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with uncomplainingly, or otherwise. It seems to me that the best way of stopping the emigration from the country to the town is to make the country more attractive to the countryman by housing him better. “But cottages don't pay,” as a landlord once informed me, and in this age it is difficult to make men enter into philanthropic enterprisesunless they return a certain per cent! A moneymaking generation likes to mix up philanthropy with profit — to do good openly and make it pay privately!
From the agricultural labourer upwards to the farmer, and from the farmer to the landowner, is an easy and natural transition. Now, since I commenced taking my holidays on the road several years ago, agricultural depression has, alas! gradually deepened, and my driving tours in rural England have brought me into frequent contact with both landowner and tenant farmer, and now and again with that sadly growing rarity the independent and sturdy yeoman who farms his own little freehold, perchance held by his ancestors for long centuries; with all of these I have conversed about the “bad times,” and have obtained, I think, a fairly comprehensive view of the situation from each standpoint. Endeavouring, as far as is possible with fallible human nature, to take the unprejudiced position of a perfectly neutral onlooker-a position that has caused me in turn to heartily sympathise with each party — the conclusion that I have reluctantly come to is this, that unless a great war should be a disturbing factor in
AN OLD SAYING
the case—an ever-possible contingency, by the waywith cheapened ocean transit and competition with new countries, land in Old England will no longer produce a profit to the modern tenant as well as to the landlord, and pay big tithes besides. It must be borne in mind that the tenant farmer of to-day has progressed like the rest of the world. He needs must possess a certain capital, and no longer is he or his family content with the simple life or pleasures of his predecessors. His wife, son, and daughters will not work on the farm, nor superintend the dairy, as of old; they all expect, and I think rightly expect, in an age when Board School children learn the piano and other accomplishments, a little more refinement and ease. And if this be so, I take it that the only way to solve the difficulty of making the land pay is somehow to get back the disappearing yeoman : the pride of possession will alone ensure prosperous farming. A local saying, possibly pertinent to the question, was repeated to me one day by a large tenant farmer in the Midlands, who had lost by farming well. It runs thus :
He who improves may fit,
And much truth underlies the proverbs of the countryside. Now a yeoman would not have to “ flit” for improving his freehold, and a man does not generally destroy his own.
. Whilst our thoughts had been wandering thus, the dog-cart had kept steadily on its way, and our reverie was broken by finding ourselves in the
quaint old market-town of Baldock, driving down its spacious and sunny main street, which we noticed with pleasure was lined with trees, and bound by irregular-roofed buildings, mellowed by age into a delicious harmony of tints. Nature never mixes her colours crudely. I know no better study of colour harmonies than the weather-painting of a century-old wall, with its splashes of gold, and silver, and bronze lichen, its delicate greens and grays, its russets and oranges, and all the innumerable and indescribable hues that the summer suns and winter storms of forgotten years have traced upon its surface-hues blending, contrasting, and commingling, the delight of every true artist, and his despair to depict aright. With buildings age is the beautifier; even Tintern, with its roofless aisles and broken arches, could not have looked half as lovely in the full glory of its Gothic prime, when its walls were freshly set, its sculptures new, and traceries recently worked, as it looks now. No building, however gracefully designed, can ever attain the perfection of its beauty till Time has placed his finishing touches thereon, toning down this and tinting that, rounding off a too-sharp angle here, and making rugged a too-smooth corner there, adorning the walls with ivy and clinging creepers, and decorating the roof with lustrous lichen!
Baldock had such a genuine air of antiquity about it, with its ancient architecture and slumberous calm, so foreign to the present age, that we felt that without any undue strain upon the imagination we could picture ourselves as medieval travellers
arriving in a medieval market - town! Baldock does not suggest, as so many country towns unfortunately do, a bit of suburban London uprooted and dumped down in a distant shire. No, Baldock has somehow managed to retain its own characteristic individuality, and it pleases the lover of the picturesque past because of this. To the left of the broad roadway our eyes were charmed by the sight of a quaint group of ancient alms-houses, situated within a walled enclosure, through which wall a graceful archway gave entrance to the homes. Whilst we were admiring this pleasing specimen of old-time work, one of the inmates came out and invited us inside ; but the interior, upon inspection, did not attract us as the exterior had done: the latter had not been spoilt by furniture or paper, or any other modern addition, to disturb its charming and restful harmony. The rooms looked comfortable enough, however, and the old body who showed us over declared that she was more than satisfied with her quarters,—even life in an alms-house could not affect her manifestly cheerful and contented disposition. A prince in a palace could not have looked more satisfied with his lot. Inscribed on a stone tablet let into the front of the building we read:
Theis Almes Howses are
Anno Domini 1621.
And may the stipend be regularly paid to the poor “to the Worldes End,” according to the donor's directions, and not be devoted to other and very different purposes, as sometimes has been the case elsewhere with similar gifts, under the specious pretext of changed times!
Judging from the date affixed to these almshouses, they were standing just as they are now, looking doubtless a little newer, when Charles I. passed a prisoner through here in the charge of General Fairfax; on which occasion, according to long-cherished local tradition, the vicar offered him for his refreshment some wine in the Communion cup. That must have been an eventful day for Baldock.
Not only the alms-houses, but the other buildings round about, of red brick, with the pearly-gray bloom of age over them, were very pleasant to look upon. Perhaps their colour never was so crude and assertive as that of the modern red brick with which we construct our cheap misnamed Queen Anne villas
—which have nothing of the Queen Anne about them,—a red that stares at you, and is of one uniform, inartistic hue—a hue quite on a par as regards unsightliness with the chilly, eye-displeasing blue of Welsh slates. Since the railways have come and cheapened communication, Welsh slates have spread over all the land like an ugly curse ; you find them everywhere—they have displaced the cheerful ruddy tiles that so well suit the gentle gloom of the English climate and the soft green of its landscapes, they have ousted the pleasant gray stone slab and homely