same way.

The answer is obtained, and away he drives through the gate, repeats the number, and passes along without suspicion, and calls for a pint of porter at the first public-house, feeling no more remorse than we did about the calf.

You will often see a countryman come into the Borough with his hat surrounded with tickets, each fastened carefully between the band,—he would never keep them safe within his pockets ; if he felt for his knife, to cut his bread and cheese, he would pull out half a-dozen together, and never feel them with his hard, cold hands. We often wonder that more of those little bits of paper, given at the railway stations, are not lost than there are. We have seen a rush made at the last minute on the Croydon line, each one struggling to get a seat with the open ticket in their hand, for there was no time to put it away; and once our own went with a whiff out of the doorway, and we had to pay again at the London station. We saw an account, the other day, in the paper, of a gentleman in the Temple being locked up all night, who had lost his ticket, and was willing to pay his fare over again, but refused to pay for the whole distance from Croydon, as he had only rode from Sydenham. Threepence was the sum disputed between the parties, and for this he was made a prisoner for the night!! If Parliament gave the company such power over their passengers, the members ought to be ashamed of themselves. Why, it places the man who has the spirit to resist an imposition, on a footing with a common felon. Hard lines, my masters, these, to imprison a gentleman, who will not allow himself to be imposed upon, and that, too, without summons, writ, or any of those tedious processes, by which even a just debt is obtained. Surely it is time that John Bull aroused him

self, shook his oaken staff, and broke a few heads somewhere or another, just to get his hand in. They know how to behave themselves better at the old country toll-gates.

And many of these will, in time, be numbered amongst the things that once were.

Fire, and smoke, and steep embankments, and dark tunnels, and miles of monotonous iron-bound road, will be all the traveller has to look upon, instead of the rustic road-side house, and quiet, dreamy villages, which he was wont to pass on the old-fashioned stage-coaches. The little toll-house, with its white gate and solitary lamp, the only light seen for miles on a dark night on the lonely country road, will (save in a few places) be swept away, for the iron age has come. The long canals which our forefathers made, the beautiful high-roads, on which for centuries they journeyed, the splendid rivers, that flow like silver veins through the heart of England, will ere long be desolate and useless, or spanned with bridges and covered with railroads. While the works are in

progress, employment is given to many hands; but what when they are finished ? Shall we need as many ships as now sail from one corner of our coast to the other? as many carriers

now find a living by journeying thrice a-week to the neighbouring market-towns ? Will our slow-paced canal boats, find employment at all? our catches, our keels, our river-sloops, our barges, cuckoos, long-boats, market boats, and half a score others with old-fashioned names, which only a countryman knows the meaning of? Not they; the railroads will knock them all a-head, and the thousands which they now furnish with bread, may go "cough” for employment. “ Let the future look out for itself,” seems to be the grand rule by which too many of our statesmen steer. We will enclose all the waste lands, and that will give employment


to the poor for a time. And what then, gentlemen? Railroads finished, every acre of open land enclosed, and the population doubling every three years, and the newly enclosed lands in the possession of the present landholders ? -I see! Souse over head and ears we go, and get out of it as we best can, as the author did when he left the good old highway, and ventured over dangerous ground with the calf.

[graphic][subsumed][merged small]


My country's happy cottages abound
No longer! Where they stood and smiled, uprear
The · Bastile and the Gaol upon the ground.
The Peasant-Father, sprung from sires robust,
Beholds such Homes, and wishes he were dust.”


It is a very natural thought—and has occurred to thousands, as they have passed through some beautiful English village, and admired the thatched cottage, with its wood-bine covered porch, standing in the centre of its own little garden; or been struck with the long row of dilapidated huts, that

seemed to lean upon each other for support—it is a very natural thought, to wonder how the inhabitants obtain a livelihood. You see an old man working in his bit of garden-ground; that cannot support him: you behold an old woman, seated with her spinning-wheel in the open door-way; she cannot live by that. And, to draw a true picture of village life, as it really is in the present day, cannot be done without depicting much poverty, and many hardships.

Nature is ever lovely; and in no country has she been more bountiful in scattering her beauties than in our own ; but the carol of the lark, the hum of the bee, and the fragrance of hawthorn hedges and flowery fields, mingled with the aroma of old woods in summer walks, along peaceful foot-paths, are not found

“Within the huts where poor men lie.”

The country has not the same charm for these, as it has for those who with plenty come to retire there; and to the accumulated savings, gathered by years of successful commerce in the city, bring that keen appetite for change, which is pleased with every thing that differs from what they have been accustomed to. To the peasant, the scene is just the same: he looks on the fields, and they recall years of ill-paid labour ; he has toiled in them, early and late, and is not a shilling the richer than, when twenty years ago, he first became a tiller of the soil. The woods but remind him of short days and reduced wages, when he bound faggots or made hurdles, and the cold pierced to his

The retired citizen is freed from such painful associations : he has been used to streets, close air, and high brick-walls; and now he feels like a liberated prisoner : he

very bones.

« ElőzőTovább »