• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Frontispiece
 Main
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 I
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 III
 IV
 V
 VI
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 VIII
 IX
 X
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 XXX
 Back Cover
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Group Title: Peter Parley's walks in the country, or, Rural pickings : Being, attractive points in country life and scenery
Title: Peter Parley's walks in the country, or, Rural pickings
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE TURNER PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00002012/00001
 Material Information
Title: Peter Parley's walks in the country, or, Rural pickings Being attractive points in country life and scenery
Alternate Title: Walks in the country
Rural pickings
Physical Description: 222 p. : ill. ; 18 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Old Humphrey, 1787-1854
Howard, H ( Illustrator )
Finden, W ( William ), 1787-1852 ( Engraver )
William Tegg & Co ( Publisher )
Bradbury & Evans ( Printer )
Publisher: Willian Tegg and Co.
Place of Publication: London
Manufacturer: Bradbury and Evans
Publication Date: 1852
 Subjects
Subject: Country life -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Farm life -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Pictorial cloth bindings (Binding) -- 1852   ( rbbin )
Bldn -- 1852
Genre: Pictorial cloth bindings (Binding)   ( rbbin )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
 Notes
General Note: Frontispiece engraved by W. Finden and painted by H. Howard.
Funding: Brittle Books Program
Statement of Responsibility: by the author of "Ephraim holding's, Domestic addresses, Old Humphrey, &c.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00002012
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002235685
oclc - 40972044
notis - ALH6148
 Related Items
Other version: Alternate version (PALMM)
PALMM Version

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front page 1
    Frontispiece
        Front page 2
    Main
        Front page 3
        Front page 4
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
    I
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    II
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    IV
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    VIII
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    IX
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    X
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    XI
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    XII
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    XIII
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    XIV
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    XV
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    XVII
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    XVIII
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    XIX
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    XX
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    XXI
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    XXII
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    XXIII
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    XXIV
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    XXV
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    XXVI
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    XXVII
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    XXVIII
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    XXIX
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    XXX
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    Back Cover
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Full Text

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PETER PARLEY'S



WALKS IN THE COUNTRY:


OR,

RURAL PICKINGS:

BEING,

ATTRACTIVE POINTS IN COUNTRY LIFE AND SCENERY.






BY THE AUTHOR OF
"EPIRAIM HOLDING'S DOMESTIC ADDRESSES,"
"OLD HUMPHREY," &c.









LONDON:
WILLIAM TEGG AND CO., 85, QUEEN-STREET,
CHEAPSIDE.

1852.




























CONTENTS.



CHAPTER I.
PAGE
INTRODUCTORY.


CHAPTER II.
SOLITARY RAMBLING IN COUNTRY PLACES.
Companionship in trees.-Communings with the earth and skies.-
Grateful influence of a country walk.-Solitary paths.--Green
lanes.-The park.-The antique manor-house.-The high hill.-
The sylvan scene.-Rural influences.-Country and city pleasures
contrasted.-The country girl 4


CHAPTER III.
COUNTRY RIDES AND DRIVES.
Delights of riding and driving in the country.- The wooded hill-
the open common-the shady avenue.-High banks--hedges-and
green pastures.-The blackbird, hare, and pheasant.-The wind-
mill.-The miller.-The mishap.-The countryman.-The errand
woman.-The group of children.-The shower.-The public-
house.-The pot-house.-The setting sun .






CONTENTS.


PAGE
CHAPTER IV.

FARM-HOUSES AND FARMERS.

Contrast between a country farmer and a city tradesman.-Farm
houses.-Stone walls.-Gables.-Pointed roofs.-High and heavy
chimneys.-Oaken door studded with iron.-Porch fitted up with
settles.-A farmer's homestead, fold-yard, and rick-yard.-Rural
picture by Pratt.-The farmer and his visitor.-Howitt's descrip-
tion of farm-houses and farmers.-The dinner party 17


CHAPTER V.

ON BIRDS, FLOWERS, AND OTHER THINGS.

Sunbeams and sunny scenes.-Tall trees.-The upland lawn.-
Morning, mid-day, and sunset.-The cuckoo, lark, thrush, black-
bird, and nightingale.--Field flowers.- The heath-flower.-
Animals and reptiles.-)cath of a spider.-Sketch in a retired lane 26


CHAPTER VI.

THE COUNTRY BOY.

Variety occasioned by the seasons in rural objects and occupations.-
Approach of summer.-Advantage of good temper.-The country
boy.-He swings to and fro on the gate, and eats his bread and
bacon.-The pocket-knife.-Light-heartedness.-The fine ladies.
-The country boy's rural knowledge.-Speculations on his
future prospects. .. 33


CHAPTER VII.

A FEW WORDS ABOUT OLD HOUSES.

New attractions given to rural scenes.-Interesting spots no longer
to be identified.-Old houses.-Fragments only of their history to
be obtained.-Way in which they are occupied.-Elizabethan old
English manor-houses.-Terraces, balconies, halls, chambers,
furniture, tapestry, and paintings.-The armoury and the associa-
tions it calls forth.-Wolverley Court.-Tradition 40








PAGE
CHAPTER VIII.
THE ASCENT OF MOUNT MUCKLESTONE.
Turning natural scenery to a good account.-Perseverance a valuable
quality.-Ascent of Mount Mucklestone.-The solitary traveller.
Lake Crystal.-The rock gives way, and the traveller falls.
-Steepness of Mount Mucklestone.-The second accident of the
traveller.-The cavern.-The ridgy ledge.-The traveller loses his
footing, and rolls over the arch of the cavern.-The escape.-The
summit gained.-Remarks 47

CHAPTER IX.
COTTAGES AND COTTAGERS.
Cottage of Mother Hollins.-Mother Hollins's cat.-The Wanderer.
-Cottages of the poor and of the rich.-Our cares increase the
value of our comforts.-Cottage children.-A cottager's love of
natural beauty.-Trials and afflictions of cottagers.-Poor Widow
Gill, and her wayward Son 55

CHAPTER X.
ON SERVING-MEN, OR MEN-OF-ALL-WORK.
Usefulness of serving-men.-George Glossop.-His varied occupa-
tions and great strength.-Proud of his talent in hair-cutting.-
George hives the bees and plays the parts of farrier and butcher.-
Harvest time.-Robert Hadley.-Edwin Horton.-Old Samuel
Green.-John Andrews.-John's occupations.-The garden, the
stable, the carriage-house and the cellar.-John Andrews always
to be found when wanted 64

CHAPTER XI.
ON COUNTRY KINDNESS.
Sketch of spring.-The trees.-The birds.-The cattle.-The young
colts.-Children.-Grey-haired age.-Kindness.-The Duke of
Portland and his tenant.-Kindnesses and unkindnesses.-The
rat-trap.-Kind thoughts, feelings, intentions, words, and deeds.
-A call on a country friend.-Kindness to those who need it is
of double value 71


vii


CONTENTS.






CONTENTS.


PAGE
CHAPTER XII.
THE PLOUGHING MATCH.
Attractions of the ploughed field.-The ploughing-match.-Fawley
Court.-The prizes.-The nine ploughmen.-Old Preese and the
Prim-my.-The spectators.-The bait.-George Hodges' care of
his horses.-The large knife.-Farmer Street the Umpire.-
William Howell gains the first prize.-Old Preese's wheel within
a wheel.-Another ploughing-match fixed for next year 78

CHAPTER XIII.
BLACK JACK.

Common Patch.-The Graingers.-Black Jack.-His cruelty, igno-
rance, idleness and immorality.-The two mastiffs.-Jack ties a
canister to the tail of one of them.-The distress of the poor
animal.-Jack kills him.-The farm-house.-Black Jack commits
a burglary, and is seized and held fast by a mastiff dog.-He is
tried for his life and condemned.-The gallows tree.-Black
Jack is hung, while the mastiff dog barks for joy 84

CHAPTER XIV.
FARMING DUTIES.

The Bible read.-The bell rang.-The maids called.-The horse-
keeper roused.-The horses fed.-Calves suckled.-Cowhouse
cleaned.-Garden visited.-Ferry boat scooped dry.-Plough
team examined.-The water-trough filled.-The hogs fed.-Malt
ordered.-Wheelbarrows set to work.-Victuals cut for boys.-
Wooden bottles filled.-Set ploughs to work.-Ditching.-
Attending to the manure.-Weeding wheat.-Set carpenter to
work.-Hedging.-Picking thistles 91

CHAPTER XV.
PICKINGS OF FIELDS AND MEADOWS.

Love of country.--Odd names of fields, with their significations.-A
corn-field.-A grasshopper's garden.-Ploughed fields.-Turnip
fields.-Brook-side meadow.-The fisherman.-Sunny-bank field.






CONTENTS. ix
PAGE
-Hop ground. The pretty meadow. Winds.- The rocky
meadow.-The Haws.-Broad flat meadow.-Adventure of the
mourning ring.-The river 98


CHAPTER XVI.
A SPRINKLING OF RURAL ATTRACTIONS.
The dry ditch, old stone quarry, and lonely lane.-The grasshopper,
corncrake, and blackbird.-The ploughman, shepherd, hedger,
mole-catcher, mower, haymaker, and reaper.-Field flowers.-
Moors and mountains.-Oaks, streams, and insects; sheep and
horses, clouds, orchards and clover field.-The frosty morning.-
The moon, owlet, weasel, and rat.-Sea-shore, ruined abbey, and
country churchyard 107


CHAPTER XVII.
ON THE SKIES.
The influence of the skies.-A clear blue sky.-A mountainous sky.
-A peaceful sky.-A fleecy sky.-A threatening sky.-An
iceberg sky.-A stormy sky.-A glorious sky.-A wild and fitful
sky.-A burning sky 113


CHAPTER XVIII.
COUNTRY STROLLERS.
Beggars.- Pedlars. -Chimney-sweeps.-Sailors.-Man with bears
and dancing dogs.-Showmen.-Gipsies, with their character and
occupation.-Gipsies in Spain.-Gipsy girl.-Gipsy adventure 119


CHAPTER XIX.
LONELY PLACES IN THE COUNTRY.
Lonely houses.-Lonely lanes.-Lonely pools.-Lonely clumps of
trees.-Taggard's Tump.-The cluster of elms.-The school girls.
-The piefinch.-Robert Andrews.-Alice and her lover.-The
robbers.-The wounded horseman.-The booty.-The quarrel.-
The widow Allen.-The idiot boy.-Above the stars 127







CONTENTS.


PAGE
CHAPTER XX.

SOMETHING ABOUT WOODS AND COPPICES.

Entrance of the coppice.-The shade, the sylvan seclusion of the
leafylabyrinth, and the wild wilderness of young trees.-Flowers.-
Cottage children.-Gathering nuts.-Fall of the leaf.- The
wood.-The giant trees.-Productiveness of the oak.-The
adder.-The varied tones of trees in the wind.-The storm .136


CHAPTER XXI.
COUNTRY SPORTS AND EMPLOYMENT.

By appropriating the gifts of creation we increase their value.-
Pastimes of the common people influenced by the amusements of
their superiors.-Jousts, tourneys, and running at the quintain.-
Wrestling.-Quoits.-Skittles.-Cricket.-Fishing.-Archery.-
Sporting terms.-Boating.---Skating.--Sketching.-Botanising.-
Gardening.-Walking 145


CHAPTER XXII.

CHARACTERS TO BE MET WITH IN THE COUNTRY.

Travellers.-Men of science.-Painters.-Literary characters.-
Military and naval officers.-Influence of a visit at a hospitable
farm-house.-The Major and the hawk.-The exciseman, clerk,
lawyer, doctor, and village pastor .. 153


CHAPTER XXIII.

COUNTRY PICKINGS KNOWN TO EVERYBODY.

All seasons of the year grateful to a lover of nature.-Influence of
sylvan scenery.-Nature is ever beautiful.-The stone quarry.-
The glow-worm.-Cattle among the buttercups.-The way-side
spring.-Lambs at play.-The rookery.-Coppices.-The gnarled
old oak.-The secluded lane.-Moss-covered walls.-Violet
banks.-Old ruins 160






CONTENTS.


xi


PAGE
CHAPTER XXIV.

THE CAPLER WOOD ROBBERS.
A cheerless autumnal night.-The alarm.-The gang of gipsies.-
The supposed murderers.-The ruffian at the house of Molly
Prosser.-Preparation to pursue the gang.-Bradeley Coppice and
the fields.-Capler Wood.-The shrill whistle.-The gipsy rob-
bers found.-The dark shed and the furious bull-dog.-The
summons.-The dark shed entered.-The capture .166



CHAPTER XXV.
COUNTRY SIGHTS AND SOUNDS.
The love of natural scenery favourable to cheerfulness, virtue, and
piety.-A rural scene is a library.-Pleasant scenes in the
country.-Riotous noises in the farm-yard.--Sounds in the fields.
-The rookery.-The warbling of birds.-The voice of the
thunder storm, and the whispering of the breeze 173



CHAPTER XXVI.
THE OLD CHURCH PORCH.
Aged country people.-Their quaintness and quietude.-The village
churchyard.-The old church porch.-The aged rustic's narrative.
-The group of graves.-Abel Haycroft and his three sons,
Ambrose, Gideon, and Gregory.-Ambrose goes to sea and
returns.-Gideon goes abroad and comes back.-Gregory receives
them both.-Death of the two brothers, Ambrose and Gideon.-
Gregory, the aged rustic, finishes his story 181


CHAPTER XXVII.
THE VILLAGE INN.
Rural scenes, however varied and variable, are essentially the same.
-Jeremy Taylor's description of the rising sun.-Sketch of sum-
mer.-The softening effect of distance on a landscape.-The beer-
shop.-The Village Inn.-Its attractions.-Its occasional visitors.
--Poor Mary 189






CONTENTS.


PAGE
CHAPTER XXVIII.
CHANGE AND VARIETY IN RURAL SCENERY.

Rural changes.-Reflections.-The frosty morning.-The elm, the
birch, and the holly.-The copses, the sand-bank, and the valley.
-Horses, cattle, sheep, colts, and pointer dog.-The covered wag-
gon.-The stage coach.-The pedlar and the Irish tramper.-Boys
sliding.-Tracks in the snow.-Peggy and her patten.-The
hawthorn and spring.-The pollard oak.-The field, the lane, the
coppice, and the common 196


CHAPTER XXIX.

MOSSY BANKS AND GURGLING STREAMS.

Soothing influence of rural scenes.-Goodness of God set forth in the
harmony, peacefulness, and beauty of creation.-The retired
valley.-The wood.-The brook.-The pools.-The falls.-
Mossy banks and gurgling streams.-Miniature cavern.-Wayside
objects.-Christmas.-Old observances.-The village church 203


CHAPTER XXX.

RURAL PICTURES.

The homestead of Luke Holmes.-The ruined thatch, broken win-
dows, shattered cart, and empty rick-yard.-Old Dinger.-The
Fifth of November bonfire.-Feeding the poultry.-The last
load.-The thrasher.-The rainbow.-The woodman.-The rimy
morning.-The rising sun.-Hunting scene.--Sun-set.-Re-
flections 214














RURAL PICKINGS.




CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTORY.
THERE is something to be blamed or pitied in that heart,
which feels not a warmer glow, and beats not with a bolder
throb when under the influence of rural scenes. Youth and
manhood delight in the country, while childhood absolutely
revels there. Even Old Age himself, almost forgetting the
wrinkles on his brow, and the rheumatism in his limbs, is
ready to skip in the gaiety of his heart, while he breathes
the fresh air, gazes on the green fields, and calls to his
remembrance the exploits of his boyhood.
Again his childish days afford him joy,
And pleasant thoughts-again he is a boy!
As my book will appeal rather to the heart than to the
head, so sentimentality must give place to the healthy
freshness of natural feeling. I cannot promise you much
of a treat in the way of sighing over faded flowers," and
apostrophising "babbling streams;" but I will do my best
to set your pulse throbbing among the bright breezy hills






2 RURAL PICKINGS.

and the sweet, secluded, bird-singing, heart-expanding val-
leys of rural scenery.
I will set before you, in such language as I may, rustic
occupations, the rich garniture of fields, the goodly foliage
of trees, the beauty of buds and blossoms, the sparkling
of running brooks, the warbling of the feathery world, the
fair forms of hills and valleys, the bright gleams of sun-
sets, and the brighter glories of sun-risings. I will take
you to scenes of rural seclusion, of dark and shadowy nooks,
of wild boughs hanging over gurgling streams, of woods
of giant trees, and hazel copses rich with clustering nuts;
of mossy banks sprinkled with primroses; of old stone
quarries and grey cliffs hung with creepers, ivy, and lichens ;
of thorn bushes garlanded with wild convolvulus and red and
yellow poison-berries; of tangled wildernesses of gorse,
fern, and fox-glove. You shall see Nature in her glory
and her gloom; hear her in the silent eloquence of her
solitude, and feel her influence in every hour.
Many have gone before me in describing rural scenery,
and others will follow me in the same alluring enterprise;
but Nature is a wide field in which all may wander, and
each find something novel to admire. He that roams
in the rich luxuriance of country scenes, with a love of
what is sweet and simple, as well as what is arresting
and sublime; and is content to express faithfully the
joyous emotions of his mind, the gushing gladness of his
spirit, in natural language, can hardly fail in affording
pleasure.
The lover of nature has an inexhaustible treasure in the
common things of creation. His enjoyments flow not
from one part of rural influences, but from all. To him
the air is health, the wind is music, the flowers are pearls,
the fruits a banquet, and the burst of glowing sights and






INTRODUCTION. 3

harmonious sounds that appeal at once to his eye, his ear,
and his heart, create in him a jubilee of joy.

God has not given
This passion to the heart of man in vain,
This love of earth's green face, and air of heaven,
And all the bliss of Nature's rustic reign."

For it is a source of wealth; not the wealth of the coffer,
but of the heart. It makes man rich in the love of beauty;
rich in the quiet delights of solitude; rich in sweet and
kindly thoughts; rich in yearnings and aspirations after
purity and knowledge; and rich in desires for the hap-
piness of all creatures. It breaks up the deep fountain of
his affections, binding him in closer brotherhood to his kind,
and awakening in his soul a warmer, a purer, and a holier
thanksgiving to God.
















CHAPTER II.


SOLITARY RAMBLING IN COUNTRY PLACES.
Companionship in trees.-Communings with the earth and skies.-Grate-
ful influence of a country walk.-Solitary paths.-Green lanes.-The
park.-The antique manor-house.-The high hill.-The sylvan scene.
-Rural influences.-Country and city pleasures contrasted.-The
country girl.

HE who has increased the joy of those around him, has
done some service to his kind. To be happy and to
make others happy; to point out what is fair and beautiful
in the world, and to call forth the strong sympathy of
kindred spirits, is a blissful privilege that a friendly and
nature-loving heart will highly prize. There are those
who know not the value of their possessions in the natural
creation, and who have never heard of
"Poets making earth aware
Of all its wealth in good and fair."
Such should be reminded that for them the sun shines,
the dew falls, the flowers spring, and the rural world is
arrayed with beauty.
Who, having a mind capable of observation and reflec-
tion, has ever indulged in a country walk without adding
to his peace and joy! To be alone amongst Nature's
works, is not to be lonely. There is a companionship in
the trees and hedge-rows; there are communings of thought





SOLITARY RAMBLING IN COUNTRY PLACES.


with the heavens and the earth, with the birds, insects,
and flowers, which beguile the mind of its cares, and add
to its happiness. Do you doubt this ? Set your foot in the
shadowy lane; climb the stile into the fields; get among the
buttercups and the daffodils, and you will doubt it no longer.
Is your heart but ill at ease ? Are you sad? Then get
into the green fields. As you leave behind you the habita-
tions of men, the oppression on your spirits will gradually
lighten. You will have liberty to indulge your woe, for no
one will be the witness of your anxiety ; but this very liberty
to be sad will make you more cheerful. As the air comes
wildly around you, you will breathe more freely, and your
restraint and your moodiness will take wing together.
The chirping of birds will invite, nay, persuade you to be
happy. The trees, beautiful in form, and varied in leaf
and colour, some magnificently grand in height, some
heavily hung with verdure, and some of delicate spray and
foliage of feathery lightness, casting their shadows on the
green turf, will allure you from the sunny glare, so that you
may revel in the shade and look upwards with thankfulness,
and without being blinded by the mid-day blaze.
As you proceed, refreshed by the temporary shade, the
clear, blue sky, and the vegetable world, reflected in the
water, will arrest your admiring eye, and wake you with
wonder and delight. Nor will the soft grass beneath your
feet be without its influence on your heart, nor the insect
world on the wing, buzzing, fluttering, or dancing in the
air, fail to excite gladdening emotions; the eye, the ear, and
the heart will all share the general jubilee, till unconsciously
you will find yourself humming a lively tune, or singing a
hymn of thanksgiving.
Hope her sweetest flowers shall bring,
And Joy shall sport with sunny wing.






6 RURAL PICKINGS.

It may be, too, that at the close of your delightful wan-
derings, you may meet with one of kindred spirit, who will
love to listen to your glowing descriptions of all that you
have heard, and seen, and felt, and who, moved by the
eloquence of your heart and tongue, will agree with you
that of all walks, a walk in the country, whether solitary
or social, is the least lonely, and the most delightful.
But why do I speak as though you were a stranger to
rurality, when I ought rather to take it for granted that you
are a lover of Nature, and have wandered, freely as myself,
her loneliest and loveliest scenes!
No doubt you have walked abroad in the country in soli-
tary paths, when your foot has shaken the dew from the
spangled fern, and when the bright sun has flashed through
the crooked branches and dark-green leaves above your head.
You have scared the solitary owl from the hollow oak, and
the timid hare from her form beneath the furze-bush, paus-
ing a moment to watch the heavy flight of the one to the
wood, and the nimble escape of the other to the coppice.
You have wandered down the green lane, narrow, and
overhung with branches, when the piebald magpie has win-
nowed his way chattering, to the upper boughs of the tall
ash, and the blackbird with rapid wing has buried himself
in the brake, taking your course to the green-mantled pond
in the hollow at the bottom of the broken ridge.
You have walked among the sere rustling leaves, and
seated yourself on the ivyed trunk of the fallen tree, gazing
on the water, while the fish have leaped up to catch the
gnats and flies on its surface. A moor-hen has suddenly
appeared from the hollow of the bank, a water-rat has
plunged to the bottom of the pond, and a widgeon has pad-
dled along between the bulrushes and the broad flat leaves
of the water-lily.





SOLITARY RAMBLING IN COUNTRY PLACES.


You have rambled in the park among the dry fern, and
under the hollow oaks, when the timid fawn has started off
to the distant herd, and the antlered stag has turned
towards you his proud head and branched horns, as if ques-
tioning your right to trespass on his territory. You have
gazed on the antique pile, the stately manor-house with its
wide-spread wings, ivy-clustered walls, and spacious courts,
quiet and partly grass-grown, as though they had been left
much to themselves. The ancient hall, though not tenant-
less, has appeared deserted; though not a ruin, it has had
a ruinous aspect, as if it had outlived its day, and belonged
to a period of time long passed by.
You have mounted the high hill and gazed on the bound-
less prospect of fields and farms, woods and running waters,
church spires, villages, and distant mountains. You have
seen the beauty of sylvan scenes, felt the luxury of repose,
and drunk in the soothing influence of solitude, silence, and
meditation. Little have you recked the haunts of busy
life, little have you desired the hubbub of the distant city.
Escaped from noise and turmoil and care, you have gra-
dually given way to the delightful, calm, and quiet enjoyment,
that by degrees has sunk into your very soul.
How lowly, in such seasons, have you estimated riches,
and luxury, and renown; how hateful appeared to you
injustice, oppression, and cruelty, and how much in unison
with your affections were pity, and charity, and kindness,
and love, and thankfulness, and praise.
In such a scene, in such a time, and in such a mood of
mind, you have had crowding upon you a lovely cluster of
rural influences in sweet confusion, in which different sea-
sons were mingled; green grass and verdant foliage; cot-
tages with vine-clad walls; oaks and elms casting their
shadows over half an acre. Cowslip meadows, violet banks,





RURAL PICKINGS.


and broken ground, rich with the yellow furze and purple
foxglove; hill and common decked with the crimson heath-
bell; birch trees with silvery bark; soft moss, dried fern,
the warbling of birds, the breathing of the scented gale, the
odour of the burning peat, the blue heavens bright and
beautiful, and the golden glory of the setting sun.
One half the things we prize in the crowded city are will-
ingly resigned in the country for the unbroken quietude
and undisturbed peace which are there enjoyed. In the
city we seek our pleasure, and provoke our delight, but in
rural scenes our enjoyments come uncalled around us, and
gently take possession of our hearts. City pleasures ener-
vate us by their excitement-country pleasures strengthen
us by their sweetness and repose.
In rural scenes we wander without restraint; we have no
need to pay particular attention to our dress, we have no
fine speeches to make, and no etiquette to observe. We go
on, or we stop as we list; converse with those we meet, or
pass them by at our pleasure; muse, moralise, and sketch
with our pencil or pen just as we feel inclined.
Leisure and Ease lead on the tranquil hours,
And Pleasure guides us to his fairy bowers.

But now let me sketch you a country girl from the life;
little did she think, when first she caught my attention at
the brook, that any eye was fixed upon her, still less that
she should ever figure away in print. When people sit for
their pictures, no wonder that they set themselves in stiff
and unnatural attitudes; give me a sketch from unconscious
nature. I saw my country girl through a hawthorn hedge,
when she dreamed not that any one was near.
See you the cottage on the rising slope at the corner of
the coppice, where the thin, blue smoke is losing itself





SOLITARY RAMBLING IN COUNTRY PLACES.


among the topmost branches of the trees? Picturesque as
it is, it is much more to be admired as the subject for a
sketch, than as a place of abode, for the thatched roof is old
and uneven, the rooms are small and dark, and the whole
tenement would be better for repair; the very rabbit-pens
are in crazy keeping with the cottage, and the bee-hives in
the garden look as if a blast would blow them down. But
the country girl! the country girl!
The country girl, in coarse clothing, filling her pitcher,
there, at the brook, suits the scene better than if she were
gaily attired. Like the rest of the world, she lightly values
the blessings she enjoys. What is within our reach is too
common-place to be estimated highly; she thinks not of the
pure and healthy air she breathes, nor knows she the worth
of the clear, fresh, tasteless water in which she is dipping
her pitcher. Those who are pent up in the smoky city
know the worth of these things. Mankind are unlike the
fox in the fable, who called the grapes sour which he could
not reach. Had a man been in Reynard's situation, he
would have ranked the unattainable clusters as among the
choicest fruit of the vintage. After all, however, the under-
valuing of the grapes on the part of Reynard was only
assumed, so that men and foxes are more alike than I at
first imagined.
But again I am wandering from the country girl, who is
well worthy our best regard, for Sarah Cummins is a praise-
worthy character, and young and small in stature as she is,
think not that she is a cipher in her father's cottage. Even
now its comforts depend much on her care, for her parents
are away at work in the fields, and she is left in charge of
the younger children.
What mischief might not ensue in that humble abode,
were it not for Sarah's superintendence She has left the





RURAL PICKINGS.


baby asleep in the cradle, and invested a younger sister with
brief authority over the household, whilst she is gone forth
to fill the water-pitcher, but she will resume her rank the
instant she returns to the dwelling, for she is somewhat
proud of power, though she does not abuse it, and assumes
her mother's manners when the cottage is left to her care.
Her parents feel little anxiety about their children while
away, for they know that Sarah will see to everything, and
prevent accidents from falls or fire. She began to practise
so early, that she is likely to become an adept in domestic
duties; as it is, she can cook coarse dishes, and already is
she promised a place at the squire's when old enough to
take it. This will give a wide field for fresh acquirements.
But the cottage roof does not cover her skill, for, now and
then she toils with her mother in the fields, and twice has
she attended market at the neighboring town. Besides all
this, Sarah learns at the Sunday school what her parents
cannot teach her. Though her father sings rude songs, she
carols sweet hymns; though he spells old newspapers bor-
rowed from the public-house, she reads her Testament and
little books lent by her teachers. Her mother listens when
she reads, and her father does not oppose it, having sense
enough to see that such exercises are good for his child.
Even in his cups has he been heard to boast that Sally
is a sober lass, and given to goodly ways."
There are three or four pictures against the cottage walls,
but Sarah's sampler is worth them all put together. It
hangs opposite the window, and is, like other cottage sam-
plers, profusely adorned with green fir-trees, parrots with
twin cherries in their beaks, and a scroll border. Nor is
Sarah without her jewels, though that name will rather
apply to the store she sets by them, than to the value of the
simple articles themselves. Among these is a small






SOLITARY RAMBLING IN COUNTRY PLACES.


enamelled box an inch and a half long, with the well-known
distich thereon,
The gift is small,
But friendship's all."

This box contains a very shabby pair of gilt ear-rings,
and Sarah thinks it not altogether impossible that she may
one day wear them. There is also a green smelling-bottle,
sundry bits of lace, ribbon, and black satin, a shilling of
very doubtful character, a new penny, and a crooked six-
pence, besides a pincushion, needle-case, and silver thimble.
Sarah is certainly notable as a workwoman, but yet, after
all, she is fond of a little trifling. Three times, while I have
been peeping at her, has she held up her full pitcher on
high, to empty it playfully into the brook, watching the sil
very descending stream, and enjoying the light below in the
agitated waters; and twice has she set down her jug to
throw a pebble-stone at a water-rat under the roots on the
bank of the stream. At length the cares of the cottage
call her away. She has once more filled her pitcher, and
is now hastening back to her domestic duties, with one
arm stretched out towards the horizon, by way of counter-
poise, while the other is borne down by the weight of her
heavy jug.


11


s















CHAPTER III.

COUNTRY RIDES AND DRIVES.
Delights of riding and driving in the country.-The wooded hill-the
open common-the shady avenue.-High banks-hedges-and green
pastures.-The blackbird, hare, and pheasant.-The windmill.-The
miller.-The mishap.-The countryman.-The errand woman.-The
group of children.-The shower.-The public-house.-The pot-house.-
The setting sun.

HOW pleasant are country rides and drives, and what de-
lightful country pickings they set before you! Freed
from the dust and pebbles below you, and from all the
fatigues and vexations of the turnpike-road pedestrian, you
luxuriate in the prospects far and near. Standing up in
your gig, or if on horseback in your stirrups, you peep over
hedges and walls, and into farm-yards and interesting places,
with which those who trudge it have no chance of becoming
acquainted; now slowly ascending the wooded hill, or steep
ascent to the open common, and now dashing along the level
road under the shady avenue at full speed, doubting not that
your horse, and almost including your gig also, is as happy
as yourself. Who does not like country rides?
There is life, animation, and excitement in the spirited
courage of your horse, and in the rapid whirling of your
gig wheels. However far you have to go, you arrive at your
destination pleased and delighted, the very pink of perfec-
tion and wall-flower of content, fresher than when you set





COUNTRY RIDES AND DRIVES. 13

out, whereas the poor pedestrian may reach home, hours
afterwards, foot-sore and discontented, having undergone
vexation enough to sour his temper for the rest of the day.
How pleasant are country rides and drives! Now we
stop the gig to pluck a beautiful wild flower growing on a
high bank just within our reach, and now we drive up close
to the side of a hedge to gaze on the sheep with their tink-
ling bells, and the cattle reposing in the green pasture-lands
beyond. Here a blackbird, seen in the retired lane, sud-
denly disappears in the brake; there a timid hare starts from
her form in the furze bush; and yonder, heavily and some-
what majestically, rises the fair-plumed pheasant in the air.
Flowers, hedges, meadows, fields, cows, and sheep, black-
birds, hares, and pheasants, all have an interest in our eyes.
At one time we pass a windmill, and enter into friendly
conversation with the miller, who is just coming out with his
cart loaded with sacks of flour; whether we should do the
same thing if we met him in Bond-street, I cannot say,
however we are ready enough to converse with him now.
He turns out to be a shrewd, companionable man, and we
oblige our horse, a fine-built sleek-hided spirited animal, of
course, good in his appearance, paces, and everything else,
to accommodate himself to the pace of his rougher com-
panion, whom our friend the miller praises to the skies.
Of course we gain much information respecting the mill,
and the farm-houses in the neighbourhood, and the nearest
market, and the lanes and woods, and then turn off upon the
miller's recommendation, to the left, where soon the road
branches out, as all country roads do, in different direc-
tions. We foolishly take the narrowest, for without some
mistake, or some little disaster, even a country ride or drive
would lose much of its interest. The road suddenly bends
to the left, in a way sufficiently circular to admonish us not






14 RURAL PICKINGS.

to pursue it, unless we desire to return once more to the
windmill. Cooped up more narrowly than we like, with a
fine, luxuriant, dry, green ditch on either hand, we do our
best to turn round our vehicle-we succeed in getting into
one of the ditches, and almost in being overturned, though
we do not succeed in turning round the gig. Our horse is
ardent to go forwards, but instead of this he is compelled to
go backwards to the branching off of the lane, which so
chafes and exasperates him, that he plays us many a prank
in return.
On we go again-now in a deep hollow way, and now on a
hill. Now our horse's hoofs scatter the loose stones in places
where the road has been mended, and now our wheels rumble
over the wooden bridge. Nor do we fail to excite some
attention; a countryman touches his hat as we whirl by
him; an errand-woman laden with her full basket, mop and
broom, drops us a courtesy; a group of children give over
their play to admire us; a mother hastily snatches up
her bairn by one arm, lest it should be Juggernauted, and
the stone-breaker by the way-side suspends his clinking,
honours us with his especial regard, and resumes his labour
only when we are out of sight.
And now it begins to rain, why should it not! Many
worse things in the world than a shower! and this is just
such a shower as it should be; just enough to frighten us
with the prospect of wet coats and saturated gig cushions;
just enough to freshen up the trees and hedges with a deeper
green; and just enough to make us enjoy, ten times more
than we otherwise should, the sunshine that is about to
follow. We pity the poor, half-drowned, draggled-tail pedes-
trians that we pass, and draw a comparison much in our
own favour. The rain at last ceases, the sun breaks out,
and we dash on merrily, forgetting our troubles, pulling up






COUNTRY RIDES AND DRIVES.


after a delightful ride, at a way-side public-house, the Royal
Oak, where all is cleanliness and comfort. The hostler,
as if he expected us, stands ready to take our steed; we are
won, at once, by the civility of our host and hostess. We
cannot make it out why eggs and bacon are always so much
better at a public-house than at home, and we wonder how
the landlord can make both ends meet," charging as he
does so unreasonably reasonable.
How different is the clean, comfortable public-house, on
which we have happily lighted, to the pot-house we remem-
ber to have seen.

There sots and drunkards in their brawls,
Have pulled the plaster from the walls,
And ale and gin, and potent fume
Of vile tobacco, scent the room.
There orange-peel is freely spread,
And nut-shells crack beneath the tread ;
And shattered furniture express
Debauch and riot and excess.
Torn all to tatters and unclean
The last week's news perchance is seen,
With benches in disorder laid,
A door be-chalked with debts unpaid,
A table flooded o'er with beer,
A broken jug and backless chair,
Unclean spittoons, a spill-can stored
With brimstone matches, and a board
For cribbage and back-gammon's game ;
A ceiling smoked with candle flame ;
A pack of cards dispersed around,
The knave of clubs upon the ground,
Where broken pipes together vie,
And songs and saw-dust mingled lie.
Filled with tobacco yonder stands,
Receptacle of filthy hands,


15






RURAL PICKINGS.


A box, whereon some son of rhyme
Has thus inscribed his verse sublime,
A halfpenny pay before you fill,
Or forfeit sixpence, which you will."

We leave the public-house, the home-brewed ale has
warmed our hearts, the corn has given courage to our horse.
Again we are on the whirl! How pleasant are country
rides and drives All disagreeables turn to pleasures; the
freshness of the air, the glowing west, the sounds that meet
us at every turn, the farm-house, hay-field, meadow, dell
and hollow, with the old hovel and crooked crabtree-all
have separate charms as we hasten by them.
We have freely parted with a few sixpences, for a girl
has opened for us a gate, a boy has picked up our whip, and
sundry others have directed us in our course; we have
hurried and loitered, and stopped and proceeded, as the
whim prevailed, till the sun is setting in all his glory.
On we go, crossing the long shadows of the trees; the
night-breeze is beginning to rustle among the leaves, and
distant objects seen against the red glare of the western
sky look dark, and near, and present a distinct outline.
On we go; in another hour the picture we gaze on will be
illumined no longer; even now
"Heaven unbinding her star-braided hair
Sinks down to repose on the earth and the sea."

How pleasant are country rides and drives!


16















CHAPTER IV.

FARM-HOUSES AND FARMERS.
Contrast between a country farmer and a city tradesman.-Farm houses.
-Stone walls.-Gables.-Pointed roofs.-High and heavy chimneys.-
Oaken door studded with iron.-Porch fitted up with settles.-A
farmer's homestead, fold-yard, and rick-yard.-Rural picture by Pratt.-
The farmer and his visitor.-Howitt's description of farm-houses and
farmers.-The dinner party.
THERE is this striking difference between a farmer, and
a town or city tradesman, that while the latter makes
present sacrifices for a future advantage, the former enjoys
the best things of life as he goes along. The tradesman
will put up from youth to age with small premises, bad air,
scanty meals, and late hours, that he may hoard up wealth,
all which time the farmer is living in a large house, and
enjoying health, peace, plenty, fresh air, pure water, sun-
shine, green fields, singing birds and flowers. Parks and
palaces, and large libraries, and learned men, and picture
galleries, and squares and carriages, and gay equipages he
wants not; and if he have not the follies, the finery, and
the wonderful sights of the city, he reads about them in the
newspaper and laughs at them. Give him his friend, his
jug of brown ale, his pipe, and the Farmer's Journal," and
he is as happy-aye, and a great deal happier-than
the Lord Mayor at the Mansion House. True, he is a






RURAL PICKINGS.


" country bumpkin," and a "clodhopper," and he knows
that he is called so, and repays the joke with usury; for
never do the walls of his kitchen, or of his snug smoking
parlour, ring with a heartier roar, than when he is laughing
at those chaps, the kid-gloved, silk-stockinged, dandified
men-milliners of the city."
I never look at a farm-house, whether it be a substantial
building of old gray stone, with no end of odd gables and
pointed roofs, and stacks of high and heavy chimneys; or of
moss-grown brick, looking as ancient as stone; whether it
have windows with stone mullions and diamond panes, an
oaken door studded with iron, and a porch fitted up with
settles; or is somewhat more modem in its general appear-
ance, with its rick-yard, fold-yard, stables, barns, sheds,
granaries, piggeries, and poultry-pens; I never look at such
a building, without taking it for granted that the farmer
who lives there, whether he be tall or short, stout or slender,
is a blunt, honest, hard-working man, independent in his
spirit, tenacious in his opinion, open as daylight, and un-
bounded in his hospitality.
A farmer's homestead of the better sort, with its spacious
fold-yard of clean straw, and its ample rick-yard of wheat,
barley, oats, beans, and hay, is certainly a heart-gladdening
sight-a horse-prancing, cattle-lowing, pig-squealing, turkey-
gabbling, poultry-cackling prince of a place, and the farmer
is just the very man that ought to own such an establish-
ment. But, though this is the case, the poet and the
philanthropist cry aloud-and they say with some reason-
against large farms; and the former paint lovely rural
pictures of times gone by, that are framed, if not glazed,
and hung up in memory's hall. Such a one is the follow-
ing, painted by Pratt, in his Cottage Pictures :"-


18







FARM-HOUSES AND FARMERS.

Time was, when twice ten husbandmen were fed,
And all their wholesome progeny found bread,
And a soft home, each in his modest farm,
By tillage of those lands, and raiment warm ;
Then took at plough the son and sire their turn,
The wife then milk'd the cow, and work'd the churn ;
And many a mile the daughter trudged with ease,
To vend her butter, chickens, eggs, and cheese;
And, home returning, heavy laden, brought
Full many an article at market bought;
And though she bow'd beneath her basket's weight,
Would blithely sing the country maiden's fate ;
And haply too, the swain, who ambush'd lay,
To ease her load, would join her on the way :
Well-pleased was he, that useful load to bear,
Yet saw, with fond presage, the damsel's care:
Of future helpmate there good signs were shown,
And, as he smiled, he mark'd her for his own;
Whisper'd his wish to share her toils for life,
Purchased the sacred ring, and called her wife.

Nor came she portionless, nor to his arms
Brought only innocence, and native charms,
Though love's blest wealth-but kin, on either side,
Enrich'd the bridegroom, and endow'd the bride !
Of kine a pair to each, of sheep a score,
The parents furnish'd from their well-earn'd store ;
A waggon one, and one a team bestow'd,
While from the heart's pure source each love-gift flow'd:
Of linen, too, a stock, and spun at home ;
And a best bed, to deck the nuptial room;
The quilt and curtains by the matron wrought,
And nothing but the wood and ticking bought ;
From their well-feather'd flock the pillows down,
And all the toilet ornaments their own :
The polish'd looking-glass and pictures gay,
For parlour, used alone on holyday,
c2


19






RURAL PICKINGS.


Or Christmas time, or merry-making sweet,
When the kind landlord deign'd to share the treat;
And joy'd to see the harvest-barn was filled,
And felt at heart how well his farm was till'd :
His little farm, which ease and health displayed,
And happy tenants, happy landlords made.

The farmer is fond of a visitor, and he loves to walk
over his lands with him, and show him his stock, and talk
of his drainage, his grass, his turnips, and his growing corn;
and this he does with the most perfect civility and good
humour, though any one accustomed to read human cha-
racter cannot help seeing that he undervalues his guest if
he happen to be ignorant of farming. With the currier in
the fable, nothing was "like leather;" and with the farmer
nothing is like farming. He will enjoy your company, if you
make yourself agreeable; laugh at your jokes, if you have
any to crack; and listen to your book learning with respect, if
you carry him out of his depth; but in the midst of all, you
are evidently deficient in what a man ought to know. What
can a man be good for who knows not how to grow a turnip?
William Howitt-and here, though he be unknown to
me, let me offer him a word of honest praise; for whether
roaming the stormy fields of Culloden, Flodden, and Edg-
hill-visiting Hampton Court and Stonyhurst-indulging
a rapturous reverie at Tintagel-strolling through Staffa
and lona, Bolton Priory, Coombe Abbey, and Walton Hal)
-carried away by the architecture of Winchester, the
associations of Stratford-on-Avon, and the retired loneliness
of Compton-Winyates, or revelling in rural scenery, the
same clearness of intellect, elasticity of spirit, and ardent
love of nature, art, and antiquity are in him ever visible-
William Howitt, than whom a more truthful or more
graphic writer on rural scenes is not to be found, says:-


2r






FARM-HOUSES AND FARMERS.


"There is no class of men, if times are but tolerably
good, that enjoy themselves so highly as farmers. They
are little kings. Their concerns are not huddled into a
corer as those of the town tradesman are. The farmer's
concerns, however small, spread themselves out in a
pleasant amplitude, both to his eye and heart. His house
stands in its own stately solitude; his offices and outhouses
stand round extensively, without any stubborn and limiting
contraction; his acres stretch over hill and dale; there his
flocks and herds are feeding; there his labourers are
toiling; he is king and sole commander there. He lives
amongst the purest air and the most delicious quiet. Often
when I see those healthy, hardy, full-grown sons of the soil
going out of town, I envy them the freshness and the
repose of the spots to which they are going. Ample, old-
fashioned kitchens, with their chimney-corners of the true,
projecting, beamed, and seated construction, still remaining;
blazing fires in winter, shining on suspended hams and
flitches; guns supported on hooks above, dogs basking on
the hearth below; cool, shady parlours in summer, with
open windows, and odours from garden and shrubbery
blowing in; gardens wet with purest dews, and humming
at noontide with bees; and green fields and verdurous trees,
or deep woodlands lying all round, where a hundred re-
joicing voices of birds or other creatures are heard, and
winds blow to and fro, full of health and life-enjoyment.
How enviable do such places seem to the fretted spirits
of towns, who are compelled not only to bear their burthen
of cares, but to enter daily into the public strife against
selfish, evil, and ever-spreading corruption.
When one calls to mind the simple abundance of farm-
houses, their rich cream and milk, and unadulterated butter,
and bread grown upon their own lands, sweet as that which


21





RURAL PICKINGS.


Christ broke, and blessed as he gave to his disciples; their
fruits ripe and fresh-plucked from the sunny wall, or the
garden bed, or the pleasant old orchard; when one casts
one's eyes upon, or calls to one's memory, the aspect of
these houses, many of them so antiquely picturesque, or so
bright-looking and comfortable, in deep retired valleys, by
beautiful streams, or amongst fragrant woodlands, one can-
not help saying, with King James of Scotland, when he met
Johnny Armstrong:-
What want these knaves that a king should have ?'

But they are not outward and surrounding advantages
merely, which give zest to the life of the farmer. He is
more proud of it, and more attached to it, than any other
class of men, be they whom they may, are of theirs. The
whole heart, soul, and being of the farmer are in his pro-
fession.
"' The farmer invites his friends to dine with him. He
will have a party. The guests have been enjoined to come
early, and they come early with a vengeance. They will
not come as the guests of night-loving citizens and aristo-
crats come, at from six to nine in the evening;-no, at ten
and eleven in the morning you shall see their faces, that
never yet were ashamed of daylight, and that tell of fresh
air and early hours. Then come rattling in sundry vehicles,
with their cargoes of men and women; lively salutations
are exchanged; the horses are led away to the stables, and
the guests into the house, to doff great-coats and cloaks,
hats and bonnets, and sit down to luncheon. And there it
is, ready set out. 'They '11 want something after their
drive,' says the host. 'To be sure,' says the hostess.
And there is plenty in truth. A boiled ham, a neat's
tongue; a piece of cold beef; fowls and beef-steak pie;


22





FARM-HOUSES AND FARMERS.


tarts and bread, cheese and butter; coffee for the ladies,
and fine old ale for the gentlemen.
The dinner hour arrives; and a sound of loud voices
somewhere at hand announces that our agricultural friends
are returned punctually to their time, with many a joke on
their fears of the ladies' tongues. Not that they seemed to
want any dinner-no, they made such a luncheon; but
they had such a natural fear of being scolded. Well, here
they all are; and here are the ladie, .all in full dress.
Hands that have been handling prime1stock, or rooting in
the earth, or thrust into hay-ricks and corn-heaps, are
washed, and down they sit to such a dinner as might satisfy
a crew of shipwrecked men. There are seldom any of your
'wishy-washy soups,' except it be very cold weather, and
seldom more than two courses; but then they are courses !
All of the meat kind seems set on the table at once. Off
go the covers, and what a perplexing, but unconsumable
variety! Such pieces of roast beef, veal, and lamb; such
hams, and turkeys, and geese; such game, and pies of
pigeons, or other things equally good, with vegetables of all
kinds in season-peas, potatoes, cauliflowers, kidney-beans,
lettuces, and whatever the season can produce. The most
potent of ale and porter, the most crystalline and cool water
are freely supplied, and wine for those that will. When
these things have had ample respect paid to them, they
vanish, and the table is covered with plum-puddings and
fruit-tarts, cheesecakes, syllabubs, and all the nicknackery
of whipped creams and jellies that female invention can
produce. And then a dessert of equal profusion. Why
should we tantalise ourselves with the vision of all those
nuts, walnuts, almonds, raisins, fruits, and confections?
Enough that they are there; that the wine circulates-


23





RURAL PICKINGS.


foreign and English, port and sherry, gooseberry and dam-
son, malt and birch, elderflower and cowslip; and loud is
the clamour of voices, male and female. If there be not
quite so much refinement of tone and manner, quite so
much fastidiousness of phrase and action, as in some other
places, there is at least more hearty laughter, more
natural jocularity, and many a
'Random shot of country wit,'

as Burs calls it. A vast of talk there is of all the country
round; every strange circumstance; every incident and
change of condition, and new alliance amongst their mutual
friends and acquaintances, pass under review. The ladies
withdraw, and the gentlemen draw together; spirits take
place of wine, and pipes are lighted.
But after tea there must be a dance for the young, and
there are cards for the more sedate; and then again, to a
supper as profuse, with its hot game, and fowls, and fresh
pastry, as if it had been the sole meal cooked in the house
that day. The pastor and his company depart; the wine
and spirits circulate ; all begin to talk of parting, and are
loth to part, till it grows late; and they have some of them
six or seven miles to go, perhaps on a pitch-dark night,
through by-ways, and with roads not to be boasted of. All
at once, however, up rise the men to go, for their wives,
who asked and looked with imploring eyes in vain, now
show themselves cloaked and.bonnetted, and the carriages
are heard with grinding wheels at the door. There is a
boisterous shaking of hands, a score of invitations to come
and do likewise, given to their entertainers, and they mount
and away! When you see the blackness of the night, and
consider that they have not eschewed good liquor, and per-


24





FARM-HOUSES AND FARMERS. 25

ceive at what a rate they drive away, you expect nothing
less than to hear the next day, that they have dashed their
vehicles to atoms against some post, or precipitated them-
selves into some quarry; but all is right. They best know
their own capabilities, and are at home, safe and sound.
Such is a specimen of the festivities of what may be
called the middle and substantial class of farmers; and the
same thing holds, in degree, to the very lowest grade of
them. The smallest farmer will bring you out the very
best he has; he will spare nothing on a holiday occasion;
and his wife will present you with her simple slice of cake,
and a glass of currant or cowslip wine, with an empresse-
ment, and a welcome that you feel to the heart is real, and
a bestowal of a real pleasure to the offerer."













CHAPTER V.

ON BIRDS, FLOWERS, AND OTHER THINGS.
Sunbeams and sunny scenes.-Tall trees.-The upland lawn.-Morning,
mid-day, and sunset.-The cuckoo, lark, thrush, blackbird, and night-
ingale.-Field flowers.-The heath-flower.-Animals and reptiles.-
Death of a spider.-Sketch in a retired lane.
AND are you really yearning for the calm, the beautiful,
and the delightful? Away then to the country; the
healthy, the pure, the lovely country! Mountain and valley,
hill and slope, river and rivulet, spring and torrent, wood
and down-these, though always varying, are still the same.
They come forth in the morning as fresh and as beautiful
as on the day of their creation; their loveliness is eternal,
they are all the handiwork of God, who said that they were
good, and they are good."
If you love sunbeams, and sunny scenes, and rainbows,
and green and sere leaves, and mossy banks and gushing
waters, and moonlight walks, the country is the only place
where you can enjoy them. There you may revel unwearied
with pleasure, and unsated with varied sweets. To the
country we may say, as we would to a dear friend whom we
love,
While years in quick succession flee,
Whate'er my end and aim,
While seasons change around, to thee,
"Je suis toujours le mdme'.

Have you never stood among a group of tall trees, and
looked upwards, your eyes wandering in the intricacy of






ON BIRDS, FLOWERS, AND OTHER THINGS.


dark sprays, and of green boughs fluttering in the wind, till
you have longed to be a squirrel, a bird, a bee, or any other
of God's lesser creatures capable of revelling in the leafy
labyrinth above you? If you have not done this, I have
done it repeatedly.
If you have never walked on the upland lawn when sun-
rise with its gorgeous glory has awakened joyous and enthu-
siastic emotions-never sought the shade and shelter of the
wide-spread oak, when the southern sun has flung around
his unbearable beams, gilding the heavens and the earth
with his glory-and never gazed on the western sky glitter-
ing in all the effulgency of the retiring orb of day, feeling
it, enjoying it, revelling in it, till excited with ecstasy you
have clasped your hands in thankfulness, and offered the
incense of your heart to the great Giver of sunshine and
sunny thoughts, then you can hardly conceive the delight
that such scenes have the power to call up in the mind.
What a strange sensation of deep-seated joy is that when,
the sun shining gratefully on the rejoicing fields and foliage,
the first note of the cuckoo is heard in the spring! what by-
gone seasons does it recal! what sweet associations it
awakens!
"Thrice welcome, darling of the spring !
E'en yet thou art to me
No bird ;-but an invisible thing,
A voice, a mystery !
The same whom in my schoolboy days
I listened to :-that cry
Which made me look a thousand ways
In bush, and tree, and sky.
To seek thee did I often rove
Through woods and on the green,
And thou wert still a hope, a love
Still long'd for, never seen.


27








And I can listen to thee yet;
Can lie upon the plain,
And listen till I do beget
That golden time again."
Of all the day-singing birds, the lark has the first place in
our affections. His matin song impetuously gushes from
his warbling throat, as though his little heart had more hap-
piness pent up in it than he could bear. Up! up he goes
as near heaven as he can reach, and had he strength of
wing equal to his ardour, he would present his thanksgiving
at his Maker's throne.
The speckled-breasted thrush, and the blackbird, are
masters of song, and hymn their happiness most harmoni-
ously. Oh, what a robbery would it be to the country to
take away either its fruits, its flowers, its green leaves, or
its singing birds!
We owe much to linnets, bull-finches, gold-finches, and
starlings, for their carolling and daily madrigals, and some-
thing to our favourites the robin and the wren, whose har-
mony is pleasant to our ears. These favoured musicians being
chartered from injury by the hands of man, put confidence
in us, and thereby win our love.
Sparrows, kingfishers, and buntings, with the larger
birds, ravens, rooks, crows, magpies, owls and daws, are not
highly talented in voice, yet are their several notes full of
interest in particular situations. What would the brook be
without a kingfisher ? the grove of elms without a rookery
or crow's nest ? the barn without an owl ? or the church-
spire without a daw ? The first of singing birds among us is
the nightingale, and very delightful is her plaintive strain.
"Sweet bird, that shunn'st the noise of folly,
Most musical, most melancholy !
Thee, chantress oft, the woods among,
I woo to hear thy evening song."


28


RURAL PICKINGS.





ON BIRDS, FLOWERS, AND OTHER THINGS.


What sweet associations are oftentimes blended with field
flowers! I love the woodbine, and the dog-rose, and the
foxglove, and the corn-flower, and the poppy, but more than
all I love the heath-flower! The purple heath-flower is
associated with a moon and a mountain; a sweet cottage,
by-gone seasons of joy, a book-case ornamented with trellis-
work of brass wire, the portrait of a bard, the sound of a
piano, a mild-looking child, with soft and influential eyes,-
talent, worth, and kindness.

And it breathes of other things to me ;
Of mountain air, and of liberty ;
Of tower, and tree by lightning riven ;
The storm, and the warring wind of heaven;
Of mossy cairn, and cromlech grey ;
Of mad'ning sounds of feud and fray;
Of stern contention, hope forlorn,
And banner rent, and tartan torn.

Much might I say of hedgehogs, badgers, and cunning
foxes, hares, rabbits, and half-starved weazels, rats, ferrets,
and drowsy dormice, for in rural life they all perform a part,
as well as the flitting bat and the burrowing mole. Rep-
tiles, also, might be spoken of at length; scaly snakes, yel-
low frogs, bloated toads, and long-tailed lizards, as well as
the unnumbered insects which abound,-armed hornets,
honey-bees, and stinging-wasps, cockchaffers, glow-worms,
beetles, gnats, and shining dragon-flies, but I will merely
now describe the death of a spider.
The day was a stormy one, for the wind blew in sudden
gusts, while the drenching rain descended without inter-
mission. In passing near a small recess, in part occupied
by a wooden spout, erected for the purpose of conveying
the water from the top of the house into the water-course,


29







I observed a spider, which had incautiously ventured from
his safe retreat behind the spout. I paused, as with diffi-
culty he dragged himself along towards an oyster-shell,
beneath whose friendly shelter I expected to see him crawl.
Hardly had he strength to reach the shell, for the drops of
rain struck him so frequently, knocking him first on one
side, and then on the other, that he was, indeed, in a
pitiable case. Though I pitied, I could not relieve him;
on he went, weak and staggering, towards the shell.
I have seen horses reel and fall when the death-shot has
passed through their foreheads, and witnessed the stagger-
ing steed, when the pointed weapon has found its way to
his heart: the staggering spider reminded me of these
things. True, the horses were large, and the spider was
small; but the struggle was the death-struggle in both
cases. The oyster-shell was half full of water, and the
staggering insect, instead of crawling beneath it, ascended
its side. There was now no hope of escape; he paused a
moment, was again struck by the rain, once more exerted
all his strength to move onward, and then fell into the
watery pond in the oyster-shell, where he was drowned.
I cannot refrain from here introducing a sketch in a
retired lane, by the pen of old Humphrey.
"There was a keen sense of the fair and beautiful in
nature, and a warm rush of grateful emotion, that made my
uplifted eyes swim again. I could not look on earth or
heaven, without being struck with the profusion, the almost
prodigality of goodness, manifested by the Father of
Mercies. The earth was overhung with an azure canopy,
and clouds of dazzling white, edged with glittering gold.
In my walk mine eye had glanced around on a distant
prospect of hills and plains, and woods and water, that gave
back the sunbeam; while around me stood, at different


30


RURAL PICKINGS.





ON BIRDS, FLOWERS, AND OTHER THINGS.


distances, the venerable oak, the towering elm, and the
romantic fir; but I had now entered the shady lane, where
in my pathway, and almost beneath my feet, glowed the
yellow-blossomed furze bushes, absolutely dazzling me with
their yellow glories.
"My very delight became painful to me, through its
excess; nor can I hope to impart a sense of my emotions
to one altogether a stranger to such feelings. Every object
appeared as a picture, not executed by the puny pencil of a
mortal being, but painted by the almighty hand of the
Eternal.
There I stood, bending over a furze bush, as if I had
never gazed on one before. Through its interstices might
be seen the brown and faded parts of the shrub, with here
and there a ladybird, with its hard red wings, dotted with
black, crawling among them; but on the upper part, its
myriads of fresh green thorns were studded with almost
an equal number of pure and spotless flowers, spangled
with dew-drops. It seemed as if the blooming, beaming,
and almost blazing bush, had been called into existence
and clothed with beauty to give me pleasure! It was
regarded by me as a gift from the Father of Mercies, and I
stood over it with a heart beating with thankfulness.
"A little farther on, the long, straggling branches of the
blackberry bramble hung down from the high hedge: the
sight was a goodly one, a perfect picture: the fresh green
leaves, mingled with others somewhat sere ; the red-coloured
stems, with their white-pointed thorns, short, hooked, and
strong; the fruit partly unripe, green, and red; and partly
ripe, rich, juicy, and black as ebony, waiting to be gathered.
The melons and pines of the banquetting board could not
have surpassed, in my estimation, the bounteous feast that
was thus spread before me.


31






RURAL PICKINGS.


The next object was a hawthorn bush, entangled in
whose long spiky thorns grew a wild rose, rich with scarlet
hips. The parsley-shaped leaves of the bush, the ten
thousand red bright berries that adorned it, together with
the wild rose, was another picture glorious to gaze on.
Close to the hawthorn bush sprang up a wild young
plum-tree, gorgeous with a profusion of colours; for the
sharp night air and the bleaching winds had changed the
verdure of its leaves, so that faded green, yellow, ash-
colour, white, red, and deepest purple, vied with each other.
Below the plum-tree, and close against the bank on
which the hedge grew, stood a thistle, four feet high. It
was a glorious plant: such a one that, if thistles were not
common, would be transported to the gay parterre, tended
with care, and exhibited with pride; yet there it was, with
its pointed leaves and purple flowers, now blooming unno-
ticed, save by my admiring eyes.
"At the very foot of the thistle grew luxuriantly the
romantic-looking fern-root: divide it as you may, to the
very last its fragments bear a resemblance to the whole
plant. It gave a character to the spot, for, in my estima-
tion, it is one of the most elegant plants that grow. A
spider had woven his filmy web across it, thus imparting to
it an additional charm.
I was absolutely bewildered with the amazing freshness
and beauty of every object around me. I cast a hurried
glance on the furze-bush, the bramble, the hawthorn, and
the wild rose; the plum-tree, the thistle, and the fern; I
looked up to the snowy clouds in the blue sky, and the
language of my heart and soul was, 0 Lord, open thou
my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.' "
















CHAPTER VI.

THE COUNTRY BOY.
Variety occasioned by the seasons in rural objects and occupations.-
Approach of summer.-Advantage of good temper.-The country boy.
-He swings to and fro on the gate, and eats his bread and bacon.-
The pocket-knife.-Light-heartedness.-The fine ladies.-The country
boy's rural knowledge.-Speculations on his future prospects.

AS a fire cannot be kept up without fresh fuel, neither
can enjoyment be continued without fresh sources of
pleasure. In this respect the change produced by the
seasons on rural objects, and rural occupations, is a greater
blessing than is usually supposed. Hardly do I know
which would be the greater trial, to be ever in the sun-
shine, or always in the shade. Pleasant as are the flowers
of spring, and the sun of summer, we could but ill spare
the fruits and sere leaves of autumn, or the bracing air of
frosty winter.
I have been rambling in the fields, breathing the fresh
air, listening to the singing birds, gazing on the bright
blue sky, and enjoying the hilarity of creation; for at the
approach of summer, Nature seems to hold a sort of
rejoicing festival; true it is, that we have not yet the
ripened fruit on the tree, nor the golden grain upon the
ground; but we have the promise of them both; and the
sun-lit vault above us, the balmy breeze around us, with






RURAL PICKINGS.


the green leaves, buds, blossoms, flowers, birds, bees, and
butterflies, that animate and beautify creation, delight the
eye, the ear, and the heart.
I suppose that my ramble has given a freshness to my
feelings, and made my pulse beat with a healthier throb;
for I certainly seem to be in better temper than ordinary.
Oh, what an abundant source of enjoyment is good temper!
and what a continual cause of trouble is ill temper. The
one is sunshine, the other is shade; the one is honey, the
other is vinegar; the one is harmony, the other is discord.
Were all the people in the world, young and old, good
tempered, life would resemble a holiday, much more than
it now does. Good-tempered people are not only happy,
but they make other people happy too; while such as are
ill-tempered do much towards rendering those around them
as miserable as themselves.
Some people run into the error of supposing good temper
to consist mainly in playing off silly jokes, and in relating
laughable stories; but these have nothing whatever to do
with it. An ill-tempered man may do these, and a good-
tempered man may do very well without them. A good
temper is a healthy cheerfulness, that looks on the sunny
side of every circumstance that happens, and takes the
rough things of life, as well as the smooth, with a good
grace. Good temper is at ease, when ill temper is in a
rage. Good temper breathes the gentle breeze, while ill
temper is blown about by the whirlwind.
Hardly do I know which is the most unlovely, an ill-
tempered boy, or an ill-tempered old man. I have a perfect
dread of ever becoming the latter. What! after partaking
of unnumbered blessings from my earliest youth, to become
peevish, ill-tempered, and repining! The very thought is
hateful to me. Though not highly-favoured in point of


34






THE COUNTRY BOY. 30

temper, I love good temper with all my heart, and can
hardly separate ill temper from sin: fain would I in my
latter day show forth, more than at any former period of
my life, the sober cheerfulness of my spirit, and the thank-
fulness of my heart. How little we deserve, how much we
receive A becoming temper and a grateful spirit should
be visible in our thoughts, our words, and our deeds!
E'en like the glowing sun, that flings
A glory on terrestrial things;
Would I, wherever my feet are found,
In cheerful light and life abound,
And shed a grateful influence round.
In the country there are ever to be found points and
pickings of human character, of a different kind to those we
observe in the city. The country boy and the town boy
are different beings, and the aged rustic and the grey-
headed mechanic can hardly be compared together.
Let me tell you of a little country lad that I once saw,
in one of my rambles, sitting on a ricketty gate by the
highway side; for not soon shall I forget the chubby rogue,
who was the very picture of independence. He reminded
me of Bunyan's shepherd boy in the Valley of Humility,
who had more of the herb called heartsease in his bosom
than those who were clad in silk and velvet. The young
urchin seemed to breathe the air of that happy valley; he
was, indeed, bred in it, and that was the reason his eye was
so bright, his cheek so red, and his heart so merry.
He felt the glowing, gladdening sun,
And feared nor shade nor shower,
Nor past mishap, nor future ill-
His was the present hour!

It must have been just such another boy as he, who
once was asked, as the story goes, what he would do if '
D2






RURAL PICKINGS.


were a king ? Eat fat bacon and ride upon a gate," was
his unhesitating reply. Now the boy before me was in full
possession of these enjoyments, without the incumbrance of
a crown; for as he pushed open the swinging gate, by
placing his feet against the post, one of his hands held the
fag end of a piece of bread and bacon, while the other
clutched an uncouth pocket-knife, on which a cutler might
have blushed to have seen his name. In truth it was not
"Sheffield made in haft and blade ;"

but that did not lessen its value, for its happy possessor
was altogether ignorant of the surpassing productions of
the Yorkshire hardware town. His hobnailed shoes were
old and clouted; but they answered his purpose, for they
were useful, if not ornamental; he knocked them against
the gate, in the gaiety of his heart, and whistled when his
mouth was empty. He had, no doubt, seen soldiers march
with, perhaps, a recruiting sergeant at their head, and with
whistling and shoe-music he tried to imitate the spirit-
stirring sounds of the fife and drum. His ragged clothes
would have suited a scare-crow, fluttering as they did in
the wind. Had I met a company on the highway, clad as
he was, I should surely have said to myself,
The beggars are coming to town;"

but the lad had a lighter heart than broadcloth ever be-
stowed on those who are buttoned to the chin" in Spanish
wool doubly dyed. I will be bound for it that he had not
a farthing in his pocket to change for gingerbread, but the
huckster's window was far away, and no longings tantalised
the young rogue. Now and then he chaunted fragments of
a homely ditty, in strains that to me were musical, for they
were the outpourings of a happy heart.


36






THE COUNTRY BOY.


Some ladies, visitors I suppose at the Great House on
the hill, clad in gay attire, and rustling in silks and
satins, passed by the very gate: he saw them coming, but
did he hide himself behind the hedge, abashed at the sight
of them; or hang down his head, ashamed of his ragged
jacket? Not he. His elevated position was maintained,
and from it he looked saucily down on silken splendour.
He did not even remove his tattered hat, and though he
was scornfully regarded by the fair ladies, he compre-
hended not the meaning of their looks, but whistled
louder than before, enjoying the sight of gay garments, as
though they were purposely put on for his amusement.
Manners he had not been taught, and was, as yet, unop-
pressed by the awe of the world.
But though his manners and his modesty were in so
small a compass, he was not without his points; for as a
naturalist he would have ranked with Buffon and Linneus,
far above fifty of your bowing and scraping skippers of the
counter. The birds that fled within sight were narrowly
watched by him, and, no doubt, he thought of their nests,
and wished that he knew whereabout they were, that he
might empty them of their eggs, sucking their yolks, and
stringing their shells on a bent of grass.
He knew the habits of the wheeling hawk, that he saw
spirally ascending, before he hovered stationary in mid air;
and could have given a shrewd guess as to the moment
when, with closed wings, the bird would pounce down on its
prey. He was proud, too, of what he knew of the feathered
race, and would have laughed you to scorn had you called a
hawk a kite, a rook a crow, or indeed given any other
names to birds than those contained in his nomenclature.
He knew where blackberries and nuts grew thickest,
and was a clever searcher among the hazel boughs. He


37






RURAL PICKINGS.


could have brought you, at a few minutes' notice, the
sourest sorrel from the bank of the field, and the freshest
water-cress from the brook. He could climb a tree, make
a whistle from the withy bough, and a pop-gun from
an elder slip. Young as he was, those clouted shoes had
often made the football rebound, and the holes in the knees
of his tattered trowsers proclaimed him to be a "dabster
at taw." These are but a part of the many rustic acquire-
ments, that sweeten the leisure hours of the country boy;
while we, with superior knowledge, sigh at scenes that
would make him smile; and with greater foresight, groan at
coming events, which cannot check his laughter.
While I regarded the country boy, a tattered companion
approached him, sending his voice on before, when friend-
ship brought down our hero from his perch. He gave up
the gate for a companion, and together went the two play
fellows, hastening towards some favourite haunt, with mirth-
ful antics and unrepressed laughter; leaving me, not alto-
gether without a suspicion of being the object and subject
of their mirth; for while the young urchin occupied the
gate, he surveyed me, more than once, with a leer from the
corer of his eye, and likely enough, as he walked away, he
was at my expense making his playmate merry.
And now let us ask, what part on the "world's wide
stage will be performed, in future years, by the country
boy? Will he, with his hard hands, apply himself to
honest labour, or become familiar with the bludgeon and
the air-gun? Will he be skilful at the plough and the
reaping-hook ? or expert in setting traps and gins, in fol-
lowing the craft of a poacher, in grappling with game-
keepers, and in shedding human blood? Will his clear
brow ever be wrinkled with sinful thoughts, and his brain
become fertile with fell expedients? Will he sullenly


38






THE COUNTRY BOY. 39

skulk in the darkness to set the Squire's barns and ricks in
a glare, and end his' days on a gallows, or be transported as
a felon to a distant land? Away with such gloomy fore-
bodings the cawing and croaking of the rooks and crows
above me must surely have given birth to them; let us
adopt a healthier tone of feeling, and a more cheerful view
of things.
Let us suppose that the country boy will fall into good
hands, get a little schooling, and walk in upright ways.
Why not ? Why should he not be taken notice of by some
honest-hearted farmer, who adopts the motto, Hard work
and good wages?" Yes, yes! He will see the advantage of
good conduct, tread in the steps of those who set him a
good example, and, as he adds to his years and strength,
rise in the good opinion of his employer. And now, if we
give him a neat cottage, a pleasant garden, an affectionate
and industrious wife, two or three healthy children, and a
bible, we give him the elements of as much-aye, of more
happiness-than he would enjoy by being made Lord
Mayor of London.

















CHAPTER VII.

A FEW WORDS ABOUT OLD HOUSES.

New attractions given to rural scenes.-Interesting spots no longer to be
identified.-Old houses.-Fragments only of their history to be obtained.
-Way in which they are occupied.-Elizabethan old English manor-
houses.-Terraces, balconies, halls, chambers, furniture, tapestry, and
paintings.-The armoury and associations it calls forth.-Wolverley
Court.-Tradition.

DELIGHTFUL as rural scenes are, they are rendered
much more so by circumstances of a favourable kind.
The society of an agreeable friend gives new attractions to
the sweetest spot, and the knowledge that some remarkable
event took place there, clothes with additional interest the
most entrancing scene.
It is really afflictive to think of the many spots of an
interesting kind, which now can no longer be identified,
and of the many goodly old houses, whose history is in-
volved in obscurity. How many old, antiquated mansions
are there scattered through the country, about which their
present tenants know nothing. Their ancient proprietors
resided in them in all the rigid state and rude hospitality
of bygone days; but their descendants no longer inhabit
them, nor any one interested in their history. You may
find, perhaps, in the chancel of the neighboring churches
a few monuments in black or white marble, inscribed with






A FEW WORDS ABOUT OLD HOUSES.


the names of these ancient worthies; and the villagers are
not without some wild and improbable tales of the Hall,
handed down to them by their forefathers, but for the most
part, no more than these scanty records can be collected by
the passing stranger. As you look on one of these vener-
able mansions, and think of the different inmates that have
occupied it, you are forcibly reminded of the remark of the
Dervis to the King-" Ah, sire! the dwelling that changes
its guests so often, is not a king's palace, but a caravansera."
Now and then may be seen houses of this kind, on a less
ample scale, uninhabited, yet partially occupied. The
neighboring farmer is the tenant, and he knows little, and
cares less, about carved chimney-pieces, and tapestry, and
family portraits; but the old house is useful to him; he
has put a cottager in one end of the crazy dwelling, erected
a shed in the court-yard, under which he keeps his carts,
and waggons, and ploughs, and harrows; the hall is turned
into a lumber room, and the very chamber where Sir
Edward and Dame Dorothy his wife slumbered in peace, is
occupied as a granary.
Old mansions, however, there are, yet tenanted by the
descendants of their original proprietors. You have seen,
perhaps, many a real Elizabethan old English manor-
house; grey, weather-stained, faded, and venerable. You
have walked along its trim terraces, and leaned on its
carved balconies and sculptured balustrades. A thrill of
strange interest has run through your frame when pacing
its spacious halls, its echoing passages, and door-ways with
gloomy arches. You have surveyed thoughtfully the heavy,
lumbering, unwieldy furniture; the large, antique sofas,
covered with flowered damask; the upright, long-backed, low-
seated chairs, with their arms and legs ribbed and black;
the grotesque shapes and grinning faces of the uncouth


41






RURAL PICKINGS.


carved figures, dim and doubtful as they appeared in the
dubious light; and the high, canopied, crimson damasked
curtained beds. You have trodden softly on the old, dark,
slippery oaken floors; you have gazed awfully on the faint
and worn tapestry, crowded with stiff, stalking personages,
large as life, and felt, when looking at the stern-faced
paintings, as though the entrance of the owner's grand-
father's grandfather, gliding in through some moveable
pannel of the wainscotting, or from behind the arras, was a
thing far from improbable.
Kneller and Sir Peter Lely are not yet departed, for they
live in the painted beauties of the reign of Charles, that
still adorn these olden mansions. The lustrous eye, the
peachy cheek, th'e antiquated dress are there; and the
mail-clad baron frowns from his oaken frame. You have
seen the wide hearth in the hall, the gilded hatchment,
and the stag antlers on the walls, and the pointed and
groined projections from the roof above.
You may be a lover of peace, but the armoury has made
you feel like a warrior. First, you have taken a glance of
awe and wonder at the profusion of helms, and hauberks,
and hard habergeons, and suits of armour gambuised, and
mail, and plate, plain, fluted, black, bronzed, graven, inlaid,
and embossed. Then you have regarded a single suit,
from the steel clog to the skull-cap; sabatynes, greaves,
cuisses, breech-mail cuillettes, cuirass, vambraces, rere-
braces, gauntlets and helmet, lance, sword, dagger, and
shield.
You have wondered that men had strength enough to
move and mount their steeds, and fight with such a weight
of harness on their backs; and a brazen helm and coat of
mail have brought before you the figure of Goliath of old:-
And there went out a champion out of the camp of the






A FEW WORDS ABOUT OLD HOUSES.


Philistines, named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six
cubits and a span. And he had a helm of brass upon his
head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight
of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass. And he
had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass
between his shoulders. And the staff of his spear was like
a weaver's beam, and his spear's head weighed six hundred
shekels of iron; and one bearing a shield went before him."
A strange confusion of dates and personages has no
doubt taken place in your mind; for clubs and maces, and
hammers and battleaxes, and buff coats, and huge boots
and spears, and matchlocks and petronels, and inlaid pistols,
were hung round the walls, and you could not clearly
remember when gunpowder was invented, and when armour
was set aside.
You thought of the heroes of Homer; the knights of
Spenser's Fairy Queen; the old Crusaders, the Howards
and Essexes; the Warwicks and the Wiltons; the Doug-
lasses and the Percys; and were, at last, bewildered and
lost among castles and convents, battles and tournaments,
pageants and pilgrims, the Black Prince, the wars of York
and Lancaster, the Holy Land, and the Tourney of the
Field of Cloth-of-Gold.
Once more you have gained the court-yard, and the
spirit of old times has come over you. Centuries have
flown back, and the rigid state of other days has surrounded
you. Knights were harnessed for the tourney, and the
balcony was crowded with "ladyes fayre." Or the rude
and rough riders of bygone days, with their dogs and hog-
spears, were about to beat up the woods, and rouse from
his shadowy hiding-place the shaggy and bristly boar. Or
the hawking party was about to go abroad; manly forms
and figures of feminine beauty were mounted on steeds,


43






RURAL PICKINGS.


with ringing horns, and jingling bells, and falcons, with
their hoods and jesses. Or the mumnfers and merry
makers were dissipating the tardiness and gloom of night
by their strange gambols in the high-roofed hall, lit up
with sparkling faggots and flaming torches.
As poets describe the scene-

In days of yore the gladsome day was spent
In joust and tournament, and courtly glee :
Then, castle roofs re-echoed with the peal
Of midnight revelry and festal mirth.
Oh, what a glorious time was that to live in !
When knights were faithful, ladies true and fair ;
When pageantry and pleasure hand in hand
With innocence, danced through the circling hours !
Where grief, and pain, and guilt were never known:
And all was loyalty, and life, and love !
But was it so ? Too closely question not
The fairy dreams of gay, romantic youth !
He that from records of the past would draw
A portrait fair of frail humanity,
Must be content, with hurried glance to pass
O'er blotted pages of distress and grief,
And many a painful paragraph of crime.
Men were, of olden time, as they are now,
The slaves of passion, pride, and follies vain.

Many years ago, I remember spending some time at
Wolverley Court, Worcestershire. Wolverley, anciently
called Ulwardelei, Wlwardeley, Wlverslawe, and Wlfres-
lowe, is in the division of the hundred of Oswalddeslaw,
and the deanery of Kidderminster.
The most ancient family in this parish was that of the
Attwoods, sometimes called from the Latin, de Bosco, and from
the French, de Bois. One of this family had considerable
estates in Kidderminster, Rushock, Nordwyke,Worcester, and


44






A FEW WORDS ABOUT OLD HOUSES.


other parts. Their arms were a lion rampant, seizing on a
conquered dragon. Afterwards they bore a lion queue furch6e
(or with double tail), which, as the lion's strength con-
sisteth much in his tail, denoteth a double force. The arms
are often seen with an abbot's mitre on the lion, denoting
that one of that family was Abbot of Evesham. The heiress
of Attwood married Beauchamp, and the arms were painted
in the church of Holt. In the reign of Henry the Sixth
the Attwoods were escheators of the county, justices of the
peace, and esquires of the better sort. The Attwoods were
great benefactors to the church of Worcester. Abel Att-
wood, Gent., and eldest son of Henry Attwood, Esq., late of
Wolverley Court, being the last male heir of that elder
house, died Oct. 8th, A.D. 1726, aged 66."
To the above account, which is extracted from Nash's
folio edition of Worcestershire, I shall subjoin a tradition
which has long passed current at Wolverley. As Wolverley
Court was for some time uninhabited, the tradition lost
somewhat of its interest and influence; but many of the
elder inhabitants of Wolverley have pleasure in dwelling on
the miraculous relation, which they assuredly believe to
be true.
I had the following relation from the lips of an aged
tenant of Wolverley Court, while she occupied the mansion.
The fetters mentioned in the story were then hanging over
the window, and it would have been considered an offence,
almost unpardonable, to have doubted for a moment the
miraculous story.
During the time of the Crusades, one of the ancestors
of the Attwood family resided at Wolverley Court. Engaging
in the Holy War, he divided a ring with his lady, in token
of remembrance, and crossed the seas. Being made a
prisoner, he was confined for many years in a Turkish


45






RURAL PICKINGS.


prison, from whence he was occasionally taken, like Samson
of old, to furnish amusement to his enemies. On the eve
of a certain festival, having a fearful expectation that he
should again be called forth to endure the cruel derision of
his tormentors, he prayed earnestly that God would deliver
him from his enemies, and permit him once more to see
his native land. On the morning he found himself within
a few miles of his own mansion, reclining in a ditch with
his fetters and chains by him, where he was discovered by a
servant; the servant knew him not, but an old dog fawned
upon his master. Making himself known, he made in-
quiries after his lady. His hair and beard were much
grown, and his appearance so altered by his imprisonment,
that his lady did not know him; but when he produced
the part of the ring which had been broken between them,
she was convinced. He passed the remainder of his life at
Wolverley Court, and lived retired, like a hermit. The
place where he was found in the ditch at Horsley is called
Park Attwood to this day. The carved figure of a dog
was placed in Wolverley church, but is now removed; but
the fetters, as you see, still hang over the drawing-room
window of Wolverley Court."

















CHAPTER VIII.

THE ASCENT OF MOUNT MUCKLESTONE.
Turning natural sceneryto a good account.-Perseverance valuable quality.
-Ascent of Mount Mucklestone.--The solitary traveller.- Lake
Crystal.-The rock gives way, and the traveller falls.-Steepness of
Mount Mucklestone.-The second accident of the traveller.-The
cavern.-The ridgy ledge.-The traveller loses his footing, and rolls
over the arch of the cavern.-The escape.-The summit gained.-
Remarks.
IT is one of the many objects I have in view in these
Rural Pickings, to sprinkle freely my rustic descriptions
with good feeling and kindly suggestions that may be turned
to account. Hills and valleys, woods and waterfalls, fields
and flowers, ponds and brooks, will only be the more beau-
tiful if we can get from them aught that will dispose us
more gratefully to enjoy, and more patiently to endure; aught
that will nerve our hearts in danger, knit us more closely to
those we love, and call forth kindly emotions for all around.
What if we could wander for ever amid daisies and
daffodils, breathe nothing but fresh air scented by violets,
and hear nothing but the singing of larks and the murmur-
ing of waterfalls dreaming away our lives in listless ease
and unenviable uselessness! A generous heart and a kindly
spirit would shrink from such selfish enjoyment; but when
we turn the fair things of creation to account by improving






RURAL PICKINGS.


our own hearts, and connecting our own good with the good
of others, we obtain a healthier, if not a holier, gratification.
There are very few qualities of more value than that of
perseverance in the different positions and relations of life ;
those who possess it have, as it were, in most undertakings,
Success written on their foreheads; while those who possess
it not have but a poor prospect of obtaining their ends.
The cavern of Antiparos is deep, but Perseverance descends
to its lowest recess. The Alps are high, yet Perseverance
places its foot on their cloud-capt heads.
You have heard of Mont Blanc, and have read that it is
one of the highest mountains of the Alps-
"Snow piled on frozen snow the mass appears,
The gathered winter of a thousand years,"

lifting up its giant head more than seventeen thousand feet
above the level of the sea. What romantic and sublime
varieties of beauty are presented by mountainous scenery!
The grand and the grotesque, the stern, the sterile, and
the arresting, with all that is lovely and attractive, are
to be found among its solitary recesses, its craggy ridges,
its rugged rocks, and its jagged peaks.
High the Alpine summits rise,
Height o'er height stupendous hurPd;
Like the pillars of the skies,
Like the ramparts of the world."

The ascent of Mont Blanc has ever been considered an
achievement of no ordinary kind. It has been boldly
undertaken, and gallantly executed, by many, with more or
less difficulty; but under the most favourable circumstances,
the enterprise has required resolution and perseverance,
and ever been attended with great danger. If you have
ever read of the ascent of Mont Blanc-


48






THE ASCENT OF MOUNT MUCKLESTONE.


Monarch of the scene,-
Mightiest where all are mighty,"
by Paccard, Saussure, Beaufoy, Jackson, Clarke, Sherwell,
Barry, Waddington, and others whose adventurous feet
have attained its summit, you must, in a degree, have
drunk into their ardour, admired their perseverance, and
been moved at one time by fear, and at another with
delight. The timid may blame the rashness of jeopardising
life: and the prudent may inquire, what useful end is
attained by the accomplishment of such enterprises? but
some allowance must be made for those who unite with an
adventurous disposition an ardent love of natural scenery.
To see the sublime creations of the wonder-working hands
of the Eternal, and to communicate that knowledge, which
is otherwise unattainable to mankind, are not of themselves
censurable objects. But now, having said so much of Mont
Blanc, I must draw your attention to the ascent of another
eminence, which I myself witnessed with an intensity of
interest.
It was in the summer of 1844 that a solitary traveller
arrived at Lake Crystal, at the foot of Mount Muckle-
stone. The scene was of an imposing kind, and many
would have been arrested by its romantic beauty, but the
traveller hastened on towards the mountain, winding along
between the grotesque, craggy fragments, twenty times his
height, which having rolled down from the mountain, lay
scattered around the borders of the lake. For some time
he was partially hidden by these irregular masses of rock,
but soon after he emerged from them, and began to ascend
the base of Mount Mucklestone, close to the water, carrying
with him a rope for protection and assistance. Hardly had
he ascended his own height, when a part of the rock above
him, rolled down, bearing him with it into the lake. Un-
E


49





RURAL PICKINGS.


daunted by his accident he regained the shore, and again
began to climb.
Between the lake on the left, and the trees of various
kinds which towered above him on the right, the traveller
zig-zagged his way up the craggy steep, until he had gained
a considerable height, and here dangers began to thicken
around him. True it is, that no slippery glacier lay beneath
his feet, and no threatening avalanche hung over his head,
but then he had no guide, and had eminences before him,
untrodden by the foot of man! The face of the mountain
up which the traveller slowly climbed, was diversified with
stony strata of varied colours, a kind of red granite, and
grey limestone at different points appeared to prevail, while,
here and there, trees whose slenderest branches were thicker
than the traveller's body, sprang from the rifts and fissures
of the steep ascent.
One of the greatest impediments in ascending Mount
Mucklestone, is its extreme steepness, it being at a certain
height, for the most part perpendicular, so that, were it not
for its projecting ledges, the face of the mountain to the
north would resemble a mass of masonry. Nor is the diffi-
culty arising from the variable nature of its surface to be
disregarded, for while one part appears to possess the firm-
ness and solidity of marble, another loosens and crumbles
down at the slightest touch, falling into the lake below.
Who has ever seen a mass of stone fall from a giddy
height, precipitating itself on the rocks, or plunging head-
long into the deep waters below, without a sensation of
terror ?
After attaining a shelf of rock somewhat broader than the
other ledges he had trodden, the traveller proceeded cau-
tiously, for the shattered crag up which he had to toil was
loose. Already had he mounted three or four times his


50





THE ASCENT OF MOUNT MUCKLESTONE.


height, when the crag, to which he clung, gave way, and
down he rolled on the broad shelf below. Had not this
shelf of rock interposed, he must have been, once more, pre-
cipitated into the lake. Short was the pause that this
accident occasioned, and again the traveller renewed his
efforts with better success.
At a point, which is more than midway up the steep,
there is a cavern of such dimensions, as to occupy no incon-
siderable part of the mountain. The projecting arch of this
cavern gloomily frowns on the precipice below, looking
down upon Lake Crystal. A ridgy ledge of rock running
irregularly up one side of the cavern, and leading to its
summit, appears to afford the only footing for an adventurous
aspirant. With undaunted intrepidity, and without the least
hesitation, the traveller took the rough and ridgy pathway,
if such it might be called, which overhung the precipice,
and slowly laboured up the steep, hardly allowing himself a
moment's respite. Once he paused, as though unable to
proceed, and twice his foot slipped, but he recovered himself
and toiled on.
After much fatigue, he attained the summit of the ridgy
path, but, scarcely had he paused on the archway, that
crowned the mouth of the cavern, when he lost his footing,
and alas! rolled over. It was well for him, that he had
fastened his rope to a jutting part of the crag; clinging
tenaciously to this, he swung for an instant to and fro, over
the mouth of the fearful void. Above him were the craggy
heights, the summit of which he could not see, on account
of the beetling brow of the cave, and beneath him yawned
an abyss, of a depth almost equal to a thousand times his
height.
Why, traveller, didst thou take the dangerous track ? Why
did thy reckless foot essay a path of such imminent peril ?
E


51





RURAL PICKINGS.


The steadiness and self-possession of the traveller in his
perilous position were admirable. It is not in common
cases an easy undertaking to climb up a rope, but the tra-
veller was accustomed to exploits of this kind, and inured
to danger. For one moment he remained immovable, but
the next, he slowly ascended the rope. What if his strength
had failed him; or his brain had turned giddy; or the rope
had broken ? Let us not think of it!
Having once more gained a footing on the arch of the
cavern, he proceeded onwards with mingled caution and
determination. Sometimes he met with dangers, which it
was necessary to avoid, and now and then, he had occasion
to retrace his course, but, finally, by perseverance in defiance
of all dangers, and in despite of all difficulties, he gained
the summit of Mount Mucklestone.
And now let me admit, that, in drawing this sketch of
the ascent of Mount Mucklestone, I have taken the liberty,
which an artist always takes, of representing my picture on
the scale best suited to my purpose. My scale has been a
large one. I have amused myself, and I hope somewhat
interested you. Mount Mucklestone is the rocky side of a
stone quarry. Lake Crystal, at its base, is a spring, and
the adventurous traveller was a diminutive spider.
Is there any reason why a lover of nature, should not
admire the minute, as well as the vast? and gaze on the
side of a stone quarry with delight, as well as on Mont
Blanc? When it pleases the Almighty Creator of all
things, to concentrate in a few square yards, as much beauty
as can be discovered in as many square miles, may we not
gaze on his wondrous handywork with delight, and ought we
not to adore him with unfeigned thankfulness ?
And is it right, think you, that we should bound, our ad-
miration to human qualities? Ought we not to admire





THE ASCENT OF MOUNT MUCKLESTONE.


sagacity in the elephant, fidelity in the dog, industry in the
bee, and perseverance in the spider? If aught on which
the eye can gaze, enhances our love and admiration of our
Great Creator, or binds us with kindly affections to his
creatures, be assured it is worthy of our regard. Consider
this aright, and you will feel somewhat indulgent to the
account I have given you, of the ascent of Mount Mucklestone.
There is something so truly disgraceful to draw back, and
something so truly noble, in the face of difficulty and danger,
to persevere in a praiseworthy undertaking, that I would
willingly derive an illustration from any source, if, by it, I
could call up in others and myself a spirit of perseverance.
Whether we look at the traveller ascending Mont Blanc, or
at the spider climbing Mount Mucklestone, the lesson
before us is the same; difficulties and dangers are to be
overcome by perseverance.
But however exciting and encouraging it is to see, or to
hear, of instances wherein perseverance attains its object in
the more public, and more glaring enterprises of life, such
instances are often not equally honourable to humanity, as
others of a more secluded kind. To do or to suffer, when
the world is looking on, ready to mete out its honours and
rewards as the recompense of success, is comparatively easy,
but to persevere in doing and suffering in a good cause, when
no eye is open to admire, and no hand is extended to re-
ward, requires qualities more exalted. These are the
qualities we should strive to possess.
We are naturally attracted by the actions of heroes and
heroines, for these are held in high esteem, and kept before
the public eye; but there are heroes and heroines in private
life, who, unrecompensed and unknown by the world, go on
to the very grave, patient and persevering. Rather would
I rank my readers among these, than inscribe their names


53





RURAL PICKINGS.


in monumental marble as the sackers of cities, and the
conquerors of distant lands.
Perseverance is a noble quality, that may be practised in
private, as usefully as in public. We may never be called
on to ascend Mont Blanc, to discover the source of the
Niger, nor to visit Timbuctoo, but to persevere in useful-
ness, benevolence and virtue is a noble undertaking, an
enterprise that would not derogate from the character of an
;mgel. Let us then persevere, neither dismayed by dan-
gers, nor overcome by difficulties; for, as I said before, the
Cavern of Antiparos is deep, but perseverance descends to
its lowest recess. The Alps are high, yet perseverance
places its foot on their cloud-capt heads.


Q M or


54

















CHAPTER IX.

COTTAGES AND COTTAGERS.
Cottage of Mother Hollins.-Mother Hollins's cat.-The Wanderer.-
Cottages of the poor and of the rich.-Our cares increase the value of
our comforts.-Cottage children.-A cottager's love of natural beauty.
Trials and afflictions of cottagers,-Poor Widow Gill, and her wayward
Son.
SLIKE to look at cottages, cottagers, and cottage children,
for there is so much simplicity about them all, that
they dispose the heart to peace and contentment. That
cottage on the little slope yonder, with the garden and
orchard of pear-trees, belongs to good Mother Hollins, a
simple-minded, honest creature, as ever spun a ball of flax,
or mended a pair of lambswool stockings.
Look at Mother Hollins's cat travelling across the mea-
dow! I wonder where she has been wandering so early
this morning, and now she has to go back through the
dewy grass. See how she shakes her paws as she takes
them up and looks as if she did not know when or where to
put them down again. Now she stops and stares around,
with her great eyes, to see, I suppose, if there be any other
way. No, pussy! you are in for it, and on you must go.
You take good care to hold your tail out of the wet, but you
cannot keep your whiskers from the dew-drops. That is







right! Another good jump or two will soon bring you to
the end of the field. I dare say that Mother Hollins's
tea-kettle is singing by the fire, and that her cup and saucer
are placed ready for breakfast, so that you will not lose
your drop of milk.
Mother Hollins is fond of her cat, having brought it up
from a kitten. Oh! it was a dear, little mischievous
thing then, pulling up the daisies in her small garden;
jumping at the weight of the cuckoo clock; tangling the
worsted ball belonging to her knitting, and scratching under
the tattered cushion of her arm-chair. Good Mother Hol-
lins, though she liked not to see the weight of her cuckoo
clock swinging so furiously from side to side, nor the heads
of her red and white daisies lying scattered on the ground,
bore all this very patiently, for she knew that pussy was
unconscious of doing any harm, and that her frolicsome
days would not last for ever.
Ay, and Mother Hollins was right, for Pussy is now as
grave and sedate as any tabby in the parish. You may
generally find her stretching before the fire, sitting in the
window, climbing up the pear-tree, or perched upon the
garden wall, purring in the sun, with her tail curled round
her legs. The other day as she sat on the old stone wall,
Jem Painter, who was passing by with his terrier dog,
pulled her down backwards by her tail, and set his dog on
her, an ill-natured trick by which he got no good, for his
terrier had a well-clawed nose, and he himself a couple of
sharp lashes, from the whalebone whip of John Fowler, who
came up at the time with his waggon. See! Pussy has
scrambled up the garden wall, leaped down inside the gate
into the little court, and scampered into Mother Hollins's
cottage with her tail in the air.
Mother Hollins's dwelling is just the place to set one


56


RURAL PICKINGS.





COTTAGES AND COTTAGERS.


who lives in a garret in the town, sighing after a cottage in
the country. It is just such a dear, sweet, little home-
stead as Campbell had in his eye, when he penned the
following beautiful lines:-

"And, mark the wretch, whose wanderings never knew
The world's regard, that soothes, though half untrue;
Whose erring heart the lash of sorrow bore,
But found not pity when it err'd no more.
Yon friendless man, at whose dejected eye
Th' unfeeling proud one looks-and passes by,
Condemn'd on penury's barren path to roam,
Scorn'd by the world, and left without a home-
Even he at evening, should he chance to stray
Down by the hamlet's hawthorn-scented way,
Where, round the cot's romantic glade are seen
The blossom'd bean field, and the sloping green,
Leans o'er its humble gate, and thinks the while-
Oh that for me some home like this would smile,
Some hamlet shade, to yield my sickly form
Health in the breeze, and shelter in the storm !
Then should my hand no stinted boon assign
To wretched hearts with sorrow such as mine !-
That generous wish can soothe unpitied care,
And Hope half mingles with the poor man's prayer."

The term cottage has varied significations. The cottage
of the' poor is usually scanty enough in space and con-
veniences, and oftentimes it is little better than a wretched,
ill-provided, smoky,-raftered hovel or shed, while that of
the rich is, comparatively, a mansion, comprising numerous
apartments of comforts, and many luxuries. Those who live
in cottages for the poetry of the thing, trying to blend the
elegancies of high life with the simplicity of rural manners,
are deficient after all, in the principal elements of cottage
character. Their wants and desires are anticipated; but


57





RURAL PICKINGS.


the cottager has his bread to win with hard labour, and he
is not without anxiety, how he shall feed and clothe those
who are dear to him. Now it is this labour, and this
anxious care and uncertainty, when not in excess, that
make his mouthfuls pleasant morsels, and add value to his
bits and drops. The lights of life without the shadows are
imperfect. By an all-wise and merciful arrangement, our
cares impart a value to our comforts-
"And every want that stimulates the breast,
Becomes a source of pleasure when redrest."

Toil sweetens repose; hunger gives a relish to our food,
and thirst renders the cool draught doubly pleasurable.
Cottages there are neat and clean, which in reality, and
not by way of poetic figure, may be called the abodes of
peace. There Health resides with lusty Labour, and Sim-
plicity and Contentment dwell together, but cottages, even
of the industrious, at the present day are sadly deficient in
the flitch, the gammon, and the cask of home-brewed beer
that once were plentiful as blackberries."
Happily has the pen of William Howitt hit off the chil-
dren of the cottager. The girls help their mothers-the
labourers' wives-in their cottages, as soon almost as they
can waddle about. They are scarcely more than infants
themselves, when they are set to take care of other infants.
The little creatures go lugging about great fat babies that
really seem as heavy as themselves. You may see them
on the commons, or little open green spots in the lanes
near their homes, congregating together, two or three
juvenile nurses, with their charges, carrying them along,
or letting them roll on the sward, while they try to catch a
few minutes of play with one another, or with that tribe of
bairns at their heels-too old to need nursing, and too young


58





COTTAGES AND COTTAGERS.


to begin nursing others. As they get bigger, they are
found useful in the house-they mop and brush, and feed
the pig, and run to the town for things; and as soon as
they get to ten or twelve, out they go to nurse at the farm-
houses; a little older, they "go to service ;" there they soon
aspire to be dairymaids, or housemaids, if their ambition
does not prompt them to seek places in the towns-and so
they go on scrubbing and scouring, and lending a hand in
the harvest field, till they are married to some young
fellow, who takes a cottage and sets up day-labourer. This
is their life; and the men's is just similar. As soon
as they can run about, they are set to watch a gate that
stands at the end of the lane or the common, to stop
cattle from straying, and there, through long solitary days
they pick up a few halfpence by opening it for travellers.
They are sent to scare birds from corn just sown, or just
ripening, where
They stroll, the lonely Crusoes of the fields-

as Bloomfield has beautifully described them from his own
experience. They help to glean, to gather potatoes, to pop
beans into holes in dibbling time, to pick hops, to gather
up apples for the cinder-mill, to gather mushrooms and
blackberries for market, to herd flocks of geese, or young
turkeys, or lambs at weaning time; they even help to
drive sheep to market, or to the wash at shearing time;
they can go to the town with a huge pair of clouted ancle-
boots tied together, and slung over the shoulder-one boot
behind and the other before ; and then they are very useful
to lift and carry about the farm-yard, to shred turnips, or
beet-root-to hold a sack open, to bring in wood for the
fire, or to rear turfs for drying on the moors, as the man
cuts them with his paring shovel, or to rear peat-bricks for


59







drying. They are mighty useful animals in their day and
generation, and as they get bigger, they successively learn to
drive the plough, and then to hold it; to drive the team, and
finally to do all the labours of a man. That is the growing
up of a farm-servant."
A cottage life seems to set forth that our real wants are
few, for little more than food and raiment does the cot-
tager possess, and yet, where do you find finer forms,
sweeter faces, and healthier constitutions than in cottages ?
Luxury never enters, and revelry is seldom heard there,
but lovely domestic scenes are lit up by the cottage ingle.
"If men did but know," says Jeremy Taylor, what
felicity dwells in the cottage of a virtuous poor man-how
sound he sleeps, how quiet his breast, how composed his
mind, how free from care, how easy his provision, how
healthy his morning, how sober his night, how moist his
mouth, how joyful his heart-they would never admire the
noises, the diseases, the throng of passions, and the violence
of unnatural appetites, that fill the houses of the luxurious,
and the hearts of the ambitious."
As the poor greatly outnumber the rich, and labour for
their benefit, they cannot under any sound system of prin-
ciple or policy be neglected. Man has no charter from
heaven to enjoy prosperity, and to leave his poorer brother,
who has helped him to obtain it, in adversity. In exercising
as a right, that which is in itself wrong, he may add to his
own selfish gratifications, but he must do it at the expense
of his integrity. The policy, philosophy, religion and legis-
lation that seek not the comfort, enlightenment, morality,
piety and happiness of the poor, must necessarily be defec-
tive. Nations as well as families, and parishes as well as
individuals, should take heed to the words of Holy Writ,
" Blessed is he that considereth the poor, the Lord will


60


RURAL PICKINGS.





COTTAGES AND COTTAGERS.


deliver him in time of trouble." Rural scenery, amid all
its passive cheerfulness, is ever impressive, and to the
reflective mind, full of practical admonitions.

The evening cloud, the morning dew,
The withered grass, the faded flower,
Of earthly joys are emblems true;-
The glory of a passing hour!"

There is that in the heart of man that loves adventure
and rural scenery, and I verily believe that where dis-
honesty has made one poacher, a dozen have been made by
a love of the pursuit of wild creatures, and by the delight
experienced in night watching and roaming at liberty, with
a stimulating motive, the pathless woods and solitary glens.
After all, however, the garden of a cottager supplies him
with his safest out-door pastime, his most innocent and
productive enjoyment. This is his antidote to the brawling
beer shop, and an unfailing source of quiet pleasure.
Honour and profit to the farmer who by his industry sup-
plies his own homestead with plenty, and practises hospi-
tality; but double honour, and double profit be his, who
adds to the comfort of the labouring poor. May his barns
be filled with plenty," and his presses burst out with new
wine!"
Akenside says-
Ask the swain
Who journeys homeward from a summer day's
Long labour, why, forgetful of his toils,
And due repose, he loiters to behold
The sun shine gleaming as through amber clouds,
O'er all the western sky! Full soon, I ween,
His rude expression and untutor'd airs,
Beyond the power of language will unfold
The form of beauty, smiling at his heart:
How lovely How commanding! "


61





RURAL PICKINGS.


Akenside to witness this scene, must have been more
fortunate than most of us. Never yet did I behold a cot-
tager, in the attitude of voluntarily observing, much less
admiring, the rising or the setting sun, yet do I not from
this draw the conclusion that cottagers and country people
have not the love of nature, and of natural objects in their
hearts.
A cottager's love of natural beauty is not expressed by
the excited start, the uplifted hands and eye-brows, nor by
the ejaculations "beautiful! wonderful!" It blends with
his peaceful feelings, and becomes unknown to himself, a
part of his existence. This is proved by his restlessness
when in towns and cities, and by his yearnings after those
things, without which, though he has never burst into rap-
turous exclamations about them, he cannot be happy.
The same thing may be said of his affection for his wife
and children. This affection is not told in gazing on them,
and telling them they are angels, but in cheerfully toiling
for them, hour after hour, and year after year, in the dry
and the wet, the hot and the cold, the summer and the
winter. True he may be found dandling his little ones on
his knee, and carrying them in his arms, but his love is to
be seen mostly in his labour, and in the wages that he
brings home to the partner of his cottage.
In my rural pickings I would not pass over without a
word, the simple and pathetic relations that are sometimes
given by cottagers, of the trials and troubles that cast a
shadow on the dwelling of the poor. Cottagers oftentimes
bear patiently and silently, what would fill the mouths of
many with continual repinings, and go on, labouring day
after day, enduring bodily afflictions that would consign the
rich to a sick bed and the doctor.
One has a blind father; another a bed-ridden mother. A


62





COTTAGES AND COTTAGERS.


third has a son who has turned out wild, and become a
wandering vagabond; or a daughter, once the light, the
life and sunshine of the cottage, is now an inmate of a
lunatic asylum: with all its peace and contentment, the
cottage has its cares.
Poor widow Gill, who lives at the cottage by the com-
mon, had a son, the only one she ever had, and he went to
sea. Oh Harry! Harry! It is a bitter thing to forsake a
widowed mother, and bitterly, I fear, hast thou paid for it!
Harry went as cabin boy, on board the good ship Rover,
and soon after the Rover was "missing." Some say the
vessel was wrecked in the West Indies; others that she
was crushed by two icebergs in the Frozen ocean. There
are reports, too, of her running adrift on the coast, among
the cannibals who slaughtered her crew, while it may be
that the ship was destroyed by fire. Whichever of the
reports may be true, widow Gill, at different times, believes
them all, and yet cherishes the fond hope, that Harry may
yet come back again. Years and years have rolled away,
but on stormy wintry nights the poor widow still watches
and weeps in her lonely dwelling, thinking of ships and
shipwrecked sailors.

The Rover is "missing her mariners sleep,
As we fear, in the depths of the fathomless deep ;
And no tidings shall tell if their death-grapple came
By disease, or by famine, by flood or by flame.
The storm beaten billows, that ceaselessly roll,
Shall hide them for ever from mortal control;
And their tale be untold, and their history unread,
Till the dark caves of ocean shall give up their dead


63
















CHAPTER X.

ON SERVING-MEN, OR MEN-OF-ALL-WORK.
Usefulness of serving-men.-George Glossop.-His varied occupations and
great strength.-Proud of his talent in hair-cutting.-George hives the
bees and plays the parts of farrier and butcher.-Harvest time.-Robert
Hadley.-Edwin Horton.-Old Samuel Green.-John Andrews.-
John's occupations.-The garden, the stable, the carriage-house and the
cellar.-John Andrews always to be found when wanted.
WHOEVER has moved about much in the country, with an
ordinary degree of observation, must have felt some interest
in the serving-men, or men-of-all-work, which are found in
different situations. This class of men are, I think, among
the most useful of any, and when integrity and skill are
united, as they frequently are, in their character, they can
hardly be too highly valued. Your labouring man pursues
his accustomed employment in the fields, varied only by the
change in the season; the shepherd attends to his flock,
and the cowherd to his cattle; they have their distinct
duties to perform, but your man-of-all-work, however occu-
pied, can never tell in what he may be engaged the follow-
ing hour. This peculiar position; this continual liability
to be called upon in all emergences and on all occasions,
makes him a man of resources. He who is expected to
turn his hand to everything, has need to understand every-
thing, but I must here indulge in a few sketches.





ON SERVING-MEN, OR MEN-OF-ALL-WORK.


A friend of mine, a gentleman of independent fortune,
lives in a village, where his neighbours are mostly farmers ;
he must needs, therefore, do a little in the farming way him-
self, and succeeds as most men do, who merely make an
amusement of that which requires great attention. He loses
money every year by agricultural pursuits, but annual losses
cannot make him relinquish farming. These losses puzzle
him not a little; for, as he takes credit with himself for being
a wiser man than his neighbours, he cannot account for his
want of success. When farmers turn gentlemen, or gentle-
men turn farmers, they very seldom reap any advantage by
the change.
George Glossop is his man-of-all-work; his employment
are varied, and he is seldom kept long at the same kind of
labour. George is suddenly summoned in all domestic
exigencies; whatever may be his work at the moment, he
leaves it, and obeys his call. Sometimes he is despatched
with parcels and carpet-bags to the nearest town, and car-
ries burdens more fitted for a horse than a man of moderate
strength; but he laughs at burdens that many would sink
under, and is proud of displaying the great strength he
possesses.
Lighter employment, too, is reserved for his ready fin-
gers, for George can clean boot-tops excellently; fix a square
of glass when wanted in the kitchen windows; take a lock
to pieces, and put it together again; and cut hair: sometimes,
indeed, he crops the head of his master. He is very proud
of his acquirements; and once-but this was when he was
younger-he was about to leave his place, and seek his for-
tune in London, where he thought of succeeding as a hair-
dresser; even now, when in his cups, he shakes his head,
and thinks he threw a chance away by neglecting to try his
fortune in the great city. But George is a shrewd fellow


65





RURAL PICKINGS.


when sober; he knows when he is well off, and will not leave
his place in a hurry. George taps the cider-casks, sets the
rat-trap, rings the pigs, and is a famous hand at carving
the heads of sticks. The bees once swarmed on a goose-
berry-bush by the garden-gate, and no one would venture
near them; but George swept them off with a wing into an
empty hive without fear. The great yard-dog was afflicted
with the mange, and no person liked to touch him, the
animal was so fierce and surly; but George tied the crea-
ture to a post, laughed at his growlings, and rubbed him
well with healing ointment. George is something of a far-
rier, too, and is disliked by the village butcher, because he
sometimes practises his occupation.
But it is at harvest-time that George is in his glory.
His daily allowance of cider, always ample, is then much
increased. He superintends the men hired to work at that
season of plenty, and enjoys his brief authority; for his
master asks his advice, and what George says is law at
harvest-time.
His master owns a field where the ground is very uneven,
and the loaded waggons totter dangerously, as they are
drawn along, upheld by labourers with supporting pitch-
forks; but George directs their movements, and once, when
a waggon toppled over, his ready shout warned the rustics,
and prevented their being crushed by the falling load.
It would give you an appetite to see George at his meals.
He thinks more of quantity than quality at the dinner-table.
He is none of your nice ones. Plain dishes appear as
dainties to George Glossop.
George can get a job done better than his master; for the
labourers impose on the ignorance of the latter, as he often
discovers to his cost; but they cannot cheat his man-of-all-
work. They know very well that George's skill is greater


66





ON SERVING-MEN, OR MEN-OF-ALL-WORK.


than their own, and slovenly work cannot pass under his
critical eye; besides, he works with them, uses the same
implements, and is at once their overlooker and fellow-
labourer.
A robust man is George Glossop; he has not an ache or
pain about him. He loves a joke, and often whistles and
sings as he is at his labour. With the fine health he enjoys
he cannot choose but be cheerful; his light-hearted laugh
is contagious, and those around will laugh with him.
George is ready to travel through lonely lanes at mid-
night, on foot, or on horseback, at his master's bidding.
Though deep the mire he will go through, and rain and
sleet are defied by the hardy man-servant. His master
values his services, and would be sorry to part with him,
and George is likely to remain in his place, for he is, as I
said before, a shrewd fellow, and well knows that he has got
a kind and liberal master.
I might speak of Robert Hadley, of Edwin Horton, and
of old Samuel Green, as each of them presents a distinct
variety in this species of man-servants; but as John Andrews
is a favourite of mine, I will give him the preference. John
values his place, the duties of which he has discharged many
years, and is justly estimated by those he serves, as a trust-
worthy and hard-working man.
John has the whole management of a large garden, in
which he takes much delight. His asparagus, peas, cab-
bages, and cauliflowers, are not to be surpassed, neither is
his onion-bed ever to be equalled. His flowers are superb.
There is nothing like them for miles and miles around.
In the stable are always three or four hackneys or carriage
horses under John's care. Then there are the carriages in
the coach-house, which take up a great deal of time: plenty
of wheel-mopping, panel-cleaning, and harness-rubbing.
F 2


67





00 RURAL PICKINGS.

Add to these things the care of the cellar, with shoe-clean-
ing, clothes-brushing, marketing, driving the four-wheel
carriage, fetching and taking visitors from and to the neigh-
bouring town, errand going, and twenty other occupations,
and it will appear plain enough that John Andrews has no
time to be idle.
John is almost always in sight, or within hearing. If you
do not see him, you hear him talking with one of the servants;
or digging in the garden; or watering the horses; or clean-
ing out the stable; or tapping a cider-cask in the cellar; or
catching the young pigeons; or killing a rat in the duck-
pen; or mowing the garden-walk; or clipping the hedge; or
polishing a pair of boots; or brushing a great-coat; or
engaged in some other of his multifarious employment.
But the thing most remarkable in John Andrews is this,
that he is always ready at hand when wanted. It is a com-
mon saying of many, that if you want them they are sure to
be out of the way; but the reverse of this may be said of
honest John. I hardly ever knew such a thing as for his
services being required, and he not to be there to render
them. Send him of an errand, and call out John Andrews!"
ten minutes after, and you will find either that he has not
set off, or that he has been and come back agaip, just as if
he had anticipated that he would be wanted.
On twenty different occasions when I could have declared
that he was absent, has he proved himself to be present.
Only call out his name, and down the garden steps he will
come. He surprises me, too, by never being in a hurry.
Call him patiently or impatiently--as though you hardly
wanted him, or as if the house were on fire-there is no
delay in the one case, and no hurry in the other-wait one
minute and you will see John Andrews.
John has been ordered to a neighboring town with a





ON SERVING-MEN, OR MEN-OF-ALL-WORK.


letter, he saddles and bridles the hackney he is to ride, and
you actually see him set off at a good sharp trot up the lane.
Presently he is wanted, and you hear his name screamed
aloud by one of the house-girls in the direction of the gar-
den. "Ay!" say you to yourself, "you may call for John
long enough, for by this time he is a mile or two off;" but
on going to the window, you see John coming, just as usual,
leisurely down the steps from the garden into the fore court.
He was called back after you saw him set off; or, he over-
took a lad who was going to the town; or, he met the gen-
tleman to whom the letter was directed; or, some occur-
rence or other took place that enabled him to return to his
work in the garden, and to answer to the call when he was
wanted.
It is Sunday, and John, in his spruce blue coat, clean
gloves, and best brown leggings, the buttons turned round to
the front, brings to the gate the gig, or the four-wheeled
carriage. In you jump, and off you set, and after a sharp
run to the church, you expect to wait a quarter of an hour
for John; but instead of this, he is standing by the church-
yard gate waiting for you. He has come by a nearer cut
across the fields, and is ready to hand you out, and to take
charge of the carriage just as usual.
During divine service, and even while the minister is
giving his blessing, you may see John in his customary seat
in one of the narrow pews-yet, when you arrive at the
churchyard-gate, there is John Andrews waiting with the
carriage. Ay, and do which you like, walk, trot, or canter
back again, John Andrews will be there before you, without
any appearance of hurry.
There is to me a something that amounts to the myste-
rious in John Andrews being thus always in the way when
he is wanted. You may send him where you like, and the


69





70 RURAL PICKINGS.

distance may be small or great; but be sure of this, that he
will be back again by the time he is wanted. You shall
choose your own season--spring, summer, autumn, or win-
ter-your own day, except Sundays, from the first of January
to the last of December, and your own hour, from sun-rising
to sun-setting, whether the house be quiet, or full of com-
pany, and if you will only stand by the pigeon-house and
shout out "John Andrews!" I will undertake that he will
appear. As sure as you have called out his name, so sure,
in one minute after, if you look towards the gate, you will
see, coming leisurely down the garden steps, the figure of
John Andrews!
















CHAPTER XI.

ON COUNTRY KINDNESS.
Sketch of spring.-The trees.-The birds.-The cattle.-The young colts.
-Children.-Grey-haired age.-Kindness.-The Duke of Portland and
his tenant.- Kindnesses and unkindnesses. The rat-trap.- Kind
thoughts, feelings, intentions, words, and deeds.-A call on a country
friend.-Kindness to those who need it is of double value.
I WILL speak of country kindness; but first let me give
you a sketch of spring, not drawn with the pen only, but
with the eye and the heart.
It was spring; the sun was bright, and creation seemed
newly born, as though it had just burst into being. The
young branches of the trees shot upwards towards the skies,
seeking that heaven whose dews had watered them, and
whose soft breezes had nurtured them, as if to read a silent
and holy lesson to man. The earth appeared strewn with
flowers.
The children of nature rejoiced. Birds which had disap-
peared during the winter months, were now seen perched
among the green foliage of the trees, or skimming the clear
air alone, while those that had remained behind, seemed to
welcome the new arrivals with a song of ecstasy. The cattle
appeared to crop the fresh-sprung grass with a relish that
only fresh spring grass could impart; and the young colts





RURAL PICKINGS.


that had never seen a spring before, and were far too happy
to eat, kicked up their heels, whisked their tails, and gal-
loped round the pasture in their delight.
Children, little children, who had been cooped up for
months past, were now abroad in the arms of their nurses;
while such as were a little older, were running about prat-
tling of daisies and primroses, laying up in their infant
minds scenes that would flash across their memory in after
days, when childhood, and childhood's mirth, would be long
gone by. It was a time for joyous and pure and holy
thoughts, and for wishing to spend the rest of life with
peace and joy in the country, revelling among the beauties
of creation, and praising its Almighty Creator.
Age, with his grey hairs, was pacing to and fro; and Sick-
ness, with her sallow cheek, leaning on crutches, her tearful
eye raised heavenward, grateful for the sunbeam that fell
upon her, and for the balmy breeze that tasted like return-
ing health. Spring was, indeed, abroad; the heavens were
lit up with sunshine; the earth teemed with happiness;
and everything that had breath seemed to praise the Lord.
I hope you like my sketch: and now for country kindness.
In towns and cities people are so hurried, and have such a
world of things to do, that they seem hardly to have time
to practise kindness: it is not so in the country. There
kindness thrives like a tree, and grows, and buds, and blos-
soms, and bears fruit abundantly.
I love to meet with kindness in common life. Your high-
flying deeds of generosity that happened a long way off, and
a long while since, sound mighty fine in the ear, but they
hardly come home to the heart. The caliphs of Bagdad, if
what we read of them be true, flung about them their dia-
mond rings, and their purses of sequins, as freely as if they
had been pebble-stones, but these things do not speak to us





ON COUNTRY KINDNESS.


like commoner kindnesses; they say not Go and do thou
likewise !" The following account of a kindness that much
pleased me, is related by a man of talent and integrity.
The Duke of Portland found that one of his tenants, a
small farmer, was falling, year after year, into arrears of rent.
The duke rode to the farm, saw that it was sadly deteriorat-
ing, and the man, who was really an industrious farmer,
totally unable to manage it from poverty. In fact, all that
was on the farm was not enough to pay the arrears.
'John,' said the duke, as the farmer came to meet him as
he rode up to the house, I want to look over the farm a
little.' As they went along, Really,' said he, everything
is in a very bad case. This won't do. I see you are quite
under it. All your stock and crops won't pay the arrear in
rent. I will tell you what I must do: I must take the farm
into my own hands: you shall look after it for me, and I
will pay you your wages.' Of course there was no saying
nay; the poor man bowed assent. Presently there came a
reinforcement of stock; then loads of manure; at the proper
time seed, and wood from the plantations for repairing
gates and buildings. The duke rode over frequently. The
man exerted himself, and seemed really quite relieved from
a load of care by the change.
Things speedily assumed a new aspect. The crops and
stock flourished: fences and out-buildings were put into
good order. In two or three rent days, it was seen by the
steward's book that the farm was making its way. The
duke, on his next visit, said, Well, John, I think the farm
goes very well now; we will change again; you shall be
tenant once more. As you now have your head fairly above
water, I hope you will be enabled to keep it there.' The
duke rode off at his usual rapid rate. The man stood in
astonishment; but a happy fellow he was when, on apply-


73





RURAL PICKINGS.


ing to the steward, he found that he was actually re-entered
as tenant to the farm, just as it stood in its restored condi-
tion. I will venture to say, however, that the duke himself
was the happier man of the two."
Now, believing (and I cannot but believe) this account to
be true, it does me good to think of it. There are those
who seem to think that none but great people can perform
great actions; while others love to rail against those above
them, as though every lord and every duke was of necessity
a proud, parsimonious, flinty-hearted churl. These are mis-
takes that we ought not to fall into: there are bad and good,
hard-hearted and kind, in all degrees of life; and we ought
to give honour where honour is due, whether it be to the
rich or the poor. This act of kindness on the part of the
duke was performed with great discretion. Had he con-
tented himself with simply lowering the farmer's rent,
or forgiving him part of his debt, the man would, most
likely, have struggled on a little longer, and have come to
poverty at last
Could the kindnesses of mankind be written in one
column, and the unkindnesses in another, the latter would
no doubt make the longer catalogue. This ought not to be
the case; for surely there is more enjoyment in calling
forth a smile, than a frown; in binding up, than in bruis-
ing; and in gladdening another's heart, than in breaking
another's head! This remark will apply to all, but espe-
cially to Christians. Christianity without kindness is Chris-
tianity in disguise. A gentle child in a coat of mail, armed
with a spear, and an inoffensive lamb furnished with a
covering of porcupine's quills, instead of a soft woolly fleece,
would be as much in character as a Christian with a churlish
spirit. To my mind, a waggon without wheels would
go along just as pleasantly as a Christian without kindness.


74





ON COUNTRY KINDNESS.


As shines the sun around on every hand,
And gilds with golden beams the sea ald land;
So a kind heart with kind emotion glows,
And flings a blessing wheresoe'er it goes.

I like to examine the thing that I value. The boy in the
fable, who killed his goose to get the golden eggs all at
once, was a greedy grasp-all for his pains; and he who cut
open his drum to look for the sound was no better than a
simpleton: these carried matters too far. But still, I do
like to examine the thing that I value, and to know of what
it is composed; for, in many cases, brass looks so much like
gold, and pewter so closely resembles silver, that unless we
pay to them more than ordinary attention, one may very
readily be mistaken for the other. It is just the same
in regard to kindnesses. Words and deeds which appear
unkind may be benevolence itself; and deeds and words
that have the semblance of kindness may, in reality, be the
bitterest cruelty. Reproof is unpleasant, and commenda-
tion is very agreeable; but it is kindness to reprove a fault,
and great unkindness to commend it.
It might appear rather unkind to dash from the hand of
any one the cup that he was raising to his lips; but if,
afterwards, it was explained that the contents of it were
poison, unknown to him who was about to drink, the kind-
ness of the act would be apparent. There are many
kindnesses of this description. The other day I saw a coun-
try friend bait a rat-trap : oh, how carefully did he cater for
the appetite of the long-tailed tribe! It was a "dainty
dish" that he set before them; a tit-bit, to draw them from
their holes, and to furnish them with a delicate repast.
Any one not knowing the end for which this was done,
might have taken it for a deed of kindness, whereas it was


75





RURAL PICKINGS.


the lure of death, the bait of destruction. There are many
rat-trap kindnesses in the world.
Kind thoughts, kind feelings, kind intentions, kind words,
and kind deeds, are all delightful things; and if their abun-
dance was equal to their scarcity, the world would be much
more like a paradise than it is. It would ill become me to
rail against the unkindness of the world, seeing that I have
hitherto met with so much more kindness than I have
deserved: but I speak comparatively; for I cannot but
think, as I have before said, that could the kindnesses of
mankind be written in one column, and the unkindnesses in
another, the latter would make the longer catalogue.
An adventure that occurred to me last week, bears a little
on this subject of kindness. Yes, it was last week that I
called on a country friend, who paid me more than wonted
attention. This was observed by the domestics in waiting,
who instantly appeared to entertain for me all the respect
that was so evidently manifested by their master. They
seemed to have as much pleasure in bringing me refresh-
ments, as if they were intended for themselves; there was
a forethought, a foresight, and an alacrity visible, that was
delightful. All my wishes were anticipated. Doors flew
open when I left the different apartments, as if by magic;
and it would have been a puzzling point for me to decide
whether John, Thomas, or William entertained for me the
greatest regard. In the midst of all this the thought struck
me, how very different the demeanour of the domestics
would have been, had their master treated me with neglect
or incivility. This ill-timed reflection on my part took away
much of the pleasure I before enjoyed. But thus it is with
the world. With almost all of us, from Dan to Beer-
sheeba," ay, from the Polar regions to Polynesia. Odd


76





ON COUNTRY KINDNESS.


77


nations, and odd notions have I heard of, but I have never
yet heard of a people so very odd as to pay particular adora-
tion to the setting sun.
Real kindness will rather pay attention to those who need
it, than to those who can command it; it will delight more
to raise the fallen, than to hold up those who are firm on
their feet; it will rather seek out the cause of the poor,
than that of the prosperous. There is no kindness in set-
ting a twig, that we may obtain from it a tree; or in giving
a piece of silver, with the hope of getting back for it a piece
of gold. Real kindness is a generous principle, as well as
a warm-hearted feeling, and to make others happy is its best
reward. We all love kindness, from whomsoever it comes,
but when extended to those who need it, its value is doubled
in our estimation.















CHAPTER XII.

THE PLOUGHING-MATCH.
Attractions of the ploughed field.-The ploughing-match.-Fawley Court.
-The prizes.-The nine ploughmen.-Old Preese and the Prim-my.-
The spectators.-The bait.-George Hodges' care of his horses.-The
large knife.-Farmer Street the Umpire.-William Howell gains the
first prize.-Old Preese's wheel within a wheel.-Another ploughing-
match fixed for next year.
THE country without ploughed fields would be robbed of
much of its interest, and Rural Pickings without some
notice of a ploughing match would be very incomplete. If
the meadow, the pasture, the hay-field, and the corn-field
have their allurements, neither is the ploughed field without
its attractions. The red-painted plough, the shining Share,
the team, the sturdy ploughman, the jingling of the traces,
the shrill whistle of the jocund driver, the lark carolling in
air, the many-coloured foliage of the trees and hedges, the
spider's threads glittering in the sun as they stream over
the ridgy furrows, the healthy freshness of the upturned
earth, and the balmy breath of morn, are too pleasant in
their influences to be spared. The heart is light and the
spirit joyous amid such scenes; for health and cheerfulness
are abroad, peace and contentment shed their influence
around, exercise bounds along rejoicing, and lusty labour
smilingly pursues his useful occupation.
Time was when tillage was so little known, when plough-





THE PLOUGHING-MATCH.


ing and sowing were so little understood, that such advice
as the following was not thought unnecessary.
Forget not when you sow the grain, to mind
That a boy follows with a rake behind,
And strictly charge him, as you drive, with care
The seeds to cover and the birds to scare."
Such advice, at the present time, would be smiled at by
the rustic labourer. But now for the ploughing-match.
A well conducted ploughing-match is not without great
advantages. It is an affair, too, of much interest in the
country. I will therefore give a full account of one at
which I was present last year.
As the most important part of our food is bread, and as
bread cannot be got without ploughing, sowing and reaping,
it is very necessary that these things should be done well.
It is to encourage good ploughing, that ploughing-matches
are made.
When I first heard of the match about to be described, I
was sitting in the great hall in Fawley Court, with a few
friends. Fawley Court is a large farm-house in Hereford-
shire, at no great distance from the river Wye. It is an
ancient stone mansion, once half covered with ivy, but now
the ivy is cleared away. It has old-fashioned projecting
windows, a porch door knobbed with iron, a large court-yard,
and a high pigeon-house. Report says that the brother of
the famous Kyrle, the man of Ross, once lived there; and
very likely this is true, for the porch door has an iron
knocker, with the letters I K and the date 1635 on the
round plate against which it strikes.
The great hall, the old pictures, the staircase of dark oak,
and the turret-like windows to the upper rooms, are all in
character. It was near Fawley Court that the ploughing-
match took place.


79





RURAL PICKINGS.


The day before the match, the labourers at the different
farms-Much Fawley, Little Fawley, Brockhampton, How
Caple, and others, were all in a bustle. Some said that
William Howell would be sure to win; others thought that
George Hodges, or William Jones, was quite as likely a
man; while old William Preese, who had been a soldier, set
them all laughing by telling them they might do their best,
but that he should be sure to get the Prim-my, by which
he meant the premium, or first prize.
At the ploughing-match there were four prizes. He who
ploughed four ridges quickest and best, won the first prize-
a pound and a crown; the second prize was fifteen shillings,
the third twelve shillings, and the fourth eight shillings;
besides which, every man, win or lose, was to have a good
dinner. A pound and a crown, a good dinner, and an
increased reputation, are worth striving for. They are not
to be often won by a ploughman.
Into the field called the Long Field, at Much Fawley,
came nine ploughmen to strive for the prizes, their ploughs
having been carefully taken there in carts, that the points
of them might not be injured in the rough lanes. Farmer
Powell, of Fawley Court, sent three ploughmen; their names
were George Hodges, Thomas Hinns, and William Preese.
Farmer Higgins, of Much Fawley, sent also three-William
Howell, Thomas Jenkins, and James Cole; and the plough-
men belonging to farmer Gwilliams, of How Caple, were
William Jones, Robert Powell, and William Edwards.
The ploughmen were dressed differently; for though every
man wore a smock-frock, some had breeches and long
gaiters; some worsted stockings and short gaiters; and
others high-topped, hob-nailed shoes, with no gaiters at all.
There were black hats, white hats, caps, and straw hats
among them. To work they went, and in an hour or two





THE PLOUGHING-MATCH.


they made their horses, Dobbins, Blackbirds, Gilberts,
Dingers, and others, brown, black, and dappled-grey, smoke
famously.
The ploughmen had no drivers, but used their long cords
for reins; with these they sharply flapped their horses sides
when necessary. The ridges to be ploughed were marked
out by sticks driven into the ground, with numbers upon
them.
This ploughing-match was an unusual circumstance in
that part of the county, and it seemed to be quite as impor
tant, in the opinion of the ploughmen, as a field-day, or
grand review in the estimation of soldiers. It was a lively
scene to witness the smoking horses arching their necks
as they were hurried up and down the furrows; the plough-
men, all ardour, encouraging their teams; and the lookers-
on walking about from one part of the field to another,
giving their opinion who would be most likely to win.
The sere leaf hanging on the tree, and the scarlet hip and
the holly berry gave an added interest to the hedges, while
the bright blue sky overhead was delightful.
The ploughmen were very free in cracking their jokes.
One of them, who happened to see me occupied with my
pencil and paper, cried out to Thomas Hinns, "Thomas,
I'11 gi' thee my old hat, if all about this beant in Lunnon
afore to-morrow night;" and old Preese again boasted that, do
what they would, he should be sure "to get the Prim-my."
Every now and then country labourers came into the
field from the adjoining farms, drest up a little more than
commonly spruce, with a holiday smirk on their faces. And
there came, too, among many more, the Captain from Faw-
ley Court, in his shooting-jacket; and farmer Powell, and
farmer Higgins, and an old man in a brown coat with big
buttons, and George Seal, the carpenter, in his fiery red


81





RURAL PICKINGS.


waistcoat and white trousers; and William Townsend, the
parish blacksmith, in his leather apron.
While the ploughing-match was going on, three other
ploughmen were busy in the same field, contending for a
prize of twenty shillings, given by one of the members
of Parliament for the county; so that twelve teams and
twelve ploughmen were at work in the field at the same
time.
It was the middle of the day before the ploughmen
stopped to eat their breakfast, and to bait their smoking
teams, and then George Hodges spread a bundle of hay over
the backs of his horses, to keep them from catching cold.
When the men began to cut their bread and cheese,
George Hodges had no knife; and when a bystander offered
to lend him one, which was very large, George said that he
was afeared a fearing on 'em wi' sitch a knife as that un."
He was afraid of frightening his companions by using such
a large knife: they might think him greedy.
After a while the ploughmen set to work again in good
earnest, every man doing his best. The horses worked none
the worse for their bait, the ploughmen worked all the
better for their breakfasts. By far the greater part of the
field was already ploughed, and, at the rate they were going
on, a few more hours would finish the remainder. The
nearer the men were to the end of their labour, the more
anxious were they about winning; very few jests were heard;
and even old Preese himself, as he moved the quid of
tobacco in his mouth, did not seem quite so sure that he
should win the Prim-my."
At last farmer Higgins was seen with farmer Street, a
respectable man with some years on his brow, and possessed
of much judgment in farming affairs, slowly striding across
the furrows to examine the work done. Farmer Street was


82





THE PLOUGHING-MATCH. 83
the umpire; he had to determine to whom the prizes were
to be given; and he seemed to be very careful in making
his decision.
Take the ploughing all together, there never need be seen
better. George Hodges had a sudden bend in one of his
furrows, occasioned by his horses having been frightened,
and most of the other men had committed some little fault;
but, as I said, take the whole day's work together, it was
excellent. The furrows were straight, of just the right
depth and breadth, and well turned over. William Howell
had no sooner finished his four ridges than he set to work
to help his companions. How the horses did smoke !
William Howell won the first prize, George Hodges the
second, William Jones the third, and Thomas Cole, or
James Cole, (for I forget the right name) obtained the
fourth. Howell and George Hodges were in fine spirits,
and so were Jones and Cole. When old Preese found out
that he had not won the "Prim-my," he said that he
knowed a thing or two : there was a wheel within a wheel
there." However, the prospect of a good dinner kept both
winners and losers in good spirits, and old Preese declared
that he would make farmer Higgins's bif" (beef) suffer for
his losing the Prim-my."
The ploughing-match next year is intended to come off at
Fawley Court, so that, all well, the Captain in his shooting-
jacket, Seal, the carpenter, in his fiery red waistcoat, and the
parish blacksmith in his leather apron, may again be seen
among the assembled labourers. William Howell, perhaps,
will once more enter the field; George Hodges, William
Jones, and Thomas Cole strive for the prize; ahd old
Preese have another opportunity of winning the "Prim-my."















CHAPTER XIII.

BLACK JACK.

Common Patch.-The Graingers.-Black Jack.-His cruelty, ignorance,
idleness and immorality.-The two mastiffs.-Jack ties a canister to
the tail of one of them.-The distress of the poor animal.-Jack kills
him.-The farm-house.-Black Jack commits a burglary, and is seized
and held fast by a mastiff dog.-He is tried for his life and con-
demned.-The gallows tree.-Black Jack is hung, while the mastiff dog
barks for joy.
IN many villages there are strips of waste ground, on
which inferior cottages stand, and in most rural districts
there are a few poor people of bad repute, who have inhe-
rited, from those who have gone before them, a reputation
for idleness, dirty habits, drunkenness and dishonesty. Of
this description of land is Common Patch or Rushy Green,
for it is called by both these names, and of this kind of
persons are the family of the Graingers, of whom I am
about to speak.
There is a saying in Holy Writ to which the family of the
Graingers have paid but little attention: Train up a child
in the way he should go: and when he is old he will not
depart from it." Children, honour and obey your parents!
Parents, with kindness instruct your children!
Watch o'er them well, come grief or joy
'Tis but a prudent plan;
For rest assured the tyrant boy
Will prove a tyrant man.






BLACK JACK.


The Graingers have lived in one of the cottages on
Common Patch for three generations, in spite of poverty,
bad habits, and bad character. No one willingly employs
any of them, if other hands are to be had, and how they
manage to live, is a puzzle to many. Their cottage is a
mere wreck, with scanty furniture, and the dunghill before
the door is a forbidding object. It must be nearly fifty
years ago since Black Jack, one of the Grainger family, the
subject of the following stanzas, finished his disgraceful
career, but there are old heads and garrulous tongues in the
village, that yet love to narrate his adventures.


BLACK JACK.

Black Jack was an ill-favoured swarthy child
That acted a cruel part :
With a will that was stubborn, and wayward and wild,
And a hard and a wicked heart.
It pleased him well to impale a fly,-
To tear off its wings and to see it die;
He climbed the tree in wanton mood,
To take from the nest the callow brood
As they stretched out their naked necks for food;
And he laughed aloud when the deed was done,
As he plucked out their pin-feathers one by one.
It was sad to see his cruel glee
As he placed them on the ground,
With a push of his toe to make them go,
Or to turn them round and round.
At the yellow frog and the speckled toad,
He loved a stone to fling;
And he was the first to crook the pin,
To make the tortured cockchaffer spin,
And to pull off the butterfly's wing.
Jack never was taught, in the days of his youth,
By his parents to read or to spell;






RURAL PICKINGS.

He counted the boy, at the best, but a fool,
Who attended his class at the Sunday School,
And learnt his lessons well.
The Holy Bible was a book
In which he never wished to look:
He never bent the knee
In solemn prayer that God would hide
His sabbath-breaking sin, and pride,
Nor sought the Saviour's grace who died
For sinners on the tree.
He never was taught to work at a trade,
That his bread might be fairly won ;
In idling where reckless companions abound,
In sauntering and skulking the village around,
And in picking up all that there was to be found,
His day's occupation was done.
Deceit and cunning lurked upon his brow;
He got his daily food-no one knew how.
Black Jack grew older, and stouter and bolder,
Till he was a stripling tall;
A hectoring, loud-talking, cowardly slave
To his passions and vices;-a hard-hearted knave,
Suspected and hated by all.
His dark, scowling eye had the leer of a lie,
And thick was his wiry hair;
It grew down his back,
Stiff, bushy, and black,
Like the hide of a shaggy bear.
Oaths, wrangling, and strife were the joy of his life,
The glass and the drunkard's song;
The pothouse and cockpit were still his delight;
How gleeful was he when he got up a fight,
Or joined with the bull-baiting throng !
Dark rumours spread the country round-
E'en yet the tales survive;
It was whispered he wore a murdered man's hat,
And though some in the place threw a doubt upon that,
Yet as for the widow's poor tortoise-shell cat,
It was certain he skinned her alive !




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