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with children and grandchildren, all overflowing with mirth and fond affection, made one think of the patriarchs of former days. As the farm comprised some hundred acres, it was a pleasant morning's employment to spring into a saddle and gallop over it with your host, observing its various operations, and listening to the directions given to the men.
You will have come to the conclusion that the farmers do not till the soil and make butter and cheese with their own hands. English farmers are rich men and gentlemen. They constitute a kind of gentry on a smaller scale; dwelling in little mansions — “Wellick,” “ Mock-beggar's Hall,” or “ Paradise,”
on elegant estates ; keeping fine horses and carriages, luxurious, if not splendid ; and surrounded by dependants, who occupy their cottages and till their broad lands. In the better portions of the agricultural districts of England only men of ample substance can be farmers. The man who is only the tenant of a farm of five hundred acres in Norfolk, England, must be richer than the owner of the same number of acres, with a good family residence, in Norfolk, Massachusetts. We knew a farmer in Suffolk, which ranks as the second agricultural county in England - Norfolk being the first — who rented two hundred acres, having two thousand pounds of his own ; and he was a poor man among English farmers, and had to borrow an additional two thousand at five per cent. in order to cultivate that number of acres properly, and get a return for his own money. This is a fair average in the eastern counties. For every acre that a man cultivates with advantage he must have twenty pounds sterling of private capital. When it is remembered that in the best counties two hundred acres is reckoned a small farm, while an extent of ten, twelve, and fifteen hundred acres is not at all uncommon, it is plain that the farmers of England must be men of wealth, although not one of a thousand is owner of the land which he occupies. The beautiful county of Devon is an exception to what we have been saying. The farms are small in comparison, the dwellings are inferior, and the farmers and their sons labor with their own hands. The same is true of other counties and sections of counties, to the estimated extent of about one half of all the farmers of England, but very much less, of course, than one half the aggregate breadth of the two hundred thousand farms.
It might reasonably be expected that such a class of men as we have described would be somewhat characterized by intelligence, and public spirit, and general influence in society. It is so here and there, but such cases are the exception. One instance, however, is worthy to be particularly. noted. The English dissenters are remarkable, in town and country, for the numbers and efficiency of their lay preachers. In the rural districts farmers often occupy a prominent place among these. The patriarch, whose family reunion we have glanced at, was a lay preacher among the Baptists, and regularly addressed his little congregation of peasants on Sabbath evenings. It is no very uncommon case for such a man to devote his Sabbaths entirely to his very rustic and most interesting charge. In addition to preaching once or twice each Sabbath, he will have an efficient Sunday-school to which several hours are devoted, and in which reading and spelling are taught, as well as scriptural lessons, this being, in many instances, the only opportunity which the poor children have for such instruction.
As a class, however, the English farmers take no high rank for general intellectual culture, political intelligence, or true expansion of soul. The farmers of New England are decidedly superior to them in every one of these particulars. They read little, think little, and know little, except what pertains to the cultivation of their farms. Very guiltless are they of meddling with the literature which lies on the centre-tables of their drawing-rooms. The provincial newspaper, which is hardly more than the echo of their own prejudices and narrowness, furnishes their principal reading. For all theoretical knowledge they affect supreme contempt, and honestly believe that, being men of experience, they understand more of political economy than Ricardo, Adam Smith, and McCulloch put together. They are never sent to parliament, or chosen to any office more important than that of poor-law guardian, parish church-warden, or justice of the peace. They are distinguished for a keen appreciation of whatever pertains to the good condition of the body. No tables in all England except those of the nobilityif, indeed, they are to be excepted groan
beneath the burden of such rich and substantial viands. They attend one market. at least every week — sometimes two or three — whether or
not they have anything to dispose of, talk with one another about the price of wheat and fat lambs, eat a sumptuous marketdinner at the “White Horse,' “ Bull and Mouth,” always washing it down with plenty of strong beer and old port ; indulge in conversation too often characterized by coarseness and vulgarity; and then, seating themselves once more in their handsome gigs, polished like a mirror, and drawn by sleek horses, they drive home, with faces round and red, like the sun seen through a fog, being more than ever convinced that they are the main pillars of the commonwealth. We have seen them under such circumstances, handsome, proud-looking men, their eyes glistening with other fires than those of genius, reaching forth unto the things which were before with such a very peculiar singleness of aim, that child or lady happening to be in their way, would inevitably have been run down but for a sudden spring to the sidewalk. The rudest and most disagreeable people with whom we ever travelled during a residence of more than ten years in England were farmers returning from a fair, their hands covered with dainty kid gloves, and their brains reeling with the fumes of alcohol ; and the most disgraceful riot which occurred in the country in the same period, was a riot of wealthy and well-dressed farmers, at a public meeting respecting the corn laws, in the episcopal city of Lincoln, the butt-ends of their heavy whips being the weapons with which they freely dealt their sturdy blows. Our curious readers may find an account of that remarkable gathering of the “nobility, gentry, farmers, merchants, and others,” with wood-engraved illustrations, on pp. 71, 72 of the 16th volume of the “ Illustrated London News."
The farmers are ruled in most things by the landlords ; who are of the aristocracy. Especially do the landlords make their politics for them, and, as the politics of all aristocracies are mainly to let things be as they are, the farmers are chiefly tories. Yet they are little kings, and believe themselves to be preëminently the glory of their country and its best hope, because the landlords assure them they are so as often as they pay punctually their ample rent, or when they meet them at an agricultural dinner, and toast them in a bumper of wine.
And mid the lowest of his saints
His look of pardon meet.
This is his choice, a humble heart,
A love that cannot end;
And calls its King his friend.
OUR SABBATH-SCHOOL LITERATURE.
We wish the churches would pass a decree that our Sabbath-school literature should be drawn and quartered. Let one quarter be thrown on the burning pile with those books of the “ vagabond Jews, exorcists, which used curious arts,” in Ephesus. For this class of instrumentalities, like “the seven sons of Sceva,” call in vain “over them which have evil spirits, the name of the Lord Jesus.” The defiant reply will continue to come back, “ Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?” A second quarter might be placed in some cheap weekday library, where the people are specially partial to union books, which, while they aim at no particular truth or good, yet manage either to communicate considerable general information, or to afford much exciting semi-tragic or dramatic entertainment. The third quarter might, perhaps, be profitably assigned to some of the modern institutions for feebleminded youth. While the fourth could be returned uneclipsed to the schools to do, as in the past, their noble work of opening the way to heaven's great luminary, the Bible; attractively unfolding Christian experience and life; and strengthening the hearts and hands of all those who are laboring to feed Christ's sheep and lambs ; thus blessing our children, our churches, and the world, to all coming time.
And of whom might the churches require the execution of their decree so appropriately as of the publishing society which