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X. I congratulate you on your conviction-on having no pestilent demand to meet
Are God and Nature then at strife,
(By the way, I wonder how many readers of In Memoriam have chafed at the almost random touch allotted to that great dilemmatouched only to leave it with a 'Peace, come away'?) I congratulate you, I say
Y. Indeed, it seems to me that it is only in such conviction of illumination hereafter that one can find peace now.
X. Doubtless, if we could all abandon ourselves to the 'leanings and leaps of the heart' we should choose to take our stand on your side of the gulf. For it is certain that that God, the idea of whom has been gradually evolved in our thought (culminating, I fully admit, in Christian thought), that God is lovable, worthy of all human reverence; while the Power, personal or impersonal, manifest in the cosmic process is not lovable, nor worthy of reverence distinctly human. But after all the question is not what men's hearts and affections incline to, but what is true.
Y. I should say both considerations enter into the case-or rather that one may aid in the discernment of the demands of the other as I may try to indicate in my feeble way presently.
X. The question is, Will your improved conceptions of the nature, character, and purpose of the Supreme Power-upon which hang all your religion and morality—will these now, in popular phrase, hold water? Are they reasonably tenable, together with what we know of the order of the universe? Are we to reverence love, justice, selfoffering, &c., and practise them ourselves-are we to live with constant reference to an hereafter of perfection in these virtues and graces when they are contradicted by the whole drift of 'natural' life and cosmic energy, and when (what is equally momentous) we seem to be shut up in the whirling cycle of natural forces, and so shut off from all really noble progress; confined, every one of us, too, each to his little span of time, dominated by this same cosmic process?
Y. How could it be otherwise than that the truth of things is our one concern, whether it be painful or pleasant to us? But what I meant just now I may, perhaps, show best by repeating a phrase of yours which struck me before. You spoke of 'observing the course of the world-of the cosmic process-apart from the disturbing factor of the human will and affections.' Is not that disturbing factor' an element in the highest degree necessary to take into our calculation? Is not the human will and affections,' briefly, the highest product of energy-at once the most complex and the noblest result of the evolution of forces of which we have cog
nisance here? Must not its persistent needs and requirements, its continuous developments, afford, if there be any truth in the correlation of character and environment, the strongest presumption of the reality of the pabulum on which alone they can be fed? Or are its passionate longings, its ardent aspirations, its brave ventures only hanging, as it were, in the inane? baseless, fruitless?
X. There is, no doubt, a presumption-but no more. And there are great ugly facts that make against it.
Y. I do not believe that we can attain to more than a presumption in thinking of these things. Conviction belongs to another region to the region of communion with the Father of spirits. I can't dare to patter my poor words about that. But when the presumptions of our reason fairly meet the conviction of our heart, then, I think, we may take courage and face the cosmic process, and the seemingly endless whirl of pitiless 'Nature,' and hope, not foolishly, in the new time-ay, and in what is beyond time. After all, the basis of all religion and all morality for us is truthreality and in that virtue our idea of God and our observation of the cosmic process meet. Now forgive my poor attempts; I can only grope after my own meaning-let alone the gist of the matter.
X. Oh! we are all gropers, and I like to grope in good company. And any way, the world must contrive to struggle on'-nicht wahr? Why, God bless me! the cosmic forces have run on to half-past six! Good-bye, good-bye, and a happy century to you!
ENGLAND'S PEASANTRY-THEN AND NOW
WHEN the fifteenth century opened--though great social and economic changes had been at work up and down the land during two or three generations-our England was divided into some thousands of geographical areas, which were called vills or townships, (we call them now parishes), varying very greatly in extent; but each of these townships was not only a geographical, but a civil, an ecclesiastical, a social, and we may add a political, unit, enjoying a very large measure of self-government, and in many instances enjoying a kind of constitution of its own.
The inhabitants of these areas were human, and so they had their rivalries, their feuds, their quarrels, their fights, just as, I suppose, ants and beavers have among themselves; but nevertheless these people in the old townships managed their own affairs with surprisingly little friction, and, above all, they were unanimous in regarding the land comprehended in their several townships as, in some sense, the property not of one or two landlords, but as the property of all the members of the village community. The land comprised within the separate areas of the townships was divided into a countless number of tiny little strips and plots, tumbled about in the most confused manner. The tillage of the land was barbaric in the extreme, and though everybody had some little bit of arable or, it might be, pasture which he called his own, yet he could not even cultivate it as he pleased, so closely were the rights of his neighbour entangled with those of himself and everybody else. Moreover, the actual rights of ownership could only be made out with the greatest difficulty by the cunningest of the lawyers. And if it had been possible in those days for every rood of ground to maintain its man
-as it certainly was not-it was still less possible for every man to maintain his rood when it became a question as to the tenure on which he held it.
For ages Lyttleton's terrible little book on tenures was the great authority for the lawyers to refer to, and a very, very, very stiff book it was. Think of a manual of theology, say only thirty times as long as the Thirty-nine Articles, and dealing with all the possible heresies that a man might fall into who aspired to be an orthodox
divine! Think of the hopeless confusion we should most of us be in before we could be quite sure that we were not Monothelites, Monophysites or Supralapsarians!
The first impression of a layman on reading Lyttelton and his commentators is that no man in England in the good old times-oh! those delightful 'good old times'!-could have felt any certainty that there was a single acre, from the Land's End to John o' Groat's house, that he could safely call his own! But that was not all. The dwellers in the various vills, or townships, or parishes, could hardly be sure of themselves. In respect of one plot of land he might call himself a free man; but even so he was only a free tenant, having some annual money rent to pay to the lord of the manor. In respect of another strip, which he may have inherited from his mother's side of the house, he was bound to render certain services to the lord, such as helping to cart the said lord's hay for half a day in July, or provide a dozen of eggs at Lady Day or a hen-it would often enough be a tough one that was past laying-at Christmas.
On many large estates there are still survivals of these services and dues to be met with, though during the last twenty years they have largely disappeared, owing to what has been called the agricultural distress, which has prevailed so widely. The annual 'homage-turkeys' which the tenants on Lord Leicester's estates in Norfolk contributed some few years ago, and which I am inclined to think they still bring at the Christmas audit, constituted in the aggregate a money value by no means contemptible; and the obligation to convey so many tons of coal to the capital mansion of many another estate, or to provide the carting of gravel or timber when required by the landlord, is still a custom on many a large property, and such services are, or were till very recently, imposed upon the tenants by clauses actually inserted in the leases. One of my earliest reminiscences goes back to more than sixty years ago, when as a child I went with my father to pay a visit to a tenant of his in Essex. For some reason or other the old farmer protested to his landlord, saying: Your honour needn't be afraid of me, sir. Me and my father has always kept the best goose for your honour and your father, and we ain't a-going to do other than fair now!' remember the scene, and I remember the words, because my father often repeated them to me afterwards. The best goose was a customary service beyond the money rent paid for the farm.
On the other hand, as being supposed to bear their share in the common tillage of the open fields, and as a kind of equivalent for the services rendered to the lord of the manor, the tenants, whether their holdings were great or small, had certain rights of participation in the pasturage of the common fields,' and a limited usage of the waste lands,' which were supposed (though in many instances erroneously supposed) to belong to all the inhabitants of
VOL. XLIX-No. 287
the township. In many cases customs had grown up which strict law could not be found to sanction, and before the parishes were inclosed strict law was found in practice to be a great deal too costly to allow of its being often set in motion. A poor man's cow had the use of the common; sometimes, as now very frequently, he managed to keep a pony or a donkey, earning an honest penny by hawking or doing a little carrier's business where the roads admitted, and sometimes earning a rather less honest penny by cutting the turf or underwood, and selling it for kindling to the townsfolk five or six miles off, where faggots were scarce.
Sometimes another kept a small flock of geese, or managed to keep some cocks and hens, which had hard work to pick up a livelihood, and their owner had to look very sharp to defend them against the foxes and the weasels, and other warmint.' As for fuel, it may be taken almost as certain that in nothing were the old townships or parishes so entirely self-sufficing as in the one article of fuel. The English peasant, as a rule, literally had his fuel at his door, and paid nothing for it. In such districts as the Fen Country the peat bogs were practically inexhaustible, just as they appear to be in Galway and other parts of Ireland to-day. But everywhere the turf on the common was cut and stored as the people wanted it; the gorse and the heather were stacked for the oven or the hearth, and in some localities the cowdung was gathered by the children in the dry weather, and covered over with bracken or such shelter as they could get, for there was thrift everywhere.
Moreover, there were always a certain number, and, indeed, in many cases a very large number, of trees which grew on the balks or in the wastes, and which that aforesaid embryonic condition of the law which I have alluded to-to wit custom, local customdeclared might be lopped and topped, as the phrase was, by all the members of the community. These trees were seldom actually cut down-that was an offence which brought a man before the manor court; but as time went on they were hacked into all sorts of odd shapes by the favoured many, who began by cutting off the main leader of the tree, and then proceeded year by year to hack off the young branches as they became worth chopping at. These old pollards (or doddles, as we used to call them in Cambridgeshire) still survive in considerable numbers in some of our country parishes; they are the gnarled veterans who as they stand afford their silent testimony to the fact that in the ages before pit coal came into use for domestic purposes they were themselves the reserves from which the poor labourers drew when the scanty fire upon the hearth was low and the pot had to be kept boiling.
High farming and the inclosure of parishes have swept these curious and picturesque vegetable deformities from the face of the earth by tens of thousands. But they are not all gone, and I should