7 APRIL 1832, Page 19


Miss MARTINEAU'S industry delights us. This month is graced by another of her admirable little fictions. Great doctrines are taught by small stories. The present Number occupies a field of economy somewhat more dubious than the previous ones,—the ap- plication of capital to agriculture, and the saving caused by farming

on an extensive scale: It is the moral, and not the economical results of this system, to which we should apply the epithet dubious. Miss MARTINEAU sticks by the Economists. The sub- ject is treated with her usual ability, and 'with even more than her. usual liveliness and fancy. Brooke Farm, opens with a discussion relative to the enclosure of a common : we can only afford a short extract—

There is not a village in England that I love so well as Brooke. But I was born and have always lived there, and this is probably the reason why I see beauty in it ; for strangers do not appear struck with it.

There is (melon.- straggling street, where the blacksmith, the publican, the grocer, and the haberdasher live; their houses being separated, some by gardens, others by cowsheds or pigsties. lily father's house stands a little way out of the village, just a quarter of a mile front the " Withers' Arms " the only public... house in the place. Our dwelling stands so far back from the road, and is just so much planted with trees and shrubs, as to be free from noise and dust; While it is not so retired as to appear ashamed of keeping company with the houses in the neighbourhood. The children playing in the road may see the ladies at work in the bow-window, by peeping through the bars of the white gate; and if anylittle boy should venture in to pick up his ball or recover his kite, he may chance

to meet the master looking after his fruit-trees, or to catch a glimpse of the mis- tress cutting her roses.

Our house is, however, only the second-best in the place, without reckoning Sir Henry Withers's fine old castle, which, besides being five miles off, is too grand to be brought into comparison \ vith any neighbouring- estate. Brooke Farm is a far larger and handsomer place than ours. The house—a solid old English mansion with many modern additions, which have been made as its Owner, Mr. Mahon grew rich—is approached from the village by an avenue of fine chesnuts ; but ;here are sundry other approaches which are much preferred by those who, like myself, frequent. the fields and lanes of Brooke Farm. There is a green lane where wild anemonies grow in profusion, and at the end of which, close by the back of the mansion, stand some tall chins, the habitation of a society of rooks. When I go to visit Mrs. Mahon, I generally choose this road, anti pay my respects to the rookery before doing the same to the lady. Mr. Mahon Is. by fir the largest landowner within a circuit of many miles, and has added to Ins priiperty, year by year, till it has become as extensive as be can manage himself. Up to this point he believed himself justified in enlarging his farm, but not beyond ; for he lillOWS ',yell that the personal superintendence of the proprietor is necessary to the due improvement of an estate of any kind, and especially of a farm. At the lrest end of the village street stands the church, upon a rising ground planted with evergreens • while the modest parsonage retires behind it, with its little court in front, and its blooming pear-tree trained against the walls. Be- yond, are a fine range of fields and some flourishing young plantations; but in my early days they were not to be seen. There was, instead, a wide common, skirted in some parts with very poor cottages. No trees, no gardens were seen around them. I remember how bleale and bare the situation of those dwellings used to a ppear. A pool of muddy water was before the doors of some, and a dong:till was heaped up against the walls of others. Each hall a cowshed, such as it was, with its ran-ell thatch and its sides full of holes, through which the wind.whistled. Each cottager possessed a cow which grazed on the common, and which, though lean from being only half fed, was the best wealth of its master. As each villager had a right olcommon, every housekeeper possessed a cow ; and often in my evening walk I met eight or nine of these miserable cattle coming home to be milked. Little John Todd, the blacksmith's son, used to drive in several in company with his father's. He took charge of Miss Black's, the milliner ; of Wicketead's, the publican ; and of Harper's, the grocer. With all these cows, there WaS no great abundance of milk, butter, and cheese in the place ; for no more milk was yielded than was wanted for each family. There were tribes of children in most of the cottages ; and the grocer bad his shop-boy, the publican his stable-boy, and the milliner her apprentice, to feed; so that there was a demand for as much milk as the poor animals could supply. A donkey or two, and a few pigs and geese, were also to be seen on the -common, grazing or drinking from the pools, or dabbling in them. There was a pretty pond of clear water near the pathway which led across the common ; and it was overhung on one side by a clump of beeches which formed a pleasant shade in summer, and were a relief to the eye in winter when the ground was covered with snow. Behind this clump the common. was no longer level, but swelled into heathy hillocks, bright with gorse and broom, and the variety of plants which usually flourish in company with them. The view of the church and parsonage from the highest of these bills was particularly pretty when the set- ting sun shone fill on their windows and on the bench in the churchyard, where the old men used to go to enjoy its last beams. I have sat on that hill for many an hour, watching the children at their sports about the pond, or tending the cows; and have remained there with may father till no sound was heard but the dying hum from a distanceyand nothing was to be seen of the village but the sparks from the blacksmith's forge. My father agrees with'ine that Brooke is one of the prettiest villages in England. The character of the place and of the people is, however, very much changed within my remembrance: whether for the better or the worse the reader will judge for himself when I have described the changes to which I refer. A few years ago, as I have said, the cottages on the common wore a comfortless ap- pearance. The families they contained—some large, some small—were, however,- supported in independence, and few complaints were heard, though the children-

went barefoot and half-naked, and had never thought of such a thing as learning to read. Blacksmiths are always sure of a living; and Mr. Todd was thea neither better nor worse off than at present. The same may be said of Wick- stead the publican. The grocer has got on in the world considerably; and Mist Black's window displays a much grander assortment of caps and ribbons than in former days. But as she has grown rich, some of her neighbours have grown. poor ; and parish relief is sought by several families who would have little thought of such a mode of subsistence ten years ago. I well remember the day when my father announced to us a piece of news which nearly concerned the interests of our village. As we were sitting round: the table after dinner, any mother remarked that she had seen Sir Henry

Withers ride down the street in the morning, and thought he was going to call; but that just as he had reached the gate, he turned his horse's head-another way. " He came to speak to me on business," said nay father, "and seeing .me a little way further on the road, he chose to overtake we instead of turning in

here. He left his respects for you, and was sorry he had no time afterwards to call." My mother was sorry too for she wanted to give him some instructions about

rearing a foreign plant which he thought was drooping. - " He will be here again in a day or two," said my lather. " the news he brought has got wind, as Ibelieve it has through his groom, he will scarcely be so well received as usual in the village." A piece of news being a rare and welcome thing among the inhabitants of Brooke, whether high or low, the 'whole family party looked eagerly to toy father for an explanation. He went on-

" Sir Henry tells me that an Act of Parliament is likely, to be obtained for en- closing Brooke Common."

"0, our pretty common!" cried I. "4 SR w& shall. aft it- all divided into

patches, with ugly hedges and ditches between. I shall never have any plea- sure in walking there again." "And we must give up playing hide and seek among the hillocks," said one of the boys. "And there will be no place for me to fly my kite," exclaimed Frederick ; "and Arthur must not swim his boat on the pond, I suppose." "What are the poor people to do with their cows?" added my mother. "You, too, my dear !" exclaimed my father, smiling. "I was going to tell the children that they must not set an example of discontent to their poor neigh- bours: and now, I am afraid I must begin my lecture with you." " You will not need," replied my mother. "I am well convinced that it is right that waste lands should be enclosed : but the first thought which occurred to me was the immediate distress which such a change would cause among the cottagers."

"I am sorry for them," said my father, "because they will be full of alarm, and may, by mismanagement, make that an evil which ought to be none. If they choose, they may he the better for this change. Whether they will choose it, IS the question."

"That they will be the better in the end, I have no doubt," replied my soo- ther. "But how are they to do without pasture for their cows in the mean time?"

" An allotment of land will he given to each," replied my father, "which may be made much more valuable than the right of common, of which people think so much."

4‘ But, mamma," said I, "you spoke of the common as waste land, just as if it was of no use to anybody.. Surely, if it feeds cows for the whole village, and geese besides, it is quite useful enough?" "Not if it can be made more useful by cultivation, Lucy," said rny father. "It is now but poor pasture for a score of cows and a few geese. if it can be made to produce abundant food for double the number of cattle, and some hun- dreds of human beings besides, we may well call its present condition waste, in comparison with that which will be." " But it will be very expensive work to bring it to this state," argued I. "How much it will cost to snake the fences and prepare the ground before any thing will grow in it!" "That is the affair of those who are going to lay out their capital upon it," replied he. "You may trust them for having made their calculations that they will be repaid in time. If you should see that day, if you live to admire fine fields of corn and valuable plantations flourishing where nothing grows now but heath and broom, you will wonder that you could ever lameut the change be- cause it has cost you the loss of a pretty walk."

I was ready to allow that my regret was selfish. "As for you, children," added my father, turning to the little boys, "it is natural that you should ask about your kite and your boat. I can tell you for your comfort, that the pond is not to he touched, and that there will be plenty of room, for some years to come for all your sports. The whole common will not be enclosed at once, and the level ground will be taken in first. So you may play at hide and seek among the hillocks till you grow too old for the game."