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round his legs below the knee, leaving a wasteful and lolloping fold of unnecessary corduroy to accumulate wet and dirt when he is digging in the slush over his ankles. The farm labourer in the old days had his stout breeches fastened round his waist with a strap. On his shoulders he wore a woollen shirt, which was made of homespun by his thrifty wife, who got the inferior wool at a very reduced price from the farmer. The women spun the yarn, and travelling weavers came and collected this yarn, sometimes giving an equivalent in the shape of coarse woven material, sometimes undertaking to bring back the yarn duly woven. The women made this up into the husband's and the children's clothing; rarely did any money pass between the parties concerned in these bargainings.

The skins of the dead lambs in the spring were the shepherd's perquisite and the tails that were lopped at docking time. I gather that long stockings were worn by very few labourers, except such as were rather of an ambitious turn of mind. Why should they be? Does the Highlander think it a disgrace to show his bare legs?

Over all was the grand old smock, reaching to the ankles, and a very picturesque and convenient and comfortable wrap it was. Of course it was laid upon the bed as a coverlet at night-time, and it lent itself to a considerable amount of competitive dandyism on Sundays at church. To provide shoes was the great difficulty, as it still is, among the peasantry. But in the case of the children it was hardly felt to be a difficulty at all, for the children went about without shoes and stockings as a rule; and as for ribbons and artificial flowers, which, of course, are a necessary of life among our rustic mothers and daughters nowadays, they were not so much as heard of sixty or seventy years ago.

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As to the food, it consisted mainly of rye bread. A few months ago I tried to get some of the rye bread which one used to see frequently enough in Switzerland not so long ago, and which the peasantry in some parts of France still eat. I found it impossible to procure it from any chandler in London. Of course it is the fashion to lift up the hands and eyes in horror at the thought of men and women living upon rye bread and barley bread; but I have heard a prosperous farmer, some fifty years ago, stoutly maintaining that the old rye bread had a deal more heart in it than that there Frenchified white bread as a man has to swallow without chewing.' His notion was that wheat bread stood to rye bread in the same relation that claret stands to port: You don't get no forrarder with it!' Here again one cannot but remember that the bony Highlander is not supposed to be a weakling, and yet his oat porridge is his main support. In both cases, to the old English labourer as to the Scotchman, potatoes came in as a useful adjunct wherewith to fill up the cavities; and if butcher's meat was to the country labourer only an occasional treat, yet the common domestic

6

pig was a very frequent friend in need, and the killing of a sheep at the farm, or the slaughter of a bullock, or the death of a cow or calf by accident, always meant that the labourers on the farm had some odds and ends of fleshly dainties. It might be tripe, or heart, or liver, or trotters, and now and then a shin of beef or the less luscious dainty of sheep's head! Buttermilk in the old days might be almost had by the children for the asking. In twenty years' time people will not know what buttermilk means- -do they now? Have any of my readers been present at a Butter-making Class? The new churns and the modern separators are rapidly improving that off the face of the earth, and the people have got to think scorn of it.

Now, do not do me the injustice of thinking that I am by nature or inclination a laudator temporis acti. I am not the man to be looking for the golden age in the days gone by. God forbid ! But I count it the worst form of scornful ingratitude to indulge in boastings over our advance by making the worst of the past, and speaking of the generations behind us as if they were conspicuous only for their ignorance, their grossness, their vices and their brutality.

For we throw out acclamations of self-thanking, self-admiring,

With-at every mile run faster-'O the wondrous, wondrous age!'
Little heeding if we work our souls as nobly as our iron,

Or if angels will commend us at the goal of pilgrimage!

No! no! There is no need to make the old days to be worse than they were because our own are the days of advance. But this is the strong impression that has forced itself upon me during more than twenty years' study of the social history of England in our closing nineteenth century-this, that the life of our country folk at the beginning of this century was not only a much happier life than any superficial retrospect would tend to represent it, but that the actual material condition of the agricultural labourers in the first forty years of that century was by no means so low and squalid and hopeless as some writers have pretended that it was. Further, I venture to affirm emphatically that the condition of the town population in England, morally, physically, religiously, and intellectually, during the first thirty years of this century appears to have been very, very much worse than that of the rural districts. It could not have been otherwise. The population of London from 1811 to 1821 increased by leaps and bounds beyond all precedent. Liverpool during the same period grew from 100,000 to 131,000 inhabitants. The increase of Manchester was even more rapid. Leeds, Newcastle, Macclesfield, Nottingham, and a host of other towns, gave employment to armies of labourers, for whom no sort of provision was made, body or soul. Birmingham as late as 1815 had no town hall, no corporation, and sent no member to Parliament.

round his legs below the knee, leaving a wasteful and lolloping fold of unnecessary corduroy to accumulate wet and dirt when he is digging in the slush over his ankles. The farm labourer in the old days had his stout breeches fastened round his waist with a strap. On his shoulders he wore a woollen shirt, which was made of homespun by his thrifty wife, who got the inferior wool at a very reduced price from the farmer. The women spun the yarn, and travelling weavers came and collected this yarn, sometimes giving an equivalent in the shape of coarse woven material, sometimes undertaking to bring back the yarn duly woven. The women made this up into the husband's and the children's clothing; rarely did any money pass between the parties concerned in these bargainings.

The skins of the dead lambs in the spring were the shepherd's perquisite and the tails that were lopped at docking time. I gather that long stockings were worn by very few labourers, except such as were rather of an ambitious turn of mind. Why should they be? Does the Highlander think it a disgrace to show his bare legs?

Over all was the grand old smock, reaching to the ankles, and a very picturesque and convenient and comfortable wrap it was. Of course it was laid upon the bed as a coverlet at night-time, and it lent itself to a considerable amount of competitive dandyism on Sundays at church. To provide shoes was the great difficulty, as it still is, among the peasantry. But in the case of the children it was hardly felt to be a difficulty at all, for the children went about without shoes and stockings as a rule; and as for ribbons and artificial flowers, which, of course, are a necessary of life among our rustic mothers and daughters nowadays, they were not so much as heard of sixty or seventy years ago.

As to the food, it consisted mainly of rye bread. A few months ago I tried to get some of the rye bread which one used to see frequently enough in Switzerland not so long ago, and which the peasantry in some parts of France still eat. I found it impossible to procure it from any chandler in London. Of course it is the fashion to lift up the hands and eyes in horror at the thought of men and women living upon rye bread and barley bread; but I have heard a prosperous farmer, some fifty years ago, stoutly maintaining that the old rye bread had a deal more heart in it than that there Frenchified white bread as a man has to swallow without chewing.' His notion was that wheat bread stood to rye bread in the same relation that claret stands to port: You don't get no forrarder with it!' Here again one cannot but remember that the bony Highlander is not supposed to be a weakling, and yet his oat porridge is his main support. In both cases, to the old English labourer as to the Scotchman, potatoes came in as a useful adjunct wherewith to fill up the cavities; and if butcher's meat was to the country labourer only an occasional treat, yet the common domestic

pig was a very frequent friend in need, and the killing of a sheep at the farm, or the slaughter of a bullock, or the death of a cow or calf by accident, always meant that the labourers on the farm had some odds and ends of fleshly dainties. It might be tripe, or heart, or liver, or trotters, and now and then a shin of beef or the less luscious dainty of sheep's head! Buttermilk in the old days might be almost had by the children for the asking. In twenty years' time people will not know what buttermilk means-do they now? Have any

of

my readers been present at a Butter-making Class? The new churns and the modern separators are rapidly improving that off the face of the earth, and the people have got to think scorn of it.

Now, do not do me the injustice of thinking that I am by nature or inclination a laudator temporis acti. I am not the man to be looking for the golden age in the days gone by. God forbid! But I count it the worst form of scornful ingratitude to indulge in boastings over our advance by making the worst of the past, and speaking of the generations behind us as if they were conspicuous only for their ignorance, their grossness, their vices and their brutality.

For we throw out acclamations of self-thanking, self-admiring,

With-at every mile run faster-'O the wondrous, wondrous age!'
Little heeding if we work our souls as nobly as our iron,

Or if angels will commend us at the goal of pilgrimage!

No! no! There is no need to make the old days to be worse than they were because our own are the days of advance. But this is the strong impression that has forced itself upon me during more than twenty years' study of the social history of England in our closing nineteenth century—this, that the life of our country folk at the beginning of this century was not only a much happier life than any superficial retrospect would tend to represent it, but that the actual material condition of the agricultural labourers in the first forty years of that century was by no means so low and squalid and hopeless as some writers have pretended that it was. Further, I venture to affirm emphatically that the condition of the town population in England, morally, physically, religiously, and intellectually, during the first thirty years of this century appears to have been very, very much worse than that of the rural districts. It could not have been otherwise. The population of London from 1811 to 1821 increased by leaps and bounds beyond all precedent. Liverpool during the same period grew from 100,000 to 131,000 inhabitants. The increase of Manchester was even more rapid. Leeds, Newcastle, Macclesfield, Nottingham, and a host of other towns, gave employment to armies of labourers, for whom no sort of provision was made, body or soul. Birmingham as late as 1815 had no town hall, no corporation, and sent no member to Parliament.

According to Telford, the great engineer, who knew the place well, Birmingham was notorious for its ignorance and its barbarism. At Sunderland, at Blackburn, at Norwich, everywhere, in fact, where the increase of the population had quite outgrown the control of the magistrature, there were continued riots going on. At Nottingham the mob burnt the Castle and all its contents. At Derby they besieged the jail and released the prisoners. At Bristol the rioters had it all their own way, and deliberately burnt down every house in Queen Square, the Custom-house, and the Bishop's palace. So it was elsewhere. Remember that in all these large towns the clergy were nowhere. The parochial system, in so far as it was a religious organisation, had utterly broken down; two or three generations of poor creatures, at least, grew up in absolute heathenism. People may tell all sorts of queer stories about sporting parsons and pluralities and absenteeism. But it is no more than the truth that, if it had not been for the country clergy and their families in the villages, and the small band of earnest and devoted men, who were the salt of the earth, labouring in isolation here and there, the very existence of the Christian religion in this country would have been in danger. As to anything deserving the name of national education, it did not exist. The townsmen were absolutely without it for at least the first thirty years of the present century.

The National Society for the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Church of England was founded in 1809. It was a beginning; but what could it effect, even with the co-operation of the British and Foreign School Society-or, if you will, its honourable rivalry-to deal with the awful and tremendous mass of appalling ignorance which lay as a dense cloud over the ever-increasing masses of the wage-earners in the large towns? Up to this moment no really earnest and laborious study of the great Blue Book on the condition of education issued in 1819 has been made. I have always hoped to undertake this, but have never done more than turn over the pages. The impression left upon me has been that in the villages there was incomparably more provision for the education of the working classes than in the towns. In the town of Preston, with its 18,000 inhabitants, there were four schools, including two kept by women. In the county of Bedford-observe, a purely agricultural county— on the other hand, with a population of little more than 137,000, there were 134 schools all told-i.e. a school for almost every 1,000 of the population. Of, these 46 were dames' schools in country villages. Look to it, you younger men and women; act upon my hint, and attack that big Blue Book vigorously with your eyes open, and keep yourselves from foregone conclusions and views and theories, which should be adopted only when you have earned the right to take up with such views and theories by diligently and elaborately examining the evidence which may present itself to

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