on this north side of Kent.——When I got upon the corn land in the Isle of Thanet, I got into a garden indeed. There is hardly any fallow; comparatively few turnips. It is a country of corn. Most of the harvest is in; but there are some fields of wheat and of barley not yet housed. A great many pieces of lucerne, and all of them very fine. I left Ramsgate to my right about three miles, and went right across the island to Margate; but that place is so thickly settled with stock-jobbing cuckolds, at this time of the year, that, having no fancy to get their horns stuck into me, I turned away to my left when I got within about half a mile of the town. I got to a little hamlet, where I breakfasted; but could get no corn for my horse, and no bacon for myself! All was corn around me. Barns, I should think, two hundred feet long; ricks of enormous size and most numerous; crops of wheat, five quarters to an acre, on the average; and a public-house without either bacon or corn! The labourers’ houses, all along through this island, beggarly in the extreme. The people dirty, poor-looking; ragged, but particularly dirty. The men and boys with dirty faces, and dirty smock-frocks, and dirty shirts; and, good God! what a difference between the wife of a labouring man here, and the wife of a labouring man in the forests and woodlands of Hampshire and Sussex! Invariably have I observed, that the richer the soil, and the more destitute of woods; that is to say, the more purely a corn country, the more miserable the labourers. The cause is this, the great, the big bull frog grasps all. In this beautiful island every inch of land is appropriated by the rich. No hedges, no ditches, no commons, no grassy lanes: a country divided into great farms; a few trees surround the great farm-house. All the rest is bare of trees; and the wretched labourer has not a stick of wood, and has no place for a pig or cow to graze, or even to lie down upon. The rabbit countries are the countries for labouring men. There the ground is not so valuable. There it is not so easily appropriated by the few. Here, in this island, the work is almost all done by the horses. The horses plough the ground; they sow the ground; they hoe the ground; they carry the corn home; they thresh it out; and they carry it to market: nay, in this island, they rake the ground; they rake up the straggling straws and ears; so that they do the whole, except the reaping and the mowing.[Pg 230] It is impossible to have an idea of anything more miserable than the state of the labourers in this part of the country.

After coming by Margate, I passed a village called Monckton, and another called Sarr. At Sarr there is a bridge, over which you come out of the island, as you go into it over the bridge at Sandwich. At Monckton they had seventeen men working on the roads, though the harvest was not quite in, and though, of course, it had all to be threshed out; but, at Monckton, they had four threshing machines; and they have three threshing machines at Sarr, though there, also, they have several men upon the roads! This is a shocking state of things; and, in spite of everything that the Jenkinsons and the Scots can do, this state of things must be changed.

At Sarr, or a little way further back, I saw a man who had just begun to reap a field of canary seed. The plants were too far advanced to be cut in order to be bleached for the making of plat; but I got the reaper to select me a few green stalks that grew near a bush that stood on the outside of the piece. These I have brought on with me, in order to give them a trial. At Sarr I began to cross the marsh, and had, after this, to come through the village of Up-street, and another village called Steady, before I got to Canterbury. At Up-street I was struck with the words written upon a board which was fastened upon a pole, which pole was standing in a garden near a neat little box of a house. The words were these. “Paradise Place. Spring guns and steel traps are set here.” A pretty idea it must give us of Paradise to know that spring guns and steel traps are set in it! This is doubtless some stock-jobber’s place; for, in the first place, the name is likely to have been selected by one of that crew; and, in the next place, whenever any of them go to the country, they look upon it that they are to begin a sort of warfare against everything around them. They invariably look upon every labourer as a thief.

As you approach Canterbury, from the Isle of Thanet, you have another instance of the squanderings of the lawyer Ministers. Nothing equals the ditches, the caverns, the holes, the tanks, and hiding-places of the hill at Dover; but, considerable as the City of Canterbury is, that city within its gates stands upon less ground than those horrible erections, the barracks of Pitt, Dundas, and Perceval. They are perfectly enormous; but thanks be unto God, they begin to crumble down. They have a sickly hue: all is lassitude about them: endless are their lawns, their gravel walks, and their ornaments; but their lawns are unshaven, their gravel walks grassy, and their ornaments putting on the garments of ugliness. You see the grass growing opposite the door-ways. A hole in the window[Pg 231] strikes you here and there. Lamp-posts there are, but no lamps. Here are horse-barracks, foot-barracks, artillery-barracks, engineer-barracks: a whole country of barracks; but, only here and there a soldier. The thing is actually perishing. It is typical of the state of the great Thing of things. It gave me inexpressible pleasure to perceive the gloom that seemed to hang over these barracks, which once swarmed with soldiers and their blithe companions, as a hive swarms with bees. These barracks now look like the environs of a hive in winter. Westminster Abbey Church is not the place for the monument of Pitt; the statue of the great snorting bawler ought to be stuck up here, just in the midst of this hundred or two of acres covered with barracks. These barracks, too, were erected in order to compel the French to return to the payment of tithes; in order to bring their necks again under the yoke of the lords and the clergy. That has not been accomplished. The French, as Mr. Hoggart assures us, have neither tithes, taxes, nor rates; and the people of Canterbury know that they have a hop-duty to pay, while Mr. Hoggart, of Broad-street, tells them that he has farms to let, in France, where there are hop-gardens and where there is no hop-duty. They have lately had races at Canterbury; and the Mayor and Aldermen, in order to get the Prince Leopold to attend them, presented him with the Freedom of the City; but it rained all the time and he did not come! The Mayor and Aldermen do not understand things half so well as this German Gentleman, who has managed his matters as well, I think, as any one that I ever heard of.

This fine old town, or, rather, city, is remarkable for cleanliness and niceness, notwithstanding it has a Cathedral in it. The country round it is very rich, and this year, while the hops are so bad in most other parts, they are not so very bad just about Canterbury.

 

Elverton Farm, near Faversham,
Friday Morning, Sept. 5.

In going through Canterbury, yesterday, I gave a boy six-pence to hold my horse, while I went into the Cathedral, just to thank St. Swithin for the trick that he had played my friends, the Quakers. Led along by the wet weather till after the harvest had actually begun, and then to find the weather turn fine, all of a sudden! This must have soused them pretty decently; and I hear of one, who, at Canterbury, has made a bargain by which he will certainly lose two thousand pounds. The land where I am now is equal to that of the Isle of Thanet. The harvest is nearly over, and all the crops have been prodigiously fine. In coming from Canterbury, you come to the[Pg 232] top of a hill, called Baughton Hill, at four miles from Canterbury on the London road; and you there look down into one of the finest flats in England. A piece of marsh comes up nearly to Faversham; and, at the edge of that marsh lies the farm where I now am. The land here is a deep loam upon chalk; and this is also the nature of the land in the Isle of Thanet and all the way from that to Dover. The orchards grow well upon this soil. The trees grow finely, the fruit is large and of fine flavour.

In 1821 I gave Mr. William Waller, who lives here, some American apple-cuttings; and he has now some as fine Newtown Pippins as one would wish to see. They are very large of their sort; very free in their growth; and they promise to be very fine apples of the kind. Mr. Waller had cuttings from me off several sorts, in 1822. These were cut down last year; they have, of course, made shoots this summer; and great numbers of these shoots have fruit-spurs, which will have blossom, if not fruit, next year. This very rarely happens, I believe; and the state of Mr. Waller’s trees clearly proves to me that the introduction of these American trees would be a great improvement.

My American apples, when I left Kensington, promised to be very fine; and the apples, which I have frequently mentioned as being upon cuttings imported last Spring, promised to come to perfection; a thing which, I believe, we have not an instance of before.

 

Merryworth,
Friday Evening, 5th Sept.

A friend at Tenterden told me that, if I had a mind to know Kent, I must go through Romney Marsh to Dover, from Dover to Sandwich, from Sandwich to Margate, from Margate to Canterbury, from Canterbury to Faversham, from Faversham to Maidstone, and from Maidstone to Tonbridge. I found from Mr. Waller, this morning, that the regular turnpike route, from his house to Maidstone, was through Sittingbourne. I had been along that road several times; and besides, to be covered with dust was what I could not think of, when I had it in my power to get to Maidstone without it. I took the road across the country, quitting the London road, or rather, crossing it, in the dell, between Ospringe and Green-street. I instantly began to go up hill, slowly, indeed; but up hill. I came through the villages of Newnham, Doddington, Ringlestone, and to that of Hollingbourne. I had come up hill for thirteen miles, from Mr. Waller’s house. At last, I got to the top of this hill, and went along, for some distance, upon level ground. I found I was got upon just the same sort of land as that on the hill at[Pg 233] Folkestone, at Reigate, at Ropley, and at Ashmansworth. The red clayey loam, mixed up with great yellow flint stones. I found fine meadows here, just such as are at Ashmansworth (that is to say, on the north Hampshire hills.) This sort of ground is characterized by an astonishing depth that they have to go for the water. At Ashmansworth, they go to a depth of more than three hundred feet. As I was riding along upon the top of this hill in Kent, I saw the same beautiful sort of meadows that there are at Ashmansworth; I saw the corn backward; I was just thinking to go up to some house, to ask how far they had to go for water, when I saw a large well-bucket, and all the chains and wheels belonging to such a concern; but here was also the tackle for a horse to work in drawing up the water! I asked about the depth of the well; and the information I received must have been incorrect; because I was told it was three hundred yards. I asked this of a public-house keeper farther on, not seeing anybody where the farm-house was. I make no doubt that the depth is, as near as possible, that of Ashmansworth. Upon the top of this hill, I saw the finest field of beans that I have seen this year, and, by very far, indeed, the finest piece of hops. A beautiful piece of hops, surrounded by beautiful plantations of young ash, producing poles for hop-gardens. My road here pointed towards the west. It soon wheeled round towards the south; and, all of a sudden, I found myself upon the edge of a hill, as lofty and as steep as that at Folkestone, at Reigate, or at Ashmansworth. It was the same famous chalk-ridge that I was crossing again. When I got to the edge of the hill, and before I got off my horse to lead him down this more than mile of hill, I sat and surveyed the prospect before me, and to the right and to the left. This is what the people of Kent call the Garden of Eden. It is a district of meadows, corn-fields, hop-gardens, and orchards of apples, pears, cherries and filberts, with very little if any land which cannot, with propriety, be called good. There are plantations of Chestnut and of Ash frequently occurring; and as these are cut when long enough to make poles for hops, they are at all times objects of great beauty.

At the foot of the hill of which I have been speaking, is the village of Hollingbourne; thence you come on to Maidstone. From Maidstone to this place (Merryworth) is about seven miles, and these are the finest seven miles that I have ever seen in England or anywhere else. The Medway is to your left, with its meadows about a mile wide. You cross the Medway, in coming out of Maidstone, and it goes and finds its way down to Rochester, through a break in the chalk-ridge. From Maidstone to Merryworth I should think that there were hop-gardens[Pg 234] on one half of the way on both sides of the road. Then looking across the Medway, you see hop-gardens and orchards two miles deep, on the side of a gently rising ground: and this continues with you all the way from Maidstone to Merryworth. The orchards form a great feature of the country; and the plantations of Ashes and of Chestnuts that I mentioned before, add greatly to the beauty. These gardens of hops are kept very clean, in general, though some of them have been neglected this year owing to the bad appearance of the crop. The culture is sometimes mixed: that is to say, apple-trees or cherry-trees or filbert-trees and hops, in the same ground. This is a good way, they say, of raising an orchard. I do not believe it; and I think that nothing is gained by any of these mixtures. They plant apple-trees or cherry-trees in rows here; they then plant a filbert-tree close to each of these large fruit-trees; and then they cultivate the middle of the ground by planting potatoes. This is being too greedy. It is impossible that they can gain by this. What they gain one way they lose the other way; and I verily believe, that the most profitable way would be, never to mix things at all. In coming from Maidstone I passed through a village called Teston, where Lord Basham has a seat.

 

Tonbridge,
Saturday morning, 6th Sept.

I came off from Merryworth a little before five o’clock, passed the seat of Lord Torrington, the friend of Mr. Barretto. This Mr. Barretto ought not to be forgotten so soon. In 1820 he sued for articles of the peace against Lord Torrington, for having menaced him, in consequence of his having pressed his Lordship about some money. It seems that Lord Torrington had known him in the East Indies; that they came home together, or soon after one another; that his Lordship invited Mr. Barretto to his best parties in India; that he got him introduced at Court in England by Sidmouth; that he got him made a Fellow of the Royal Society; and that he tried to get him introduced into Parliament. His Lordship, when Barretto rudely pressed him for his money, reminded him of all this, and of the many difficulties that he had had to overcome with regard to his colour and so forth. Nevertheless, the dingy skinned Court visitant pressed in such a way that Lord Torrington was obliged to be pretty smart with him, whereupon the other sued for articles of the peace against his Lordship; but these were not granted by the Court. This Barretto issued a hand-bill at the last election as a candidate for St. Albans. I am truly sorry that he was not elected. Lord Camelford threatened to put in his[Pg 235] black fellow; but he was a sad swaggering fellow; and had, at last, too much of the borough-monger in him to do a thing so meritorious. Lord Torrington’s is but an indifferent looking place.

I here began to see Southdown sheep again, which I had not seen since the time I left Tenterden. All along here the villages are at not more than two miles’ distance from each other. They have all large churches, and scarcely anybody to go to them. At a village called Hadlow, there is a house belonging to a Mr. May, the most singular looking thing I ever saw. An immense house stuck all over with a parcel of chimneys, or things like chimneys; little brick columns, with a sort of caps on them, looking like carnation sticks, with caps at the top to catch the earwigs. The building is all of brick, and has the oddest appearance of anything I ever saw. This Tonbridge is but a common country town, though very clean, and the people looking very well. The climate must be pretty warm here; for in entering the town, I saw a large Althea Frutex in bloom, a thing rare enough, any year, and particularly a year like this.

 

Westerham,
Saturday, Noon, 6th Sept.

Instead of going on to the Wen along the turnpike road through Sevenoaks, I turned to my left when I got about a mile out of Tonbridge, in order to come along that tract of country called the Weald of Kent; that is to say, the solid clays, which have no bottom, which are unmixed with chalk, sand, stone, or anything else; the country of dirty roads and of oak trees. I stopped at Tonbridge only a few minutes; but in the Weald I stopped to breakfast at a place called Leigh. From Leigh I came to Chittingstone causeway, leaving Tonbridge Wells six miles over the hills to my left. From Chittingstone I came to Bough-beach, thence to Four Elms, and thence to this little market-town of Westerham, which is just upon the border of Kent. Indeed, Kent, Surrey, and Sussex form a joining very near to this town. Westerham, exactly like Reigate and Godstone, and Sevenoaks, and Dorking, and Folkestone, lies between the sand-ridge and the chalk-ridge. The valley is here a little wider than at Reigate, and that is all the difference there is between the places. As soon as you get over the sand hill to the south of Reigate, you get into the Weald of Surrey; and here, as soon as you get over the sand hill to the south of Westerham, you get into the Weald of Kent.

I have now, in order to get to the Wen, to cross the chalk-ridge once more, and, at a point where I never crossed it before. Coming through the Weald I found the corn very good; and,[Pg 236] low as the ground is, wet as it is, cold as it is, there will be very little of the wheat which will not be housed before Saturday night. All the corn is good, and the barley excellent. Not far from Bough-beach, I saw two oak trees, one of which was, they told me, more than thirty feet round, and the other more than twenty-seven; but they have been hollow for half a century. They are not much bigger than the oak upon Tilford Green, if any. I mean in the trunk; but they are hollow, while that tree is sound in all its parts, and growing still. I have had a most beautiful ride through the Weald. The day is very hot; but I have been in the shade; and my horse’s feet very often in the rivulets and wet lanes. In one place I rode above a mile completely arched over by the boughs of the underwood, growing in the banks of the lane. What an odd taste that man must have who prefers a turnpike-road to a lane like this.

Very near to Westerham there are hops: and I have seen now and then a little bit of hop garden, even in the Weald. Hops will grow well where lucerne will grow well; and lucerne will grow well where there is a rich top and a dry bottom. When therefore you see hops in the Weald, it is on the side of some hill, where there is sand or stone at bottom, and not where there is real clay beneath. There appear to be hops, here and there, all along from nearly at Dover to Alton, in Hampshire. You find them all along Kent; you find them at Westerham; across at Worth, in Sussex; at Godstone, in Surrey; over to the north of Merrow Down, near Guildford; at Godalming; under the Hog’s-back, at Farnham; and all along that way to Alton. But there, I think, they end. The whole face of the country seems to rise, when you get just beyond Alton, and to keep up. Whether you look to the north, the south, or west, the land seems to rise, and the hops cease, till you come again away to the north-west, in Herefordshire.

 

Kensington,
Saturday night, 6 Sept.

Here I close my day, at the end of forty-four miles. In coming up the chalk hill from Westerham, I prepared myself for the red stiff clay-like loam, the big yellow flints and the meadows; and I found them all. I have now gone over this chalk-ridge in the following places: at Coombe in the north-west of Hampshire; I mean the north-west corner, the very extremity of the county. I have gone over it at Ashmansworth, or Highclere, going from Newbury to Andover; at King’s Clere, going from Newbury to Winchester; at Ropley, going from Alresford to Selborne; at Dippinghall, going from Crondall to Thursly; at Merrow, going from Chertsey to [Pg 237]Chilworth; at Reigate; at Westerham, and then, between these, at Godstone; at Sevenoaks, going from London to Battle; at Hollingbourne, as mentioned above, and at Folkestone. In all these places I have crossed this chalk-ridge. Everywhere, upon the top of it, I have found a flat, and the soil of all these flats I have found to be a red stiff loam mingled up with big yellow flints. A soil difficult to work; but by no means bad, whether for wood, hops, grass, orchards, or corn. I once before mentioned that I was assured that the pasture upon these bleak hills was as rich as that which is found in the north of Wiltshire, in the neighbourhood of Swindon, where they make some of the best cheese in the kingdom. Upon these hills I have never found the labouring people poor and miserable, as in the rich vales. All is not appropriated where there are coppices and wood, where the cultivation is not so easy and the produce so very large.

After getting up the hill from Westerham, I had a general descent to perform all the way to the Thames. When you get to Beckenham, which is the last parish in Kent, the country begins to assume a cockney-like appearance; all is artificial, and you no longer feel any interest in it. I was anxious to make this journey into Kent, in the midst of harvest, in order that I might know the real state of the crops. The result of my observations and my inquiries, is, that the crop is a full average crop of everything except barley, and that the barley yields a great deal more than an average crop. I thought that the beans were very poor during my ride into Hampshire; but I then saw no real bean countries. I have seen such countries now; and I do not think that the beans present us with a bad crop. As to the quality, it is, in no case (except perhaps the barley), equal to that of last year. We had, last year, an Italian summer. When the wheat, or other grain has to ripen in wet weather, it will not be bright, as it will when it has to ripen in fair weather. It will have a dingy or clouded appearance; and perhaps the flour may not be quite so good. The wheat, in fact, will not be so heavy. In order to enable others to judge, as well as myself, I took samples from the fields as I went along. I took them very fairly, and as often as I thought that there was any material change in the soil or other circumstances. During the ride I took sixteen samples. These are now at the Office of the Register, in Fleet-street, where they may be seen by any gentleman who thinks the information likely to be useful to him. The samples are numbered, and there is a reference pointing out the place where each sample was taken. The opinions that I gather amount to this: that there is an average crop of everything, and a little more of barley.

Now then we shall see how all this tallies with the schemes,[Pg 238] with the intentions and expectations of our matchless gentlemen at Whitehall. These wise men have put forth their views in the Courier of the 27th of August, and in words which ought never to be forgotten, and which, at any rate, shall be recorded here.

Grain.—During the present unsettled state of the weather, it is impossible for the best informed persons to anticipate upon good grounds what will be the future price of agricultural produce. Should the season even yet prove favourable for the operations of the harvest, there is every probability of the average price of grain continuing at that exact price which will prove most conducive to the interests of the corn growers, and at the same time encouraging to the agriculture of our colonial possessions. We do not speak lightly on this subject, for we are aware that His Majesty’s Ministers have been fully alive to the inquiries from all qualified quarters as to the effect likely to be produced on the markets from the addition of the present crops to the stock of wheat already on hand. The result of these inquiries is, that in the highest quarters there exists the full expectation, that towards the month of November, the price of wheat will nearly approach to seventy shillings, a price which, while it affords the extent of remuneration to the British farmer recognized by the corn laws, will at the same time admit of the sale of the Canadian bonded wheat; and the introduction of this foreign corn, grown by British colonists, will contribute to keeping down our markets, and exclude foreign grain from other quarters.”

There’s nice gentlemen of Whitehall! What pretty gentlemen they are! “Envy of surrounding nations,” indeed, to be under command of pretty gentlemen who can make calculations so nice, and put forth predictions so positive upon such a subject! “Admiration of the world,” indeed, to live under the command of men who can so control seasons and markets; or, at least, who can so dive into the secrets of trade, and find out the contents of the fields, barns, and ricks, as to be able to balance things so nicely as to cause the Canadian corn to find a market, without injuring the sale of that of the British farmer, and without admitting that of the French farmer and the other farmers of the continent! Happy, too happy, rogues that we are, to be under the guidance of such pretty gentlemen, and right just is it that we should be banished for life, if we utter a word tending to bring such pretty gentlemen into contempt.

Let it be observed, that this paragraph must have come from Whitehall. This wretched paper is the demi-official organ of the Government. As to the owners of the paper, Daniel Stewart, that notorious fellow, Street, and the rest of them, not excluding the brother of the great Oracle, which brother bought, the other[Pg 239] day, a share of this vehicle of baseness and folly; as to these fellows, they have no control other than what relates to the expenditure and the receipts of the vehicle. They get their news from the offices of the Whitehall people, and their paper is the mouth-piece of those same people. Mark this, I pray you, reader; and let the French people mark it, too, and then take their revenge for the Waterloo insolence. This being the case, then; this paragraph proceeding from the pretty gentlemen, what a light it throws on their expectations, their hopes, and their fears. They see that wheat at seventy shillings a quarter is necessary to them! Ah! pray mark that! They see that wheat at seventy shillings a quarter is necessary to them; and, therefore, they say that wheat will be at seventy shillings a quarter, the price, as they call it, necessary to remunerate the British farmer. And how do the conjurers at Whitehall know this? Why, they have made full inquiries “in qualified quarters.” And the qualified quarters have satisfied the “highest quarters,” that, “towards the month of November, the price of wheat will nearly approach to seventy shillings the quarter!” I wonder what the words towards the “end of November,” may mean. Devil’s in’t if middle of September is not “towards November;” and the wheat, instead of going on towards seventy shillings, is very fast coming down to forty. The beast who wrote this paragraph; the pretty beast; this “envy of surrounding nations” wrote it on the 27th of August, a soaking wet Saturday! The pretty beast was not aware, that the next day was going to be fine, and that we were to have only the succeeding Tuesday and half the following Saturday of wet weather until the whole of the harvest should be in. The pretty beast wrote while the rain was spattering against the window; and he did “not speak lightly,” but was fully aware that the highest quarters, having made inquiries of the qualified quarters, were sure that wheat would be at seventy shillings during the ensuing year. What will be the price of wheat it is impossible for any one to say. I know a gentleman, who is a very good judge of such matters, who is of opinion that the average price of wheat will be thirty-two shillings a quarter, or lower, before Christmas; this is not quite half what the highest quarters expect, in consequence of the inquiries which they have made of the qualified quarters. I do not say, that the average of wheat will come down to thirty-two shillings; but this I know, that at Reading, last Saturday, about forty-five shillings was the price; and, I hear, that, in Norfolk, the price is forty-two. The highest quarters, and the infamous London press, will, at any rate, be prettily exposed, before Christmas. Old Sir Thomas Lethbridge, too, and Gaffer Gooch, and his base tribe[Pg 240] of Pittites at Ipswich; Coke and Suffield, and their crew; all these will be prettily laughed at; nor will that “tall soul,” Lord Milton, escape being reminded of his profound and patriotic observation relative to “this self-renovating country.” No sooner did he see the wheat get up to sixty or seventy shillings than he lost all his alarms; found that all things were right, turned his back on Yorkshire Reformers, and went and toiled for Scarlett at Peterborough: and discovered, that there was nothing wrong, at last, and that the “self-renovating country” would triumph over all its difficulties!—So it will, “tall soul;” it will triumph over all its difficulties; it will renovate itself; it will purge itself of rotten boroughs, of vile borough-mongers, their tools and their stopgaps; it will purge itself of all the villanies which now corrode its heart; it will, in short, free itself from those curses, which the expenditure of eight or nine hundred millions of English money took place in order to make perpetual: it will, in short, become free from oppression, as easy and as happy as the gallant and sensible nation on the other side of the Channel. This is the sort of renovation, but not renovation by the means of wheat at seventy shillings a quarter. Renovation it will have: it will rouse and will shake from itself curses like the pension which is paid to Burke’s executors. This is the sort of renovation, “tall soul;” and not wheat at 70s. a quarter, while it is at twenty-five shillings a quarter in France. Pray observe, reader, how the “tall soul” catched at the rise in the price of wheat: how he snapped at it: how quickly he ceased his attacks upon the Whitehall people and upon the System. He thought he had been deceived: he thought that things were coming about again; and so he drew in his horns, and began to talk about the self-renovating country. This was the tone of them all. This was the tone of all the borough-mongers; all the friends of the System; all those, who, like Lethbridge, had begun to be staggered. They had deviated, for a moment, into our path! but they popped back again the moment they saw the price of wheat rise! All the enemies of Reform, all the calumniators of Reformers, all the friends of the System, most anxiously desired a rise in the price of wheat. Mark the curious fact, that all the vile press of London; the whole of that infamous press; that newspapers, magazines, reviews: the whole of the base thing; and a baser surely this world never saw; that the whole of this base thing rejoiced, exulted, crowed over me, and told an impudent lie, in order to have the crowing; crowed, for what? Because wheat and bread were become dear! A newspaper hatched under a corrupt Priest, a profligate Priest, and recently espoused to the hell of Pall Mall; even this vile thing crowed because wheat and bread[Pg 241] had become dear! Now, it is notorious, that, heretofore, every periodical publication in this kingdom was in the constant habit of lamenting, when bread became dear, and of rejoicing, when it became cheap. This is notorious. Nay, it is equally notorious, that this infamous press was everlastingly assailing bakers, and millers, and butchers, for not selling bread, flour, and meat cheaper than they were selling them. In how many hundreds of instances has this infamous press caused attacks to be made by the mob upon tradesmen of this description! All these things are notorious. Moreover, notorious it is that, long previous to every harvest, this infamous, this execrable, this beastly press, was engaged in stunning the public with accounts of the great crop which was just coming forward! There was always, with this press, a prodigiously large crop. This was invariably the case. It was never known to be the contrary.

Now these things are perfectly well known to every man in England. How comes it, then, reader, that the profligate, the trading, the lying, the infamous press of London, has now totally changed its tone and bias. The base thing never now tells us that there is a great crop or even a good crop. It never now wants cheap bread and cheap wheat and cheap meat. It never now finds fault of bakers and butchers. It now always endeavours to make it appear that corn is dearer than it is. The base Morning Herald, about three weeks ago, not only suppressed the fact of the fall of wheat, but asserted that there had been a rise in the price. Now why is all this? That is a great question, reader. That is a very interesting question. Why has this infamous press, which always pursues that which it thinks its own interest; why has it taken this strange turn? This is the reason: stupid as the base thing is, it has arrived at a conviction, that if the price of the produce of the land cannot be kept up to something approaching ten shillings a bushel for good wheat, the hellish system of funding must be blown up. The infamous press has arrived at a conviction, that that cheating, that fraudulent system by which this press lives, must be destroyed unless the price of corn can be kept up. The infamous traders of the press are perfectly well satisfied, that the interest of the Debt must be reduced, unless wheat can be kept up to nearly ten shillings a bushel. Stupid as they are, and stupid as the fellows down at Westminster are, they know very well, that the whole system, stock-jobbers, Jews, cant and all, go to the devil at once, as soon as a deduction is made from the interest of the Debt. Knowing this, they want wheat to sell high; because it has, at last, been hammered into their skulls, that the interest cannot be paid in full, if wheat sells low. Delightful is the dilemma in which they are.[Pg 242] Dear bread does not suit their manufactories, and cheap bread does not suit their Debt. “Envy of surrounding nations,” how hard it is that Providence will not enable your farmers to sell dear and the consumers to buy cheap! These are the things that you want. Admiration of the world you are; but have these things you will not. There may be those, indeed, who question whether you yourself know what you want; but, at any rate, if you want these things, you will not have them.

Before I conclude, let me ask the reader to take a look at the singularity of the tone and tricks of this Six-Acts Government. Is it not a novelty in the world to see a Government, and in ordinary seasons, too, having its whole soul absorbed in considerations relating to the price of corn? There are our neighbours, the French, who have got a Government engaged in taking military possession of a great neighbouring kingdom to free which from these very French, we have recently expended a hundred and fifty millions of money. Our neighbours have got a Government that is thus engaged, and we have got a Government that employs itself in making incessant “inquiries in all the qualified quarters” relative to the price of wheat! Curious employment for a Government! Singular occupation for the Ministers of the Great George! They seem to think nothing of Spain, with its eleven millions of people, being in fact added to France. Wholly insensible do they appear to concerns of this sort, while they sit thinking, day and night, upon the price of the bushel of wheat!

However, they are not, after all, such fools as they appear to be. Despicable, indeed, must be that nation, whose safety or whose happiness does, in any degree, depend on so fluctuating a thing as the price of corn. This is a matter that we must take as it comes. The seasons will be what they will be; and all the calculations of statesmen must be made wholly independent of the changes and chances of seasons. This has always been the case, to be sure. What nation could ever carry on its affairs, if it had to take into consideration the price of corn? Nevertheless, such is the situation of our Government, that its very existence, in its present way, depends upon the price of corn. The pretty fellows at Whitehall, if you may say to them: Well, but look at Spain; look at the enormous strides of the French; think of the consequences in case of another war; look, too, at the growing marine of America. See, Mr. Jenkinson, see, Mr. Canning, see, Mr. Huskisson, see, Mr. Peel, and all ye tribe of Grenvilles, see, what tremendous dangers are gathering together about us! “Us!” Aye, about you; but pray think what tremendous dangers wheat at four shillings a bushel will bring about us! This is the git. Here lies the whole of it.[Pg 243] We laugh at a Government employing itself in making calculations about the price of corn, and in employing its press to put forth market puffs. We laugh at these things; but we should not laugh, if we considered, that it is on the price of wheat that the duration of the power and the profits of these men depends. They know what they want; and they wish to believe themselves, and to make others believe, that they shall have it. I have observed before, but it is necessary to observe again, that all those who are for the System, let them be Opposition or not Opposition, feel as Whitehall feels about the price of corn. I have given an instance, in the “tall soul;” but it is the same with the whole of them, with the whole of those who do not wish to see this infernal System changed. I was informed, and I believe it to be true, that the Marquis of Lansdowne said, last April, when the great rise took place in the price of corn, that he had always thought that the cash-measures had but little effect on prices; but that he was now satisfied that those measures had no effect at all on prices! Now, what is our situation; what is the situation of this country, if we must have the present Ministry, or a Ministry of which the Marquis of Lansdowne is to be a Member, if the Marquis of Lansdowne did utter these words? And again, I say, that I verily believe he did utter them.

Ours is a Government that now seems to depend very much upon the weather. The old type of a ship at sea will not do now, ours is a weather Government; and to know the state of it, we must have recourse to those glasses that the Jews carry about. Weather depends upon the winds, in a great measure; and I have no scruple to say, that the situation of those two Right Honourable youths, that are now gone to the Lakes in the north; that their situation, next winter, will be rendered very irksome, not to say perilous, by the present easterly wind, if it should continue about fifteen days longer. Pitt, when he had just made a monstrous issue of paper, and had, thereby, actually put the match which blowed up the old She Devil in 1797—Pitt, at that time, congratulated the nation, that the wisdom of Parliament had established a solid system of finance. Anything but solid it assuredly was; but his system of finance was as worthy of being called solid, as that system of Government which now manifestly depends upon the weather and the winds.

Since my return home (it is now Thursday, 11th September), I have received letters from the east, from the north, and from the west. All tell me that the harvest is very far advanced, and that the crops are free from blight. These letters are not particular as to the weight of the crop; except that they all say that the barley is excellent. The wind is now coming from the east. There is every appearance of the fine weather [Pg 244]continuing. Before Christmas, we shall have the wheat down to what will be a fair average price in future. I always said that the late rise was a mere puff. It was, in part, a scarcity rise. The wheat of 1821 was grown and bad. That of 1822 had to be begun upon in July. The crop has had to last thirteen months and a half. The present crop will have to last only eleven months, or less. The crop of barley, last year, was so very bad; so very small; and the crop of the year before so very bad in quality that wheat was malted, last year, in great quantities, instead of barley. This year, the crop of barley is prodigious. All these things considered wheat, if the cash-measures had had no effect, must have been a hundred and forty shillings a quarter, and barley eighty. Yet the first never got to seventy, and the latter never got to forty! And yet there was a man who calls himself a statesman to say that that mere puff of a rise satisfied him that the cash-measures had never had any effect! Ah! they are all afraid to believe in the effect of those cash-measures: they tremble like children at the sight of the rod, when you hold up before them the effect of those cash-measures. Their only hope, is, that I am wrong in my opinions upon that subject; because, if I am right, their System is condemned to speedy destruction!

I thus conclude, for the present, my remarks relative to the harvest and the price of corn. It is the great subject of the day; and the comfort is, that we are now speedily to see whether I be right or whether the Marquis of Lansdowne be right. As to the infamous London press, the moment the wheat comes down to forty shillings; that is to say, an average Government return of forty shillings, I will spend ten pounds in placarding this infamous press, after the manner in which we used to placard the base and detestable enemies of the Queen. This infamous press has been what is vulgarly called “running its rigs,” for several months past. The Quakers have been urging it on, under-handed. They have, I understand, been bribing it pretty deeply, in order to calumniate me, and to favour their own monopoly, but, thank God, the cunning knaves have outwitted themselves. They won’t play at cards; but they will play at Stocks; they will play at Lottery Tickets, and they will play at Mark-lane. They have played a silly game, this time. Saint Swithin, that good old Roman Catholic Saint, seemed to have set a trap for them: he went on, wet, wet, wet, even until the harvest began. Then, after two or three days’ sunshine, shocking wet again. The ground soaking, the wheat growing, and the “Friends;” the gentle Friends, seeking the Spirit, were as busy amongst the sacks at Mark-lane as the devil in a high wind. In short they bought away, with all the gain of Godliness, and a little more, before their eyes. All of a sudden, Saint Swithin[Pg 245] took away his clouds; out came the sun; the wind got round to the east; just sun enough and just wind enough; and as the wheat ricks everywhere rose up, the long jaws of the Quakers dropped down; and their faces of slate became of a darker hue. That sect will certainly be punished, this year; and, let us hope, that such a change will take place in their concerns as will compel a part of them to labour, at any rate; for, at present, their sect is a perfect monster in society; a whole sect, not one man of whom earns his living by the sweat of his brow. A sect a great deal worse than the Jews; for some of them do work. However, God send us the easterly wind, for another fortnight, and we shall certainly see some of this sect at work.

 

 


RURAL RIDE: FROM KENSINGTON, ACROSS SURREY, AND ALONG THAT COUNTY.

 

Reigate, Wednesday Evening,
19th October, 1825.

Having some business at Hartswood, near Reigate, I intended to come off this morning on horseback, along with my son Richard, but it rained so furiously the last night, that we gave up the horse project for to-day, being, by appointment, to be at Reigate by ten o’clock to-day: so that we came off this morning at five o’clock, in a post-chaise, intending to return home and take our horses. Finding, however, that we cannot quit this place till Friday, we have now sent for our horses, though the weather is dreadfully wet. But we are under a farmhouse roof, and the wind may whistle and the rain fall as much as they like.

 

Reigate, Thursday Evening,
20th October.

Having done my business at Hartswood to-day about eleven o’clock, I went to a sale at a farm, which the farmer is quitting. Here I had a view of what has long been going on all over the country. The farm, which belongs to Christ’s Hospital, has been held by a man of the name of Charington, in whose family the lease has been, I hear, a great number of years. The house is hidden by trees. It stands in the Weald of Surrey, close by the River Mole, which is here a mere rivulet, though just below this house the rivulet supplies the very prettiest flour-mill I ever saw in my life.

[Pg 246]Everything about this farmhouse was formerly the scene of plain manners and plentiful living. Oak clothes-chests, oak bedsteads, oak chests of drawers, and oak tables to eat on, long, strong, and well supplied with joint stools. Some of the things were many hundreds of years old. But all appeared to be in a state of decay and nearly of disuse. There appeared to have been hardly any family in that house, where formerly there were, in all probability, from ten to fifteen men, boys, and maids: and, which was the worst of all, there was a parlour. Aye, and a carpet and bell-pull too! One end of the front of this once plain and substantial house had been moulded into a “parlour;” and there was the mahogany table, and the fine chairs, and the fine glass, and all as bare-faced upstart as any stock-jobber in the kingdom can boast of. And there were the decanters, the glasses, the “dinner-set” of crockery-ware, and all just in the true stock-jobber style. And I dare say it has been ’Squire Charington and the Miss Charington’s; and not plain Master Charington, and his son Hodge, and his daughter Betty Charington, all of whom this accursed system has, in all likelihood, transmuted into a species of mock gentlefolks, while it has ground the labourers down into real slaves. Why do not farmers now feed and lodge their work-people, as they did formerly? Because they cannot keep them upon so little as they give them in wages. This is the real cause of the change. There needs no more to prove that the lot of the working classes has become worse than it formerly was. This fact alone is quite sufficient to settle this point. All the world knows, that a number of people, boarded in the same house, and at the same table, can, with as good food, be boarded much cheaper than those persons divided into twos, threes, or fours, can be boarded. This is a well-known truth: therefore, if the farmer now shuts his pantry against his labourers, and pays them wholly in money, is it not clear, that he does it because he thereby gives them a living cheaper to him; that is to say, a worse living than formerly? Mind, he has a house for them; a kitchen for them to sit in, bed rooms for them to sleep in, tables, and stools, and benches, of everlasting duration. All these he has: all these cost him nothing; and yet so much does he gain by pinching them in wages, that he lets all these things remain as of no use, rather than feed labourers in the house. Judge, then, of the change that has taken place in the condition of these labourers! And be astonished, if you can, at the pauperism and the crimes that now disgrace this once happy and moral England.

The land produces, on an average, what it always produced; but there is a new distribution of the produce. This ’Squire Charington’s father used, I dare say, to sit at the head of the[Pg 247] oak-table along with his men, say grace to them, and cut up the meat and the pudding. He might take a cup of strong beer to himself, when they had none; but that was pretty nearly all the difference in their manner of living. So that all lived well. But the ’Squire had many wine-decanters and wine-glasses and “a dinner set” and a “breakfast set,” and “desert knives:” and these evidently imply carryings on and a consumption that must of necessity have greatly robbed the long oak table if it had remained fully tenanted. That long table could not share in the work of the decanters and the dinner set. Therefore, it became almost untenanted; the labourers retreated to hovels, called cottages; and, instead of board and lodging, they got money; so little of it as to enable the employer to drink wine; but, then, that he might not reduce them to quite starvation, they were enabled to come to him, in the king’s name, and demand food as paupers. And, now, mind, that which a man receives in the king’s name, he knows well he has by force; and it is not in nature that he should thank anybody for it, and least of all the party from whom it is forced. Then, if this sort of force be insufficient to obtain him enough to eat and to keep him warm, is it surprising, if he think it no great offence against God (who created no man to starve) to use another sort of FORCE more within his own control? Is it, in short, surprising, if he resort to theft and robbery?

This is not only the natural progress, but it has been the progress in England. The blame is not justly imputed to ’Squire Charington and his like: the blame belongs to the infernal stock-jobbing system. There was no reason to expect, that farmers would not endeavour to keep pace, in point of show and luxury, with fund-holders, and with all the tribes that war and taxes created. Farmers were not the authors of the mischief; and now they are compelled to shut the labourers out of their houses, and to pinch them in their wages in order to be able to pay their own taxes; and, besides this, the manners and the principles of the working class are so changed, that a sort of self-preservation bids the farmer (especially in some counties) to keep them from beneath his roof.

I could not quit this farmhouse without reflecting on the thousands of scores of bacon and thousands of bushels of bread that had been eaten from the long oak-table which, I said to myself, is now perhaps, going at last, to the bottom of a bridge that some stock-jobber will stick up over an artificial river in his cockney garden. “By —— it shan’t,” said I, almost in a real passion: and so I requested a friend to buy it for me; and if he do so, I will take it to Kensington, or to Fleet-street, and keep it for the good it has done in the world.

[Pg 248]When the old farmhouses are down (and down they must come in time) what a miserable thing the country will be! Those that are now erected are mere painted shells, with a Mistress within, who is stuck up in a place she calls a parlour, with, if she have children, the “young ladies and gentlemen” about her: some showy chairs and a sofa (a sofa by all means): half a dozen prints in gilt frames hanging up: some swinging book-shelves with novels and tracts upon them: a dinner brought in by a girl that is perhaps better “educated” than she: two or three nick-nacks to eat instead of a piece of bacon and a pudding: the house too neat for a dirty-shoed carter to be allowed to come into; and everything proclaiming to every sensible beholder, that there is here a constant anxiety to make a show not warranted by the reality. The children (which is the worst part of it) are all too clever to work: they are all to be gentlefolks. Go to plough! Good God! What, “young gentlemen” go to plough! They become clerks, or some skimmy-dish thing or other. They flee from the dirty work as cunning horses do from the bridle. What misery is all this! What a mass of materials for producing that general and dreadful convulsion that must, first or last, come and blow this funding and jobbing and enslaving and starving system to atoms!

I was going, to-day, by the side of a plat of ground, where there was a very fine flock of turkeys. I stopped to admire them, and observed to the owner how fine they were, when he answered, “We owe them entirely to you, Sir, for we never raised one till we read your Cottage Economy.” I then told him, that we had, this year, raised two broods at Kensington, one black and one white, one of nine and one of eight; but, that, about three weeks back, they appeared to become dull and pale about the head; and, that, therefore, I sent them to a farmhouse, where they recovered instantly, and the broods being such a contrast to each other in point of colour, they were now, when prowling over a grass field amongst the most agreeable sights that I had ever seen. I intended of course, to let them get their full growth at Kensington, where they were in a grass plat about fifteen yards square, and where I thought that the feeding of them, in great abundance, with lettuces and other greens from the garden, together with grain, would carry them on to perfection. But I found that I was wrong; and that, though you may raise them to a certain size, in a small place and with such management, they then, if so much confined, begin to be sickly. Several of mine began actually to droop: and, the very day they were sent into the country, they became as gay as ever, and, in three days, all the colour about their heads came back to them.

This town of Reigate had, in former times, a Priory, which[Pg 249] had considerable estates in the neighbourhood; and this is brought to my recollection by a circumstance which has recently taken place in this very town. We all know how long it has been the fashion for us to take it for granted, that the monasteries were bad things; but, of late, I have made some hundreds of thousands of very good Protestants begin to suspect, that monasteries were better than poor-rates, and that monks and nuns, who fed the poor, were better than sinecure and pension men and women, who feed upon the poor. But, how came the monasteries! How came this that was at Reigate, for instance? Why, it was, if I recollect correctly, founded by a Surrey gentleman, who gave this spot and other estates to it, and who, as was usual, provided that masses were to be said in it for his soul and those of others, and that it should, as usual, give aid to the poor and needy.

Now, upon the face of the transaction, what harm could this do the community? On the contrary, it must, one would think, do it good; for here was this estate given to a set of landlords who never could quit the spot; who could have no families; who could save no money; who could hold no private property; who could make no will; who must spend all their income at Reigate and near it; who as was the custom, fed the poor, administered to the sick, and taught some, at least, of the people, gratis. This, upon the face of the thing, seems to be a very good way of disposing of a rich man’s estate.

“Aye, but,” it is said, “he left his estate away from his relations.” That is not sure, by any means. The contrary is fairly to be presumed. Doubtless, it was the custom for Catholic Priests, before they took their leave of a dying rich man, to advise him to think of the Church and the Poor; that is to say to exhort him to bequeath something to them; and this has been made a monstrous charge against that Church. It is surprising how blind men are, when they have a mind to be blind; what despicable dolts they are, when they desire to be cheated. We, of the Church of England, must have a special deal of good sense and of modesty, to be sure, to rail against the Catholic Church on this account, when our Common Prayer Book, copied from an Act of Parliament, commands our Parsons to do just the same thing!

Ah! say the Dissenters, and particularly the Unitarians; that queer sect, who will have all the wisdom in the world to themselves; who will believe and won’t believe; who will be Christians and who won’t have a Christ; who will laugh at you, if you believe in the Trinity, and who would (if they could) boil you in oil if you do not believe in the Resurrection: “Oh!” say the Dissenters, “we know very well, that your Church Parsons are[Pg 250] commanded to get, if they can, dying people to give their money and estates to the Church and the poor, as they call the concern, though the poor, we believe, come in for very little which is got in this way. But what is your Church? We are the real Christians; and we, upon our souls, never play such tricks; never, no never, terrify old women out of their stockings full of guineas.” “And, as to us,” say the Unitarians, “we, the most liberal creatures upon earth; we, whose virtue is indignant at the tricks by which the Monks and Nuns got legacies from dying people to the injury of heirs and other relations; we, who are the really enlightened, the truly consistent, the benevolent, the disinterested, the exclusive patentees of the salt of the earth, which is sold only at, or by express permission from our old and original warehouse and manufactory, Essex-street, in the Strand, first street on the left, going from Temple Bar towards Charing Cross; we defy you to show that Unitarian Parsons....”

Stop your protestations and hear my Reigate anecdote, which, as I said above, brought the recollection of the Old Priory into my head. The readers of the Register heard me, several times, some years ago, mention Mr. Baron Maseres, who was, for a great many years, what they call Cursitor Baron of the Exchequer. He lived partly in London and partly at Reigate, for more, I believe, than half a century; and he died, about two years ago, or less, leaving, I am told, more than a quarter of a million of money. The Baron came to see me, in Pall Mall, in 1800. He always came frequently to see me, wherever I was in London; not by any means omitting to come to see me in Newgate, where I was imprisoned for two years, with a thousand pounds fine and seven years heavy bail, for having expressed my indignation at the flogging of Englishmen, in the heart of England, under a guard of German bayonets; and to Newgate he always came in his wig and gown, in order, as he said, to show his abhorrence of the sentence. I several times passed a week, or more, with the Baron at his house, at Reigate, and might have passed many more, if my time and taste would have permitted me to accept of his invitations. Therefore, I knew the Baron well. He was a most conscientious man; he was when I first knew him, still a very clever man; he retained all his faculties to a very great age; in 1815, I think it was, I got a letter from him, written in a firm hand, correctly as to grammar, and ably as to matter, and he must then have been little short of ninety. He never was a bright man; but had always been a very sensible, just and humane man, and a man too who always cared a great deal for the public good; and he was the only man that I ever heard of, who refused to have his salary augmented, when an augmentation[Pg 251] was offered, and when all other such salaries were augmented. I had heard of this: I asked him about it when I saw him again; and he said: “There was no work to be added, and I saw no justice in adding to the salary. It must,” added he, “be paid by somebody, and the more I take, the less that somebody must have.”

He did not save money for money’s sake. He saved it because his habits would not let him spend it. He kept a house in Rathbone Place, chambers in the Temple, and his very pretty place at Reigate. He was by no means stingy, but his scale and habits were cheap. Then, consider, too, a bachelor of nearly a hundred years old. His father left him a fortune, his brother (who also died a very old bachelor), left him another; and the money lay in the funds, and it went on doubling itself over and over again, till it became that immense mass which we have seen above, and which, when the Baron was making his will, he had neither Catholic priest nor Protestant parson to exhort him to leave to the church and the poor, instead of his relations; though, as we shall presently see, he had somebody else to whom to leave his great heap of money.

The Baron was a most implacable enemy of the Catholics, as Catholics. There was rather a peculiar reason for this, his grand-father having been a French Hugonot and having fled with his children to England, at the time of the revocation of the Edict of Nantz. The Baron was a very humane man; his humanity made him assist to support the French emigrant priests; but, at the same time, he caused Sir Richard Musgrave’s book against the Irish Catholics to be published at his own expense. He and I never agreed upon this subject; and this subject was, with him, a vital one. He had no asperity in his nature; he was naturally all gentleness and benevolence; and, therefore, he never resented what I said to him on this subject (and which nobody else ever, I believe, ventured to say to him): but he did not like it; and he liked it less because I certainly beat him in the argument. However, this was long before he visited me in Newgate: and it never produced (though the dispute was frequently revived) any difference in his conduct towards me, which was uniformly friendly to the last time I saw him before his memory was gone.

There was great excuse for the Baron. From his very birth he had been taught to hate and abhor the Catholic religion. He had been told, that his father and mother had been driven out of France by the Catholics: and there was that mother dinning this in his ears, and all manner of horrible stories along with it, during all the tender years of his life. In short, the prejudice made part of his very frame. In the year 1803, in August, I think[Pg 252] it was, I had gone down to his house on a Friday, and was there on a Sunday. After dinner he and I and his brother walked to the Priory, as is still called the mansion house, in the dell at Reigate, which is now occupied by Lord Eastnor, and in which a Mr. Birket, I think, then lived. After coming away from the Priory, the Baron (whose native place was Betchworth, about two or three miles from Reigate) who knew the history of every house and every thing else in this part of the country, began to tell me why the place was called the Priory. From this he came to the superstition and dark ignorance that induced people to found monasteries; and he dwelt particularly on the injustice to heirs and relations; and he went on, in the usual Protestant strain, and with all the bitterness of which he was capable, against those crafty priests, who thus plundered families by means of the influence which they had over people in their dotage, or who were naturally weak-minded.

Alas! poor Baron! he does not seem to have at all foreseen what was to become of his own money! What would he have said to me, if I had answered his observations by predicting, that he would give his great mass of money to a little parson for that parson’s own private use; leave only a mere pittance to his own relations; leave the little parson his house in which we were then sitting (along with all his other real property); that the little parson would come into the house and take possession; and that his own relations (two nieces) would walk out! Yet, all this has actually taken place, and that, too, after the poor old Baron’s four score years of jokes about the tricks of Popish priests, practised, in the dark ages, upon the ignorant and superstitious people of Reigate.

When I first knew the Baron he was a staunch Church of England man. He went to church every Sunday once, at least. He used to take me to Reigate church; and I observed, that he was very well versed in his prayer book. But a decisive proof of his zeal as a Church of England man is, that he settled an annual sum on the incumbent of Reigate, in order to induce him to preach, or pray (I forget which), in the church, twice on a Sunday, instead of once; and, in case this additional preaching, or praying, were not performed in Reigate church, the annuity was to go (and sometimes it does now go) to the poor of an adjoining parish, and not to those of Reigate, lest I suppose, the parson, the overseers, and other rate-payers, might happen to think that the Baron’s annuity would be better laid out in food for the bodies than for the souls of the poor; or, in other words, lest the money should be taken annually and added to the poor-rates to ease the purses of the farmers.

It did not, I dare say, occur to the poor Baron (when he was[Pg 253] making this settlement), that he was now giving money to make a church parson put up additional prayers, though he had, all his lifetime, been laughing at those, who, in the dark ages, gave money, for this purpose, to Catholic priests. Nor did it, I dare say, occur, to the Baron, that, in his contingent settlement of the annuity on the poor of an adjoining parish, he as good as declared his opinion, that he distrusted the piety of the parson, the overseers, the churchwardens, and, indeed, of all the people of Reigate: yes, at the very moment that he was providing additional prayers for them, he in the very same parchment, put a provision, which clearly showed that he was thoroughly convinced that they, overseers, churchwardens, people, parson and all, loved money better than prayers.

What was this, then? Was it hypocrisy; was it ostentation? No: mistake. The Baron thought that those who could not go to church in the morning ought to have an opportunity of going in the afternoon. He was aware of the power of money; but, when he came to make his obligatory clause, he was compelled to do that which reflected great discredit on the very church and religion, which it was his object to honour and uphold.

However, the Baron was a staunch churchman as this fact clearly proves: several years he had become what they call an Unitarian. The first time (I think) that I perceived this, was in 1812. He came to see me in Newgate, and he soon began to talk about religion, which had not been much his habit. He went on at a great rate, laughing about the Trinity; and I remember that he repeated the Unitarian distich, which makes a joke of the idea of there being a devil, and which they all repeat to you, and at the same time laugh and look as cunning and as priggish as Jack-daws; just as if they were wiser than all the rest of the world! I hate to hear the conceited and disgusting prigs, seeming to take it for granted, that they only are wise, because others believe in the incarnation, without being able to reconcile it to reason. The prigs don’t consider, that there is no more reason for the resurrection than for the incarnation; and yet having taken it into their heads to come up again, they would murder you, if they dared, if you were to deny the resurrection. I do most heartily despise this priggish set for their conceit and impudence; but, seeing that they want reason for the incarnation; seeing that they will have effects, here, ascribed to none but usual causes, let me put a question or two to them.

1. Whence comes the white clover, that comes up and covers all the ground, in America, where hard-wood trees, after standing for thousands of years, have been burnt down?

[Pg 254]

2. Whence come (in similar cases as to self-woods) the hurtleberries in some places, and the raspberries in others?

3. Whence come fish in new made places where no fish have ever been put?

4. What causes horse-hair to become living things?

5. What causes frogs to come in drops of rain, or those drops of rain to turn to frogs, the moment they are on the earth?

6. What causes musquitoes to come in rain water caught in a glass, covered over immediately with oil paper, tied down and so kept till full of these winged torments?

7. What causes flounders, real little flat fish, brown on one side, white on the other, mouth side-ways, with tail, fins, and all, leaping alive, in the inside of a rotten sheep’s, and of every rotten sheep’s, liver?

There, prigs; answer these questions. Fifty might be given you; but these are enough. Answer these. I suppose you will not deny the facts? They are all notoriously true. The last, which of itself would be quite enough for you, will be attested on oath, if you like it, by any farmer, ploughman, and shepherd, in England. Answer this question 7, or hold your conceited gabble about the “impossibility” of that which I need not here name.

Men of sense do not attempt to discover that which it is impossible to discover. They leave things pretty much as they find them; and take care, at least, not to make changes of any sort, without very evident necessity. The poor Baron, however, appeared to be quite eaten up with his “rational Christianity.” He talked like a man who has made a discovery of his own. He seemed as pleased as I, when I was a boy, used to be, when I had just found a rabbit’s stop, or a black-bird’s nest full of young ones. I do not recollect what I said upon this occasion. It is most likely that I said nothing in contradiction to him. I saw the Baron many times after this, but I never talked with him about religion.

Before the summer of 1822, I had not seen him for a year or two, perhaps. But, in July of that year, on a very hot day, I was going down Rathbone Place, and, happening to cast my eye on the Baron’s house, I knocked at the door to ask how he was. His man servant came to the door, and told me that his master was at dinner. “Well,” said I, “never mind; give my best respects to him.” But the servant (who had always been with him since I knew him) begged me to come in, for that he was sure his master would be glad to see me. I thought, as it was likely that I might never see him again, I would go in. The servant announced me, and the Baron said, “Beg him to walk in.” In I went, and there I found the Baron at dinner; but not quite[Pg 255] alone; nor without spiritual as well as carnal and vegetable nourishment before him: for, there, on the opposite side of his vis-à-vis dining table, sat that nice, neat, straight, prim piece of mortality, commonly called the Reverend Robert Fellowes, who was the Chaplain to the unfortunate Queen until Mr. Alderman Wood’s son came to supply his place, and who was now, I could clearly see, in a fair way enough. I had dined, and so I let them dine on. The Baron was become quite a child, or worse, as to mind, though he ate as heartily as I ever saw him, and he was always a great eater. When his servant said, “Here is Mr. Cobbett, Sir;” he said, “How do you do, Sir? I have read much of your writings, Sir; but never had the pleasure to see your person before.” After a time I made him recollect me; but he, directly after, being about to relate something about America, turned towards me, and said, “Were you ever in America, Sir?” But I must mention one proof of the state of his mind. Mr. Fellowes asked me about the news from Ireland, where the people were then in a state of starvation (1822), and I answering that, it was likely that many of them would actually be starved to death, the Baron, quitting his green goose and green pease, turned to me and said, “Starved, Sir! Why don’t they go to the parish?” “Why,” said I, “you know, Sir, that there are no poor-rates in Ireland.” Upon this he exclaimed, “What! no poor-rates in Ireland! Why not? I did not know that; I can’t think how that can be.” And then he rambled on in a childish sort of way.

At the end of about half an hour, or, it might be more, I shook hands with the poor old Baron for the last time, well convinced that I should never see him again, and not less convinced, that I had seen his heir. He died in about a year or so afterwards, left to his own family about 20,000l., and to his ghostly guide, the Holy Robert Fellowes, all the rest of his immense fortune, which, as I have been told, amounts to more than a quarter of a million of money.

Now, the public will recollect that, while Mr. Fellowes was at the Queen’s, he was, in the public papers, charged with being an Unitarian, at the same time that he officiated as her chaplain. It is also well known, that he never publicly contradicted this. It is, besides, the general belief at Reigate. However, this we know well, that he is a parson, of one sort or the other, and that he is not a Catholic priest. That is enough for me. I see this poor, foolish old man leaving a monstrous mass of money to this little Protestant parson, whom he had not even known more, I believe, than about three or four years. When the will was made I cannot say. I know nothing at all about that. I am supposing that all was perfectly fair; that the Baron had his[Pg 256] senses when he made his will; that he clearly meant to do that which he did. But, then, I must insist, that, if he had left the money to a Catholic priest, to be by him expended on the endowment of a convent, wherein to say masses and to feed and teach the poor, it would have been a more sensible and public-spirited part in the Baron, much more beneficial to the town and environs of Reigate, and beyond all measure more honourable to his own memory.

 

Chilworth, Friday Evening,
21st Oct.

It has been very fine to-day. Yesterday morning there was snow on Reigate Hill, enough to look white from where we were in the valley. We set off about half-past one o’clock, and came all down the valley, through Buckland, Betchworth, Dorking, Sheer and Aldbury, to this place. Very few prettier rides in England, and the weather beautifully fine. There are more meeting-houses than churches in the vale, and I have heard of no less than five people, in this vale, who have gone crazy on account of religion.

To-morrow we intend to move on towards the West; to take a look, just a look, at the Hampshire Parsons again. The turnips seem fine; but they cannot be large. All other things are very fine indeed. Everything seems to prognosticate a hard winter. All the country people say that it will be so.

 

 


RIDE: FROM CHILWORTH, IN SURREY, TO WINCHESTER.

 

Thursley, four miles from
Godalming, Surrey,
Sunday Evening, 23rd October, 1825.

We set out from Chilworth to-day about noon. This is a little hamlet, lying under the South side of St. Martha’s Hill; and, on the other side of that hill, a little to the North West, is the town of Guilford, which (taken with its environs) I, who have seen so many, many towns, think the prettiest, and, taken, all together, the most agreeable and most happy-looking, that I ever saw in my life. Here are hill and dell in endless variety. Here are the chalk and the sand, vieing with each other in making beautiful scenes. Here is a navigable river and fine meadows. Here are woods and downs. Here is something of [Pg 257]everything but fat marshes and their skeleton-making agues. The vale, all the way down to Chilworth from Reigate, is very delightful.

We did not go to Guildford, nor did we cross the River Wey, to come through Godalming; but bore away to our left, and came through the village of Hambleton, going first to Hascomb, to show Richard the South Downs from that high land, which looks Southward over the Wealds of Surrey and Sussex, with all their fine and innumerable oak trees. Those that travel on turnpike roads know nothing of England.—From Hascomb to Thursley almost the whole way is across fields, or commons, or along narrow lands. Here we see the people without any disguise or affectation. Against a great road things are made for show. Here we see them without any show. And here we gain real knowledge as to their situation.—We crossed to-day, three turnpike roads, that from Guildford to Horsham, that from Godalming to Worthing, I believe, and that from Godalming to Chichester.

 

Thursley, Wednesday, 26th Oct.

The weather has been beautiful ever since last Thursday morning; but there has been a white frost every morning, and the days have been coldish. Here, however, I am quite at home in a room, where there is one of my American Fire Places, bought, by my host, of Mr. Judson of Kensington, who has made many a score of families comfortable, instead of sitting shivering in the cold. At the house of the gentleman, whose house I am now in, there is a good deal of fuel-wood; and here I see in the parlours, those fine and cheerful fires that make a great part of the happiness of the Americans. But these fires are to be had only in this sort of fire-place. Ten times the fuel; nay, no quantity, would effect the same object, in any other fire-place. It is equally good for coal as for wood; but, for pleasure, a wood-fire is the thing. There is, round about almost every gentleman’s or great farmer’s house, more wood suffered to rot every year, in one shape or another, than would make (with this fire-place) a couple of rooms constantly warm, from October to June. Here, peat, turf, saw-dust, and wood, are burnt in these fire-places. My present host has three of the fire-places.

Being out a-coursing to-day, I saw a queer-looking building upon one of the thousands of hills that nature has tossed up in endless variety of form round the skirts of the lofty Hindhead. This building is, it seems, called a Semaphore, or Semiphare, or something of that sort. What this word may have been hatched out of I cannot say; but it means a job, I am sure. To call it an alarm-post would not have been so convenient; for people not endued with Scotch intellect might have[Pg 258] wondered why the devil we should have to pay for alarm-posts; and might have thought, that, with all our “glorious victories,” we had “brought our hogs to a fine market,” if our dread of the enemy were such as to induce us to have alarm-posts all over the country! Such unintellectual people might have thought that we had “conquered France by the immortal Wellington,” to little purpose, if we were still in such fear as to build alarm-posts; and they might, in addition, have observed, that, for many hundred of years, England stood in need of neither signal posts nor standing army of mercenaries; but relied safely on the courage and public spirit of the people themselves. By calling the thing by an outlandish name, these reflections amongst the unintellectual are obviated. Alarm-post would be a nasty name; and it would puzzle people exceedingly, when they saw one of these at a place like Ashe, a little village on the north side of the chalk-ridge (called the Hog’s Back) going from Guildford to Farnham. What can this be for? Why are these expensive things put up all over the country? Respecting the movements of whom is wanted this alarm-system? Will no member ask this in Parliament? Not one: not a man: and yet it is a thing to ask about. Ah! it is in vain, Thing, that you thus are making your preparations; in vain that you are setting your trammels! The DEBT, the blessed debt, that best ally of the people, will break them all; will snap them, as the hornet does the cobweb; and, even these very “Semaphores,” contribute towards the force of that ever-blessed debt. Curious to see how things work! The “glorious revolution,” which was made for the avowed purpose of maintaining the Protestant ascendancy, and which was followed by such terrible persecution of the Catholics; that “glorious” affair, which set aside a race of kings, because they were Catholics, served as the precedent for the American revolution, also called “glorious,” and this second revolution compelled the successors of the makers of the first, to begin to cease their persecutions of the Catholics! Then, again, the debt was made to raise and keep armies on foot to prevent reform of Parliament, because, as it was feared by the Aristocracy, reform would have humbled them; and this debt, created for this purpose, is fast sweeping the Aristocracy out of their estates, as a clown, with his foot, kicks field-mice out of their nests. There was a hope, that the debt could have been reduced by stealth, as it were; that the Aristocracy could have been saved in this way. That hope now no longer exists. In all likelihood the funds will keep going down. What is to prevent this, if the interest of Exchequer Bills be raised, as the broad sheet tells us it is to be? What! the funds fall in time of peace; and the French funds not fall, in time of peace![Pg 259] However, it will all happen just as it ought to happen. Even the next session of Parliament will bring out matters of some interest. The thing is now working in the surest possible way.

The great business of life, in the country, appertains, in some way or other, to the game, and especially at this time of the year. If it were not for the game, a country life would be like an everlasting honey-moon, which would, in about half a century, put an end to the human race. In towns, or large villages, people make a shift to find the means of rubbing the rust off from each other by a vast variety of sources of contest. A couple of wives meeting in the street, and giving each other a wry look, or a look not quite civil enough, will, if the parties be hard pushed for a ground of contention, do pretty well. But in the country, there is, alas! no such resource. Here are no walls for people to take of each other. Here they are so placed as to prevent the possibility of such lucky local contact. Here is more than room of every sort, elbow, leg, horse, or carriage, for them all. Even at Church (most of the people being in the meeting-houses) the pews are surprisingly too large. Here, therefore, where all circumstances seem calculated to cause never-ceasing concord with its accompanying dullness, there would be no relief at all, were it not for the game. This, happily, supplies the place of all other sources of alternate dispute and reconciliation; it keeps all in life and motion, from the lord down to the hedger. When I see two men, whether in a market-room, by the way-side, in a parlour, in a church-yard, or even in the church itself, engaged in manifestly deep and most momentous discourse, I will, if it be any time between September and February, bet ten to one, that it is, in some way or other, about the game. The wives and daughters hear so much of it, that they inevitably get engaged in the disputes; and thus all are kept in a state of vivid animation. I should like very much to be able to take a spot, a circle of 12 miles in diameter, and take an exact account of all the time spent by each individual, above the age of ten (that is the age they begin at), in talking, during the game season of one year, about the game and about sporting exploits. I verily believe that it would amount, upon an average, to six times as much as all the other talk put together; and, as to the anger, the satisfaction, the scolding, the commendation, the chagrin, the exultation, the envy, the emulation, where are there any of these in the country, unconnected with the game?

There is, however, an important distinction to be made between hunters (including coursers) and shooters. The latter are, as far as relates to their exploits, a disagreeable class, compared with the former; and the reason of this is, their doings are almost wholly their own; while, in the case of the others, the[Pg 260] achievements are the property of the dogs. Nobody likes to hear another talk much in praise of his own acts, unless those acts have a manifest tendency to produce some good to the hearer; and shooters do talk much of their own exploits, and those exploits rather tend to humiliate the hearer. Then, a great shooter will, nine times out of ten, go so far as almost to lie a little; and, though people do not tell him of it, they do not like him the better for it; and he but too frequently discovers that they do not believe him: whereas, hunters are mere followers of the dogs, as mere spectators; their praises, if any are called for, are bestowed on the greyhounds, the hounds, the fox, the hare, or the horses. There is a little rivalship in the riding, or in the behaviour of the horses; but this has so little to do with the personal merit of the sportsmen, that it never produces a want of good fellowship in the evening of the day. A shooter who has been missing all day, must have an uncommon share of good sense, not to feel mortified while the slaughterers are relating the adventures of that day; and this is what cannot exist in the case of the hunters. Bring me into a room, with a dozen men in it, who have been sporting all day; or, rather let me be in an adjoining room, where I can hear the sound of their voices, without being able to distinguish the words, and I will bet ten to one that I tell whether they be hunters or shooters.

I was once acquainted with a famous shooter whose name was William Ewing. He was a barrister of Philadelphia, but became far more renowned by his gun than by his law cases. We spent scores of days together a-shooting, and were extremely well matched, I having excellent dogs and caring little about my reputation as a shot, his dogs being good for nothing, and he caring more about his reputation as a shot than as a lawyer. The fact which I am going to relate respecting this gentleman, ought to be a warning to young men, how they become enamoured of this species of vanity. We had gone about ten miles from our home, to shoot where partridges were said to be very plentiful. We found them so. In the course of a November day, he had, just before dark, shot, and sent to the farmhouse, or kept in his bag, ninety-nine partridges. He made some few double shots, and he might have a miss or two, for he sometimes shot when out of my sight, on account of the woods. However, he said that he killed at every shot; and, as he had counted the birds, when we went to dinner at the farmhouse and when he cleaned his gun, he, just before sun-set, knew that he had killed ninety-nine partridges, every one upon the wing, and a great part of them in woods very thickly set with largish trees. It was a grand achievement; but, unfortunately, he wanted to make it a hundred. The sun was setting, and, in that country, darkness[Pg 261] comes almost at once; it is more like the going out of a candle than that of a fire; and I wanted to be off, as we had a very bad road to go, and as he, being under strict petticoat government, to which he most loyally and dutifully submitted, was compelled to get home that night, taking me with him, the vehicle (horse and gig) being mine. I, therefore, pressed him to come away, and moved on myself towards the house (that of old John Brown, in Bucks county, grandfather of that General Brown, who gave some of our whiskered heroes such a rough handling last war, which was waged for the purpose of “deposing James Madison”), at which house I would have stayed all night, but from which I was compelled to go by that watchful government, under which he had the good fortune to live. Therefore I was in haste to be off. No: he would kill the hundredth bird! In vain did I talk of the bad road and its many dangers for want of moon. The poor partridges, which we had scattered about, were calling all around us; and, just at this moment, up got one under his feet, in a field in which the wheat was three or four inches high. He shot and missed. “That’s it,” said he, running as if to pick up the bird. “What!” said I, “you don’t think you killed, do you? Why there is the bird now, not only alive, but calling in that wood;” which was at about a hundred yards distance. He, in that form of words usually employed in such cases, asserted that he shot the bird and saw it fall; and I, in much about the same form of words, asserted, that he had missed, and that I, with my own eyes, saw the bird fly into the wood. This was too much! To miss once out of a hundred times! To lose such a chance of immortality! He was a good-humoured man; I liked him very much; and I could not help feeling for him, when he said, “Well, Sir, I killed the bird; and if you choose to go away and take your dog away, so as to prevent me from finding it, you must do it; the dog is yours, to be sure.” “The dog,” said I, in a very mild tone, “why, Ewing, there is the spot; and could we not see it, upon this smooth green surface, if it were there?” However, he began to look about; and I called the dog, and affected to join him in the search. Pity for his weakness got the better of my dread of the bad road. After walking backward and forward many times upon about twenty yards square with our eyes to the ground, looking for what both of us knew was not there, I had passed him (he going one way and I the other), and I happened to be turning round just after I had passed him, when I saw him, putting his hand behind him, take a partridge out of his bag and let it fall upon the ground! I felt no temptation to detect him, but turned away my head, and kept looking about. Presently he, having returned to the spot where the bird was, called out to[Pg 262] me, in a most triumphant tone; “Here! here! Come here!” I went up to him, and he, pointing with his finger down to the bird, and looking hard in my face at the same time, said, “There, Cobbett; I hope that will be a warning to you never to be obstinate again”! “Well,” said I, “come along:” and away we went as merry as larks. When we got to Brown’s, he told them the story, triumphed over me most clamorously; and, though he often repeated the story to my face, I never had the heart to let him know, that I knew of the imposition, which puerile vanity had induced so sensible and honourable a man to be mean enough to practise.

A professed shot is, almost always, a very disagreeable brother sportsman. He must, in the first place, have a head rather of the emptiest to pride himself upon so poor a talent. Then he is always out of temper, if the game fail, or if he miss it. He never participates in that great delight which all sensible men enjoy at beholding the beautiful action, the docility, the zeal, the wonderful sagacity of the pointer and the setter. He is always thinking about himself; always anxious to surpass his companions. I remember that, once, Ewing and I had lost our dog. We were in a wood, and the dog had gone out, and found a covey in a wheat stubble joining the wood. We had been whistling and calling him for, perhaps, half an hour, or more. When we came out of the wood we saw him pointing, with one foot up; and, soon after, he, keeping his foot and body unmoved, gently turned round his head towards the spot where he heard us, as if to bid us come on, and, when he saw that we saw him, turned his head back again. I was so delighted, that I stopped to look with admiration. Ewing, astonished at my want of alacrity, pushed on, shot one of the partridges, and thought no more about the conduct of the dog than if the sagacious creature had had nothing at all to do with the matter. When I left America, in 1800, I gave this dog to Lord Henry Stuart, who was, when he came home, a year or two afterwards, about to bring him to astonish the sportsmen even in England; but those of Pennsylvania were resolved not to part with him, and, therefore they stole him the night before his Lordship came away. Lord Henry had plenty of pointers after his return, and he saw hundreds; but always declared, that he never saw any thing approaching in excellence this American dog. For the information of sportsmen I ought to say, that this was a small-headed and sharp-nosed pointer, hair as fine as that of a greyhound, little and short ears, very light in the body, very long legged, and swift as a good lurcher. I had him a puppy, and he never had any breaking, but he pointed staunchly at once; and I am of opinion, that this sort is, in all respects, better than the[Pg 263] heavy breed. Mr. Thornton, (I beg his pardon, I believe he is now a Knight of some sort) who was, and perhaps still is, our Envoy in Portugal, at the time here referred to was a sort of partner with Lord Henry in this famous dog; and gratitude (to the memory of the dog I mean), will, I am sure, or, at least, I hope so, make him bear witness to the truth of my character of him; and, if one could hear an Ambassador speak out, I think that Mr. Thornton would acknowledge, that his calling has brought him in pretty close contact with many a man who was possessed of most tremendous political power, without possessing half the sagacity, half the understanding, of this dog, and without being a thousandth part so faithful to his trust.

I am quite satisfied, that there are as many sorts of men as there are of dogs. Swift was a man, and so is Walter the base. But is the sort the same? It cannot be education alone that makes the amazing difference that we see. Besides, we see men of the very same rank and riches and education, differing as widely as the pointer does from the pug. The name, man, is common to all the sorts, and hence arises very great mischief. What confusion must there be in rural affairs, if there were no names whereby to distinguish hounds, greyhounds, pointers, spaniels, terriers, and sheep dogs, from each other! And, what pretty work, if, without regard to the sorts of dogs, men were to attempt to employ them! Yet, this is done in the case of men! A man is always a man; and, without the least regard as to the sort, they are promiscuously placed in all kinds of situations. Now, if Mr. Brougham, Doctors Birkbeck, Macculloch and Black, and that profound personage, Lord John Russell, will, in their forth-coming “London University,” teach us how to divide men into sorts, instead of teaching us to “augment the capital of the nation,” by making paper-money, they will render us a real service. That will be feelosofy worth attending to. What would be said of the ’Squire who should take a fox-hound out to find partridges for him to shoot at? Yet, would this be more absurd than to set a man to law-making who was manifestly formed for the express purpose of sweeping the streets or digging out sewers?

 

Farnham, Surrey,
Thursday, Oct. 27th.

We came over the heath from Thursley, this morning, on our way to Winchester. Mr. Wyndham’s fox-hounds are coming to Thursley on Saturday. More than three-fourths of all the interesting talk in that neighbourhood, for some days past, has been about this anxiously-looked-for event. I have seen no man, or boy, who did not talk about it. There had been a false[Pg 264] report about it; the hounds did not come; and the anger of the disappointed people was very great. At last, however, the authentic intelligence came, and I left them all as happy as if all were young and all just going to be married. An abatement of my pleasure, however, on this joyous occasion was, that I brought away with me one, who was as eager as the best of them. Richard, though now only 11 years and 6 months old, had, it seems, one fox-hunt, in Herefordshire, last winter; and he actually has begun to talk rather contemptuously of hare hunting. To show me that he is in no danger, he has been leaping his horse over banks and ditches by the road side, all our way across the country from Reigate; and he joined with such glee in talking of the expected arrival of the fox-hounds, that I felt some little pain at bringing him away. My engagement at Winchester is for Saturday; but, if it had not been so, the deep and hidden ruts in the heath, in a wood in the midst of which the hounds are sure to find, and the immense concourse of horsemen that is sure to be assembled, would have made me bring him away. Upon the high, hard and open countries, I should not be afraid for him; but here the danger would have been greater than it would have been right for me to suffer him to run.

We came hither by the way of Waverley Abbey and Moore Park. On the commons I showed Richard some of my old hunting scenes, when I was of his age, or younger, reminding him that I was obliged to hunt on foot. We got leave to go and see the grounds at Waverley, where all the old monks’ garden walls are totally gone, and where the spot is become a sort of lawn. I showed him the spot where the strawberry garden was, and where I, when sent to gather hautboys, used to eat every remarkably fine one, instead of letting it go to be eaten by Sir Robert Rich. I showed him a tree, close by the ruins of the Abbey, from a limb of which I once fell into the river, in an attempt to take the nest of a crow, which had artfully placed it upon a branch so far from the trunk as not to be able to bear the weight of a boy eight years old. I showed him an old elm tree, which was hollow even then, into which I, when a very little boy, once saw a cat go, that was as big as a middle-sized spaniel dog, for relating which I got a great scolding, for standing to which I, at last, got a beating; but stand to which I still did. I have since many times repeated it; and I would take my oath of it to this day. When in New Brunswick I saw the great wild grey cat, which is there called a Lucifee; and it seemed to me to be just such a cat as I had seen at Waverley. I found the ruins not very greatly diminished; but it is strange how small the mansion, and ground, and everything but the trees, appeared to me. They were all great to my mind when I saw them last; and that early[Pg 265] impression had remained, whenever I had talked or thought, of the spot; so that, when I came to see them again, after seeing the sea and so many other immense things, it seemed as if they had all been made small. This was not the case with regard to the trees, which are nearly as big here as they are anywhere else; and the old cat-elm, for instance, which Richard measured with his whip, is about 16 or 17 feet round.

From Waverley we went to Moore Park, once the seat of Sir William Temple, and when I was a very little boy, the seat of a Lady, or a Mrs. Temple. Here I showed Richard Mother Ludlum’s Hole; but, alas! it is not the enchanting place that I knew it, nor that which Grose describes in his Antiquities! The semicircular paling is gone; the basins, to catch the never-ceasing little stream, are gone; the iron cups, fastened by chains, for people to drink out of, are gone; the pavement all broken to pieces; the seats, for people to sit on, on both sides of the cave, torn up and gone; the stream that ran down a clean paved channel, now making a dirty gutter; and the ground opposite, which was a grove, chiefly of laurels, intersected by closely mowed grass-walks, now become a poor, ragged-looking alder-coppice. Near the mansion, I showed Richard the hill, upon which Dean Swift tells us he used to run for exercise, while he was pursuing his studies here; and I would have showed him the garden-seat, under which Sir William Temple’s heart was buried, agreeably to his will; but the seat was gone, also the wall at the back of it; and the exquisitely beautiful little lawn in which the seat stood, was turned into a parcel of divers-shaped cockney-clumps, planted according to the strictest rules of artificial and refined vulgarity.

At Waverley, Mr. Thompson, a merchant of some sort, has succeeded (after the monks) the Orby Hunters and Sir Robert Rich. At Moore Park, a Mr. Laing, a West Indian planter or merchant, has succeeded the Temples; and at the castle of Farnham, which you see from Moore Park, Bishop Prettyman Tomline has, at last, after perfectly regular and due gradations, succeeded William of Wykham! In coming up from Moore Park to Farnham town, I stopped opposite the door of a little old house, where there appeared to be a great parcel of children. “There, Dick,” said I, “when I was just such a little creature as that, whom you see in the door-way, I lived in this very house with my grand-mother Cobbett.” He pulled up his horse, and looked very hard at it, but said nothing, and on we came.

 

Winchester,
Sunday noon, Oct. 30.

We came away from Farnham about noon on Friday, promising[Pg 266] Bishop Prettyman to notice him and his way of living more fully on our return. At Alton we got some bread and cheese at a friend’s, and then came to Alresford by Medstead, in order to have fine turf to ride on, and to see, on this lofty land that which is, perhaps, the finest beech-wood in all England. These high down-countries are not garden plats, like Kent; but they have, from my first seeing them, when I was about ten, always been my delight. Large sweeping downs, and deep dells here and there, with villages amongst lofty trees, are my great delight. When we got to Alresford it was nearly dark, and not being able to find a room to our liking, we resolved to go, though in the dark, to Easton, a village about six miles from Alresford down by the side of the Hichen River.

Coming from Easton yesterday, I learned that Sir Charles Ogle, the eldest son and successor of Sir Chaloner Ogle, had sold to some General, his mansion and estate at Martyr’s Worthy, a village on the North side of the Hichen, just opposite Easton. The Ogles had been here for a couple of centuries perhaps. They are gone off now, “for good and all,” as the country people call it. Well, what I have to say to Sir Charles Ogle upon this occasion is this: “It was you, who moved at the county meeting, in 1817, that Address to the Regent, which you brought ready engrossed upon parchment, which Fleming, the Sheriff, declared to have been carried, though a word of it never was heard by the meeting; which address applauded the power of imprisonment bill, just then passed; and the like of which address, you will not in all human probability, ever again move in Hampshire, and, I hope, nowhere else. So, you see, Sir Charles, there is one consolation, at any rate.”

I learned, too, that Greame, a famously loyal ’squire and justice, whose son was, a few years ago, made a Distributor of Stamps in this county, was become so modest as to exchange his big and ancient mansion at Cheriton, or somewhere there, for a very moderate-sized house in the town of Alresford! I saw his household goods advertised in the Hampshire newspaper, a little while ago, to be sold by public auction. I rubbed my eyes, or, rather, my spectacles, and looked again and again; for I remembered the loyal ’Squire; and I, with singular satisfaction, record this change in his scale of existence, which has, no doubt, proceeded solely from that prevalence of mind over matter, which the Scotch feelosofers have taken such pains to inculcate, and which makes him flee from greatness as from that which diminishes the quantity of “intellectual enjoyment;” and so now he,

“Wondering man can want the larger pile,
Exults, and owns his cottage with a smile.”

[Pg 267]And they really tell me, that his present house is not much bigger than that of my dear, good old grandmother Cobbett. But (and it may not be wholly useless for the ’Squire to know it) she never burnt candles; but rushes dipped in grease, as I have described them in my Cottage Economy; and this was one of the means that she made use of in order to secure a bit of good bacon and good bread to eat, and that made her never give me potatoes, cold or hot. No bad hint for the ’Squire, father of the distributor of Stamps. Good bacon is a very nice thing, I can assure him; and, if the quantity be small, it is all the sweeter; provided, however, it be not too small. This ’Squire used to be a great friend of Old George Rose. But his patron’s taste was different from his. George preferred a big house to a little one; and George began with a little one, and ended with a big one.

Just by Alresford, there was another old friend and supporter of Old George Rose, ’Squire Rawlinson, whom I remember a very great ’squire in this county. He is now a Police-’squire in London, and is one of those guardians of the Wen, respecting whose proceedings we read eternal columns in the broad-sheet.

This being Sunday, I heard, about 7 o’clock in the morning, a sort of a jangling, made by a bell or two in the Cathedral. We were getting ready to be off, to cross the country to Burghclere, which lies under the lofty hills at Highclere, about 22 miles from this city; but hearing the bells of the cathedral, I took Richard to show him that ancient and most magnificent pile, and particularly to show him the tomb of that famous bishop of Winchester, William of Wykham; who was the Chancellor and the Minister of the great and glorious King, Edward III.; who sprang from poor parents in the little village of Wykham, three miles from Botley; and who, amongst other great and most munificent deeds, founded the famous College, or School, of Winchester, and also one of the Colleges at Oxford. I told Richard about this as we went from the inn down to the cathedral; and, when I showed him the tomb, where the bishop lies on his back, in his Catholic robes, with his mitre on his head, his shepherd’s crook by his side, with little children at his feet, their hands put together in a praying attitude, he looked with a degree of inquisitive earnestness that pleased me very much. I took him as far as I could about the cathedral. The “service” was now begun. There is a dean, and God knows how many prebends belonging to this immensely rich bishopric and chapter; and there were, at this “service,” two or three men and five or six boys in white surplices, with a congregation of fifteen women and four men! Gracious God! If William of Wykham could, at that moment, have been raised from his tomb! If Saint Swithin, whose name the cathedral bears, or Alfred the Great, to whom[Pg 268] St. Swithin was tutor: if either of these could have come, and had been told, that that was now what was carried on by men, who talked of the “damnable errors” of those who founded that very church! But it beggars one’s feelings to attempt to find words whereby to express them upon such a subject and such an occasion. How, then, am I to describe what I felt, when I yesterday saw in Hyde Meadow, a county bridewell, standing on the very spot, where stood the Abbey which was founded and endowed by Alfred, which contained the bones of that maker of the English name, and also those of the learned monk, St. Grimbald, whom Alfred brought to England to begin the teaching at Oxford!

After we came out of the cathedral, Richard said, “Why, Papa, nobody can build such places now, can they?” “No, my dear,” said I. “That building was made when there were no poor wretches in England, called paupers; when there were no poor-rates; when every labouring man was clothed in good woollen cloth; and when all had a plenty of meat and bread and beer.” This talk lasted us to the inn, where, just as we were going to set off, it most curiously happened, that a parcel which had come from Kensington by the night coach, was put into my hands by the landlord, containing, amongst other things, a pamphlet, sent to me from Rome, being an Italian translation of No. I. of the “Protestant Reformation.” I will here insert the title for the satisfaction of Doctor Black, who, some time ago, expressed his utter astonishment, that “such a work should be published in the nineteenth century.” Why, Doctor? Did you want me to stop till the twentieth century? That would have been a little too long, Doctor.

Storia
Della
Riforma Protestante
In Inghilterra ed in Irlanda
La quale Dimostra
Come un tal’ avvenimento ha impoverito
E degradato il grosso del popolo in que’ paesi
in una serie di lettere indirizzate
A tutti i sensati e guisti inglesi
Da
Guglielmo Cobbett
E
Dall’ inglese recate in italiano
Da
Dominico Gregorj.
Roma 1825.
[Pg 269]Presso Francesco Bourlie.
Con Approvazione.

There, Doctor Black. Write you a book that shall be translated into any foreign language; and when you have done that, you may again call mine “pig’s meat.”

 

 


RURAL RIDE: FROM WINCHESTER TO BURGHCLERE.

 

Burghclere, Monday Morning,
31st October 1825.

We had, or I had, resolved not to breakfast at Winchester yesterday: and yet we were detained till nearly noon. But at last off we came, fasting. The turnpike-road from Winchester to this place comes through a village called Sutton Scotney, and then through Whitchurch, which lies on the Andover and London road, through Basingstoke. We did not take the cross-turnpike till we came to Whitchurch. We went to King’s Worthy; that is about two miles on the road from Winchester to London; and then, turning short to our left, came up upon the downs to the north of Winchester race-course. Here, looking back at the city and at the fine valley above and below it, and at the many smaller valleys that run down from the high ridges into that great and fertile valley, I could not help admiring the taste of the ancient kings who made this city (which once covered all the hill round about, and which contained 92 churches and chapels) a chief place of their residence. There are not many finer spots in England; and if I were to take in a circle of eight or ten miles of semi-diameter, I should say that I believe there is not one so fine. Here are hill, dell, water, meadows, woods, corn-fields, downs: and all of them very fine and very beautifully disposed. This country does not present to us that sort of beauties which we see about Guildford and Godalming, and round the skirts of Hindhead and Blackdown, where the ground lies in the form that the surface-water in a boiling copper would be in if you could, by word of command, make it be still, the variously-shaped bubbles all sticking up; and really, to look at the face of the earth, who can help imagining that some such process has produced its present form? Leaving this matter to be solved by those who laugh at mysteries, I repeat that the country round Winchester does not present to us beauties of[Pg 270] this sort; but of a sort which I like a great deal better. Arthur Young calls the vale between Farnham and Alton the finest ten miles in England. Here is a river with fine meadows on each side of it, and with rising grounds on each outside of the meadows, those grounds having some hop-gardens and some pretty woods. But though I was born in this vale I must confess that the ten miles between Maidstone and Tunbridge (which the Kentish folks call the Garden of Eden) is a great deal finer; for here, with a river three times as big, and a vale three times as broad, there are, on rising grounds six times as broad, not only hop-gardens and beautiful woods, but immense orchards of apples, pears, plums, cherries and filberts, and these, in many cases, with gooseberries and currants and raspberries beneath; and, all taken together, the vale is really worthy of the appellation which it bears. But even this spot, which I believe to be the very finest, as to fertility and diminutive beauty, in this whole world, I, for my part, do not like so well; nay, as a spot to live on, I think nothing at all of it, compared with a country where high downs prevail, with here and there a large wood on the top or the side of a hill, and where you see, in the deep dells, here and there a farm-house, and here and there a village, the buildings sheltered by a group of lofty trees.

This is my taste, and here, in the north of Hampshire, it has its full gratification. I like to look at the winding side of a great down, with two or three numerous flocks of sheep on it, belonging to different farms; and to see, lower down, the folds, in the fields, ready to receive them for the night. We had, when we got upon the downs, after leaving Winchester, this sort of country all the way to Whitchurch. Our point of destination was this village of Burghclere, which lies close under the north side of the lofty hill at Highclere, which is called Beacon Hill, and on the top of which there are still the marks of a Roman encampment. We saw this hill as soon as we got on Winchester Downs; and without any regard to roads, we steered for it, as sailors do for a land-mark. Of these 13 miles (from Winchester to Whitchurch) we rode about eight or nine upon the green-sward, or over fields equally smooth. And here is one great pleasure of living in countries of this sort: no sloughs, no ditches, no nasty dirty lanes, and the hedges, where there are any, are more for boundary marks than for fences. Fine for hunting and coursing: no impediments; no gates to open; nothing to impede the dogs, the horses, or the view. The water is not seen running; but the great bed of chalk holds it, and the sun draws it up for the benefit of the grass and the corn; and, whatever inconvenience is experienced from the necessity of deep wells, and of driving sheep and cattle far to water, is amply made up for by the [Pg 271]goodness of the water, and by the complete absence of floods, of drains, of ditches and of water-furrows. As things now are, however, these countries have one great drawback: the poor day-labourers suffer from the want of fuel, and they have nothing but their bare pay. For these reasons they are greatly worse off than those of the woodland countries; and it is really surprising what a difference there is between the faces that you see here and the round, red faces that you see in the wealds and the forests, particularly in Sussex, where the labourers will have a meat-pudding of some sort or other; and where they will have a fire to sit by in the winter.

After steering for some time, we came down to a very fine farmhouse, which we stopped a little to admire; and I asked Richard whether that was not a place to be happy in. The village, which we found to be Stoke-Charity, was about a mile lower down this little vale. Before we got to it, we overtook the owner of the farm, who knew me, though I did not know him; but when I found it was Mr. Hinton Bailey, of whom and whose farm I had heard so much, I was not at all surprised at the fineness of what I had just seen. I told him that the word charity, making, as it did, part of the name of this place, had nearly inspired me with boldness enough to go to the farmhouse, in the ancient style, and ask for something to eat, for that we had not yet breakfasted. He asked us to go back; but at Burghclere we were resolved to dine. After, however, crossing the village, and beginning again to ascend the downs, we came to a labourer’s (once a farmhouse), where I asked the man whether he had any bread and cheese, and was not a little pleased to hear him say “Yes.” Then I asked him to give us a bit, protesting that we had not yet broken our fast. He answered in the affirmative at once, though I did not talk of payment. His wife brought out the cut loaf, and a piece of Wiltshire cheese, and I took them in hand, gave Richard a good hunch, and took another for myself. I verily believe that all the pleasure of eating enjoyed by all the feeders in London in a whole year does not equal that which we enjoyed in gnawing this bread and cheese as we rode over this cold down, whip and bridle-reins in one hand, and the hunch in the other. Richard, who was purse bearer, gave the woman, by my direction, about enough to buy two quartern loaves: for she told me that they had to buy their bread at the mill, not being able to bake themselves for want of fuel; and this, as I said before, is one of the draw-backs in this sort of country. I wish every one of these people had an American fire-place. Here they might, then, even in these bare countries, have comfortable warmth. Rubbish of any sort would, by this means, give them warmth. I am now, at six o’clock in[Pg 272] the morning, sitting in a room, where one of these fire-places, with very light turf in it, gives as good and steady a warmth as it is possible to feel, and which room has, too, been cured of smoking by this fire-place.

Before we got this supply of bread and cheese, we, though in ordinary times a couple of singularly jovial companions, and seldom going a hundred yards (except going very fast) without one or the other speaking, began to grow dull, or rather glum. The way seemed long; and, when I had to speak in answer to Richard, the speaking was as brief as might be. Unfortunately, just at this critical period, one of the loops that held the straps of Richard’s little portmanteau broke; and it became necessary (just before we overtook Mr. Bailey) for me to fasten the portmanteau on before me, upon my saddle. This, which was not the work of more than five minutes, would, had I had a breakfast, have been nothing at all, and, indeed, matter of laughter. But now it was something. It was his “fault” for capering and jerking about “so.” I jumped off, saying, “Here! I’ll carry it myself.” And then I began to take off the remaining strap, pulling with great violence and in great haste. Just at this time my eyes met his, in which I saw great surprise; and, feeling the just rebuke, feeling heartily ashamed of myself, I instantly changed my tone and manner, cast the blame upon the saddler, and talked of the effectual means which we would take to prevent the like in future.

Now, if such was the effect produced upon me by the want of food for only two or three hours; me, who had dined well the day before and eaten toast and butter the over-night; if the missing of only one breakfast, and that, too, from my own whim, while I had money in my pocket to get one at any public-house, and while I could get one only for asking for at any farm-house; if the not having breakfasted could, and under such circumstances, make me what you may call “cross” to a child like this, whom I must necessarily love so much, and to whom I never speak but in the very kindest manner; if this mere absence of a breakfast could thus put me out of temper, how great are the allowances that we ought to make for the poor creatures who, in this once happy and now miserable country, are doomed to lead a life of constant labour and of half-starvation. I suppose that, as we rode away from the cottage, we gnawed up, between us, a pound of bread and a quarter of a pound of cheese. Here was about fivepence worth at present prices. Even this, which was only a mere snap, a mere stay-stomach, for us, would, for us two, come to 3s. a week all but a penny. How, then, gracious God! is a labouring man, his wife, and, perhaps, four or five small children, to exist upon 8s. or 9s. a week![Pg 273] Aye, and to find house-rent, clothing, bedding and fuel out of it? Richard and I ate here, at this snap, more, and much more, than the average of labourers, their wives and children, have to eat in a whole day, and that the labourer has to work on too!

When we got here to Burghclere we were again as hungry as hunters. What, then, must be the life of these poor creatures? But is not the state of the country, is not the hellishness of the system, all depicted in this one disgraceful and damning fact, that the magistrates, who settle on what the labouring poor ought to have to live on, ALLOW THEM LESS THAN IS ALLOWED TO FELONS IN THE GAOLS, and allow them nothing for clothing and fuel, and house-rent! And yet, while this is notoriously the case, while the main body of the working class in England are fed and clad and even lodged worse than felons, and are daily becoming even worse and worse off, the King is advised to tell the Parliament, and the world, that we are in a state of unexampled prosperity, and that this prosperity must be permanent, because all the GREAT interests are prospering! THE WORKING PEOPLE ARE NOT, THEN, “A GREAT INTEREST”! THEY WILL BE FOUND TO BE ONE, BY-AND-BY. What is to be the end of this? What can be the end of it, but dreadful convulsion? What other can be produced by a system, which allows the felon better food, better clothing, and better lodging than the honest labourer?

I see that there has been a grand humanity-meeting in Norfolk to assure the Parliament that these humanity-people will back it in any measures that it may adopt for freeing the NEGROES. Mr. Buxton figured here, also Lord Suffield, who appear to have been the two principal actors, or showers-off. This same Mr. Buxton opposed the Bill intended to relieve the poor in England by breaking a little into the brewers’ monopoly; and as to Lord Suffield, if he really wish to free slaves, let him go to Wykham in this county, where he will see some drawing, like horses, gravel to repair the roads for the stock-jobbers and dead-weight and the seat-dealers to ride smoothly on. If he go down a little further, he will see CONVICTS at PRECISELY THE SAME WORK, harnessed in JUST THE SAME WAY; but the convicts he will find hale and ruddy-cheeked, in dresses sufficiently warm, and bawling and singing; while he will find the labourers thin, ragged, shivering, dejected mortals, such as never were seen in any other country upon earth. There is not a negro in the West Indies who has not more to eat in a day, than the average of English labourers have to eat in a week, and of better food too. Colonel Wodehouse and a man of the name of Hoseason (whence came he?) who opposed this humanity-scheme talked of the sums necessary to pay the[Pg 274] owners of the slaves. They took special care not to tell the humanity-men to look at home for slaves to free. No, no! that would have applied to themselves, as well as to Lord Suffield and humanity Buxton. If it were worth while to reason with these people, one might ask them whether they do not think that another war is likely to relieve them of all these cares, simply by making the colonies transfer their allegiance or assert their independence? But to reason with them is useless. If they can busy themselves with compassion for the negroes, while they uphold the system that makes the labourers of England more wretched, and beyond all measure more wretched, than any negro slaves are, or ever were, or ever can be, they are unworthy of anything but our contempt.

But the “education” canters are the most curious fellows of all. They have seen “education,” as they call it, and crimes, go on increasing together, till the gaols, though six times their former dimensions, will hardly suffice; and yet the canting creatures still cry that crimes arise from want of what they call “education!” They see the felon better fed and better clad than the honest labourer. They see this; and yet they continually cry that the crimes arise from a want of “education!” What can be the cause of this perverseness? It is not perverseness: it is roguery, corruption, and tyranny. The tyrant, the unfeeling tyrant, squeezes the labourers for gain’s sake; and the corrupt politician and literary or tub rogue find an excuse for him by pretending that it is not want of food and clothing, but want of education, that makes the poor, starving wretches thieves and robbers. If the press, if only the press, were to do its duty, or but a tenth part of its duty, this hellish system could not go on. But it favours the system by ascribing the misery to wrong causes. The causes are these: the tax-gatherer presses the landlord; the landlord the farmer; and the farmer the labourer. Here it falls at last; and this class is made so miserable that a felon’s life is better than that of a labourer. Does there want any other cause to produce crimes? But on these causes, so clear to the eye of reason, so plain from experience, the press scarcely ever says a single word; while it keeps bothering our brains about education and morality; and about ignorance and immorality leading to felonies. To be sure immorality leads to felonies. Who does not know that? But who is to expect morality in a half-starved man, who is whipped if he do not work, though he has not, for his whole day’s food, so much as I and my little boy snapped up in six or seven minutes upon Stoke-Charity Down? Aye! but if the press were to ascribe the increase of crimes to the true causes it must go further back. It must go to the[Pg 275] cause of the taxes. It must go to the debt, the dead-weight, the thundering standing army, the enormous sinecures, pensions, and grants; and this would suit but a very small part of a press which lives and thrives principally by one or the other of these.

As with the press, so is it with Mr. Brougham and all such politicians. They stop short, or, rather, they begin in the middle. They attempt to prevent the evils of the deadly ivy by cropping off, or, rather, bruising a little, a few of its leaves. They do not assail even its branches, while they appear to look upon the trunk as something too sacred even to be looked at with vulgar eyes. Is not the injury recently done to about forty thousand poor families in and near Plymouth, by the Small-note Bill, a thing that Mr. Brougham ought to think about before he thinks anything more about educating those poor families? Yet will he, when he again meets the Ministers, say a word about this monstrous evil? I am afraid that no Member will say a word about it; but I am rather more than afraid that he will not. And why? Because, if he reproach the Ministers with this crying cruelty, they will ask him first how this is to be prevented without a repeal of the Small-note Bill (by which Peel’s Bill was partly repealed); then they will ask him, how the prices are to be kept up without the small-notes; then they will say, “Does the honourable and learned Gentleman wish to see wheat at four shillings a bushel again?”

B. No (looking at Mr. Western and Daddy Coke), no, no, no! Upon my honour, no!

Min. Does the honourable and learned Gentleman wish to see Cobbett again at county meetings, and to see petitions again coming from those meetings, calling for a reduction of the interest of the...?

B. No, no, no, upon my soul, no!

Min. Does the honourable and learned Gentleman wish to see that “equitable adjustment,” which Cobbett has a thousand times declared can never take place without an application, to new purposes, of that great mass of public property, commonly called Church property?

B. (Almost bursting with rage). How dare the honourable gentlemen to suppose me capable of such a thought?

Min. We suppose nothing. We only ask the question; and we ask it, because to put an end to the small-notes would inevitably produce all these things; and it is impossible to have small-notes to the extent necessary to keep up prices, without having, now-and-then, breaking banks. Banks cannot break without producing misery; you must have the consequence if you will have the cause. The honourable and learned Gentleman wants the feast without the reckoning. In short, is the[Pg 276] honourable and learned Gentleman for putting an end to “public credit”?

B. No, no, no, no!

Min. Then would it not be better for the honourable and learned Gentleman to hold his tongue?

All men of sense and sincerity will at once answer this last question in the affirmative. They will all say that this is not opposition to the Ministers. The Ministers do not wish to see 40,000 families, nor any families at all (who give them no real annoyance), reduced to misery; they do not wish to cripple their own tax-payers; very far from it. If they could carry on the debt and dead-weight and place and pension and barrack system, without reducing any quiet people to misery, they would like it exceedingly. But they do wish to carry on that system; and he does not oppose them who does not endeavour to put an end to the system.

This is done by nobody in Parliament; and, therefore, there is, in fact, no opposition; and this is felt by the whole nation; and this is the reason why the people now take so little interest in what is said and done in Parliament, compared to that which they formerly took. This is the reason why there is no man, or men, whom the people seem to care at all about. A great portion of the people now clearly understand the nature and effects of the system; they are not now to be deceived by speeches and professions. If Pitt and Fox had now to start, there would be no “Pittites” and “Foxites.” Those happy days of political humbug are gone for ever. The “gentlemen opposite” are opposite only as to mere local position. They sit on the opposite side of the House: that’s all. In every other respect they are like parson and clerk; or, perhaps, rather more like the rooks and jackdaws: one caw and the other chatter; but both have the same object in view: both are in pursuit of the same sort of diet. One set is, to be sure, IN place, and the other OUT; but, though the rooks keep the jackdaws on the inferior branches, these latter would be as clamorous as the rooks themselves against felling the tree; and just as clamorous would the “gentlemen opposite” be against any one who should propose to put down the system itself. And yet, unless you do that, things must go on in the present way, and felons must be better fed than honest labourers; and starvation and thieving and robbing and gaol-building and transporting and hanging and penal laws must go on increasing, as they have gone on from the day of the establishment of the debt to the present hour. Apropos of penal laws, Doctor Black (of the Morning Chronicle) is now filling whole columns with very just remarks on the new and terrible law, which makes the taking[Pg 277] of an apple felony; but he says not a word about the silence of Sir Jammy (the humane code-softener) upon this subject! The “humanity and liberality” of the Parliament have relieved men addicted to fraud and to certain other crimes from the disgrace of the pillory, and they have, since Castlereagh cut his own throat, relieved self-slayers from the disgrace of the cross-road burial; but the same Parliament, amidst all the workings of this rare humanity and liberality, have made it felony to take an apple off a tree, which last year was a trivial trespass, and was formerly no offence at all! However, even this is necessary, as long as this bank-note system continue in its present way; and all complaints about severity of laws, levelled at the poor, are useless and foolish; and these complaints are even base in those who do their best to uphold a system which has brought the honest labourer to be fed worse than the felon. What, short of such laws, can prevent starving men from coming to take away the dinners of those who have plenty? “Education”! Despicable cant and nonsense! What education, what moral precepts, can quiet the gnawings and ragings of hunger?

Looking, now, back again for a minute to the little village of Stoke-Charity, the name of which seems to indicate that its rents formerly belonged wholly to the poor and indigent part of the community: it is near to Winchester, that grand scene of ancient learning, piety, and munificence. Be this as it may, the parish formerly contained ten farms, and it now contains but two, which are owned by Mr. Hinton Bailey and his nephew, and, therefore, which may probably become one. There used to be ten well-fed families in this parish at any rate: these, taking five to a family, made fifty well-fed people. And now all are half-starved, except the curate and the two families. The blame is not the land-owner’s; it is nobody’s; it is due to the infernal funding and taxing system, which of necessity drives property into large masses in order to save itself; which crushes little proprietors down into labourers; and which presses them down in that state, there takes their wages from them and makes them paupers, their share of food and raiment being taken away to support debt and dead-weight and army and all the rest of the enormous expenses which are required to sustain this intolerable system. Those, therefore, are fools or hypocrites who affect to wish to better the lot of the poor labourers and manufacturers, while they, at the same time, either actively or passively, uphold the system which is the manifest cause of it. Here is a system which, clearly as the nose upon your face, you see taking away the little gentleman’s estate, the little farmer’s farm, the poor labourer’s meat-dinner and Sunday-coat; and while you see[Pg 278] this so plainly, you, fool or hypocrite, as you are, cry out for supporting the system that causes it all! Go on, base wretch; but remember that of such a progress dreadful must be the end. The day will come when millions of long-suffering creatures will be in a state that they and you now little dream of. All that we now behold of combinations, and the like, are mere indications of what the great body of the suffering people feel, and of the thoughts that are passing in their minds. The coaxing work of schools and tracts will only add to what would be quite enough without them. There is not a labourer in the whole country who does not see to the bottom of this coaxing work. They are not deceived in this respect. Hunger has opened their eyes. I’ll engage that there is not, even in this obscure village of Stoke-Charity, one single creature, however forlorn, who does not understand all about the real motives of the school and the tract and the Bible affair as well as Butterworth, or Rivington, or as Joshua Watson himself.

Just after we had finished the bread and cheese, we crossed the turnpike road that goes from Basingstoke to Stockbridge; and Mr. Bailey had told us that we were then to bear away to our right, and go to the end of a wood (which we saw one end of), and keep round with that wood, or coppice, as he called it, to our left; but we, seeing Beacon Hill more to the left, and resolving to go, as nearly as possible, in a straight line to it, steered directly over the fields; that is to say, pieces of ground from 30 to 100 acres in each. But a hill which we had to go over had here hidden from our sight a part of this “coppice,” which consists, perhaps, of 150 or 200 acres, and which we found sweeping round, in a crescent-like form so far, from towards our left, as to bring our land-mark over the coppice at about the mid-length of the latter. Upon this discovery we slackened sail; for this coppice might be a mile across; and though the bottom was sound enough, being a coverlet of flints upon a bed of chalk, the underwood was too high and too thick for us to face, being, as we were, at so great a distance from the means of obtaining a fresh supply of clothes. Our leather leggings would have stood anything; but our coats were of the common kind; and before we saw the other side of the coppice we should, I dare say, have been as ragged as forest-ponies in the month of March.

In this dilemma I stopped and looked at the coppice. Luckily two boys, who had been cutting sticks (to sell, I dare say, at least I hope so), made their appearance, at about half a mile off, on the side for the coppice. Richard galloped off to the boys, from whom he found that in one part of the coppice there was a road cut across, the point of entrance into which[Pg 279] road they explained to him. This was to us what the discovery of a canal across the isthmus of Darien would be to a ship in the Gulf of Mexico wanting to get into the Pacific without doubling Cape Horne. A beautiful road we found it. I should suppose the best part of a mile long, perfectly straight, the surface sound and smooth, about eight feet wide, the whole length seen at once, and, when you are at one end, the other end seeming to be hardly a yard wide. When we got about half-way, we found a road that crossed this. These roads are, I suppose, cut for the hunters. They are very pretty, at any rate, and we found this one very convenient; for it cut our way short by a full half mile.

From this coppice to Whitchurch is not more than about four miles, and we soon reached it, because here you begin to descend into the vale, in which this little town lies, and through which there runs that stream which turns the mill of ’Squire Portal, and which mill makes the Bank of England Note-Paper! Talk of the Thames and the Hudson with their forests of masts; talk of the Nile and the Delaware bearing the food of millions on their bosoms; talk of the Ganges and the Mississippi sending forth over the world their silks and their cottons; talk of the Rio de la Plata and the other rivers, their beds pebbled with silver and gold and diamonds. What, as to their effect on the condition of mankind, as to the virtues, the vices, the enjoyments and the sufferings of men; what are all these rivers put together compared with the river of Whitchurch, which a man of threescore may jump across dry-shod, which moistens a quarter of a mile wide of poor, rushy meadow, which washes the skirts of the park and game preserves of that bright patrician who wedded the daughter of Hanson, the attorney and late solicitor to the Stamp-Office, and which is, to look at it, of far less importance than any gutter in the Wen! Yet this river, by merely turning a wheel, which wheel sets some rag-tearers and grinders and washers and re-compressers in motion, has produced a greater effect on the condition of men than has been produced on that condition by all the other rivers, all the seas, all the mines and all the continents in the world. The discovery of America, and the consequent discovery and use of vast quantities of silver and gold, did, indeed, produce great effects on the nations of Europe. They changed the value of money, and caused, as all such changes must, a transfer of property, raising up new families and pulling down old ones, a transfer very little favourable either to morality, or to real and substantial liberty. But this cause worked slowly; its consequences came on by slow degrees; it made a transfer of property, but it made that transfer in so small a degree,[Pg 280] and it left the property quiet in the hands of the new possessor for so long a time, that the effect was not violent, and was not, at any rate, such as to uproot possessors by whole districts, as the hurricane uproots the forests.

Not so the product of the little sedgy rivulet of Whitchurch! It has, in the short space of a hundred and thirty-one years, and, indeed, in the space of the last forty, caused greater changes as to property than had been caused by all other things put together in the long course of seven centuries, though during that course there had been a sweeping, confiscating Protestant reformation. Let us look back to the place where I started on this present rural ride. Poor old Baron Maseres, succeeded at Reigate by little Parson Fellowes, and at Betchworth (three miles on my road) by Kendrick, is no bad instance to begin with; for the Baron was nobly descended, though from French ancestors. At Albury, fifteen miles on my road, Mr. Drummond (a banker) is in the seat of one of the Howards, and close by he has bought the estate, just pulled down the house, and blotted out the memory of the Godschalls. At Chilworth, two miles further down the same vale, and close under St. Martha’s Hill, Mr. Tinkler, a powder-maker (succeeding Hill, another powder-maker, who had been a breeches-maker at Hounslow), has got the old mansion and the estate of the old Duchess of Marlborough, who frequently resided in what was then a large quadrangular mansion, but the remains of which now serve as out farm-buildings and a farmhouse, which I found inhabited by a poor labourer and his family, the farm being in the hands of the powder-maker, who does not find the once noble seat good enough for him. Coming on to Waverley Abbey, there is Mr. Thompson, a merchant, succeeding the Orby Hunters and Sir Robert Rich. Close adjoining, Mr. Laing, a West India dealer of some sort, has stepped into the place of the lineal descendants of Sir William Temple. At Farnham the park and palace remain in the hands of a Bishop of Winchester, as they have done for about eight hundred years: but why is this? Because they are public property; because they cannot, without express laws, be transferred. Therefore the product of the rivulet of Whitchurch has had no effect upon the ownership of these, which are still in the hands of a Bishop of Winchester; not of a William of Wykham, to be sure; but still, in those of a bishop, at any rate. Coming on to old Alresford (twenty miles from Farnham) Sheriff, the son of a Sheriff, who was a Commissary in the American war, has succeeded the Gages. Two miles further on, at Abbotston (down on the side of the Itchen) Alexander Baring has succeeded the heirs and successors of the Duke of Bolton, the remains of whose noble mansion I once[Pg 281] saw here. Not above a mile higher up, the same Baring has, at the Grange, with its noble mansion, park and estate, succeeded the heirs of Lord Northington; and at only about two miles further, Sir Thomas Baring, at Stratton Park, has succeeded the Russells in the ownership of the estates of Stratton and Micheldover, which were once the property of Alfred the Great! Stepping back, and following my road, down by the side of the meadows of the beautiful river Itchen, and coming to Easton, I look across to Martyr’s Worthy, and there see (as I observed before) the Ogles succeeded by a general or a colonel somebody; but who, or whence, I cannot learn.

This is all in less than four score miles, from Reigate even to this place, where I now am. Oh! mighty rivulet of Whitchurch! All our properties, all our laws, all our manners, all our minds, you have changed! This, which I have noticed, has all taken place within forty, and most of it within ten years. The small gentry, to about the third rank upwards (considering there to be five ranks from the smallest gentry up to the greatest nobility), are all gone, nearly to a man, and the small farmers along with them. The Barings alone have, I should think, swallowed up thirty or forty of these small gentry without perceiving it. They, indeed, swallow up the biggest race of all; but innumerable small fry slip down unperceived, like caplins down the throats of the sharks, while these latter feel only the codfish. It frequently happens, too, that a big gentleman or nobleman, whose estate has been big enough to resist for a long while, and who has swilled up many caplin-gentry, goes down the throat of the loan-dealer with all the caplins in his belly.

Thus the Whitchurch rivulet goes on, shifting property from hand to hand. The big, in order to save themselves from being “swallowed up quick” (as we used to be taught to say in our Church Prayers against Buonaparte), make use of their voices to get, through place, pension, or sinecure, something back from the taxers. Others of them fall in love with the daughters and widows of paper-money people, big brewers, and the like; and sometimes their daughters fall in love with the paper-money people’s sons, or the fathers of those sons; and, whether they be Jews, or not, seems to be little matter with this all-subduing passion of love. But the small gentry have no resource. While war lasted, “glorious war,” there was a resource; but now, alas! not only is there no war, but there is no hope of war; and not a few of them will actually come to the parish-book. There is no place for them in the army, church, navy, customs, excise, pension-list, or anywhere else. All these are now wanted by “their betters.” A stock-jobber’s family will not look at such penniless things. So that while they have been the active, the[Pg 282] zealous, the efficient instruments, in compelling the working classes to submit to half-starvation, they have at any rate been brought to the most abject ruin themselves; for which I most heartily thank God. The “harvest of war” is never to return without a total blowing up of the paper-system. Spain must belong to France, St. Domingo must pay her tribute. America must be paid for slaves taken away in war, she must have Florida, she must go on openly and avowedly making a navy for the purpose of humbling us; and all this, and ten times more, if France and America should choose; and yet we can have no war as long as the paper-system last; and, if that cease, then what is to come!

 

Burghclere,
Sunday Morning, 6th November.

It has been fine all the week until to-day, when we intended to set off for Hurstbourn-Tarrant, vulgarly called Uphusband, but the rain seems as if it would stop us. From Whitchurch to within two miles of this place it is the same sort of country as between Winchester and Whitchurch. High, chalk bottom, open downs or large fields, with here and there a farmhouse in a dell sheltered by lofty trees, which, to my taste, is the most pleasant situation in the world.

This has been, with Richard, one whole week of hare-hunting, and with me, three days and a half. The weather has been amongst the finest that I ever saw, and Lord Caernarvon’s preserves fill the country with hares, while these hares invite us to ride about and to see his park and estate, at this fine season of the year, in every direction. We are now on the north side of that Beacon Hill for which we steered last Sunday. This makes part of a chain of lofty chalk-hills and downs, which divides all the lower part of Hampshire from Berkshire, though the ancient ruler, owner, of the former took a little strip all along on the flat, on this side of the chain, in order, I suppose, to make the ownership of the hills themselves the more clear of all dispute; just as the owner of a field-hedge and bank owns also the ditch on his neighbour’s side. From these hills you look, at one view, over the whole of Berkshire, into Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, and you can see the Isle of Wight and the sea. On this north side the chalk soon ceases, and the sand and clay begin, and the oak-woods cover a great part of the surface. Amongst these is the farmhouse in which we are, and from the warmth and good fare of which we do not mean to stir until we can do it without the chance of a wet skin.

This rain has given me time to look at the newspapers of[Pg 283] about a week old. Oh, oh! The Cotton Lords are tearing! Thank God for that! The Lords of the Anvil are snapping! Thank God for that too! They have kept poor souls, then, in a heat of 84 degrees to little purpose after all. The “great interests” mentioned in the King’s Speech do not, then, all continue to flourish! The “prosperity” was not, then, “permanent,” though the King was advised to assert so positively that it was! “Anglo-Mexican and Pasco-Peruvian” fall in price, and the Chronicle assures me that “the respectable owners of the Mexican Mining shares mean to take measures to protect their property.” Indeed! Like protecting the Spanish Bonds, I suppose? Will the Chronicle be so good as to tell us the names of these “respectable persons”? Doctor Black must know their names; or else he could not know them to be respectable. If the parties be those that I have heard, these mining works may possibly operate with them as an emetic, and make them throw up a part at least of what they have taken down.

There has, I see, at New York, been that confusion which I, four months ago, said would and must take place; that breaking of merchants and all the ruin which, in such a case, spreads itself about, ruining families and producing fraud and despair. Here will be, between the two countries, an interchange of cause and effect, proceeding from the dealings in cotton, until, first and last, two or three hundred thousands of persons have, at one spell of paper-money work, been made to drink deep of misery. I pity none but the poor English creatures, who are compelled to work on the wool of this accursed weed, which has done so much mischief to England. The slaves who cultivate and gather the cotton are well fed. They do not suffer. The sufferers are these who spin it and weave it and colour it, and the wretched beings who cover with it those bodies which, as in the time of old Fortescue, ought to be “clothed throughout in good woollens.”

One newspaper says that Mr. Huskisson is gone to Paris, and thinks it likely that he will endeavour to “inculcate in the mind of the Bourbons wise principles of free trade!” What the devil next! Persuade them, I suppose, that it is for their good that English goods should be admitted into France and into St. Domingo with little or no duty? Persuade them to make a treaty of commerce with him; and, in short, persuade them to make France help to pay the interest of our debt and dead-weight, lest our system of paper should go to pieces, and lest that should be followed by a radical reform, which reform would be injurious to “the monarchical principle!” This newspaper politician does, however, think that the Bourbons will be “too[Pg 284] dull” to comprehend these “enlightened and liberal” notions; and I think so too. I think the Bourbons, or, rather, those who will speak for them, will say: “No thank you. You contracted your debt without our participation; you made your dead-weight for your own purposes; the seizure of our museums and the loss of our frontier towns followed your victory of Waterloo, though we were ‘your Allies’ at the time; you made us pay an enormous Tribute after that battle, and kept possession of part of France till we had paid it; you wished, the other day, to keep us out of Spain, and you, Mr. Huskisson, in a speech at Liverpool, called our deliverance of the King of Spain an unjust and unprincipled act of aggression, while Mr. Canning prayed to God that we might not succeed. No thank you, Mr. Huskisson, no. No coaxing, Sir: we saw, then, too clearly the advantage we derived from your having a debt and a dead weight to wish to assist in relieving you from either. ‘Monarchical principle’ here, or ‘monarchical principle’ there, we know that your mill-stone debt is our best security. We like to have your wishes, your prayers, and your abuse against us, rather than your subsidies and your fleets: and so farewell, Mr. Huskisson: if you like, the English may drink French wine; but whether they do or not, the French shall not wear your rotten cottons. And as a last word, how did you maintain the ‘monarchical principle,’ the ‘paternal principle,’ or as Castlereagh called it, the ‘social system,’ when you called that an unjust and unprincipled aggression which put an end to the bargain by which the convents and other church-property of Spain were to be transferred to the Jews and Jobbers of London? Bon jour, Monsieur Huskisson, ci-devant membre et orateur du club de quatre vingt neuf!”

If they do not actually say this to him, this is what they will think; and that is, as to the effect, precisely the same thing. It is childishness to suppose that any nation will act from a desire of serving all other nations, or any one other nation, as well as itself. It will make, unless compelled, no compact by which it does not think itself a gainer; and amongst its gains it must, and always does, reckon the injury to its rivals. It is a stupid idea that all nations are to gain by anything. Whatever is the gain of one must, in some way or other, be a loss to another. So that this new project of “free trade” and “mutual gain” is as pure a humbug as that which the newspapers carried on during the “glorious days” of loans, when they told us, at every loan, that the bargain was “equally advantageous to the contractors and to the public!” The fact is, the “free trade” project is clearly the effect of a consciousness of our weakness. As long as we felt strong, we felt bold, we[Pg 285] had no thought of conciliating the world; we upheld a system of exclusion, which long experience proved to be founded in sound policy. But we now find that our debts and our loads of various sorts cripple us. We feel our incapacity for the carrying of trade sword in hand: and so we have given up all our old maxims, and are endeavouring to persuade the world that we are anxious to enjoy no advantages that are not enjoyed also by our neighbours. Alas! the world sees very clearly the cause of all this; and the world laughs at us for our imaginary cunning. My old doggrel, that used to make me and my friends laugh in Long Island, is precisely pat to this case.

When his maw was stuffed with paper,
How John Bull did prance and caper!
How he foam’d and how he roar’d:
How his neighbours all he gored!
How he scrap’d the ground and hurl’d
Dirt and filth on all the world!
But John Bull of paper empty,
Though in midst of peace and plenty,
Is modest grown as worn-out sinner,
As Scottish laird that wants a dinner;
As Wilberforce, become content
A rotten burgh to represent;
As Blue and Buff, when, after hunting
On Yankee coasts their “bits of bunting,”
Came softly back across the seas,
And silent were as mice in cheese.

Yes, the whole world, and particularly the French and the Yankees, see very clearly the course of this fit of modesty and of liberality into which we have so recently fallen. They know well that a war would play the very devil with our national faith. They know, in short, that no Ministers in their senses will think of supporting the paper-system through another war. They know well that no Ministers that now exist, or are likely to exist, will venture to endanger the paper-system; and therefore they know that (for England) they may now do just what they please. When the French were about to invade Spain, Mr. Canning said that his last despatch on the subject was to be understood as a protest on the part of England against permanent occupation of any part of Spain by France. There the French are, however; and at the end of two years and a half he says that he knows nothing about any intention that they have to quit Spain, or any part of it.

Why, Saint Domingo was independent. We had traded with[Pg 286] it as an independent state. Is it not clear that if we had said the word (and had been known to be able to arm), France would not have attempted to treat that fine and rich country as a colony? Mark how wise this measure of France! How just, too; to obtain by means of a tribute from the St. Domingoians compensation for the loyalists of that country! Was this done with regard to the loyalists of America in the reign of the good jubilee George III.? Oh, no! Those loyalists had to be paid, and many of them have even yet, at the end of more than half a century, to be paid out of taxes raised on us, for the losses occasioned by their disinterested loyalty! This was a masterstroke on the part of France; she gets about seven millions sterling in the way of tribute; she makes that rich island yield to her great commercial advantages; and she, at the same time, paves the way for effecting one of two objects; namely, getting the island back again, or throwing our islands into confusion whenever it shall be her interest to do it.

This might have been prevented by a word from us if we had been ready for war. But we are grown modest; we are grown liberal; we do not want to engross that which fairly belongs to our neighbours! We have undergone a change somewhat like that which marriage produces on a blustering fellow who while single can but just clear his teeth. This change is quite surprising, and especially by the time that the second child comes the man is loaded; he looks like a loaded man; his voice becomes so soft and gentle compared to what it used to be. Just such are the effects of our load: but the worst of it is our neighbours are not thus loaded. However, far be it from me to regret this, or any part of it. The load is the people’s best friend. If that could, without reform: if that could be shaken off, leaving the seat-men and the parsons in their present state, I would not live in England another day! And I say this with as much seriousness as if I were upon my death-bed.

The wise men of the newspapers are for a repeal of the Corn Laws. With all my heart. I will join anybody in a petition for their repeal. But this will not be done. We shall stop short of this extent of “liberality,” let what may be the consequence to the manufacturers. The Cotton Lords must all go, to the last man, rather than a repeal, these laws will take place: and of this the newspaper wise men may be assured. The farmers can but just rub along now, with all their high prices and low wages. What would be their state, and that of their landlords, if the wheat were to come down again to 4, 5, or even 6 shillings a bushels? Universal agricultural bankruptcy would be the almost instant consequence. Many of them are now deep in debt from the effects of 1820, 1821, and 1822. One[Pg 287] more year like 1822 would have broken the whole mass up, and left the lands to be cultivated, under the overseers, for the benefit of the paupers. Society would have been nearly dissolved, and the state of nature would have returned. The Small-Note Bill, co-operating with the Corn Laws, have given a respite, and nothing more. This Bill must remain efficient, paper-money must cover the country, and the corn-laws must remain in force; or an “equitable adjustment” must take place; or, to a state of nature this country must return. What, then, as I want a repeal of the corn-laws, and also want to get rid of the paper-money, I must want to see this return to a state of nature? By no means. I want the “equitable adjustment,” and I am quite sure that no adjustment can be equitable which does not apply every penny’s worth of public property to the payment of the fund-holders and dead-weight and the like. Clearly just and reasonable as this is, however, the very mention of it makes the Fire-Shovels, and some others, half mad. It makes them storm and rant and swear like Bedlamites. But it is curious to hear them talk of the impracticability of it; when they all know that, by only two or three Acts of Parliament, Henry VIII. did ten times as much as it would now, I hope, be necessary to do. If the duty were imposed on me, no statesman, legislator or lawyer, but a simple citizen, I think I could, in less than twenty-four hours, draw up an Act that would give satisfaction to, I will not say every man, but to, at least, ninety-nine out of every hundred; an Act that would put all affairs of money and of religion to rights at once; but that would, I must confess, soon take from us that amiable modesty, of which I have spoken above, and which is so conspicuously shown in our works of free trade and liberality.

The weather is clearing up; our horses are saddled, and we are off.

 

 


RIDE, FROM BURGHCLERE TO PETERSFIELD.

 

Hurstbourne Tarrant (or Uphusband),
Monday, 7th November 1825.

We came off from Burghclere yesterday afternoon, crossing Lord Caernarvon’s park, going out of it on the west side of Beacon Hill, and sloping away to our right over the downs towards Woodcote. The afternoon was singularly beautiful. The downs (even the poorest of them) are perfectly green; the[Pg 288] sheep on the downs look, this year, like fatting sheep: we came through a fine flock of ewes, and, looking round us, we saw, all at once, seven flocks, on different parts of the downs, each flock on an average containing at least 500 sheep.

It is about six miles from Burghclere to this place; and we made it about twelve; not in order to avoid the turnpike-road, but because we do not ride about to see turnpike-roads; and, moreover, because I had seen this most monstrously hilly turnpike-road before. We came through a village called Woodcote, and another called Binley. I never saw any inhabited places more recluse than these. Yet into these the all-searching eye of the taxing Thing reaches. Its Exciseman can tell it what is doing even in the little odd corner of Binley; for even there I saw, over the door of a place, not half so good as the place in which my fowls roost, “Licensed to deal in tea and tobacco.” Poor, half-starved wretches of Binley! The hand of taxation, the collection for the sinecures and pensions, must fix its nails even in them, who really appeared too miserable to be called by the name of people. Yet there was one whom the taxing Thing had licensed (good God! licensed!) to serve out cat-lap to these wretched creatures! And our impudent and ignorant newspaper scribes talk of the degraded state of the people of Spain! Impudent impostors! Can they show a group so wretched, so miserable, so truly enslaved as this, in all Spain? No: and those of them who are not sheer fools know it well. But there would have been misery equal to this in Spain if the Jews and Jobbers could have carried the Bond-scheme into effect. The people of Spain were, through the instrumentality of patriot loan-makers, within an inch of being made as “enlightened” as the poor, starving things of Binley. They would soon have had people “licensed” to make them pay the Jews for permission to chew tobacco, or to have a light in their dreary abodes. The people of Spain were preserved from this by the French army, for which the Jews cursed the French army; and the same army put an end to those “bonds,” by means of which pious Protestants hoped to be able to get at the convents in Spain, and thereby put down “idolatry” in that country. These bonds seem now not to be worth a farthing; and so after all the Spanish people will have no one “licensed” by the Jews to make them pay for turning the fat of their sheep into candles and soap. These poor creatures that I behold here pass their lives amidst flocks of sheep; but never does a morsel of mutton enter their lips. A labouring man told me, at Binley, that he had not tasted meat since harvest; and his looks vouched for the statement. Let the Spaniards come and look at this poor, shotten-herring of a creature; and then let them estimate what[Pg 289] is due to a set of “enlightening” and loan-making “patriots.” Old Fortescue says that “the English are clothed in good woollens throughout,” and that they have “plenty of flesh of all sorts to eat.” Yes; but at this time the nation was not mortgaged. The “enlightening” patriots would have made Spain what England now is. The people must never more, after a few years, have tasted mutton, though living surrounded with flocks of sheep.

 

Easton, near Winchester,
Wednesday Evening, 9th Nov.

I intended to go from Uphusband to Stonehenge, thence to Old Sarum, and thence through the New Forest, to Southampton and Botley, and thence across into Sussex, to see Up-Park and Cowdry House. But, then, there must be no loss of time: I must adhere to a certain route as strictly as a regiment on a march. I had written the route: and Laverstock, after seeing Stonehenge and Old Sarum, was to be the resting-place of yesterday (Tuesday); but when it came, it brought rain with it after a white frost on Monday. It was likely to rain again to-day. It became necessary to change the route, as I must get to London by a certain day; and as the first day, on the new route, brought us here.

I had been three times at Uphusband before, and had, as my readers will, perhaps, recollect, described the bourn here, or the brook. It has, in general, no water at all in it from August to March. There is the bed of a little river; but no water. In March, or thereabouts, the water begins to boil up in thousands upon thousands of places, in the little narrow meadows, just above the village; that is to say a little higher up the valley. When the chalk hills are full; when the chalk will hold no more water; then it comes out at the lowest spots near these immense hills and becomes a rivulet first, and then a river. But until this visit to Uphusband (or Hurstbourne Tarrant, as the map calls it), little did I imagine that this rivulet, dry half the year, was the head of the river Teste, which, after passing through Stockbridge and Rumsey, falls into the sea near Southampton.

We had to follow the bed of this river to Bourne; but there the water begins to appear; and it runs all the year long about a mile lower down. Here it crosses Lord Portsmouth’s out-park, and our road took us the same way to the village called Down Husband, the scene (as the broad-sheet tells us) of so many of that Noble Lord’s ringing and cart-driving exploits. Here we crossed the London and Andover road, and leaving Andover to our right and Whitchurch to our left, we came on to Long Parish, where, crossing the water, we came up again on that high country which continues all across to Winchester. After passing [Pg 290]Bullington, Sutton, and Wonston, we veered away from Stoke-Charity, and came across the fields to the high down, whence you see Winchester, or rather the Cathedral; for at this distance you can distinguish nothing else clearly.

As we had to come to this place, which is three miles up the river Itchen from Winchester, we crossed the Winchester and Basingstoke road at King’s Worthy. This brought us, before we crossed the river, along through Martyr’s Worthy, so long the seat of the Ogles, and now, as I observed in my last Register, sold to a general or colonel. These Ogles had been deans, I believe; or prebends, or something of that sort: and the one that used to live here had been, and was when he died, an “admiral.” However, this last one, “Sir Charles,” the loyal address mover, is my man for the present. We saw, down by the water-side, opposite to “Sir Charles’s” late family mansion, a beautiful strawberry garden, capable of being watered by a branch of the Itchen which comes close by it, and which is, I suppose, brought there on purpose. Just by, on the greensward, under the shade of very fine trees, is an alcove, wherein to sit to eat the strawberries, coming from the little garden just mentioned, and met by bowls of cream coming from a little milk-house, shaded by another clump a little lower down the stream. What delight! What a terrestrial paradise! “Sir Charles” might be very frequently in this paradise, while that Sidmouth, whose Bill he so applauded, had many men shut up in loathsome dungeons! Ah, well! “Sir Charles,” those very men may, perhaps, at this moment, envy neither you nor Sidmouth; no, nor Sidmouth’s son and heir, even though Clerk of the Pells. At any rate it is not likely that “Sir Charles” will sit again in this paradise contemplating another loyal address, to carry to a county meeting ready engrossed on parchment, to be presented by Fleming and supported by Lockhart and the “Hampshire parsons.”

I think I saw, as I came along, the new owner of the estate. It seems that he bought it “stock and fluke” as the sailors call it; that is to say, that he bought moveables and the whole. He appeared to me to be a keen man. I can’t find out where he comes from, or what he or his father has been. I like to see the revolution going on; but I like to be able to trace the parties a little more closely. “Sir Charles,” the loyal address gentleman, lives in London, I hear. I will, I think, call upon him (if I can find him out) when I get back, and ask how he does now? There is one Hollest, a George Hollest, who figured pretty bigly on that same loyal address day. This man is become quite an inoffensive harmless creature. If we were to have another county meeting, he would not, I think, threaten to put the sash down upon anybody’s head! Oh! Peel, Peel, Peel! Thy[Pg 291] Bill, oh, Peel, did sicken them so! Let us, oh, thou offspring of the great Spinning Jenny promoter, who subscribed ten thousand pounds towards the late “glorious” war; who was, after that, made a Baronet, and whose biographers (in the Baronetage) tell the world that he had a “presentiment that he should be the founder of a family.” Oh, thou, thou great Peel, do thou let us have only two more years of thy Bill! Or, oh, great Peel, Minister of the interior, do thou let us have repeal of Corn Bill! Either will do, great Peel. We shall then see such modest ’squires, and parsons looking so queer! However, if thou wilt not listen to us, great Peel, we must, perhaps (and only perhaps), wait a little longer. It is sure to come at last, and to come, too, in the most efficient way.

The water in the Itchen is, they say, famed for its clearness. As I was crossing the river the other day, at Avington, I told Richard to look at it, and I asked him if he did not think it very clear. I now find that this has been remarked by very ancient writers. I see, in a newspaper just received, an account of dreadful fires in New Brunswick. It is curious that in my Register of the 29th October (dated from Chilworth in Surrey) I should have put a question relative to the White-Clover, the Huckleberries, or the Raspberries, which start up after the burning down of woods in America. These fires have been at two places which I saw when there were hardly any people in the whole country; and if there never had been any people there to this day it would have been a good thing for England. Those colonies are a dead expense, without a possibility of their ever being of any use. There are, I see, a church and a barrack destroyed. And why a barrack? What! were there bayonets wanted already to keep the people in order? For as to an enemy, where was he to come from? And if there really be an enemy anywhere there about, would it not be a wise way to leave the worthless country to him, to use it after his own way? I was at that very Fredericton, where they say thirty houses and thirty-nine barns have now been burnt. I can remember when there was no more thought of there ever being a barn there than there is now thought of there being economy in our Government. The English money used to be spent prettily in that country. What do we want with armies and barracks and chaplains in those woods? What does anybody want with them; but we, above all the rest of the world? There is nothing there, no house, no barrack, no wharf, nothing, but what is bought with taxes raised on the half-starving people of England. What do we want with these wildernesses? Ah! but they are wanted by creatures who will not work in England, and whom this fine system of ours sends out into those woods to live in[Pg 292] idleness upon the fruit of English labour. The soldier, the commissary, the barrack-master, all the whole tribe, no matter under what name; what keeps them? They are paid “by Government;” and I wish that we constantly bore in mind that the “Government” pays our money. It is, to be sure, sorrowful to hear of such fires and such dreadful effects proceeding from them; but to me it is beyond all measure more sorrowful to see the labourers of England worse fed than the convicts in the gaols; and I know very well that these worthless and jobbing colonies have assisted to bring England into this horrible state. The honest labouring man is allowed (aye, by the magistrates) less food than the felon in the gaol; and the felon is clothed and has fuel; and the labouring man has nothing allowed for these. These worthless colonies, which find places for people that the Thing provides for, have helped to produce this dreadful state in England. Therefore, any assistance the sufferers should never have from me, while I could find an honest and industrious English labourer (unloaded with a family too) fed worse than a felon in the gaols; and this I can find in every part of the country.

 

Petersfield, Friday Evening,
11th November.

We lost another day at Easton; the whole of yesterday, it having rained the whole day; so that we could not have come an inch but in the wet. We started, therefore, this morning, coming through the Duke of Buckingham’s Park, at Avington, which is close by Easton, and on the same side of the Itchen. This is a very beautiful place. The house is close down at the edge of the meadow land; there is a lawn before it, and a pond, supplied by the Itchen, at the end of the lawn, and bounded by the park on the other side. The high road, through the park, goes very near to this water; and we saw thousands of wild-ducks in the pond, or sitting round on the green edges of it, while, on one side of the pond, the hares and pheasants were moving about upon a gravel walk on the side of a very fine plantation. We looked down upon all this from a rising ground, and the water, like a looking-glass, showed us the trees, and even the animals. This is certainly one of the very prettiest spots in the world. The wild water-fowl seem to take particular delight in this place. There are a great many at Lord Caernarvon’s; but there the water is much larger, and the ground and wood about it comparatively rude and coarse. Here, at Avington, everything is in such beautiful order; the lawn before the house is of the finest green, and most neatly kept; and the edge of the pond (which is of several acres) is as smooth as if it formed part[Pg 293] of a bowling-green. To see so many wild-fowl in a situation where everything is in the parterre-order has a most pleasant effect on the mind; and Richard and I, like Pope’s cock in the farmyard, could not help thanking the Duke and Duchess for having generously made such ample provision for our pleasure, and that, too, merely to please us as we were passing along. Now this is the advantage of going about on horseback. On foot the fatigue is too great, and you go too slowly. In any sort of carriage you cannot get into the real country places. To travel in stage coaches is to be hurried along by force, in a box, with an air-hole in it, and constantly exposed to broken limbs, the danger being much greater than that of ship-board, and the noise much more disagreeable, while the company is frequently not a great deal more to one’s liking.

From this beautiful spot we had to mount gradually the downs to the southward; but it is impossible to quit the vale of the Itchen without one more look back at it. To form a just estimate of its real value, and that of the lands near it, it is only necessary to know that from its source at Bishop’s Sutton this river has, on its two banks, in the distance of nine miles (before it reaches Winchester) thirteen parish churches. There must have been some people to erect these churches. It is not true, then, that Pitt and George III. created the English nation, notwithstanding all that the Scotch feelosofers are ready to swear about the matter. In short, there can be no doubt in the mind of any rational man that in the time of the Plantagenets England was, out of all comparison, more populous than it is now.

When we began to get up towards the downs, we, to our great surprise, saw them covered with Snow. “Sad times coming on for poor Sir Glory,” said I to Richard. “Why?” said Dick. It was too cold to talk much; and, besides, a great sluggishness in his horse made us both rather serious. The horse had been too hard ridden at Burghclere, and had got cold. This made us change our route again, and instead of going over the downs towards Hambledon, in our way to see the park and the innumerable hares and pheasants of Sir Harry Featherstone, we pulled away more to the left, to go through Bramdean, and so on to Petersfield, contracting greatly our intended circuit. And, besides, I had never seen Bramdean, the spot on which, it is said, Alfred fought his last great and glorious battle with the Danes. A fine country for a battle, sure enough! We stopped at the village to bait our horses; and while we were in the public-house an Exciseman came and rummaged it all over, taking an account of the various sorts of liquor in it, having the air of a complete master of the premises, while a very pretty and modest girl waited on him to produce the divers[Pg 294] bottles, jars, and kegs. I wonder whether Alfred had a thought of anything like this when he was clearing England from her oppressors?

A little to our right, as we came along, we left the village of Kingston, where ’Squire Græme once lived, as was before related. Here, too, lived a ’Squire Ridge, a famous fox-hunter, at a great mansion, now used as a farmhouse; and it is curious enough that this ’Squire’s son-in-law, one Gunner, an attorney at Bishop’s Waltham, is steward to the man who now owns the estate.

Before we got to Petersfield we called at an old friend’s and got some bread and cheese and small beer, which we preferred to strong. In approaching Petersfield we began to descend from the high chalk-country, which (with the exception of the valleys of the Itchen and the Teste) had lasted us from Uphusband (almost the north-west point of the county) to this place, which is not far from the south-east point of it. Here we quit flint and chalk and downs, and take to sand, clay, hedges, and coppices; and here, on the verge of Hampshire, we begin again to see those endless little bubble-formed hills that we before saw round the foot of Hindhead. We have got in in very good time, and got, at the Dolphin, good stabling for our horses. The waiters and people at inns look so hard at us to see us so liberal as to horse-feed, fire, candle, beds, and room, while we are so very very sparing in the article of drink! They seem to pity our taste. I hear people complain of the “exorbitant charges” at inns; but my wonder always is how the people can live with charging so little. Except in one single instance, I have uniformly, since I have been from home, thought the charges too low for people to live by.

This long evening has given me time to look at the Star newspaper of last night; and I see that, with all possible desire to disguise the fact, there is a great “panic” brewing. It is impossible that this thing can go on, in its present way, for any length of time. The talk about “speculations”; that is to say, adventurous dealings, or, rather, commercial gamblings; the talk about these having been the cause of the breakings and the other symptoms of approaching convulsion is the most miserable nonsense that ever was conceived in the heads of idiots. These are effect; not cause. The cause is the Small-note Bill, that last brilliant effort of the joint mind of Van and Castlereagh. That Bill was, as I always called it, a respite; and it was, and could be, nothing more. It could only put off the evil hour; it could not prevent the final arrival of that hour. To have proceeded with Peel’s Bill was, indeed, to produce total convulsion. The land must have been surrendered to the overseers for the use of the poor. That is to say, without an “Equitable[Pg 295] Adjustment.” But that adjustment as prayed for by Kent, Norfolk, Hereford, and Surrey, might have taken place; it ought to have taken place: and it must, at last, take place, or, convulsion must come. As to the nature of this “adjustment,” is it not most distinctly described in the Norfolk Petition? Is not that memorable petition now in the Journals of the House of Commons? What more is wanted than to act on the prayer of that very petition? Had I to draw up a petition again, I would not change a single word of that. It pleased Mr. Brougham’s “best public instructor” to abuse that petition, and it pleased Daddy Coke and the Hickory Quaker, Gurney, and the wise barn-orator, to calumniate its author. They succeeded; but their success was but shame to them; and that author is yet destined to triumph over them. I have seen no London paper for ten days until to-day; and I should not have seen this if the waiter had not forced it upon me. I know very nearly what will happen by next May, or thereabouts; and as to the manner in which things will work in the meanwhile, it is of far less consequence to the nation than it is what sort of weather I shall have to ride in to-morrow. One thing, however, I wish to observe, and that is, that, if any attempt be made to repeal the Corn-Bill, the main body of the farmers will be crushed into total ruin. I come into contact with few who are not gentlemen or very substantial farmers; but I know the state of the whole; and I know that, even with present prices, and with honest labourers fed worse than felons, it is rub-and-go with nineteen-twentieths of the farmers; and of this fact I beseech the ministers to be well aware. And with this fact staring them in the face! with that other horrid fact, that, by the regulations of the magistrates (who cannot avoid it, mind,), the honest labourer is fed worse than the convicted felon; with the breakings of merchants, so ruinous to confiding foreigners, so disgraceful to the name of England; with the thousands of industrious and care-taking creatures reduced to beggary by bank-paper; with panic upon panic, plunging thousands upon thousands into despair: with all this notorious as the Sun at noon-day, will they again advise their Royal Master to tell the Parliament and the world that this country is “in a state of unequalled prosperity,” and that this prosperity “must be permanent, because all the great interests are flourishing?” Let them! That will not alter the result. I had been, for several weeks, saying that the seeming prosperity was fallacious; that the cause of it must lead to ultimate and shocking ruin; that it could not last, because it arose from causes so manifestly fictitious; that, in short, it was the fair-looking, but poisonous, fruit of a miserable expedient. I had been saying this for several weeks, when, out came the King’s[Pg 296] Speech and gave me and my doctrines the lie direct as to every point. Well: now, then, we shall soon see.

 

 


RURAL RIDE FROM PETERSFIELD TO KENSINGTON.

 

Petworth,
Saturday, 12th Nov. 1825.

I was at this town in the summer of 1823, when I crossed Sussex from Worth to Huntington in my way to Titchfield in Hampshire. We came this morning from Petersfield, with an intention to cross to Horsham, and go thence to Worth, and then into Kent; but Richard’s horse seemed not to be fit for so strong a bout, and therefore we resolved to bend our course homewards, and first of all to fall back upon our resources at Thursley, which we intend to reach to-morrow, going through North Chapel, Chiddingfold, and Brook.

At about four miles from Petersfield we passed through a village called Rogate. Just before we came to it I asked a man who was hedging on the side of the road how much he got a day. He said, 1s. 6d.: and he told me that the allowed wages was 7d. a day for the man and a gallon loaf a week for the rest of his family; that is to say, one pound and two and a quarter ounces of bread for each of them; and nothing more! And this, observe, is one-third short of the bread allowance of gaols, to say nothing of the meat and clothing and lodging of the inhabitants of gaols. If the man have full work; if he get his eighteen-pence a day, the whole nine shillings does not purchase a gallon loaf each for a wife and three children, and two gallon loaves for himself. In the gaols the convicted felons have a pound and a half each of bread a day to begin with: they have some meat generally, and it has been found absolutely necessary to allow them meat when they work at the tread-mill. It is impossible to make them work at the tread-mill without it. However, let us take the bare allowance of bread allowed in the gaols. This allowance is, for five people, fifty-two pounds and a half in the week; whereas the man’s nine shillings will buy but fifty-two pounds of bread; and this, observe, is a vast deal better than the state of things in the north of Hampshire, where the day-labourer gets but eight shillings a week. I asked this man how much a day they gave to a young able man who had no family, and who was compelled to come to the parish-officers[Pg 297] for work. Observe that there are a great many young men in this situation, because the farmers will not employ single men at full wages, these full wages being wanted for the married man’s family, just to keep them alive according to the calculation that we have just seen. About the borders of the north of Hampshire they give to these single men two gallon loaves a week, or, in money, two shillings and eight-pence, and nothing more. Here, in this part of Sussex, they give the single man seven-pence a day, that is to say, enough to buy two pounds and a quarter of bread for six days in the week, and as he does not work on the Sunday there is no seven-pence allowed for the Sunday, and of course nothing to eat: and this is the allowance, settled by the magistrates, for a young, hearty, labouring man; and that, too, in the part of England where, I believe, they live better than in any other part of it. The poor creature here has seven-pence a day for six days in the week to find him food, clothes, washing, and lodging! It is just seven-pence, less than one half of what the meanest foot soldier in the standing army receives; besides that the latter has clothing, candle, fire, and lodging into the bargain! Well may we call our happy state of things the “envy of surrounding nations, and the admiration of the world!” We hear of the efforts of Mrs. Fry, Mr. Buxton, and numerous other persons, to improve the situation of felons in the gaols; but never, no never, do we catch them ejaculating one single pious sigh for these innumerable sufferers, who are doomed to become felons or to waste away their bodies by hunger.

When we came into the village of Rogate, I saw a little group of persons standing before a blacksmith’s shop. The church-yard was on the other side of the road, surrounded by a low wall. The earth of the church-yard was about four feet and a half higher than the common level of the ground round about it; and you may see, by the nearness of the church windows to the ground, that this bed of earth has been made by the innumerable burials that have taken place in it. The group, consisting of the blacksmith, the wheelwright, perhaps, and three or four others, appeared to me to be in a deliberative mood. So I said, looking significantly at the church-yard, “It has taken a pretty many thousands of your fore-fathers to raise that ground up so high.” “Yes, Sir,” said one of them. “And,” said I, “for about nine hundred years those who built that church thought about religion very differently from what we do.” “Yes,” said another. “And,” said I, “do you think that all those who made that heap there are gone to the devil?” I got no answer to this. “At any rate,” added I, “they never worked for a pound and a half of bread a day.” They looked hard at me, and then looked hard at one another; and I, having[Pg 298] trotted off, looked round at the first turning, and saw them looking after us still. I should suppose that the church was built about seven or eight hundred years ago, that is to say, the present church; for the first church built upon this spot was, I dare say, erected more than a thousand years ago. If I had had time, I should have told this group that, before the Protestant Reformation, the labourers of Rogate received four-pence a day from Michaelmas to Lady-day; five-pence a day from Lady-day to Michaelmas, except in harvest and grass-mowing time, when able labourers had seven-pence a day; and that, at this time, bacon was not so much as a halfpenny a pound: and, moreover, that the parson of the parish maintained out of the tithes all those persons in the parish that were reduced to indigence by means of old age or other cause of inability to labour. I should have told them this, and, in all probability a great deal more, but I had not time; and, besides, they will have an opportunity of reading all about it in my little book called the History of the Protestant Reformation.

From Rogate we came on to Trotten, where a Mr. Twyford is the squire, and where there is a very fine and ancient church close by the squire’s house. I saw the squire looking at some poor devils who were making “wauste improvements, ma’am,” on the road which passes by the squire’s door. He looked uncommonly hard at me. It was a scrutinizing sort of look, mixed, as I thought, with a little surprise, if not of jealousy, as much as to say, “I wonder who the devil you can be?” My look at the squire was with the head a little on one side, and with the cheek drawn up from the left corner of the mouth, expressive of anything rather than a sense of inferiority to the squire, of whom, however, I had never heard speak before. Seeing the good and commodious and capacious church, I could not help reflecting on the intolerable baseness of this description of men, who have remained mute as fishes, while they have been taxed to build churches for the convenience of the Cotton-Lords and the Stock-Jobbers. First, their estates have been taxed to pay interest of debts contracted with these Stock-jobbers, and to make wars for the sale of the goods of the Cotton-Lords. This drain upon their estates has collected the people into great masses, and now the same estates are taxed to build churches for them in these masses. And yet the tame fellows remain as silent as if they had been born deaf and dumb and blind. As towards the labourers, they are sharp and vigorous and brave as heart could wish; here they are bold as Hector. They pare down the wretched souls to what is below gaol allowance. But, as towards the taxers, they are gentle as doves. With regard, however, to this Squire Twyford, he is not, as I afterwards[Pg 299] found, without some little consolation; for one of his sons, I understand, is, like squire Rawlinson of Hampshire, a police justice in London! I hear that Squire Twyford was always a distinguished champion of loyalty; what they call a staunch friend of Government; and it is therefore natural that the Government should be a staunch friend to him. By the taxing of his estate, and paying the Stock-Jobbers out of the proceeds, the people have been got together in great masses, and, as there are Justices wanted to keep them in order in those masses, it seems but reasonable that the squire should, in one way or another, enjoy some portion of the profits of keeping them in order. However, this cannot be the case with every loyal squire; and there are many of them who, for want of a share in the distribution, have been totally extinguished. I should suppose Squire Twyford to be in the second rank upwards (dividing the whole of the proprietors of land into five ranks). It appears to me that pretty nearly the whole of this second rank is gone; that the Stock-Jobbers have eaten them clean up, having less mercy than the cannibals, who usually leave the hands and the feet; so that this squire has had pretty good luck.

From Trotten we came to Midhurst, and, having baited our horses, went into Cowdry Park to see the ruins of that once noble mansion, from which the Countess of Salisbury (the last of the Plantagenets) was brought by the tyrant Henry the Eighth to be cruelly murdered, in revenge for the integrity and the other great virtues of her son, Cardinal Pole, as we have seen in Number Four, paragraph 115, of the “History of the Protestant Reformation.” This noble estate, one of the finest in the whole kingdom, was seized on by the king, after the possessor had been murdered on his scaffold. She had committed no crime. No crime was proved against her. The miscreant Thomas Cromwell, finding that no form of trial would answer his purpose, invented a new mode of bringing people to their death; namely, a Bill, brought into Parliament, condemning her to death. The estate was then granted to a Sir Anthony Brown, who was physician to the king. By the descendants of this Brown, one of whom was afterwards created Lord Montague, the estate has been held to this day; and Mr. Poyntz, who married the sole remaining heiress of this family, a Miss Brown, is now the proprietor of the estate, comprising, I believe, forty or fifty manors, the greater part of which are in this neighbourhood, some of them, however, extending more than twenty miles from the mansion. We entered the park through a great iron gateway, part of which being wanting, the gap was stopped up by a hurdle. We rode down to the house and all round about and in amongst the ruins, now in part covered with ivy, and inhabited[Pg 300] by innumerable starlings and jackdaws. The last possessor was, I believe, that Lord Montague who was put an end to by the celebrated nautical adventure on the Rhine along with the brother of Sir Glory. These two sensible worthies took it into their heads to go down a place something resembling the waterfall of an overshot mill. They were drowned just as two young kittens or two young puppies would have been. And as an instance of the truth that it is an ill wind that blows nobody good, had it not been for this sensible enterprise, never would there have been a Westminster Rump to celebrate the talents and virtues of Westminster’s Pride and England’s Glory. It was this Lord Montague, I believe, who had this ancient and noble mansion completely repaired, and fitted up as a place of residence: and a few days, or a very few weeks, at any rate, after the work was completed, the house was set on fire (by accident, I suppose), and left nearly in the state in which it now stands, except that the ivy has grown up about it and partly hidden the stones from our sight. You may see, however, the hour of the day or night at which the fire took place; for there still remains the brass of the face of the clock, and the hand pointing to the hour. Close by this mansion there runs a little river which runs winding away through the valleys, and at last falls into the Arron. After viewing the ruins, we had to return into the turnpike road, and then enter another part of the park, which we crossed, in order to go to Petworth. When you are in a part of this road through the park you look down and see the house in the middle of a very fine valley, the distant boundary of which, to the south and south-west, is the South Down Hills. Some of the trees here are very fine, particularly some most magnificent rows of the Spanish chestnut. I asked the people at Midhurst where Mr. Poyntz himself lived; and they told me at the lodge in the park, which lodge was formerly the residence of the head keeper. The land is very good about here. It is fine rich loam at top, with clay further down. It is good for all sorts of trees, and they seem to grow here very fast.

We got to Petworth pretty early in the day. On entering it you see the house of Lord Egremont, which is close up against the park-wall, and which wall bounds this little vale on two sides. There is a sort of town-hall here, and on one side of it there is the bust of Charles the Second, I should have thought; but they tell me it is that of Sir William Wyndham, from whom Lord Egremont is descended. But there is another building much more capacious and magnificent than the town-hall; namely, the Bridewell, which, from the modernness of its structure, appears to be one of those “wauste improvements, Ma’am,” which distinguish this enlightened age. This structure vies, in[Pg 301] point of magnitude with the house of Lord Egremont itself, though that is one of the largest mansions in the whole kingdom. The Bridewell has a wall round it that I should suppose to be twenty feet high. This place was not wanted, when the labourer got twice as much instead of half as much as the common standing soldier. Here you see the true cause why the young labouring man is “content” to exist upon 7d. a day, for six days in the week, and nothing for Sunday. Oh! we are a most free and enlightened people; our happy constitution in church and state has supplanted Popery and slavery; but we go to a Bridewell unless we quietly exist and work upon 7d. a day!

 

Thursley,
Sunday, 13th Nov.

To our great delight we found Richard’s horse quite well this morning, and off we set for this place. The first part of our road, for about three miles and a half, was through Lord Egremont’s Park. The morning was very fine; the sun shining; a sharp frost after a foggy evening; the grass all white, the twigs of the trees white, the ponds frozen over; and everything looking exceedingly beautiful. The spot itself being one of the very finest in the world, not excepting, I dare say, that of the father of Saxe Cobourg itself, who has, doubtless, many such fine places.

In a very fine pond, not far from the house and close by the road, there are some little artificial islands, upon one of which I observed an arbutus loaded with its beautiful fruit (quite ripe), even more thickly than any one I ever saw even in America. There were, on the side of the pond, a most numerous and beautiful collection of water-fowl, foreign as well as domestic. I never saw so great a variety of water-fowl collected together in my life. They had been ejected from the water by the frost, and were sitting apparently in a state of great dejection: but this circumstance has brought them into a comparatively small compass; and we facing our horses about, sat and looked at them, at the pond, at the grass, at the house, till we were tired of admiring. Everything here is in the neatest and most beautiful state. Endless herds of deer, of all the varieties of colours; and, what adds greatly to your pleasure in such a case, you see comfortable retreats prepared for them in different parts of the woods. When we came to what we thought the end of the park, the gate-keeper told us that we should find other walls to pass through. We now entered upon woods, we then came to another wall, and there we entered upon farms to our right and to our left. At last we came to a third wall, and the gate in that let us out into the turnpike road. The gate-keeper here told us, that[Pg 302] the whole enclosure was nine miles round; and this, after all, forms, probably, not a quarter part of what this nobleman possesses. And is it wrong that one man should possess so much? By no means; but in my opinion it is wrong that a system should exist which compels this man to have his estate taken away from him unless he throw the junior branches of his family for maintenance upon the public.

Lord Egremont bears an excellent character. Everything that I have ever heard of him makes me believe that he is worthy of this princely estate. But I cannot forget that his two brothers, who are now very old men, have had, from their infancy, enormous revenues in sinecure places in the West Indies, while the general property and labour of England is taxed to maintain those West Indies in their state of dependence upon England; and I cannot forget that the burden of these sinecures are amongst the grievances of which the West Indians justly complain. True, the taxing system has taken from the family of Wyndham, during the lives of these two gentlemen, as much, and even more, than what that family has gained by those sinecures; but then let it be recollected, that it is not the helpless people of England who have been the cause of this system. It is not the fault of those who receive 7d. a day. It is the fault of the family of Wyndham and of such persons; and, if they have chosen to suffer the Jews and jobbers to take away so large a part of their income, it is not fair for them to come to the people at large to make up for the loss.

Thus it has gone on. The great masses of property have, in general, been able to take care of themselves: but the little masses have melted away like butter before the sun. The little gentry have had not even any disposition to resist. They merit their fate most justly. They have vied with each other in endeavours to ingratiate themselves with power, and to obtain compensation for their losses. The big fishes have had no feeling for them; have seen them sink with a sneer, rather than with compassion; but, at last, the cormorant threatens even themselves; and they are struggling with might and main for their own preservation. They everywhere “most liberally” take the Stock-jobber or the Jew by the hand, though they hate him mortally at the same time for his power to outdo them on the sideboard, on the table, and in the equipage. They seem to think nothing of the extinguishment of the small fry; they hug themselves in the thought that they escape; and yet, at times, their minds misgive them, and they tremble for their own fate. The country people really gain by the change; for the small gentry have been rendered, by their miseries, so niggardly and so cruel, that it is quite a blessing, in a village, to see a rich[Pg 303] Jew or Jobber come to supplant them. They come, too, with far less cunning than the half-broken gentry. Cunning as the Stock-Jobber is in Change Alley, I defy him to be cunning enough for the country people, brought to their present state of duplicity by a series of cruelties which no pen can adequately describe. The Stock-Jobber goes from London with the cant of humanity upon his lips, at any rate; whereas the half-broken Squire takes not the least pains to disguise the hardness of his heart.

It is impossible for any just man to regret the sweeping away of this base race of Squires; but the sweeping of them away is produced by causes that have a wider extent. These causes reach the good as well as the bad: all are involved alike: like the pestilence, this horrible system is no respecter of persons; and decay and beggary mark the whole face of the country.

North Chapel is a little town in the Weald of Sussex where there were formerly post-chaises kept; but where there are none kept now. And here is another complete revolution. In almost every country town the post-chaise houses have been lessened in number, and those that remain have become comparatively solitary and mean. The guests at inns are not now gentlemen, but bumpers, who, from being called (at the inns) “riders,” became “travellers,” and are now “commercial gentlemen,” who go about in gigs, instead of on horseback, and who are in such numbers as to occupy a great part of the room in all the inns, in every part of the country. There are, probably, twenty thousand of them always out, who may perhaps have, on an average throughout the year, three or four thousand “ladies” travelling with them. The expense of this can be little short of fifteen millions a year, all to be paid by the country-people who consume the goods, and a large part of it to be drawn up to the Wen.

From North Chapel we came to Chiddingfold, which is in the Weald of Surrey; that is to say, the country of oak-timber. Between these two places there are a couple of pieces of that famous commodity, called “Government property.” It seems that these places, which have extensive buildings on them, were for the purpose of making gunpowder. Like most other of these enterprises, they have been given up, after a time, and so the ground and all the buildings, and the monstrous fences, erected at enormous expense, have been sold. They were sold, it seems, some time ago, in lots, with the intention of being pulled down and carried away, though they are now nearly new, and built in the most solid, substantial, and expensive manner; brick walls eighteen inches through, and the buildings covered with lead and slate. It appears that they have been purchased by a Mr. Stovell, a Sussex banker; but for some reason or other,[Pg 304] though the purchase was made long ago, “Government” still holds the possession; and, what is more, it keeps people there to take care of the premises. It would be curious to have a complete history of these pretty establishments at Chiddingford; but this is a sort of history that we shall never be treated with until there be somebody in Parliament to rummage things to the bottom. It would be very easy to call for a specific account of the cost of these establishments, and also of the quantity of powder made at them. I should not be at all surprised, if the concern, all taken together, brought the powder to a hundred times the price at which similar powder could have been purchased.

When we came through Chiddingfold, the people were just going to church; and we saw a carriage and pair conveying an old gentleman and some ladies to the churchyard steps. Upon inquiry, we found that this was Lord Winterton, whose name, they told us, was Turnour. I thought I had heard of all the Lords, first or last; but, if I had ever heard of this one before, I had forgotten him. He lives down in the Weald, between the gunpowder establishments and Horsham, and has the reputation of being a harmless, good sort of man, and that being the case I was sorry to see that he appeared to be greatly afflicted with the gout, being obliged to be helped up the steps by a stout man. However, it is as broad, perhaps, as it is long: a man is not to have all the enjoyments of making the gout, and the enjoyments of abstinence too: that would not be fair play; and I dare say that Lord Winterton is just enough to be content with the consequences of his enjoyments.

This Chiddingfold is a very pretty place. There is a very pretty and extensive green opposite the church; and we were at the proper time of the day to perceive that the modern system of education had by no means overlooked this little village. We saw the schools marching towards the church in military order. Two of them passed us on our road. The boys looked very hard at us, and I saluted them with “There’s brave boys, you’ll all be parsons or lawyers or doctors.” Another school seemed to be in a less happy state. The scholars were too much in uniform to have had their clothes purchased by their parents; and they looked, besides, as if a little more victuals and a little less education would have done as well. There were about twenty of them without one single tinge of red in their whole twenty faces. In short I never saw more deplorable looking objects since I was born. And can it be of any use to expend money in this sort of way upon poor creatures that have not half a bellyful of food? We had not breakfasted when we passed them. We felt, at that moment, what hunger was. We had some bits of bread and meat in our pockets, however; and these, which, were merely [Pg 305]intended as stay-stomachs, amounted, I dare say, to the allowance of any half-dozen of these poor boys for the day. I could, with all my heart, have pulled the victuals out of my pocket and given it to them; but I did not like to do that which would have interrupted the march, and might have been construed into a sort of insult. To quiet my conscience, however, I gave a poor man that I met soon afterwards sixpence, under pretence of rewarding him for telling me the way to Thursley, which I knew as well as he, and which I had determined, in my own mind, not to follow.

We had now come on the Turnpike road from my Lord Egremont’s Park to Chiddingfold. I had made two or three attempts to get out of it, and to bear away to the north-west, to get through the oak-woods to Thursley; but I was constantly prevented by being told that the road which I wished to take would lead me to Haslemere. If you talk to ostlers, or landlords, or post-boys; or, indeed, to almost anybody else, they mean by a road a turnpike road; and they positively will not talk to you about any other. Now, just after quitting Chiddingfold, Thursley lies over fine woods and coppices, in a north-west direction, or thereabouts; and the Turnpike road, which goes from Petworth to Godalming, goes in a north-north-east direction. I was resolved, be the consequences what they might, not to follow the Turnpike road one single inch further; for I had not above three miles or thereabouts to get to Thursley, through the woods; and I had, perhaps, six miles at least to get to it the other way; but the great thing was to see the interior of these woods; to see the stems of the trees, as well as the tops of them. I saw a lane opening in the right direction; I saw indeed, that my horses must go up to their knees in clay; but I resolved to enter and go along that lane, and long before the end of my journey I found myself most amply compensated for the toil that I was about to encounter. But talk of toil! It was the horse that had the toil; and I had nothing to do but to sit upon his back, turn my head from side to side and admire the fine trees in every direction. Little bits of fields and meadows here and there, shaded all over, or nearly all over, by the surrounding trees. Here and there a labourer’s house buried in the woods. We had drawn out our luncheons and eaten them while the horses took us through the clay; but I stopped at a little house, and asked the woman, who looked very clean and nice, whether she would let us dine with her. She said “Yes,” with all her heart, but that she had no place to put our horses in, and that her dinner would not be ready for an hour, when she expected her husband home from church. She said they had a bit of bacon and a pudding and some cabbage; but that she had not much bread in the house. She had only one child, and that was not very[Pg 306] old, so we left her, quite convinced that my old observation is true, that people in the woodland countries are best off, and that it is absolutely impossible to reduce them to that state of starvation in which they are in the corn-growing part of the kingdom. Here is that great blessing, abundance of fuel at all times of the year, and particularly in the winter.

We came on for about a mile further in these clayey lanes, when we renewed our inquiries as to our course, as our road now seemed to point towards Godalming again. I asked a man how I should get to Thursley? He pointed to some fir-trees upon a hill, told me I must go by them, and that there was no other way. “Where then,” said I, “is Thursley?” He pointed with his hand, and said, “Right over those woods; but there is no road there, and it is impossible for you to get through those woods.” “Thank you,” said I; “but through those woods we mean to go.” Just at the border of the woods I saw a cottage. There must be some way to that cottage; and we soon found a gate that let us into a field, across which we went to this cottage. We there found an old man and a young one. Upon inquiry we found that it was possible to get through these woods. Richard gave the old man threepence to buy a pint of beer, and I gave the young one a shilling to pilot us through the woods. These were oak-woods with underwood beneath; and there was a little stream of water running down the middle of the woods, the annual and long overflowings of which has formed a meadow sometimes a rod wide, and sometimes twenty rods wide, while the bed of the stream itself was the most serpentine that can possibly be imagined, describing, in many places, nearly a complete circle, going round for many rods together, and coming within a rod or two of a point that it had passed before. I stopped the man several times, to sit and admire this beautiful spot, shaded in great part by lofty and wide-spreading oak trees. We had to cross this brook several times, over bridges that the owner had erected for the convenience of the fox-hunters. At last, we came into an ash-coppice, which had been planted in regular rows, at about four feet distances, which had been once cut, and which was now in the state of six years’ growth. A road through it, made for the fox-hunters, was as straight as a line, and of so great a length, that, on entering it, the farther end appeared not to be a foot wide. Upon seeing this, I asked the man whom these coppices belonged to, and he told me to Squire Leech, at Lea. My surprise ceased, but my admiration did not.

A piece of ordinary coppice ground, close adjoining this, and with no timber in it, and upon just the same soil (if there had been such a piece), would, at ten years’ growth, be worth, at[Pg 307] present prices, from five to seven pounds the acre. This coppice, at ten years’ growth, will be worth twenty pounds the acre; and, at the next cutting, when the stems will send out so many more shoots, it will be worth thirty pounds the acre. I did not ask the question when I afterwards saw Mr. Leech, but, I dare say, the ground was trenched before it was planted; but what is that expense when compared with the great, the permanent profit of such an undertaking? And, above all things, what a convenient species of property does a man here create. Here are no tenants’ rack, no anxiety about crops and seasons; the rust and the mildew never come here; a man knows what he has got, and he knows that nothing short of an earthquake can take it from him, unless, indeed, by attempting to vie with the stock-jobber in the expense of living, he enable the stock-jobber to come and perform the office of the earthquake. Mr. Leech’s father planted, I think it was, forty acres of such coppice in the same manner; and, at the same time, he sowed the ground with acorns. The acorns have become oak trees, and have begun and made great progress in diminishing the value of the ash, which have now to contend against the shade and the roots of the oak. For present profit, and, indeed, for permanent profit, it would be judicious to grub up the oak; but the owner has determined otherwise. He cannot endure the idea of destroying an oak wood.

If such be the profit of planting ash, what would be the profit of planting locust, even for poles or stakes? The locust would outgrow the ash, as we have seen in the case of Mr. Gunter’s plantation, more than three to one. I am satisfied that it will do this upon any soil, if you give the trees fifteen years to grow in; and, in short, that the locusts will be trees when the ash are merely poles, if both are left to grow up in single stems. If in coppice, the locust will make as good poles; I mean as large and as long poles in six years, as the ash will in ten years: to say nothing of the superior durability of the locust. I have seen locusts, at Mr. Knowles’s, at Thursley, sufficient for a hop-pole, for an ordinary hop-pole, with only five years’ growth in them, and leaving the last year’s growth to be cut off, leaving the top of the pole three-quarters of an inch through. There is nothing that we have ever heard of, of the timber kind, equal to this in point of quickness of growth. In parts of the county where hop-poles are not wanted, espalier stakes, wood for small fencing, hedge stakes, hurdle stakes, fold-shores, as the people call them, are always wanted; and is it not better to have a thing that will last twenty years, than a thing that will last only three? I know of no English underwood which gives a hedge stake to last even two years. I should think that a very profitable[Pg 308] way of employing the locust would be this. Plant a coppice, the plants two feet apart. Thus planted, the trees will protect one another against the wind. Keep the side shoots pruned off. At the end of six years, the coppice, if well planted and managed, will be, at the very least, twenty feet high to the tips of the trees. Not if the grass and weeds are suffered to grow up to draw all the moisture up out of the ground, to keep the air from the young plants, and to intercept the gentle rains and the dews; but trenched ground, planted carefully, and kept clean; and always bearing in mind that hares and rabbits and young locust trees will never live together; for the hares and rabbits will not only bite them off, but will gnaw them down to the ground, and, when they have done that, will scratch away the ground to gnaw into the very root. A gentleman bought some locust trees of me last year, and brought me a dismal account in the summer of their being all dead; but I have since found that they were all eaten up by the hares. He saw some of my refuse; some of those which were too bad to send to him, which were a great deal higher than his head. His ground was as good as mine, according to his account; but I had no hares to fight against; or else mine would have been all dead too.

I say, then, that a locust plantation, in pretty good land, well managed, would be twenty feet high in six years; suppose it, however, to be only fifteen, there would be, at the bottom, wood to make two locust PINS for ship-building; two locust pins at the bottom of each tree. Two at the very least; and here would be twenty-two thousand locust pins to the acre, probably enough for the building of a seventy-four gun ship. These pins are about eighteen inches long, and, perhaps, an inch and half through; and there is this surprising quality in the wood of the locust, that it is just as hard and as durable at five or six years’ growth as it is at fifty years’ growth. Of which I can produce an abundance of instances. The stake which I brought home from America, and which is now at Fleet-street, had stood as a stake for about eight and twenty years, as certified to me by Judge Mitchell, of North Hampstead in Long Island, who gave me the stake, and who said to me at the time, “Now are you really going to take that crooked miserable stick to England!” Now it is pretty well known, at least, I have been so informed, that our Government have sent to America in consequence of my writings about the locust, to endeavour to get locust pins for the navy. I have been informed that they have been told that the American Government has bought them all up. Be this as it may, I know that a waggon load of these pins is, in America itself, equal in value to a waggon load of barrels of the finest flour. This being undeniable, and the fact being undeniable that we can[Pg 309] grow locust pins here, that I can take a seed to-day, and say that it shall produce two pins in seven years’ time, will it not become an article of heavy accusation against the Government if they neglect even one day to set about tearing up their infernal Scotch firs and larches in Wolmer Forest and elsewhere, and putting locust trees in their stead, in order, first to provide this excellent material for ship-building; and next to have some fine plantations in the Holt Forest, Wolmer Forest, the New Forest, the Forest of Dean, and elsewhere, the only possible argument against doing which being, that I may possibly take a ride round amongst their plantations, and that it may be everlastingly recorded that it was I who was the cause of the Government’s adopting this wise and beneficial measure?

I am disposed to believe, however, that the Government will not be brutish enough, obstinately to reject the advice given to them on this head, it being observed, however, that I wish to have no hand in their proceedings, directly or indirectly. I can sell all the trees that I have for sale to other customers. Let them look out for themselves; and as to any reports that their creatures may make upon the subjects I shall be able to produce proofs enough that such reports, if unfavourable, are false. I wrote, in a Register from Long Island, that I could if I would tell insolent Castlereagh, who was for making Englishmen dig holes one day and fill them up the next, how he might profitably put something into those holes, but that I would not tell him as long as the Borough-mongers should be in the state in which they then were. They are no longer in that state, I thank God. There has been no positive law to alter their state, but it is manifest that there must be such law before it be long. Events are working together to make the country worth living in, which, for the great body of the people, is at present hardly the case. Above all things in the world, it is the duty of every man, who has it in his power, to do what he can to promote the creation of materials for the building of ships in the best manner; and it is now a fact of perfect notoriety, that, with regard to the building of ships, it cannot be done in the best manner without the assistance of this sort of wood.

I have seen a specimen of the locust wood used in the making of furniture. I saw it in the posts of a bed-stead; and any thing more handsome I never saw in my life. I had used it myself in the making of rules; but I never saw it in this shape before. It admits of a polish nearly as fine as that of box. It is a bright and beautiful yellow. And in bedsteads, for instance, it would last for ever, and would not become loose at the joints, like oak and other perishable wood; because, like the live oak and the red cedar, no worm or insect ever preys upon it.[Pg 310] There is no fear of the quantity being too great. It would take a century to make as many plantations as are absolutely wanted in England. It would be a prodigious creation of real and solid wealth. Not such a creation as that of paper money, which only takes the dinner from one man and gives it to another, which only gives an unnatural swell to a city or a watering place by beggaring a thousand villages; but it would be a creation of money’s worth things. Let any man go and look at a farmhouse that was built a hundred years ago. He will find it, though very well built with stone or brick, actually falling to pieces, unless very frequently repaired, owing entirely to the rotten wood in the window-sills, the door-sills, the plates, the pins, the door frames, the window frames, and all those parts of the beams, the joists, and the rafters, that come in contact with the rain or the moisture. The two parts of a park pailing which give way first, are, the parts of the post that meet the ground, and the pins which hold the rails to the post. Both these rot long before the pailing rots. Now, all this is avoided by the use of locust as sills, as joists, as posts, as frames, and as pins. Many a roof has come down merely from the rotting of the pins. The best of spine oak is generally chosen for these pins. But after a time, the air gets into the pin-hole. The pin rots from the moist air, it gives way, the wind shakes the roof, and down it comes, or it swags, the wet gets in, and the house is rotten. In ships, the pins are the first things that give way. Many a ship would last twenty years after it is broken up, if put together with locust pins. I am aware that some readers will become tired of this subject; and, nothing but my conviction of its being of the very first importance to the whole kingdom could make me thus dwell upon it.

We got to Thursley after our beautiful ride through Mr. Leech’s coppices, and the weather being pretty cold, we found ourselves most happily situated here by the side of an American fire-place, making extremely comfortable a room which was formerly amongst the most uncomfortable in the world. This is another of what the malignant parsons call Cobbett’s Quackeries. But my real opinion is that the whole body of them, all put together, have never, since they were born, conferred so much benefit upon the country, as I have conferred upon it by introducing this fire-place. Mr. Judson of Kensington, who is the manufacturer of them, tells me that he has a great demand, which gives me much pleasure; but really, coming to conscience, no man ought to sit by one of these fire-places that does not go the full length with me both in politics and religion. It is not fair for them to enjoy the warmth without subscribing to the doctrines of the giver of the warmth. However, as[Pg 311] I have nothing to do with Mr. Judson’s affair, either as to the profit or the loss, he must sell the fire-places to whomsoever he pleases.

 

Kensington,
Sunday, 20th Nov.

Coming to Godalming on Friday, where business kept us that night, we had to experience at the inn the want of our American fire-place. A large and long room to sit in, with a miserable thing called a screen to keep the wind from our backs, with a smoke in the room half an hour after the fire was lighted, we, consuming a full bushel of coals in order to keep us warm, were not half so well off as we should have been in the same room, and without any screen, and with two gallons of coals, if we had our American fire-place. I gave the landlord my advice upon the subject, and he said he would go and look at the fire-place at Mr. Knowles’s. That was precisely one of those rooms which stand in absolute need of such a fire-place. It is, I should think, five-and-thirty, or forty feet long, and pretty nearly twenty feet wide. I could sooner dine with a labouring man upon his allowance of bread, such as I have mentioned above, than I would, in winter time, dine in that room upon turbot and sirloin of beef. An American fire-place, with a good fire in it, would make every part of that room pleasant to dine in in the coldest day in winter. I saw a public-house drinking-room, where the owner has tortured his invention to get a little warmth for his guests, where he fetches his coals in a waggon from a distance of twenty miles or thereabouts, and where he consumes these coals by the bushel, to effect that which he cannot effect at all, and which he might effect completely with about a fourth part of the coals.

It looked like rain on Saturday morning, we therefore sent our horses on from Godalming to Ripley, and took a post-chaise to convey us after them. Being shut up in the post-chaise did not prevent me from taking a look at a little snug house stuck under the hill on the road side, just opposite the old chapel on St. Catherine’s-hill, which house was not there when I was a boy. I found that this house is now occupied by the family Molyneux, for ages the owners of Losely Park, on the out-skirts of which estate this house stands. The house at Losely is of great antiquity, and had, or perhaps has, attached to it the great manors of Godalming and Chiddingfold. I believe that Sir Thomas More lived at Losely, or, at any rate, that the Molyneuxes are, in some degree, descended from him. The estate is, I fancy, theirs yet; but here they are, in this little house, while one Gunning (an East Indian, I believe)[Pg 312] occupies the house of their ancestors. At Send, or Sutton, where Mr. Webb Weston inhabited, there is a Baron somebody, with a De before his name. The name is German or Dutch, I believe. How the Baron came there I know not; but as I have read his name amongst the Justices of the Peace for the county of Surrey, he must have been born in England, or the law has been violated in making him a Justice of the Peace, seeing that no person not born a subject of the king, and a subject in this country too, can lawfully hold a commission under the crown, either civil or military. Nor is it lawful for any man born abroad of Scotch or Irish parents, to hold such commission under the crown, though such commissions have been held, and are held, by persons who are neither natural-born subjects of the king, nor born of English parents abroad. It should also be known and borne in mind by the people, that it is unlawful to grant any pension from the crown to any foreigner whatever. And no naturalization act can take away this disability. Yet the Whigs, as they call themselves, granted such pensions during the short time that they were in power.

When we got to Ripley, we found the day very fine, and we got upon our horses and rode home to dinner, after an absence of just one month, agreeably to our original intention, having seen a great deal of the country, having had a great deal of sport, and having, I trust, laid in a stock of health for the winter, sufficient to enable us to withstand the suffocation of this smoking and stinking Wen.

But Richard and I have done something else, besides ride, and hunt, and course, and stare about us, during this month. He was eleven years old last March, and it was now time for him to begin to know something about letters and figures. He has learned to work in the garden, and having been a good deal in the country, knows a great deal about farming affairs. He can ride anything of a horse, and over anything that a horse will go over. So expert at hunting, that his first teacher, Mr. Budd, gave the hounds up to his management in the field; but now he begins to talk about nothing but fox-hunting! That is a dangerous thing. When he and I went from home, I had business at Reigate. It was a very wet morning, and we went off long before daylight in a post-chaise, intending to have our horses brought after us. He began to talk in anticipation of the sport he was going to have, and was very inquisitive as to the probability of our meeting with fox-hounds, which gave me occasion to address him thus: “Fox-hunting is a very fine thing, and very proper for people to be engaged in, and it is very desirable to be able to ride well and to be in at the death; but that is not ALL; that is not everything. Any[Pg 313] fool can ride a horse, and draw a cover; any groom or any stable-fellow, who is as ignorant as the horse, can do these things; but all gentlemen that go a fox-hunting [I hope God will forgive me for the lie] are scholars, Richard. It is not the riding, nor the scarlet coats, that make them gentlemen; it is their scholarship.” What he thought I do not know; for he sat as mute as a fish, and I could not see his countenance. “So,” said I, “you must now begin to learn something, and you must begin with arithmetic.” He had learned from mere play, to read, being first set to work of his own accord, to find out what was said about Thurtell, when all the world was talking and reading about Thurtell. This had induced us to give him Robinson Crusoe; and that had made him a passable reader. Then he had scrawled down letters and words upon paper, and had written letters to me, in the strangest way imaginable. His knowledge of figures he had acquired from the necessity of knowing the several numbers upon the barrels of seeds brought from America, and the numbers upon the doors of houses. So that I had pretty nearly a blank sheet of paper to begin upon; and I have always held it to be stupidity to the last degree to attempt to put book-learning into children who are too young to reason with.

I began with a pretty long lecture on the utility of arithmetic; the absolute necessity of it, in order for us to make out our accounts of the trees and seeds that we should have to sell in the winter, and the utter impossibility of our getting paid for our pains unless we were able to make out our accounts, which accounts could not be made out unless we understood something about arithmetic. Having thus made him understand the utility of the thing, and given him a very strong instance in the case of our nursery affairs, I proceeded to explain to him the meaning of the word arithmetic, the power of figures, according to the place they occupied. I then, for it was still dark, taught him to add a few figures together, I naming the figures one after another, while he, at the mention of each new figure said the amount, and if incorrectly, he was corrected by me. When we had got a sum of about 24, I said now there is another line of figures on the left of this, and therefore you are to put down the 4 and carry 2. “What is carrying?” said he. I then explained to him the why and the wherefore of this, and he perfectly understood me at once. We then did several other little sums; and, by the time we got to Sutton, it becoming daylight, I took a pencil and set him a little sum upon paper, which, after making a mistake or two, he did very well. By the time we got to Reigate he had done several more, and at last, a pretty long one, with very few errors. We had business all day, and[Pg 314] thought no more of our scholarship until we went to bed, and then we did, in our post-chaise fashion, a great many lines in arithmetic before we went to sleep. Thus we went on mixing our riding and hunting with our arithmetic, until we quitted Godalming, when he did a sum very nicely in multiplication of money, falling a little short of what I had laid out, which was to make him learn the four rules in whole numbers first, and then in money, before I got home.

Friends’ houses are not so good as inns for executing a project like this; because you cannot very well be by yourself; and we slept but four nights at inns during our absence. So that we have actually stolen the time to accomplish this job, and Richard’s Journal records that he was more than fifteen days out of the thirty-one coursing or hunting. Nothing struck me more than the facility, the perfect readiness with which he at once performed addition of money. There is a pence table which boys usually learn, and during the learning of which they usually get no small number of thumps. This table I found it wholly unnecessary to set him. I had written it for him in one of the leaves of his journal book. But, upon looking at it, he said, “I don’t want this, because, you know, I have nothing to do but to divide by twelve.” That is right, said I, you are a clever fellow, Dick; and I shut up the book.

Now, when there is so much talk about education, let me ask how many pounds it generally costs parents to have a boy taught this much of arithmetic; how much time it costs also; and, which is a far more serious consideration, how much mortification, and very often how much loss of health, it costs the poor scolded broken-hearted child, who becomes dunder-headed and dull for all his life-time, merely because that has been imposed upon him as a task which he ought to regard as an object of pleasant pursuit. I never even once desired him to stay a moment from any other thing that he had a mind to go at. I just wrote the sums down upon paper, laid them upon the table, and left him to tackle them when he pleased. In the case of the multiplication-table, the learning of which is something of a job, and which it is absolutely necessary to learn perfectly, I advised him to go up into his bed-room and read it twenty times over out loud every morning before he went a hunting, and ten times over every night after he came back, till it all came as pat upon his lips as the names of persons that he knew. He did this, and at the end of about a week he was ready to set on upon multiplication. It is the irksomeness of the thing which is the great bar to learning of every sort. I took care not to suffer irksomeness to seize his mind for a moment, and the consequence was that which I have[Pg 315] described. I wish clearly to be understood as ascribing nothing to extraordinary natural ability. There are, as I have often said, as many sorts of men as there are of dogs; but I do not pretend to be of any peculiarly excellent sort, and I have never discovered any indications of it. There are, to be sure, sorts that are naturally stupid; but, the generality of men are not so; and I believe that every boy of the same age, equally healthy, and brought up in the same manner, would (unless of one of the stupid kinds) learn in just the same sort of way; but not if begun to be thumped at five or six years old, when the poor little things have no idea of the utility of anything; who are hardly sensible beings, and have but just understanding enough to know that it will hurt them if they jump down a chalk pit. I am sure, from thousands of instances that have come under my own eyes, that to begin to teach children book-learning before they are capable of reasoning, is the sure and certain way to enfeeble their minds for life; and, if they have natural genius, to cramp, if not totally to destroy that genius.

I think I shall be tempted to mould into a little book these lessons of arithmetic given to Richard. I think that a boy of sense, and of age equal to that of my scholar, would derive great profit from such a little book. It would not be equal to my verbal explanations, especially accompanied with the other parts of my conduct towards my scholar; but at any rate, it would be plain; it would be what a boy could understand; it would encourage him by giving him a glimpse at the reasons for what he was doing: it would contain principles; and the difference between principles and rules is this, that the former are persuasions and the latter are commands. There is a great deal of difference between carrying 2 for such and such a reason, and carrying 2 because you must carry 2. You see boys that can cover reams of paper with figures, and do it with perfect correctness too; and at the same time, can give you not a single reason for any part of what they have done. Now this is really doing very little. The rule is soon forgotten, and then all is forgotten. It would be the same with a lawyer that understood none of the principles of law. As far as he could find and remember cases exactly similar in all their parts to the case which he might have to manage, he would be as profound a lawyer as any in the world; but if there was the slightest difference between his case and the cases he had found upon record, there would be an end of his law.

Some people will say, here is a monstrous deal of vanity and egotism; and if they will tell me, how such a story is to be told without exposing a man to this imputation, I will[Pg 316] adopt their mode another time. I get nothing by telling the story. I should get full as much by keeping it to myself; but it may be useful to others, and therefore I tell it. Nothing is so dangerous as supposing that you have eight wonders of the world. I have no pretensions to any such possession. I look upon my boy as being like other boys in general. Their fathers can teach arithmetic as well as I; and if they have not a mind to pursue my method, they must pursue their own. Let them apply to the outside of the head and to the back, if they like; let them bargain for thumps and the birch rod; it is their affair and not mine. I never yet saw in my house a child that was afraid; that was in any fear whatever; that was ever for a moment under any sort of apprehension, on account of the learning of anything; and I never in my life gave a command, an order, a request, or even advice, to look into any book; and I am quite satisfied that the way to make children dunces, to make them detest books, and justify that detestation, is to tease them and bother them upon the subject.

As to the age at which children ought to begin to be taught, it is very curious, that, while I was at a friend’s house during my ride, I looked into, by mere accident, a little child’s abridgment of the History of England: a little thing about twice as big as a crown-piece. Even into this abridgment the historian had introduced the circumstance of Alfred’s father, who, “through a mistaken notion of kindness to his son, had suffered him to live to the age of twelve years without any attempt being made to give him education.” How came this writer to know that it was a mistaken notion? Ought he not rather, when he looked at the result, when he considered the astonishing knowledge and great deeds of Alfred—ought he not to have hesitated before he thus criticised the notions of the father? It appears from the result that the notions of the father were perfectly correct; and I am satisfied, that if they had begun to thump the head of Alfred when he was a child, we should not at this day have heard talk of Alfred the Great.


Great apologies are due to the OLD LADY from me, on account of my apparent inattention towards her, during her recent, or rather, I may say, her present, fit of that tormenting disorder which, as I observed before, comes upon her by spells. Dr. M’Culloch may say what he pleases about her being “wi’ bairn.” I say it’s the wet gripes; and I saw a poor old mare down in Hampshire in just the same way; but God forbid the catastrophe should be the same, for they shot[Pg 317] poor old Ball for the hounds. This disorder comes by spells. It sometimes seems as if it were altogether going off; the pulse rises, and the appetite returns. By-and-by a fresh grumbling begins to take place in the bowels. These are followed by acute pains; the patient becomes tremulous; the pulse begins to fall, and the most gloomy apprehensions begin again to be entertained. At every spell the pulse does not cease falling till it becomes lower than it was brought to by the preceding spell; and thus, spell after spell, finally produces the natural result.

It is useless at present to say much about the equivocating and blundering of the newspapers, relative to the cause of the fall. They are very shy, extremely cautious; become wonderfully wary, with regard to this subject. They do not know what to make of it. They all remember, that I told them that their prosperity was delusive; that it would soon come to an end, while they were telling me of the falsification of all my predictions. I told them the Small-note Bill had only given a respite. I told them that the foreign loans, and the shares, and all the astonishing enterprises, arose purely out of the Small-note Bill; and that a short time would see the Small-note Bill driving the gold out of the country, and bring us back to another restriction, OR, to wheat at four shillings a bushel. They remember that I told them all this; and now, some of them begin to regard me as the principal cause of the present embarrassments! This is pretty work indeed! What! I! The poor deluded creature, whose predictions were all falsified, who knew nothing at all about such matters, who was a perfect pedlar in political economy, who was “a conceited and obstinate old dotard,” as that polite and enlightened paper, the Morning Herald, called me: is it possible that such a poor miserable creature can have had the power to produce effects so prodigious? Yet this really appears to be the opinion of one, at least, of these Mr. Brougham’s best possible public instructors. The Public Ledger, of the 16th of November, has the following passage:—

“It is fully ascertained that the Country Banking Establishments in England have latterly been compelled to limit their paper circulation, for the writings of Mr. Cobbett are widely circulated in the Agricultural districts, and they have been so successful as to induce the Boobies to call for gold in place of country paper, a circumstance which has produced a greater effect on the currency than any exportation of the precious metals to the Continent, either of Europe or America, could have done, although it too must have contributed to render money for a season scarce.”

And, so, the “boobies” call for gold instead of country[Pg 318] bank-notes! Bless the “boobies”! I wish they would do it to a greater extent, which they would, if they were not so dependent as they are upon the ragmen. But, does the Public Ledger think that those unfortunate creatures who suffered the other day at Plymouth, would have been “boobies,” if they had gone and got sovereigns before the banks broke? This brother of the broad sheet should act justly and fairly as I do. He should ascribe these demands for gold to Mr. Jones of Bristol and not to me. Mr. Jones taught the “boobies” that they might have gold for asking for, or send the ragmen to jail. It is Mr. Jones, therefore, that they should blame, and not me. But, seriously speaking, what a mess, what a pickle, what a horrible mess, must the thing be in, if any man, or any thousand of men, or any hundred thousand of men, can change the value of money, unhinge all contracts and all engagements, and plunge the pecuniary affairs of a nation into confusion? I have been often accused of wishing to be thought the cleverest man in the country; but surely it is no vanity (for vanity means unjust pretension) for me to think myself the cleverest man in the country, if I can of my own head, and at my own pleasure, produce effects like these. Truth, however, and fair dealing with my readers, call upon me to disclaim so haughty a pretension. I have no such power as this public instructor ascribes to me. Greater causes are at work to produce such effects; causes wholly uncontrollable by me, and, what is more, wholly uncontrollable in the long run by the Government itself, though heartily co-operating with the bank directors. These united can do nothing to arrest the progress of events. Peel’s Bill produced the horrible distresses of 1822; the part repeal of that bill produced a respite, that respite is now about to expire; and neither Government nor bank, nor both joined together, can prevent the ultimate consequences. They may postpone them for a little; but mark, every postponement will render the catastrophe the more dreadful.

I see everlasting attempts by the “Instructor” to cast blame upon the bank. I can see no blame in the bank. The bank has issued no small notes, though it has liberty to do it. The bank pays in gold agreeably to the law. What more does anybody want with the bank. The bank lends money I suppose when it chooses; and is not it to be the judge when it shall lend and when it shall not? The bank is blamed for putting out paper and causing high prices; and blamed at the same time for not putting out paper to accommodate merchants and keep them from breaking. It cannot be to blame for both, and, indeed, it is blameable for neither. It is the fellows that put out the paper and then break that do the mischief. However,[Pg 319] a breaking merchant, whom the bank will no longer prop up, will naturally blame the bank, just as every insolvent blames a solvent that will not lend him money.

When the foreign loans first began to go on, Peter M’Culloch and all the Scotch were cock o’ whoop. They said that there were prodigious advantages in lending money to South America, that the interest would come home to enrich us; that the amount of the loans would go out chiefly in English manufactures; that the commercial gains would be enormous; and that this country would thus be made rich, and powerful, and happy, by employing in this way its “surplus capital,” and thereby contributing at the same time to the uprooting of despotism and superstition, and the establishing of freedom and liberality in their stead. Unhappy and purblind, I could not for the life of me see the matter in this light. My perverted optics could perceive no surplus capital in bundles of bank-notes. I could see no gain in sending out goods which somebody in England was to pay for, without, as it appeared to me, the smallest chance of ever being paid again. I could see no chance of gain in the purchase of a bond, nominally bearing interest at six per cent., and on which, as I thought, no interest at all would ever be paid. I despised the idea of paying bits of paper by bits of paper. I knew that a bond, though said to bear six per cent. interest, was not worth a farthing, unless some interest were paid upon it. I declared, when Spanish bonds were at seventy-five, that I would not give a crown for a hundred pounds in them, if I were compelled to keep them unsold for seven years; and I now declare, as to South American bonds, I think them of less value than the Spanish bonds now are, if the owner be compelled to keep them unsold for a year. It is very true, that these opinions agree with my wishes; but they have not been created by those wishes. They are founded on my knowledge of the state of things, and upon my firm conviction of the folly of expecting that the interest of these things will ever come from the respective countries to which they relate.

Mr. Canning’s despatch, which I shall insert below, has, doubtless, had a tendency (whether expected or not) to prop up the credit of these sublime speculations. The propping up of the credit of them can, however, do no sort of good. The keeping up the price of them for the present may assist some of the actual speculators, but it can do nothing for the speculation in the end, and this speculation, which was wholly an effect of the Small-note Bill, will finally have a most ruinous effect. How is it to be otherwise? Have we ever received any evidence, or anything whereon to build a belief, that the[Pg 320] interest on these bonds will be paid? Never; and the man must be mad; mad with avarice or a love of gambling, that could advance his money upon any such a thing as these bonds. The fact is, however, that it was not money: it was paper: it was borrowed, or created, for the purpose of being advanced. Observe, too, that when the loans were made, money was at a lower value than it is now; therefore, those who would have to pay the interest, would have too much to pay if they were to fulfil their engagement. Mr. Canning’s State Paper clearly proves to me, that the main object of it is to make the loans to South America finally be paid, because, if they be not paid, not only is the amount of them lost to the bond-holders, but there is an end, at once, to all that brilliant commerce with which that shining Minister appears to be so much enchanted. All the silver and gold, all the Mexican and Peruvian dreams vanish in an instant, and leave behind the wretched Cotton-Lords and wretched Jews and Jobbers to go to the workhouse, or to Botany Bay. The whole of the loans are said to amount to about twenty-one or twenty-two millions. It is supposed, that twelve millions have actually been sent out in goods. These goods have perhaps been paid for here, but they have been paid for out of English money or by English promises. The money to pay with has come from those who gave money for the South American bonds, and these bond-holders are to be repaid, if repaid at all, by the South Americans. If not paid at all, then England will have sent away twelve millions worth of goods for nothing; and this would be the Scotch way of obtaining enormous advantages for the country by laying out its “surplus capital” in foreign loans. I shall conclude this subject by inserting a letter which I find in the Morning Chronicle, of the 18th instant. I perfectly agree with the writer. The Editor of the Morning Chronicle does not, as appears by the remark which he makes at the head of it; but I shall insert the whole, his remark and all, and add a remark or two of my own.—[See Register, vol. 56, p. 556.]

“This is a pretty round sum—a sum, the very naming of which would make anybody but half-mad Englishmen stare. To make comparisons with our own debt would have little effect, that being so monstrous that every other sum shrinks into nothingness at the sight of it. But let us look at the United States, for they have a debt, and a debt is a debt; and this debt of the United States is often cited as an apology for ours, even the parsons having at last come to cite the United States as presenting us with a system of perfection. What, then, is this debt of the United States? Why, it was on the 1st of January, 1824, this 90,177,962; that is to say dollars; that[Pg 321] is to say, at four shillings and sixpence the dollar, just twenty millions sterling; that is to say, 594,000 pounds less than our ‘surplus capital’ men have lent to the South Americans! But now let us see what is the net revenue of this same United States. Why, 20,500,755, that is to say, in sterling money, three millions, three hundred and thirty thousand, and some odd hundreds; that is to say, almost to a mere fraction, a sixth part of the whole gross amount of the debt. Observe this well, that the whole of the debt amounts to only six times as much as one single year’s net revenue. Then, again, look at the exports of the United States. These exports, in one single year, amount to 74,699,030 dollars, and in pounds sterling £16,599,783. Now, what can the South American State show in this way? Have they any exports? Or, at least, have they any that any man can speak of with certainty? Have they any revenue wherewith to pay the interest of a debt, when they are borrowing the very means of maintaining themselves now against the bare name of their king? We are often told that the Americans borrowed their money to carry on their Revolutionary war with. Money! Aye; a farthing is money, and a double sovereign is no more than money. But surely some regard is to be had to the quantity; some regard is to be had to the amount of the money; and is there any man in his senses that will put the half million, which the Americans borrowed of the Dutch, in competition, that will name on the same day, this half million, with the twenty-one millions and a half borrowed by the South Americans as above stated? In short, it is almost to insult the understandings of my readers, to seem to institute any comparison between the two things; and nothing in the world, short of this gambling, this unprincipled, this maddening paper-money system, could have made men look with patience for one single moment at loans like these, tossed into the air with the hope and expectation of re-payment. However, let the bond-owners keep their bonds. Let them feel the sweets of the Small-note Bill, and of the consequent puffing up of the English funds. The affair is theirs. They have rejected my advice; they have listened to the broad sheet; and let them take all the consequences. Let them, with all my heart, die with starvation, and as they expire, let them curse Mr. Brougham’s best possible public Instructor.”

 

Uphusband (Hampshire),
Thursday, 24th Aug. 1826.

We left Burghclere last evening, in the rain; but as our distance was only about seven miles, the consequence was[Pg 322] little. The crops of corn, except oats, have been very fine hereabouts; and there are never any pease, nor any beans, grown here. The sainfoin fields, though on these high lands, and though the dry weather has been of such long continuance, look as green as watered meadows, and a great deal more brilliant and beautiful. I have often described this beautiful village (which lies in a deep dell) and its very variously shaped environs, in my Register of November, 1822. This is one of those countries of chalk and flint and dry-top soil and hard roads and high and bare hills and deep dells, with clumps of lofty trees, here and there, which are so many rookeries: this is one of those countries, or rather, approaching towards those countries, of downs and flocks of sheep, which I like so much, which I always get to when I can, and which many people seem to flee from as naturally as men flee from pestilence. They call such countries naked and barren, though they are, in the summer months, actually covered with meat and with corn.

I saw, the other day, in the Morning Herald London “best public instructor,” that all those had deceived themselves, who had expected to see the price of agricultural produce brought down by the lessening of the quantity of paper-money. Now, in the first place, corn is, on an average, a seventh lower in price than it was last year at this time; and what would it have been, if the crop and the stock had now been equal to what they were last year? All in good time, therefore, good Mr. Thwaites. Let us have a little time. The “best public instructors” have, as yet, only fallen, in number sold, about a third, since this time last year. Give them a little time, good Mr. Thwaites, and you will see them come down to your heart’s content. Only let us fairly see an end to small notes, and there will soon be not two daily “best public instructors” left in all the “entire” great “British Empire.”

But, as man is not to live on bread alone, so corn is not the only thing that the owners and occupiers of the land have to look to. There are timber, bark, underwood, wool, hides, pigs, sheep, and cattle. All those together make, in amount, four times the corn, at the very least. I know that all these have greatly fallen in price since last year; but I am in a sheep and wool country, and can speak positively as to them, which are two articles of very great importance. As to sheep; I am speaking of Southdowns, which are the great stock of these counties; as to sheep they have fallen one-third in price since last August, lambs as well as ewes. And, as to the wool, it sold, in 1824, at 40s. a tod: it sold last year, at 35s. a tod; and it now sells at 19s. a tod! A tod is 28lb. avoirdupois weight; so that the price of Southdown wool now is 8d. a pound and a fraction[Pg 323] over; and this is, I believe, cheaper than it has ever been known within the memory of the oldest man living! The “best public instructor” may, perhaps, think, that sheep and wool are a trifling affair. There are many thousands of farmers who keep each a flock of at least a thousand sheep. An ewe yields about 3lb. of wool, a wether 4lb., a ram 7lb. Calculate, good Mr. Thwaites, what a difference it is when this wool becomes 8d. a pound instead of 17d., and instead of 30d. as it was not many years ago! In short, every middling sheep farmer receives, this year, about 250l. less, as the produce of sheep and wool, than he received last year; and, on an average, 250l. is more than half his rent.

There is a great falling off in the price of horses, and of all cattle except fat cattle; and, observe, when the prospect is good, it shows a rise in the price of lean cattle; not in that of the meat which is just ready to go into the mouth. Prices will go on gradually falling, as they did from 1819 to 1822 inclusive, unless upheld by untoward seasons, or by an issue of assignats; for, mind, it would be no joke, no sham, this time; it would be an issue of as real, as bona fide assignats as ever came from the mint of any set of rascals that ever robbed and enslaved a people in the names of “liberty and law.”

 

East Everley (Wiltshire),
Sunday, 27th August, Evening.

We set off from Uphusband on Friday, about ten o’clock, the morning having been wet. My sons came round, in the chaise, by Andover and Weyhill, while I came right across the country towards Ludgarshall, which lies in the road from Andover to this place. I never knew the flies so troublesome, in England, as I found them in this ride. I was obliged to carry a great bough, and to keep it in constant motion, in order to make the horse peaceable enough to enable me to keep on his back. It is a country of fields, lanes, and high hedges; so that no wind could come to relieve my horse; and, in spite of all I could do, a great part of him was covered with foam from the sweat. In the midst of this, I got, at one time, a little out of my road, in, or near, a place called Tangley. I rode up to the garden-wicket of a cottage, and asked the woman, who had two children, and who seemed to be about thirty years old, which was the way to Ludgarshall, which I knew could not be more than about four miles off. She did not know! A very neat, smart, and pretty woman; but she did not know the way to this rotten borough, which was, I was sure, only about four miles off! “Well, my dear good woman,” said I, “but you have been at[Pg 324] Ludgarshall?”—“No.”—“Nor at Andover?” (six miles another way)—“No.”—“Nor at Marlborough?” (nine miles another way)—“No.”—“Pray, were you born in this house?”—“Yes.”—“And how far have you ever been from this house?”—“Oh! I have been up in the parish and over to Chute.” That is to say, the utmost extent of her voyages had been about two and a half miles! Let no one laugh at her, and, above all others, let not me, who am convinced, that the facilities, which now exist, of moving human bodies from place to place, are amongst the curses of the country, the destroyers of industry, of morals, and, of course, of happiness. It is a great error to suppose, that people are rendered stupid by remaining always in the same place. This was a very acute woman, and as well behaved as need to be. There was, in July last (last month) a Preston-man, who had never been further from home than Chorley (about eight or ten miles), and who started off, on foot, and went, alone, to Rouen, in France, and back again to London, in the space of about ten days; and that, too, without being able to speak, or to understand, a word of French. N.B. Those gentlemen, who, at Green-street, in Kent, were so kind to this man, upon finding that he had voted for me, will be pleased to accept of my best thanks. Wilding (that is the man’s name) was full of expressions of gratitude towards these gentlemen. He spoke of others who were good to him on his way; and even at Calais he found friends on my account; but he was particularly loud in his praises of the gentlemen in Kent, who had been so good and so kind to him, that he seemed quite in an extasy when he talked of their conduct.

Before I got to the rotten-borough, I came out upon a Down, just on the border of the two counties, Hampshire and Wiltshire. Here I came up with my sons, and we entered the rotten-borough together. It contained some rashers of bacon and a very civil landlady; but it is one of the most mean and beggarly places that man ever set his eyes on. The curse attending corruption seems to be upon it. The look of the place would make one swear, that there never was a clean shirt in it, since the first stone of it was laid. It must have been a large place once, though it now contains only 479 persons, men, women, and children. The borough is, as to all practical purposes, as much private property as this pen is my private property. Aye, aye! Let the petitioners of Manchester bawl, as long as they like, against all other evils; but, until they touch this master-evil, they do nothing at all.

Everley is but about three miles from Ludgarshall, so that we got here in the afternoon of Friday: and, in the evening a very heavy storm came and drove away all flies, and made the[Pg 325] air delightful. This is a real Down-country. Here you see miles and miles square without a tree, or hedge, or bush. It is country of green-sward. This is the most famous place in all England for coursing. I was here, at this very inn, with a party eighteen years ago; and the landlord, who is still the same, recognized me as soon as he saw me. There were forty brace of greyhounds taken out into the field on one of the days, and every brace had one course, and some of them two. The ground is the finest in the world; from two to three miles for the hare to run to cover, and not a stone nor a bush nor a hillock. It was here proved to me, that the hare is, by far, the swiftest of all English animals; for I saw three hares, in one day, run away from the dogs. To give dog and hare a fair trial, there should be but one dog. Then, if that dog got so close as to compel the hare to turn, that would be a proof that the dog ran fastest. When the dog, or dogs, never get near enough to the hare to induce her to turn, she is said, and very justly, to “run away” from them; and, as I saw three hares do this in one day, I conclude, that the hare is the swiftest animal of the two.

This inn is one of the nicest, and, in summer, one of the pleasantest, in England; for, I think, that my experience in this way will justify me in speaking thus positively. The house is large, the yard and the stables good, the landlord a farmer also, and, therefore, no cribbing your horses in hay or straw and yourself in eggs and cream. The garden, which adjoins the south side of the house, is large, of good shape, has a terrace on one side, lies on the slope, consists of well-disposed clumps of shrubs and flowers, and of short-grass very neatly kept. In the lower part of the garden there are high trees, and, amongst these, the tulip-tree and the live-oak. Beyond the garden is a large clump of lofty sycamores, and in these a most populous rookery, in which, of all things in the world, I delight. The village, which contains 301 souls, lies to the north of the inn, but adjoining its premises. All the rest, in every direction, is bare down or open arable. I am now sitting at one of the southern windows of this inn, looking across the garden towards the rookery. It is nearly sun-setting; the rooks are skimming and curving over the tops of the trees; while, under the branches, I see a flock of several hundred sheep, coming nibbling their way in from the Down, and going to their fold.

Now, what ill-natured devil could bring Old Nic Grimshaw into my head in company with these innocent sheep? Why, the truth is this: nothing is so swift as thought: it runs over a life-time in a moment; and, while I was writing the last sentence of the foregoing paragraph, thought took me up at the time when I used to wear a smock-frock and to carry a wooden[Pg 326] bottle like that shepherd’s boy; and, in an instant, it hurried me along through my no very short life of adventure, of toil, of peril, of pleasure, of ardent friendship and not less ardent enmity; and after filling me with wonder, that a heart and mind so wrapped up in everything belonging to the gardens, the fields and the woods, should have been condemned to waste themselves away amidst the stench, the noise, and the strife of cities, it brought me to the present moment, and sent my mind back to what I have yet to perform about Nicholas Grimshaw and his ditches!

My sons set off about three o’clock to-day, on their way to Herefordshire, where I intend to join them, when I have had a pretty good ride in this country. There is no pleasure in travelling, except on horse-back, or on foot. Carriages take your body from place to place; and if you merely want to be conveyed, they are very good; but they enable you to see and to know nothing at all of the country.

 

East Everley, Monday Morning,
5 o’clock, 28th Aug. 1826.

A very fine morning; a man, eighty-two years of age, just beginning to mow the short-grass, in the garden: I thought it, even when I was young, the hardest work that man had to do. To look on, this work seems nothing; but it tries every sinew in your frame, if you go upright and do your work well. This old man never knew how to do it well, and he stoops, and he hangs his scythe wrong; but, with all this, it must be a surprising man to mow short-grass, as well as he does, at eighty. I wish I may be able to mow short-grass at eighty! That’s all I have to say of the matter. I am just setting off for the source of the Avon, which runs from near Marlborough to Salisbury, and thence to the sea; and I intend to pursue it as far as Salisbury. In the distance of thirty miles, here are, I see by the books, more than thirty churches. I wish to see, with my own eyes, what evidence there is that those thirty churches were built without hands, without money, and without a congregation; and thus to find matter, if I can, to justify the mad wretches, who, from Committee-Rooms and elsewhere, are bothering this half-distracted nation to death about a “surplus popalashon, mon.”

My horse is ready; and the rooks are just gone off to the stubble-fields. These rooks rob the pigs; but they have a right to do it. I wonder (upon my soul I do) that there is no lawyer, Scotchman, or Parson-Justice, to propose a law to punish the rooks for trespass.

 

 


[Pg 327]

RIDE DOWN THE VALLEY OF THE AVON IN WILTSHIRE.

“Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn; and, The labourer is worthy of his reward.”—Deuteronomy, ch. xxv, ver. 4; 1 Cor. ix, 9; 1 Tim. v, 9.

 

Milton,
Monday, 28th August.

I came off this morning on the Marlborough road about two miles, or three, and then turned off, over the downs, in a north-westerly direction, in search of the source of the Avon River, which goes down to Salisbury. I had once been at Netheravon, a village in this valley; but I had often heard this valley described as one of the finest pieces of land in all England; I knew that there were about thirty parish churches, standing in a length of about thirty miles, and in an average width of hardly a mile; and I was resolved to see a little into the reasons that could have induced our fathers to build all these churches, especially if, as the Scotch would have us believe, there were but a mere handful of people in England until of late years.

The first part of my ride this morning was by the side of Sir John Astley’s park. This man is one of the members of the county (gallon-loaf Bennet being the other). They say that he is good to the labouring people; and he ought to be good for something, being a member of Parliament of the Lethbridge and Dickenson stamp. However, he has got a thumping estate; though it be borne in mind, the working-people and the fund-holders and the dead-weight have each their separate mortgage upon it; of which this Baronet has, I dare say, too much justice to complain, seeing that the amount of these mortgages was absolutely necessary to carry on Pitt and Perceval and Castlereagh Wars; to support Hanoverian soldiers in England; to fight and beat the Americans on the Serpentine River; to give Wellington a kingly estate; and to defray the expenses of Manchester and other yeomanry cavalry; besides all the various charges of Power-of-Imprisonment Bills and of Six-Acts. These being the cause of the mortgages, the “worthy Baronet” has, I will engage, too much justice to complain of them.

In steering across the down, I came to a large farm, which a shepherd told me was Milton Hill Farm. This was upon the high land, and before I came to the edge of this Valley of Avon, which was my land of promise; or, at least, of great expectation; for I could not imagine that thirty churches had been built for nothing by the side of a brook (for it is no more during[Pg 328] the greater part of the way) thirty miles long. The shepherd showed me the way towards Milton; and at the end of about a mile, from the top of a very high part of the down, with a steep slope towards the valley, I first saw this Valley of Avon; and a most beautiful sight it was! Villages, hamlets, large farms, towers, steeples, fields, meadows, orchards, and very fine timber trees, scattered all over the valley. The shape of the thing is this: on each side downs, very lofty and steep in some places, and sloping miles back in other places; but each outside of the valley are downs. From the edge of the downs begin capital arable fields generally of very great dimensions, and, in some places, running a mile or two back into little cross-valleys, formed by hills of downs. After the corn-fields come meadows, on each side, down to the brook or river. The farm-houses, mansions, villages, and hamlets, are generally situated in that part of the arable land which comes nearest the meadows.

Great as my expectations had been, they were more than fulfilled. I delight in this sort of country; and I had frequently seen the vale of the Itchen, that of the Bourn, and also that of the Teste, in Hampshire; I had seen the vales amongst the South Downs; but I never before saw anything to please me like this valley of the Avon. I sat upon my horse, and looked over Milton and Easton and Pewsy for half an hour, though I had not breakfasted. The hill was very steep. A road, going slanting down it, was still so steep, and washed so very deep, by the rains of ages, that I did not attempt to ride down it, and I did not like to lead my horse, the path was so narrow. So seeing a boy with a drove of pigs, going out to the stubbles, I beckoned him to come up to me; and he came and led my horse down for me. Endless is the variety in the shape of the high lands which form this valley. Sometimes the slope is very gentle, and the arable lands go back very far. At others, the downs come out into the valley almost like piers into the sea, being very steep in their sides, as well as their ends towards the valley. They have no slope at their other ends: indeed they have no back ends, but run into the main high land. There is also great variety in the width of the valley; great variety in the width of the meadows; but the land appears all to be of the very best; and it must be so, for the farmers confess it.

It seemed to me, that one way, and that not, perhaps, the least striking, of exposing the folly, the stupidity, the inanity, the presumption, the insufferable emptiness and insolence and barbarity, of those numerous wretches, who have now the audacity to propose to transport the people of England, upon the principle of the monster Malthus, who has furnished the[Pg 329] unfeeling oligarchs and their toad-eaters with the pretence, that man has a natural propensity to breed faster than food can be raised for the increase; it seemed to me, that one way of exposing this mixture of madness and of blasphemy was to take a look, now that the harvest is in, at the produce, the mouths, the condition, and the changes that have taken place, in a spot like this, which God has favoured with every good that he has had to bestow upon man.

From the top of the hill I was not a little surprised to see, in every part of the valley that my eye could reach, a due, a large portion of fields of Swedish turnips, all looking extremely well. I had found the turnips, of both sorts, by no means bad, from Salt Hill to Newbury; but from Newbury through Burghclere, Highclere, Uphusband, and Tangley, I had seen but few. At and about Ludgarshall and Everley, I had seen hardly any. But when I came, this morning, to Milton Hill farm, I saw a very large field of what appeared to me to be fine Swedish turnips. In the valley, however, I found them much finer, and the fields were very beautiful objects, forming, as their colour did, so great a contrast with that of the fallows and the stubbles, which latter are, this year, singularly clean and bright.

Having gotten to the bottom of the hill, I proceeded on to the village of Milton. I left Easton away at my right, and I did not go up to Watton Rivers where the river Avon rises, and which lies just close to the South-west corner of Marlborough Forest, and at about 5 or 6 miles from the town of Marlborough. Lower down the river, as I thought, there lived a friend, who was a great farmer, and whom I intended to call on. It being my way, however, always to begin making enquiries soon enough, I asked the pig-driver where this friend lived; and, to my surprise, I found that he lived in the parish of Milton. After riding up to the church, as being the centre of the village, I went on towards the house of my friend, which lay on my road down the valley. I have many, many times witnessed agreeable surprise; but I do not know, that I ever in the whole course of my life, saw people so much surprised and pleased as this farmer and his family were at seeing me. People often tell you, that they are glad to see you; and in general they speak truth. I take pretty good care not to approach any house, with the smallest appearance of a design to eat or drink in it, unless I be quite sure of a cordial reception; but my friend at Fifield (it is in Milton parish) and all his family really seemed to be delighted beyond all expression.

When I set out this morning, I intended to go all the way down to the city of Salisbury to-day; but, I soon found, that to refuse to sleep at Fifield would cost me a great deal more[Pg 330] trouble than a day was worth. So that I made my mind up to stay in this farm-house, which has one of the nicest gardens, and it contains some of the finest flowers, that I ever saw, and all is disposed with as much good taste as I have ever witnessed. Here I am, then, just going to bed after having spent as pleasant a day as I ever spent in my life. I have heard to-day, that Birkbeck lost his life by attempting to cross a river on horse-back; but if what I have heard besides be true, that life must have been hardly worth preserving; for, they say, that he was reduced to a very deplorable state; and I have heard, from what I deem unquestionable authority, that his two beautiful and accomplished daughters are married to two common labourers, one a Yankee and the other an Irishman, neither of whom has, probably, a second shirt to his back, or a single pair of shoes to put his feet into! These poor girls owe their ruin and misery (if my information be correct), and, at any rate, hundreds besides Birkbeck himself, owe their utter ruin, the most scandalous degradation, together with great bodily suffering, to the vanity, the conceit, the presumption of Birkbeck, who, observe, richly merited all that he suffered, not excepting his death; for, he sinned with his eyes open; he rejected all advice; he persevered after he saw his error; he dragged thousands into ruin along with him; and he most vilely calumniated the man, who, after having most disinterestedly, but in vain, endeavoured to preserve him from ruin, endeavoured to preserve those who were in danger of being deluded by him. When, in 1817, before he set out for America, I was, in Catherine Street, Strand, London, so earnestly pressing him not to go to the back countries, he had one of these daughters with him. After talking to him for some time, and describing the risks and disadvantages of the back countries, I turned towards the daughter and, in a sort of joking way, said: “Miss Birkbeck, take my advice: don’t let anybody get you more than twenty miles from Boston, New York, Philadelphia, or Baltimore.” Upon which he gave me a most dignified look, and observed: “Miss Birkbeck has a father, Sir, whom she knows it to be her duty to obey.” This snap was enough for me. I saw, that this was a man so full of self-conceit, that it was impossible to do anything with him. He seemed to me to be bent upon his own destruction. I thought it my duty to warn others of their danger: some took the warning; others did not; but he and his brother adventurer, Flower, never forgave me, and they resorted to all the means in their power to do me injury. They did me no injury, no thanks to them; and I have seen them most severely, but most justly, punished.

[Pg 331]

 

Amesbury,
Tuesday, 29th August.

I set off from Fifield this morning, and got here about one o’clock, with my clothes wet. While they are drying, and while a mutton chop is getting ready, I sit down to make some notes of what I have seen since I left Enford ... but, here comes my dinner: and I must put off my notes till I have dined.

 

Salisbury,
Wednesday, 30th August.

My ride yesterday, from Milton to this city of Salisbury, was, without any exception, the most pleasant; it brought before me the greatest number of, to me, interesting objects, and it gave rise to more interesting reflections, than I remember ever to have had brought before my eyes, or into my mind, in any one day of my life; and therefore, this ride was, without any exception, the most pleasant that I ever had in my life, as far as my recollection serves me. I got a little wet in the middle of the day; but I got dry again, and I arrived here in very good time, though I went over the Accursed Hill (Old Sarum), and went across to Laverstoke, before I came to Salisbury.

Let us now, then, look back over this part of Wiltshire, and see whether the inhabitants ought to be “transported” by order of the “Emigration Committee,” of which we shall see and say more by-and-by. I have before described this valley generally; let me now speak of it a little more in detail. The farms are all large, and, generally speaking, they were always large, I dare say; because sheep is one of the great things here; and sheep, in a country like this, must be kept in flocks, to be of any profit. The sheep principally manure the land. This is to be done only by folding; and, to fold, you must have a flock. Every farm has its portion of down, arable, and meadow; and, in many places, the latter are watered meadows, which is a great resource where sheep are kept in flocks; because these meadows furnish grass for the suckling ewes, early in the spring; and, indeed, because they have always food in them for sheep and cattle of all sorts. These meadows have had no part of the suffering from the drought, this year. They fed the ewes and lambs in the spring, and they are now yielding a heavy crop of hay; for I saw men mowing in them, in several places, particularly about Netheravon, though it was raining at the time.

The turnips look pretty well all the way down the valley; but, I see very few, except Swedish turnips. The early common turnips very nearly all failed, I believe. But the stubbles are[Pg 332] beautifully bright; and the rick-yards tell us that the crops are good, especially of wheat. This is not a country of pease and beans, nor of oats, except for home consumption. The crops are wheat, barley, wool, and lambs, and these latter not to be sold to butchers, but to be sold, at the great fairs, to those who are going to keep them for some time, whether to breed from, or finally to fat for the butcher. It is the pulse and the oats that appear to have failed most this year; and therefore this Valley has not suffered. I do not perceive that they have many potatoes; but what they have of this base root seem to look well enough. It was one of the greatest villains upon earth (Sir Walter Raleigh), who (they say) first brought this root into England. He was hanged at last! What a pity, since he was to be hanged, the hanging did not take place before he became such a mischievous devil as he was in the latter two-thirds of his life!

The stack-yards down this valley are beautiful to behold. They contain from five to fifteen banging wheat-ricks, besides barley-ricks, and hay-ricks, and also besides the contents of the barns, many of which exceed a hundred, some two hundred, and I saw one at Pewsey, and another at Fittleton, each of which exceeded two hundred and fifty feet in length. At a farm, which, in the old maps, is called Chissenbury Priory, I think I counted twenty-seven ricks of one sort and another, and sixteen or eighteen of them wheat-ricks. I could not conveniently get to the yard, without longer delay than I wished to make; but I could not be much out in my counting. A very fine sight this was, and it could not meet the eye without making one look round (and in vain) to see the people who were to eat all this food; and without making one reflect on the horrible, the unnatural, the base and infamous state, in which we must be, when projects are on foot, and are openly avowed, for transporting those who raise this food, because they want to eat enough of it to keep them alive; and when no project is on foot for transporting the idlers who live in luxury upon this same food; when no project is on foot for transporting pensioners, parsons, or dead-weight people!

A little while before I came to this farm-yard, I saw, in one piece, about four hundred acres of wheat-stubble, and I saw a sheep-fold, which, I thought, contained an acre of ground, and had in it about four thousand sheep and lambs. The fold was divided into three separate flocks; but the piece of ground was one and the same; and I thought it contained about an acre. At one farm, between Pewsey and Upavon, I counted more than 300 hogs in one stubble. This is certainly the most delightful farming in the world. No ditches, no water-furrows, no drains, hardly any hedges, no dirt and mire, even in the[Pg 333] wettest seasons of the year: and though the downs are naked and cold, the valleys are snugness itself. They are, as to the downs, what ah-ahs! are, in parks or lawns. When you are going over the downs, you look over the valleys, as in the case of the ah-ah; and if you be not acquainted with the country, your surprise, when you come to the edge of the hill, is very great. The shelter, in these valleys, and particularly where the downs are steep and lofty on the sides, is very complete. Then, the trees are everywhere lofty. They are generally elms, with some ashes, which delight in the soil that they find here. There are, almost always, two or three large clumps of trees in every parish, and a rookery or two (not rag-rookery) to every parish. By the water’s edge there are willows; and to almost every farm there is a fine orchard, the trees being, in general, very fine, and, this year, they are, in general, well loaded with fruit. So that, all taken together, it seems impossible to find a more beautiful and pleasant country than this, or to imagine any life more easy and happy than men might here lead, if they were untormented by an accursed system that takes the food from those that raise it, and gives it to those that do nothing that is useful to man.

Here the farmer has always an abundance of straw. His farm-yard is never without it. Cattle and horses are bedded up to their eyes. The yards are put close under the shelter of a hill, or are protected by lofty and thick-set trees. Every animal seems comfortably situated; and, in the dreariest days of winter, these are, perhaps, the happiest scenes in the world; or, rather, they would be such, if those, whose labour makes it all, trees, corn, sheep and everything, had but their fair share of the produce of that labour. What share they really have of it one cannot exactly say; but, I should suppose, that every labouring man in this valley raises as much food as would suffice for fifty, or a hundred persons, fed like himself!

At a farm at Milton there were, according to my calculation, 600 quarters of wheat and 1200 quarters of barley of the present year’s crop. The farm keeps, on an average, 1400 sheep, it breeds and rears an usual proportion of pigs, fats the usual proportion of hogs, and, I suppose, rears and fats the usual proportion of poultry. Upon inquiry, I found that this farm was, in point of produce, about one-fifth of the parish. Therefore, the land of this parish produces annually about 3000 quarters of wheat, 6000 quarters of barley, the wool of 7000 sheep, together with the pigs and poultry. Now, then, leaving green, or moist, vegetables out of the question, as being things that human creatures, and especially labouring human creatures, ought never to use as sustenance, and saying nothing, at present, about milk and butter;[Pg 334] leaving these wholly out of the question, let us see how many people the produce of this parish would keep, supposing the people to live all alike, and to have plenty of food and clothing. In order to come at the fact here, let us see what would be the consumption of one family; let it be a family of five persons; a man, wife, and three children, one child big enough to work, one big enough to eat heartily, and one a baby; and this is a pretty fair average of the state of people in the country. Such a family would want 5 lb. of bread a-day; they would want a pound of mutton a-day; they would want two pounds of bacon a-day; they would want, on an average, winter and summer, a gallon and a half of beer a-day; for I mean that they should live without the aid of the Eastern or the Western slave-drivers. If sweets were absolutely necessary for the baby, there would be quite honey enough in the parish. Now, then, to begin with the bread, a pound of good wheat makes a pound of good bread; for, though the offal be taken out, the water is put in; and, indeed, the fact is, that a pound of wheat will make a pound of bread, leaving the offal of the wheat to feed pigs, or other animals, and to produce other human food in this way. The family would, then, use 1825 lb. of wheat in the year, which, at 60 lb. a bushel, would be (leaving out a fraction) 30 bushels, or three quarters and six bushels, for the year.

Next comes the mutton, 365 lb. for the year. Next the bacon, 730 lb. As to the quantity of mutton produced; the sheep are bred here, and not fatted in general; but we may fairly suppose, that each of the sheep kept here, each of the standing-stock, makes first, or last, half a fat sheep; so that a farm that keeps, on an average, 100 sheep, produces annually 50 fat sheep. Suppose the mutton to be 15 lb. a quarter, then the family will want, within a trifle of, seven sheep a year. Of bacon or pork, 36 score will be wanted. Hogs differ so much in their propensity to fat, that it is difficult to calculate about them: but this is a very good rule: when you see a fat hog, and know how many scores he will weigh, set down to his account a sack (half a quarter) of barley for every score of his weight; for, let him have been educated (as the French call it) as he may, this will be about the real cost of him when he is fat. A sack of barley will make a score of bacon, and it will not make more. Therefore, the family would want 18 quarters of barley in the year for bacon.

As to the beer, 18 gallons to the bushel of malt is very good; but, as we allow of no spirits, no wine, and none of the slave produce, we will suppose that a sixth part of the beer is strong stuff. This would require two bushels of malt to the 18 gallons. The whole would, therefore, take 35 bushels of malt; and a[Pg 335] bushel of barley makes a bushel of malt, and, by the increase pays the expense of malting. Here, then, the family would want, for beer, four quarters and three bushels of barley. The annual consumption of the family, in victuals and drink, would then be as follows:

   Qrs.  Bush.
Wheat  3  6
Barley  22  3
Sheep 7

This being the case, the 3000 quarters of wheat, which the parish annually produces, would suffice for 800 families. The 6000 quarters of barley, would suffice for 207 families. The 3500 fat sheep, being half the number kept, would suffice for 500 families. So that here is, produced in the parish of Milton, bread for 800, mutton for 500, and bacon and beer for 207 families. Besides victuals and drink, there are clothes, fuel, tools, and household goods wanting; but there are milk, butter, eggs, poultry, rabbits, hares, and partridges, which I have not noticed, and these are all eatables, and are all eaten too. And as to clothing, and, indeed, fuel and all other wants beyond eating and drinking, are there not 7000 fleeces of Southdown wool, weighing, all together, 21,000 lb., and capable of being made into 8400 yards of broad cloth, at two pounds and a half of wool to the yard? Setting, therefore, the wool, the milk, butter, eggs, poultry, and game against all the wants beyond the solid food and drink, we see that the parish of Milton, that we have under our eye, would give bread to 800 families, mutton to 580, and bacon and beer to 207. The reason why wheat and mutton are produced in a proportion so much greater than the materials for making bacon and beer, is, that the wheat and the mutton are more loudly demanded from a distance, and are much more cheaply conveyed away in proportion to their value. For instance, the wheat and mutton are wanted in the infernal Wen, and some barley is wanted there in the shape of malt; but hogs are not fatted in the Wen, and a larger proportion of the barley is used where it is grown.

Here is, then, bread for 800 families, mutton for 500, and bacon and beer for 207. Let us take the average of the three, and then we have 502 families, for the keeping of whom, and in this good manner too, the parish of Milton yields a sufficiency. In the wool, the milk, butter, eggs, poultry, and game, we have seen ample, and much more than ample, provision for all wants other than those of mere food and drink. What I have allowed in food and drink is by no means excessive. It is but a pound of[Pg 336] bread, and a little more than half-a-pound of meat a day to each person on an average; and the beer is not a drop too much. There are no green and moist vegetables included in my account; but, there would be some, and they would not do any harm; but, no man can say, or, at least, none but a base usurer, who would grind money out of the bones of his own father; no other man can, or will, say, that I have been too liberal to this family; and yet, good God! what extravagance is here, if the labourers of England be now treated justly!

Is there a family, even amongst those who live the hardest, in the Wen, that would not shudder at the thought of living upon what I have allowed to this family? Yet what do labourers’ families get, compared to this? The answer to that question ought to make us shudder indeed. The amount of my allowance, compared with the amount of the allowance that labourers now have, is necessary to be stated here, before I proceed further. The wheat 3 qrs. and 6 bushels at present price (56s. the quarter) amounts to 10l. 10s. The barley (for bacon and beer) 22 qrs. 3 bushels, at present price (34s. the quarter), amounts to 37l. 16s. 8d. The seven sheep, at 40s. each, amount to 14l. The total is 62l. 6s. 8d.; and this, observe, for bare victuals and drink; just food and drink enough to keep people in working condition.

What then do the labourers get? To what fare has this wretched and most infamous system brought them! Why such a family as I have described is allowed to have, at the utmost, only about 9s. a week. The parish allowance is only about 7s. 6d. for the five people, including clothing, fuel, bedding and everything! Monstrous state of things! But let us suppose it to be nine shillings. Even that makes only 23l. 8s. a year, for food, drink, clothing, fuel and everything, whereas I allow 62l. 6s. 8d. a year for the bare eating and drinking; and that is little enough. Monstrous, barbarous, horrible as this appears, we do not, however, see it in half its horrors; our indignation and rage against this infernal system is not half roused, till we see the small number of labourers who raise all the food and the drink, and, of course, the mere trifling portion of it that they are suffered to retain for their own use.

The parish of Milton does, as we have seen, produce food, drink, clothing, and all other things, enough for 502 families, or 2510 persons upon my allowance, which is a great deal more than three times the present allowance, because the present allowance includes clothing, fuel, tools, and everything. Now, then, according to the “Population Return,” laid before Parliament, this parish contains 500 persons, or, according to my division, one hundred families. So that here are about one[Pg 337] hundred families to raise food and drink enough, and to raise wool and other things to pay for all other necessaries, for five hundred and two families! Aye, and five hundred and two families fed and lodged, too, on my liberal scale. Fed and lodged according to the present scale, this one hundred families raise enough to supply more, and many more, than fifteen hundred families; or seven thousand five hundred persons! And yet those who do the work are half starved! In the 100 families there are, we will suppose, 80 able working men, and as many boys, sometimes assisted by the women and stout girls. What a handful of people to raise such a quantity of food! What injustice, what a hellish system it must be, to make those who raise it skin and bone and nakedness, while the food and drink and wool are almost all carried away to be heaped on the fund-holders, pensioners, soldiers, dead-weight, and other swarms of tax-eaters! If such an operation do not need putting an end to, then the devil himself is a saint.

Thus it must be, or much about thus, all the way down this fine and beautiful and interesting valley. There are 29 agricultural parishes, the two last being in town; being Fisherton and Salisbury. Now, according to the “Population Return,” the whole of these 29 parishes contain 9,116 persons; or, according to my division, 1,823 families. There is no reason to believe, that the proportion that we have seen in the case of Milton does not hold good all the way through; that is, there is no reason to suppose, that the produce does not exceed the consumption in every other case in the same degree that it does in the case of Milton. And indeed if I were to judge from the number of houses and the number of ricks of corn, I should suppose that the excess was still greater in several of the other parishes. But, supposing it to be no greater; supposing the same proportion to continue all the way from Watton Rivers to Stratford Dean, then here are 9,116 persons raising food and raiment sufficient for 45,580 persons, fed and lodged according to my scale; and sufficient for 136,740 persons, according to the scale on which the unhappy labourers of this fine valley are now fed and lodged!

And yet there is an “Emigration Committee” sitting to devise the means of getting rid, not of the idlers, not of the pensioners, not of the dead-weight, not of the parsons, (to “relieve” whom we have seen the poor labourers taxed to the tune of a million and a half of money) not of the soldiers; but to devise means of getting rid of these working people, who are grudged even the miserable morsel that they get! There is in the men calling themselves “English country gentlemen” something superlatively base. They are, I sincerely believe, the most cruel, the[Pg 338] most unfeeling, the most brutally insolent: but I know, I can prove, I can safely take my oath, that they are the most base of all the creatures that God ever suffered to disgrace the human shape. The base wretches know well, that the taxes amount to more than sixty millions a year, and that the poor-rates amount to about seven millions; yet, while the cowardly reptiles never utter a word against the taxes, they are incessantly railing against the poor-rates, though it is, (and they know it) the taxes that make the paupers. The base wretches know well, that the sum of money given, even to the fellows that gather the taxes, is greater in amount than the poor-rates; the base wretches know well, that the money, given to the dead-weight (who ought not to have a single farthing), amounts to more than the poor receive out of the rates; the base wretches know well, that the common foot-soldier now receives more pay per week (7s. 7d.) exclusive of clothing, firing, candle, and lodging; the base wretches know, that the common foot-soldier receives more to go down his own single throat, than the overseers and magistrates allow to a working man, his wife and three children; the base wretches know all this well; and yet their railings are confined to the poor and the poor-rates; and it is expected that they will, next session, urge the Parliament to pass a law to enable overseers and vestries and magistrates to transport paupers beyond the seas! They are base enough for this, or for any thing; but the whole system will go to the devil long before they will get such an act passed; long before they will see perfected this consummation of their infamous tyranny.

It is manifest enough, that the population of this valley was, at one time, many times over what it is now; for, in the first place, what were the twenty-nine churches built for? The population of the 29 parishes is now but little more than one-half of that of the single parish of Kensington; and there are several of the churches bigger than the church at Kensington. What, then, should all these churches have been built for? And besides, where did the hands come from? And where did the money come from? These twenty-nine churches would now not only hold all the inhabitants, men, women, and children, but all the household goods, and tools, and implements, of the whole of them, farmers and all, if you leave out the wagons and carts. In three instances, Fifield, Milston, and Roach-Fen, the church-porches will hold all the inhabitants, even down to the bed-ridden and the babies. What then? will any man believe that these churches were built for such little knots of people? We are told about the great superstition of our fathers, and of their readiness to gratify the priests by building altars and other religious edifices. But we must think those priests to have been[Pg 339] most devout creatures indeed, if we believe that they chose to have the money laid out in useless churches, rather than have it put into their own pockets! At any rate, we all know that Protestant Priests have no whims of this sort; and that they never lay out upon churches any money that they can, by any means, get hold of.

But, suppose that we were to believe that the Priests had, in old times, this unaccountable taste; and suppose we were to believe that a knot of people, who might be crammed into a church-porch, were seized, and very frequently too, with the desire of having a big church to go to; we must, after all this, believe that this knot of people were more than giants, or that they had surprising riches, else we cannot believe that they had the means of gratifying the strange wishes of their Priests and their own not less strange piety and devotion. Even if we could believe that they thought that they were paving their way to heaven, by building churches which were a hundred times too large for the population, still we cannot believe, that the building could have been effected without bodily force; and, where was this force to come from, if the people were not more numerous than they now are? What, again, I ask, were these twenty-nine churches stuck up, not a mile from each other; what were twenty-nine churches made for, if the population had been no greater than it is now?

But, in fact, you plainly see all the traces of a great ancient population. The churches are almost all large, and built in the best manner. Many of them are very fine edifices; very costly in the building; and, in the cases where the body of the church has been altered in the repairing of it, so as to make it smaller, the tower, which everywhere defies the hostility of time, shows you what the church must formerly have been. This is the case in several instances; and there are two or three of these villages which must formerly have been market-towns, and particularly Pewsy and Upavon. There are now no less than nine of the parishes out of the twenty-nine, that have either no parsonage-houses, or have such as are in such a state that a Parson will not, or cannot, live in them. Three of them are without any parsonage-houses at all, and the rest are become poor, mean, falling-down places. This latter is the case at Upavon, which was formerly a very considerable place. Nothing can more clearly show, than this, that all, as far as buildings and population are concerned, has been long upon the decline and decay. Dilapidation after dilapidation have, at last, almost effaced even the parsonage-houses, and that too in defiance of the law, ecclesiastical as well as civil. The land remains; and the crops and the sheep come as abundantly as ever; but they are now sent almost wholly away,[Pg 340] instead of remaining, as formerly, to be, in great part, consumed in these twenty-nine parishes.

The stars, in my map, mark the spots where manor-houses, or gentlemen’s mansions, formerly stood, and stood, too, only about sixty years ago. Every parish had its manor house in the first place; and then there were, down this Valley, twenty-one others; so that, in this distance of about thirty miles, there stood fifty mansion houses. Where are they now? I believe there are but eight that are at all worthy of the name of mansion houses; and even these are but poorly kept up, and, except in two or three instances, are of no benefit to the labouring people; they employ but few persons; and, in short, do not half supply the place of any eight of the old mansions. All these mansions, all these parsonages, aye, and their goods and furniture, together with the clocks, the brass kettles, the brewing-vessels, the good bedding and good clothes and good furniture, and the stock in pigs, or in money, of the inferior classes, in this series of once populous and gay villages and hamlets; all these have been by the accursed system of taxing and funding and paper-money, by the well-known exactions of the state, and by the not less real, though less generally understood, extortions of the monopolies arising out of paper-money; all these have been, by these accursed means, conveyed away, out of this Valley, to the haunts of the tax-eaters and the monopolizers. There are many of the mansion houses, the ruins of which you yet behold. At Milton there are two mansion houses, the walls and the roofs of which yet remain, but which are falling gradually to pieces, and the garden walls are crumbling down. At Enford, Bennet, the Member for the county, had a large mansion house, the stables of which are yet standing. In several places, I saw, still remaining, indubitable traces of an ancient manor house, namely a dove-cote or pigeon-house. The poor pigeons have kept possession of their heritage, from generation to generation, and so have the rooks, in their several rookeries, while the paper-system has swept away, or rather swallowed-up, the owners of the dove-cotes and of the lofty trees, about forty families of which owners have been ousted in this one Valley, and have become dead-weight creatures, tax-gatherers, barrack-fellows, thief-takers, or, perhaps, paupers or thieves.

Senator Snip congratulated, some years ago, that preciously honourable “Collective Wisdom” of which he is a most worthy Member; Snip congratulated it on the success of the late war in creating capital! Snip is, you must know, a great feelosofer, and a not less great feenanceer. Snip cited, as a proof of the great and glorious effects of paper-money, the new and fine houses in London, the new streets and squares, the new roads,[Pg 341] new canals and bridges. Snip was not, I dare say, aware that this same paper-money had destroyed forty mansion houses in this Vale of Avon, and had taken away all the goods, all the substance, of the little gentry and of the labouring class. Snip was not, I dare say, aware that this same paper-money had, in this one Vale of only thirty miles long, dilapidated, and, in some cases, wholly demolished, nine out of twenty-nine even of the parsonage houses. I told Snip at the time (1821), that paper-money could create no valuable thing. I begged Snip to bear this in mind. I besought all my readers, and particularly Mr. Mathias Atwood (one of the members for Lowther-town), not to believe that paper-money ever did, or ever could, create anything of any value. I besought him to look well into the matter, and assured him that he would find that though paper-money could create nothing of value, it was able to transfer everything of value; able to strip a little gentry; able to dilapidate even parsonage houses; able to rob gentlemen of their estates, and labourers of their Sunday-coats and their barrels of beer; able to snatch the dinner from the board of the reaper or the mower, and to convey it to the barrack-table of the Hessian or Hanoverian grenadier; able to take away the wool, that ought to give warmth to the bodies of those who rear the sheep, and put it on the backs of those who carry arms to keep the poor, half-famished shepherds in order!

I have never been able clearly to comprehend what the beastly Scotch feelosofers mean by their “national wealth;” but, as far as I can understand them, this is their meaning: that national wealth means that which is left of the products of the country over and above what is consumed, or used, by those whose labour causes the products to be. This being the notion, it follows, of course, that the fewer poor devils you can screw the products out of, the richer the nation is.

This is, too, the notion of Burdett as expressed in his silly and most nasty, musty aristocratic speech of last session. What, then, is to be done with this over-produce? Who is to have it? Is it to go to pensioners, placemen, tax-gatherers, dead-weight people, soldiers, gendarmerie, police-people, and, in short, to whole millions who do no work at all? Is this a cause of “national wealth”? Is a nation made rich by taking the food and clothing from those who create them, and giving them to those who do nothing of any use? Aye, but this over-produce may be given to manufacturers, and to those who supply the food-raisers with what they want besides food. Oh! but this is merely an exchange of one valuable thing for another valuable thing; it is an exchange of labour in Wiltshire for labour in Lancashire; and, upon the whole, here is no over-production. If the produce[Pg 342] be exported, it is the same thing: it is an exchange of one sort of labour for another. But our course is, that there is not an exchange; that those who labour, no matter in what way, have a large part of the fruit of their labour taken away, and receive nothing in exchange. If the over-produce of this Valley of Avon were given, by the farmers, to the weavers in Lancashire, to the iron and steel chaps of Warwickshire, and to other makers or sellers of useful things, there would come an abundance of all these useful things into this valley from Lancashire and other parts: but if, as is the case, the over-produce goes to the fund-holders, the dead-weight, the soldiers, the lord and lady and master and miss pensioners and sinecure people; if the over-produce go to them, as a very great part of it does, nothing, not even the parings of one’s nails, can come back to the valley in exchange. And, can this operation, then, add to the “national wealth”? It adds to the “wealth” of those who carry on the affairs of state; it fills their pockets, those of their relatives and dependents; it fattens all tax-eaters; but it can give no wealth to the “nation,” which means the whole of the people. National Wealth means the Commonwealth or Commonweal; and these mean, the general good, or happiness, of the people, and the safety and honour of the state; and these are not to be secured by robbing those who labour, in order to support a large part of the community in idleness. Devizes is the market-town to which the corn goes from the greater part of this Valley. If, when a wagon-load of wheat goes off in the morning, the wagon came back at night loaded with cloth, salt, or something or other, equal in value to the wheat, except what might be necessary to leave with the shopkeeper as his profit; then, indeed, the people might see the wagon go off without tears in their eyes. But now they see it go to carry away, and to bring next to nothing in return.

What a twist a head must have before it can come to the conclusion that the nation gains in wealth by the government being able to cause the work to be done by those who have hardly any share in the fruit of the labour! What a twist such a head must have! The Scotch feelosofers, who seem all to have been, by nature, formed for negro-drivers, have an insuperable objection to all those establishments and customs which occasion holidays. They call them a great hindrance, a great bar to industry, a great drawback from “national wealth.” I wish each of these unfeeling fellows had a spade put into his hand for ten days, only ten days, and that he were compelled to dig only just as much as one of the common labourers at Fulham. The metaphysical gentlemen would, I believe, soon discover the use of holidays! But why should men, why should any men, work hard? Why,[Pg 343] I ask, should they work incessantly, if working part of the days of the week be sufficient? Why should the people at Milton, for instance, work incessantly, when they now raise food and clothing and fuel and every necessary to maintain well five times their number? Why should they not have some holidays? And, pray, say, thou conceited Scotch feelosofer, how the “national wealth” can be increased by making these people work incessantly, that they may raise food and clothing, to go to feed and clothe people who do not work at all?

The state of this Valley seems to illustrate the infamous and really diabolical assertion of Malthus, which is, that the human kind have a natural tendency to increase beyond the means of sustenance for them. Hence, all the schemes of this and the other Scotch writers for what they call checking population. Now, look at this Valley of Avon. Here the people raise nearly twenty times as much food and clothing as they consume. They raise five times as much, even according to my scale of living. They have been doing this for many, many years. They have been doing it for several generations. Where, then, is their natural tendency to increase beyond the means of sustenance for them? Beyond, indeed, the means of that sustenance which a system like this will leave them. Say that, Sawneys, and I agree with you. Far beyond the means that the taxing and monopolizing system will leave in their hands: that is very true; for it leaves them nothing but the scale of the poor-book; they must cease to breed at all, or they must exceed this mark; but the earth, give them their fair share of its products, will always give sustenance in sufficiency to those who apply to it by skilful and diligent labour.

The villages down this Valley of Avon, and, indeed, it was the same in almost every part of this county, and in the North and West of Hampshire also, used to have great employment for the women and children in the carding and spinning of wool for the making of broad-cloth. This was a very general employment for the women and girls; but it is now wholly gone; and this has made a vast change in the condition of the people, and in the state of property and of manners and of morals. In 1816, I wrote and published a Letter to the Luddites, the object of which was to combat their hostility to the use of machinery. The arguments I there made use of were general. I took the matter in the abstract. The principles were all correct enough; but their application cannot be universal; and we have a case here before us, at this moment, which, in my opinion, shows that the mechanic inventions, pushed to the extent that they have been, have been productive of great calamity to this country, and that they will be productive of still greater calamity;[Pg 344] unless, indeed, it be their brilliant destiny to be the immediate cause of putting an end to the present system.

The greater part of manufactures consists of clothing and bedding. Now, if by using a machine, we can get our coat with less labour than we got it before, the machine is a desirable thing. But, then, mind, we must have the machine at home, and we ourselves must have the profit of it; for, if the machine be elsewhere; if it be worked by other hands; if other persons have the profit of it; and if, in consequence of the existence of the machine, we have hands at home, who have nothing to do, and whom we must keep, then the machine is an injury to us, however advantageous it may be to those who use it, and whatever traffic it may occasion with foreign States.

Such is the case with regard to this cloth-making. The machines are at Upton-Level, Warminster, Bradford, Westbury, and Trowbridge, and here are some of the hands in the Valley of Avon. This Valley raises food and clothing; but, in order to raise them, it must have labourers. These are absolutely necessary; for without them this rich and beautiful Valley becomes worth nothing except to wild animals and their pursuers. The labourers are men and boys. Women and girls occasionally; but the men and the boys are as necessary as the light of day, or as the air and the water. Now, if beastly Malthus, or any of his nasty disciples, can discover a mode of having men and boys without having women and girls, then, certainly, the machine must be a good thing; but if this Valley must absolutely have the women and the girls, then the machine, by leaving them with nothing to do, is a mischievous thing; and a producer of most dreadful misery. What, with regard to the poor, is the great complaint now? Why, that the single man does not receive the same, or anything like the same, wages as the married man. Aye, it is the wife and girls that are the burden; and to be sure a burden they must be, under a system of taxation like the present, and with no work to do. Therefore, whatever may be saved in labour by the machine is no benefit, but an injury to the mass of the people. For, in fact, all that the women and children earned was so much clear addition to what the family earns now. The greatest part of the clothing in the United States of America is made by the farm women and girls. They do almost the whole of it; and all that they do is done at home. To be sure, they might buy cheap; but they must buy for less than nothing, if it would not answer their purpose to make the things.

The survey of this Valley is, I think, the finest answer in the world to the “Emigration Committee” fellows, and to Jerry Curteis (one of the Members for Sussex), who has been giving[Pg 345] “evidence” before it. I shall find out, when I can get to see the report, what this “Emigration Committee” would be after. I remember that, last winter, a young woman complained to one of the Police Justices that the Overseers of some parish were going to transport her orphan brother to Canada, because he became chargeable to their parish! I remember, also, that the Justice said, that the intention of the Overseers was “premature,” for that “the Bill had not yet passed”! This was rather an ugly story; and I do think that we shall find that there have been, and are, some pretty propositions before this “Committee.” We shall see all about the matter, however, by-and-by; and, when we get the transporting project fairly before us, shall we not then loudly proclaim “the envy of surrounding nations and admiration of the world”!

But, what ignorance, impudence, and insolence must those base wretches have, who propose to transport the labouring people, as being too numerous, while the produce, which is obtained by their labour, is more than sufficient for three, four, or five, or even ten times their numbers! Jerry Curteis, who has, it seems, been a famous witness on this occasion, says that the poor-rates, in many cases, amount to as much as the rent. Well: and what then, Jerry? The rent may be high enough too, and the farmer may afford to pay them both; for a very large part of what you call poor-rates ought to be called wages. But, at any rate, what has all this to do with the necessity of emigration? To make out such necessity, you must make out that you have more mouths than the produce of the parish will feed. Do then, Jerry, tell us, another time, a little about the quantity of food annually raised in four or five adjoining parishes; for, is it not something rather damnable, Jerry, to talk of transporting Englishmen, on account of the excess of their numbers, when the fact is notorious that their labour produces five or ten times as much food and raiment as they and their families consume!

However, to drop Jerry, for the present, the baseness, the foul, the stinking, the carrion baseness, of the fellows that call themselves “country gentlemen,” is, that the wretches, while railing against the poor and the poor-rates; while affecting to believe that the poor are wicked and lazy; while complaining that the poor, the working people, are too numerous, and that the country villages are too populous: the carrion baseness of these wretches is, that, while they are thus bold with regard to the working and poor people, they never even whisper a word against pensioners, placemen, soldiers, parsons, fundholders, tax-gatherers, or tax-eaters! They say not a word against the prolific dead-weight to whom they give a premium for breeding, while they want to check the population of labourers![Pg 346] They never say a word about the too great populousness of the Wen; nor about that of Liverpool, Manchester, Cheltenham, and the like! Oh! they are the most cowardly, the very basest, the most scandalously base reptiles that ever were warmed into life by the rays of the sun!

In taking my leave of this beautiful vale, I have to express my deep shame, as an Englishman, at beholding the general extreme poverty of those who cause this vale to produce such quantities of food and raiment. This is, I verily believe it, the worst used labouring people upon the face of the earth. Dogs and hogs and horses are treated with more civility; and as to food and lodging, how gladly would the labourers change with them! This state of things never can continue many years! By some means or other there must be an end to it; and my firm belief is, that that end will be dreadful. In the meanwhile I see, and I see it with pleasure, that the common people know that they are ill used; and that they cordially, most cordially, hate those who ill-treat them.

During the day I crossed the river about fifteen or sixteen times, and in such hot weather it was very pleasant to be so much amongst meadows and water. I had been at Netheravon about eighteen years ago, where I had seen a great quantity of hares. It is a place belonging to Mr. Hicks Beach, or Beech, who was once a member of parliament. I found the place altered a good deal; out of repair; the gates rather rotten; and (a very bad sign!) the roof of the dog-kennel falling in! There is a church, at this village of Netheravon, large enough to hold a thousand or two of people, and the whole parish contains only 350 souls, men, women and children. This Netheravon was formerly a great lordship, and in the parish there were three considerable mansion-houses, besides the one near the church. These mansions are all down now; and it is curious enough to see the former walled gardens become orchards, together with other changes, all tending to prove the gradual decay in all except what appertains merely to the land as a thing of production for the distant market. But, indeed, the people and the means of enjoyment must go away. They are drawn away by the taxes and the paper-money. How are twenty thousand new houses to be, all at once, building in the Wen, without people and food and raiment going from this valley towards the Wen? It must be so; and this unnatural, this dilapidating, this ruining and debasing work must go on, until that which produces it be destroyed.

When I came down to Stratford Dean, I wanted to go across to Laverstoke, which lay to my left of Salisbury; but just on the side of the road here, at Stratford Dean, rises the Accursed[Pg 347] Hill. It is very lofty. It was originally a hill in an irregular sort of sugar-loaf shape: but it was so altered by the Romans, or by somebody, that the upper three-quarter parts of the hill now, when seen from a distance, somewhat resemble three cheeses, laid one upon another; the bottom one a great deal broader than the next, and the top one like a Stilton cheese, in proportion to a Gloucester one. I resolved to ride over this Accursed Hill. As I was going up a field towards it, I met a man going home from work. I asked how he got on. He said, very badly. I asked him what was the cause of it. He said the hard times. “What times,” said I; “was there ever a finer summer, a finer harvest, and is there not an old wheat-rick in every farm-yard?” “Ah!” said he, “they make it bad for poor people, for all that.” “They?” said I, “who is they?” He was silent. “Oh, no, no! my friend,” said I, “it is not they; it is that Accursed Hill that has robbed you of the supper that you ought to find smoking on the table when you get home.” I gave him the price of a pot of beer, and on I went, leaving the poor dejected assemblage of skin and bone to wonder at my words.

The hill is very steep, and I dismounted and led my horse up. Being as near to the top as I could conveniently get, I stood a little while reflecting, not so much on the changes which that hill had seen, as on the changes, the terrible changes, which, in all human probability, it had yet to see, and which it would have greatly helped to produce. It was impossible to stand on this accursed spot, without swelling with indignation against the base and plundering and murderous sons of corruption. I have often wished, and I, speaking out loud, expressed the wish now: “May that man perish for ever and ever, who, having the power, neglects to bring to justice the perjured, the suborning, the insolent and perfidious miscreants, who openly sell their country’s rights and their own souls.”

From the Accursed Hill I went to Laverstoke where “Jemmy Burrough” (as they call him here), the Judge, lives. I have not heard much about “Jemmy” since he tried and condemned the two young men who had wounded the game-keepers of Ashton Smith and Lord Palmerston. His Lordship (Palmerston) is, I see, making a tolerable figure in the newspapers as a share-man! I got into Salisbury about half-past seven o’clock, less tired than I recollect ever to have been after so long a ride; for, including my several crossings of the river and my deviations to look at churches and farm-yards, and rick-yards, I think I must have ridden nearly forty miles.

 

 


[Pg 348]

RIDE FROM SALISBURY TO WARMINSTER, FROM WARMINSTER TO FROME, FROM FROME TO DEVIZES, AND FROM DEVIZES TO HIGHWORTH.

“Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail: saying, When will the new moon be gone that we may sell corn? And the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the Ephah small and the Shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit; that we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat? Shall not the land tremble for this; and every one mourn that dwelleth therein? I will turn your feasting into mourning, saith the Lord God, and your songs into lamentations.”—Amos, chap. viii. ver. 4 to 10.

 

Heytesbury (Wilts), Thursday,
31st August, 1826.

This place, which is one of the rotten boroughs of Wiltshire, and which was formerly a considerable town, is now but a very miserable affair. Yesterday morning I went into the Cathedral at Salisbury about 7 o’clock. When I got into the nave of the church, and was looking up and admiring the columns and the roof, I heard a sort of humming, in some place which appeared to be in the transept of the building. I wondered what it was, and made my way towards the place whence the noise appeared to issue. As I approached it, the noise seemed to grow louder. At last, I thought I could distinguish the sounds of the human voice. This encouraged me to proceed; and, still following the sound, I at last turned in at a doorway to my left, where I found a priest and his congregation assembled. It was a parson of some sort, with a white covering on him, and five women and four men: when I arrived, there were five couple of us. I joined the congregation, until they came to the litany; and then, being monstrously hungry, I did not think myself bound to stay any longer. I wonder what the founders would say, if they could rise from the grave, and see such a congregation as this in this most magnificent and beautiful cathedral? I wonder what they would say, if they could know to what purpose the endowments of this Cathedral are now applied; and above all things, I wonder what they would say, if they could see the half-starved labourers that now minister to the luxuries of those who wallow in the wealth of those endowments. There is one thing, at any rate, that might be abstained from, by those that revel in the riches of those endowments; namely, to abuse and blackguard[Pg 349] those of our forefathers, from whom the endowments came, and who erected the edifice, and carried so far towards the skies that beautiful and matchless spire, of which the present possessors have the impudence to boast, while they represent as ignorant and benighted creatures, those who conceived the grand design, and who executed the scientific and costly work. These fellows, in big white wigs, of the size of half a bushel, have the audacity, even within the walls of the Cathedrals themselves, to rail against those who founded them; and Rennell and Sturges, while they were actually, literally, fattening on the spoils of the monastery of St. Swithin, at Winchester, were publishing abusive pamphlets against that Catholic religion which had given them their very bread. For my part, I could not look up at the spire and the whole of the church at Salisbury, without feeling that I lived in degenerate times. Such a thing never could be made now. We feel that as we look at the building. It really does appear that if our forefathers had not made these buildings, we should have forgotten, before now, what the Christian religion was!

At Salisbury, or very near to it, four other rivers fall into the Avon—the Wyly river, the Nadder, the Born, and another little river that comes from Norrington. These all become one, at last, just below Salisbury, and then, under the name of the Avon, wind along down and fall into the sea at Christchurch. In coming from Salisbury, I came up the road which runs pretty nearly parallel with the river Wyly, which river rises at Warminster and in the neighbourhood. This river runs down a valley twenty-two miles long. It is not so pretty as the valley of the Avon; but it is very fine in its whole length from Salisbury to this place (Heytesbury). Here are watered meadows nearest to the river on both sides; then the gardens, the houses, and the corn-fields. After the corn-fields come the downs; but, generally speaking, the downs are not so bold here as they are on the sides of the Avon. The downs do not come out in promontories so often as they do on the sides of the Avon. The Ah-ah! if I may so express it, is not so deep, and the sides of it not so steep, as in the case of the Avon; but the villages are as frequent; there is more than one church in every mile, and there has been a due proportion of mansion houses demolished and defaced. The farms are very fine up this vale, and the meadows, particularly at a place called Stapleford, are singularly fine. They had just been mowed at Stapleford, and the hay carried off. At Stapleford, there is a little cross valley, running up between two hills of the down. There is a little run of water about a yard wide at this time, coming down this little vale across the road into the river. The little vale runs up three miles. It does not[Pg 350] appear to be half a mile wide; but in those three miles there are four churches; namely, Stapleford, Uppington, Berwick St. James, and Winterborne Stoke. The present population of these four villages is 769 souls, men, women, and children, the whole of whom could very conveniently be seated in the chancel of the church at Stapleford. Indeed, the church and parish of Uppington seem to have been united with one of the other parishes, like the parish in Kent which was united with North Cray, and not a single house of which now remains. What were these four churches built for within the distance of three miles? There are three parsonage houses still remaining; but, and it is a very curious fact, neither of them good enough for the parson to live in! Here are seven hundred and sixty souls to be taken care of, but there is no parsonage house for a soul-curer to stay in, or at least that he will stay in; and all the three parsonages are, in the return laid before Parliament, represented to be no better than miserable labourers’ cottages, though the parish of Winterborne Stoke has a church sufficient to contain two or three thousand people. The truth is, that the parsons have been receiving the revenues of the li