1101WECROFT SETTLEMENT FUND
[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] SIR,—However fortune may be going to requite you further for your generous decision to lend your pages for all these weeks to assist my humble effort to set on foot a Homecrofting Experiment in England, it is at least clear that you are to have the satisfaction of knowing that your readers have responded nobly ; and I assure you it is with a heart full of gratitude that I write these final words—for the present—to them and to you.
Of all the encouragements which have come, in an enterprise' which, despite its incidental disappointments, has been full of encouragement, none is greater than this : that the capital' raised by the Spectator has consisted so considerably of small amounts. I am sure I may say so without the least suggestion of lack of gratitude to the generous contributors of the large sums. It reinforces, to me, a conviction which everything else enforces ; namely, that there is a vast unconscious trend of public opinion this way, a rising tide of belief in this kind of thing. The heart of industrialised England, turning with visible longing towards the depleted country-side must, and is preparing to, recover healing contact with the earth in a fresh way ; and this fresh way—unless she is to de-industrialise herself, which is unthinkable—must be somehow effected through our new means of transport enabling the industrialists themselves to till the soil. Some of us believe that we have seen the outline of a practical way towards the beginning of this. For an experiment devoted to the further defining of this outline, and the turning of it, if possible, into a definite beaten track, your readers have given or promised money ; some offering free gifts, and some capital for investment. To all of these I wish to offer grateful thanks ; and particularly to the donors of free gifts, the destiny of which will be to help to meet the indispensable " formation expenses," which ought not, in fairness, to be charged to the ordinary sources of income in a pioneer enterprise of this kind.
But before you decree the disappearance of the Homecrofting Experiment, even temporarily, from your pages, some of your readers—especially those whose promises of financial help have been made conditional on the option being exercised which was kindly bought for us upon a certain particular tract of land—will want some report from me on how the matter now stands ; and while studying brevity closely, I must endeavour to say what is relevant and important to them, as clearly as possible. First, then, let it be clear that no disappointments we have yet had (see, e.g., the Spectator for August 22nd) are such as to prevent an experiment going forward. Secondly, although the two friends who bought the option which expired on August 22nd have legally forfeited their gift, the actual land in respect of which the option was bought is, as I write, still on the market. But thirdly; owing in part to the publicity you have given to our objects and the wide sympathy they have received, other possibilities in the way of land have meanwhile sailed into our view, and it is quite on the cards that some of them may prove better for our purposes, as well as nearer to our purse, than the larger slice which we had originally set our hearts upon. And if those whose offers were conditional upon our exercising the option we had could be so gOod as to allow us to understand their offers as renewed, and renewed in respect of whichever site our committee of investigation may find most promising, it would be very greatly appreciated. And this brings me to the last point, the situation at the present moment ; which is that a strong committee of investigation under Mr. G. P. Hoperaft, of Southam, Prestbury, who was introduced to us through the kindness of Sir James Agg-Gardner, M.P. for Cheltenham, are now thrashing out the whole proposition, with a view to the available sites, and will report to the Society where and how the experiment will have the best chance—. meaning by that, of course, the best chance, on the one hand, of keeping the Homecroft rents. low, and on the other hand, of securing a return upon the capital. Their endeavour will be to secure the capital some return first, and to bring the rents to the minimum possible after that. Their labours may be somewhat protracted, as the issue they are settling is crucial ; but it would be the poorest of economies to grudge them the time required for having it thoroughly done. As it is impos- sible, until that report is ready, to define with adequate legal precision the footing on which the work is to be conducted, the actual formation and the framing of rules of the Society have been postponed till after that time. It may be weeks or months therefore before I can feasibly ask for the hospitality of the Spectator again. But I am always willing to answer private inquiries as fully as ever time permits ; and I am always to be found, by letter, at University College, Cardiff.—I am, Sir, &c.,
J. W. Scorr.
[We refer to this letter in our last leading article. We have to acknowledge the receipt of £5 for the fund from Miss H. Reid, and a promise of £2 from Dr. E. S. Russell.— ED. Spectator.]