earth will be estimated by chain-acres. In vain will the sun's gleams glide before you, enticing you into wood and glen, you will bid them begone to ripen your mangel-wurzel. Do you remember showing your Italian landscape (a veritable old master) to Farmer S- who asked you the value of it, and when you told him, was astonished, and enquired "If that sort of paint was particularly dear, for he had painted all his front paling for fifty shillings?"-You will soon be like him. You will prefer coaltar to ultramarine; sublime effects of cloud and vapour will no longer at tract your eyes upward; your utilitarian aspect will be to the ground; you will not enjoy the weather Providence thinks fit to give you, without grumbling. In sunshine you will want rain, in rain sunshine; you will perpetually put on the crying philosopher, alternating your sorrows between arable and pasture.

Oh! you miserable man-and you must turn to farming!-to make yourself wretched indeed. I was much amused the other day by a little anecdote, (if it deserves the name,) and I will tell it you, for it is in point. Old M., the East Indian, wishing to in vets some of his large fortune in land, went to look at the several estates advertised, among the rest at

in Somersetshire. It was a sombre place, and, as he was alighting at the lodge, an old woman who had been born and bred on the estate under the old family, and relished not the change and new comers, came forth, and looking at his bilious and care-worn face, said to him-"What, hav'n't you had care and trouble enough already, old man, but you must come to put your foot on this estate?" It was a bad omen; he was superstitious, and did not make the purchase. Now you would have been a bolder man, and would have walked boldly up the old avenue, though all the owls of the ancient patrimony were hooting you at every step-nay, you would have slept in the haunted chamber, unscared by the frowning portraits of ancestors to be disinherited by you. Your present scheme is all of a piece with this rashness. And do you really think you have the making of a farmer in you?-not a bit of it. I have heard you declare that nature made men specially for their occupations. Have you looked in a glass

lately? Have you the broad hand and the large foot, to handle well the spade and press it into the soil, which is the very stamp and mould of a natural-born agriculturist; not forgeting, however, the broad shoulders and stout calves, to help a cart-wheel out of a rut, and if need be for breastploughing? Then how different are the "Fruges consumere nati!" Small hands and feet, of little worth for sturdy work-a goodly paunch, no very large head, but an undue propor tion of mouth. Then comes the artisan, slender throughout, somewhat pinched, nimble fingers and a busy eye. Whatever of either of the two there may be in your compound, there is not an atom of the agriculturist. You are an offset, as it were, of an artisan, shooting out somewhat eccentric branches, and budding literature and the arts. Yet must you leave your natural bent, and try to invest your new vagary with something of yourself! You will spout continually— "O Fortunati nimium sua si bona norint Agricolæ!"

And then mark their discontent. Virgil tells you they don't know when they are well off. So will you prate on of the praises of agriculture; a second Cincinnatus, if any one would take you from your plough for any thing but out of pure charity. Your bungling work at it would sicken all that would offer you other employment. And you will fancy you are leading a life of simplicity! A life of absurdity and nonsense! Man was not created for a life of simplicity, and to be always stooping over clods. He was originally gifted with imagination, with faculties of investigation and invention, to make life an artificial acquirement-" Vitam excoluere per artes." Oh, the life of simplicity indeed! An agriculturist's eyes have but one speculation-arable and pasture; all else is a desert. When you and I asked farmer John Turnsoil, who had gone to and returned from London, what he thought of St Paul's

what was his reply? "I don't think much o't; 'tseems there's a good deal of ground throw'd away."

And you think to lead a life of simplicity in the very calling that, above all others, as it appears to me, has come under the most artificial arrangement. You will not be allowed to sow, and reap, and eat alone; you must take

upon yourself much of the management of the country, and have to direct the vexatious detail, through the proper government of which the rest of the world live tolerably quiet-all of which you are as unfit for as you are to be Chancellor of the Exchequer, and you are about as fit for that as Spring Rice. You must buy and sell, there now is one of the nuisances of life from which Adam was exempt; and that answers satisfactorily the well-known questioning distich

"When Adam delved, and Eve span, Where was then the gentleman?"

You will have not only to pay rates and taxes, but to understand them, and collect them too. You must be versed in poor-laws, high-ways and by-ways; and the more you are versed in them, to see things going wrong a thousand ways, where you now see nothing. Often have I wondered how this world is managed at all. I am born asleep, in understanding at least: I awake by degrees, and find myself in an organized, well-arranged state of things, that for the life of me, study as much as I will, I cannot account for it is all past my power of finding out; and I bless myself that the greater part of all this order is done for me. Now, the mystery of all this, you must plunge into. You must be one of the managers for me. You must be perpetually pulling the strings of the puppet-show, for my admiration, use, and advantage.

I shall never see sheriff, nor javelinmen, but from my heart I shall pity you, who have to pay for and trick up the whole court. You must remember all this order of things beautiful to the Philosopher, but detestable to other people and in other lights, must be paid for out of the land-out of the land! You will never find your share of it out of yours. You will stand aghast and talk of these things; all the while you try to be deep in ways and means, like a man fumbling in his breeches pockets, and wondering where the minister gets his supplies. To be Ignoramus in the fine arts," like your friend C., is to be a fine fellow; but to be an ignoramus in parochials, before a whole vestry of farmers, is to be stung by hornets, to be kicked by asses, ay-and reversing all order of things-to be saddled by them too; for you need not doubt having a double share of the burthens. With your helpless incapacity, (excuse me for the


plainness,) how long will it take you, map in hand, to know your own lands,

and for the minutest trespass, you will suffer by encroachments, or worse penalties. You will cut your neighbours' hedges for your own, by mistake, and not have the wood; and your neighbour will cut yours, and carry Then you away all-and no mistake. must have farming-servants—locusts— eating up the land, and their ignorant master too. Do you flatter yourself you can manage them? Can you bluster and swear at them? You will not even know if they have done what they ought to have done. Out of your genuine kindness you will thank them, and the first time you do so, you will be laying down a measure for their idleness, to say no worse of it, for their perquisites shall be measured by it, till they exceed all measure. You must have a hind to manage for you, who will inevitably be your master-the worst of masters-a semi slave-master -your taskmaster, whom, like any other madman, you will have to pay for being your keeper. He will whistle and sing all about your house, that used to be so quiet, and, if you gently remonstrate with him, won't keep his mouth shut, nor his tongue and teeth idle, but will sulkily fling himself upon your bench, and sit down to your beef and pudding with a vindictive appetite. And all under him, and that have the run of your house, will think themselves bound to observe the fugleman, and do likewise-such is the esprit de corps. Do you remember the anecdote I once told you of the great Miss G-, who undertook the management of some of her land? She thought herself clever enough to manage John Chawbacon, and the rest of them : so one day she stood by when John was at his dinner-and he did not make the worse dinner for that. Now, knowing the elasticity of John's stomach, as he was rising to his work, time up, she said, "John, I think it would save time of coming and going if you would sit down again and take your supper." No objection in the world," said John, and down he sits, and instanter despatches another pound or two, and drink in proportion, ending with her ladyship's health, and many thanks. "Now then, John," quoth the Lady Bountiful, you may go to your work." "Work, Ma'am!" said John, with a grin, "I never works, ma'am, after supper," and so he threw


himself down, and in three minutes snored like a pig. Laugh at it-laugh at it, and so laugh at yourself. He sleeps that is more than you will,your head will never lie easy on your pillow again; when night closes upon your crops for growth or for blight, or if ripe for depredators, you will dream of thieves and foxes prowling about your poultry-yard. I went last week to see poor old farmer S-— : you know something went wrong with him, and there he is in a lunatic asylum. He told me he could not sleep a wink at nights, for his sheep patting about his room all night. What misery, to be ruined by them when in his senses, and to be haunted by them when they had driven him out of his senses!! I thought of you.

Is it too late to be "a word to the wise?" When your labourer rests from his work, your work will be going on. You may, indeed, quote your favourite Gray

His own

and fancy unextinguishable.
head was the best of his bronzes. You
thought his description exquisite-it
was so did it make no more perma-
nent impression than that transitory
admiration? Somehow or other the con-
versation fell upon the badness of the
times. He described how, at the com-
mencement of the war, he returned
from his charming Italy; the funds had
fallen immensely, and he found himself
thereby minus half his property; at the
same time, every thing else was rising.
How he settled himself in a small neat
villa near town, and still went on with
his tasteful pursuits-the arts, litera-
ture, and benevolent schemes. Some
of them, it must be confessed, whimsi-
cal enough, to do every body all the
good in the world. Still he found that,
if his means were decreased, his family
was increasing; and so, in an evil mo-
ment, he thought of selling out his
stock, and buying a farm. And how
was he led to this? He found his
neighbours first putting down one

“The ploughman homeward plods his horse, then another, professing walk

weary way,

And leaves the world to darkness and to me."

You may well call it darkness, for you will have it black enough-all will be black, even your corn, for that will be sooted. And when all your projects fail, and you are really ruined-for I see no other end if you pursue this follywhat bantering, jeering, and insult there will be at the sale of your stock, and what bitter sacrifice! You had better sell off all now, while you can with a good grace; but "quem deus vult perdere, prius dementat." You ought to have been made wise, for it was in your presence I heard our excellent old friend George Cartoon go through his experiences of farming. Do not you remember how we were sitting one summer evening in his little snuggery, with all his drawings about him, and his portfolios of prints, his collection of Bonasonis and Mark-Antonios? and we looked out upon his little garden, which he had Italianized, and there were his vases, his antiques, his terra cottas; and between his rows of shelves of "choice Italian," his beautiful drawing of the Lake of Nemi, the green transparent "speculum Dianæ," and there was he, in the evening of life, the sun gilding a countenance beaming with benevolence, intelligence,

ing was much better for their health than a servant, adding, with a forced smile, how pleasant it was to be independent of such plagues. Then, rising one morning very early, he found his neighbour, who had hitherto been an indolent and luxurious man, up before him, and at work in his garden, professing, as his reason, that his physician had ordered the exercise for him; and so it went on, with a thousand little mean subterfuges, that every body was doing every thing he could for himself, and reducing expenditure as much as possible. Now, our excellent old friend, Cartoon, hated subterfuges and excuses, had always spoken his mind and told the truth, and would still do so. So he told all his neigh bours why they did what they did, and thenceforth determined manfully to do his best; and so it was he bought a farm.

He had at first thought of going to America, and so being a settler in the back settlements-a friend had gone there, and sent him a true account of things; and such an account! The settler had scarcely arrived-was, in fact, putting up a few drawings, and his daughters were arranging their trifling ornaments around the room, and trying the keys of their pianowhen in broke two monsters, who called

[ocr errors]

themselves visiters, come to introduce themselves to the new settler. One poked his stick through the glass of a drawing, the other threw a glass holding flowers out of the window, both saying, "We don't want such things here; if you live here, you must live as we do;" and then banging his stick down on the piano, enough to split it, "What," quoth one, "d'ye bring this thing here for; and I 'spose your daughters squall to it, hey?" and then he set up such a laugh. The new settler declared it was not human -"nec vox hominem sonat," and must have been acquired in the forests. Well, this new settler was soon sick of it; but, before he broke up, wrote to dissuade Cartoon from being a settler. So, to go back from this parenthesis, he bought a farm; and where do you think? Our worthy friend knew nothing of land but by sketching it, and his studies had been among mountains-he liked the wildness and beauty of them; and so, rather inconsiderately, he made his purchase among the stoney hills of In truth, his land was none of the best, and it would have broken the spirit of an iron farmer to have broken it in. It was about as stubborn a piece of goods, as had ever fallen to the lot of man to have to subdue. All this he did not know when he bought it. Experience is the thing, and happy is he who can get out of such experience as poor Cartoon did. But his descrip. tion was not of his getting out of it, but into it. First, being, totius in illis, by nature an enthusiast in whatever he takes up, he read nothing but agricultural works; thought he must do the thing in earnest-had an auction of his curiosities of taste-his expensive library-nay, went so far as, finding some not fetch the price they should, he gave them away. But his real friends would not acccept them, but deposited them for him, knowing well that their friend would come back to his taste, or his taste to him; and so it turned out; and many a day have you and I admired that happy remnant of books, portfolios, and pictures; and surrounded with which I drew his picture when he detailed to us his farming experiences. You remember the taking possession-how he settled first his family at the town of

and arrived at his farm one morning before breakfast, where his land-bailiff,


or manager, met him. Then came a volley of disasters; the neighbours' cattle had broken into his pasture; the poor had destroyed his hedges for firewood. Half his sheep were going fast with the rot. "Well," thought he, as he push'd the man out of the room, "I will have my breakfast first," and so down he sat; and scarcely had he tasted the first morsel, when the man came in again to tell him that his cattle had broken into a neighbour's field, who had sent word to say he had put them in the pound, and would measter be pleased to go and get them out. "Hang 'em all," said Cartoon, "let me have my breakfast;" and away went the man. Then in rushed Jenny Lake, the dairymaid, in a rage, that Sally Goodman's big boy had throw'd a stick at the gander, and killed him. Her he pushed our of the room, and this time locked the door. It wasn't long before it was invaded again, but he was deaf to all entreaty to open it; repeating just

"Can't come in, can't come in." Breakfast over, out he went, fairly intending to buckle himself to his task of calamities, and know them all. The list was long, and bad enough; and he never found himself, he said, with all his imagined knowledge and power of invention, so completely at a loss. However, having in some sort settled the most urgent, and left others to settle themselves, he thought he had done enough for the first day; and he determined to indulge himself, and be free from all further interruptions. So being, as you know, a lover of the picturesque, he wandered among the rocks, and seeing a snug place under a broad shadow-"Here," thought he, "not a soul will ever find me out;" and here, down he sat, took out his little book and apparatus to sketch, thinking he would have the beauty, if not the profit of the country. Scarcely had he spread his paper before him, when a farmer, riding along the road some distance below him, (and nothing less than the sharp eyes of Malevolence, he vowed, could ever have found him out,) spied him, and thus called out to him:-" Holloa, measter; the craws be picking out the eyes of your lambs." "What," cried Cartoon, “do they do these things here too?" and so he gave up his sketching for that day. Nor did he close his first day without so many disasters unlook

ed for, unspeculated upon, that when he laid his head on his pillow, he thought it stuffed with the thorns of his land; and when he did sleep, dreamed he was gored by his neighbour's bull, which he always considered a prophetic dream, for, a few weeks after, he had but a narrow escape from the ferocious creature of a more ferocious master. Thus ended his first day and night.


However, he was in for it, and could not well get out of it; and for several months endured torments agricultural, beyond what his imagination, a fertile one, could have drawn. He couldn't sell his sheep, he said; and one day asked a farmer, who seemed most friendly to him, the reason." Why," quoth he, you should put big buttons on your coat, and drive 'em to the fair, as we do, and be there, d'ye see, yourself." "Well," said Cartoon, "since I had come to infra dig, I thought for once, buttons shouldn't stand in my way, and for once I would not have a soul above buttons; so I got the pattern of the farmer's, and big buttons had I to my coat." And so to fair he went. One came and pinched his sheep, and went away; another did the same; but nobody bought, ask what price he would; and by degrees all went away, and he found himself left in the fair with his detestable sheep. Nobody would buy them; and most grinned and walked off when they had felt them. Then the greatest annoyance he had in doing as the farmers did, was in returning from fairs-stopping with them at inns; and, in those fine days, they drank their bottles of wine, as well as spirits. Now, Cartoon de. tested drinking, and nearly killed himself in the attempt to do as "we farmers" do. On one occasion, he asked the same farmer again, when the wine was in him, why he could not sell his sheep. "Because, to tell you the truth, they don't like gemmen, and won't buy of a gemman." "" Then," thought Cartoon to himself, "I'll give up;" and so he did; and sold his farm, luckily, at no great loss. He laughed very heartily, and said he had one trifling, and he hoped innocent, revenge upon his agriculturist neighbours. On the road, one day, he met some caravans going to the fair at B- and fell into conversation with a gentleman riding the same road. He turned out to be the celebrated ventriloquist of the west of England.

This man he engaged to ride after a trio of farmers at a little distance. He did so; and when they came to the cross road, he pretended to turn his horse's head another way, and threw his voice into the beast's mouth"Don't pull me so, for I'd rather go along with these farmers." Off set the farmers as fast as they could gallop, verily thinking a greater thief in grain than themselves was after them.

Dear, worthy, now, alas! too aged Cartoon, the world, with all its ingratitude, by which word "world" is always meant ten miles round, will be sad when all your days are numbered. Nothing can quench the glorious fire of your animation, while life lasts. Fortune has run full butt against you, and retreated "manca, maimed

[ocr errors]

by your wit and cutting smile. No darkness, without nor within, can dim the illumination your rapid words throw upon all subjects. To know you still live, and are happy, is a recompense for some of the wrongs the world have done me; and when you die, if pure Christian benevolence ever ascended to happier mansions than of this world, there will be such provided for you, and who knows if you may not there again count over your Bonasonis? Terrestrial thoughts and images crowd upon terrestrial vision, and, till the mists be removed from before it, your cheerful and benignant face, in your snuggery of art and of books, will be ever to me a picture of present happiness, and of hope and promise of its continuance for ever.

Is this stepping out of philosophy? Now, my friend, be wise from his example, and turn once more to be a sensible man. Resist, if it be not too late, the temptation. "Take the bull by the horns "no, that is an evil omen, have nothing to do with bulls, nor cows. You have already been vaccinated and caught the infection-the love of cattle. You are like St Antony, tempted by all unclean beasts. Soon your taste will degenerate into the porcine; they were devils that entered into swine, take care the swine do not enter into you. Then your very similes, and all your ideas, will be hoggish-you will consider the summum bonum to be a good bacon pig. A-talking of sows," drawled out a farmer to another," how's your wife?" Was any thing ever more thoroughly porcine? Such fellows are blind to every other beauty, they go


« ElőzőTovább »