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their forefathers, that we need look for the recuperative power of the nation. The inheritance of those with handles to their names is being continually turned to strangers, and their houses to aliens; but from the peasants their children have the only gift that God gave them-strong, well-proportioned limbs, an agile figure, a healthy mind, and a healthy body, a good legacy in reasonable contentment, and open air freshness which years cannot exhaust. Good health is their goddess, and every trifling undertaking, or thing to be hoped for, is pinned to the condition if they are spared in health. To own acres, and to write 'of' after your signature, and before the name of your estate, is to possess a patent of nobility. To dig the mellow soil, no matter whose it is, and turn over spade-loads of weeds, mighty soon lets one's feelings run in a healthy groove. This contact with earth is a great restorer. Companionship with gentle growth and patient processes is a sane influence, and will send any man's thoughts philosophising. The play of the sun upon a man in field or garden develops deltoid muscles.

In their hearts beats the genuine stock of English blood. They retain to a singular degree all the old marks of the peasants for generations. And in truth it is from this pure strain, this spring of English blood undefiled, that our best men have by gradual descent been drawn. To many, a hind is simply a hind and nothing more; but to one who has moved amongst them on fields and at markets, at fairs and at churchyards, at harvest homes and at the side of new dug graves, they have gained a near place in one's heart for their uncomplaining laborious lives in snow and sunshine, for deep-rooted affection for their native fields, for warm hearts to all living lifearound them in beasts or plants, for that solacement in sorrow and partnership in joy they have under the eternal heavens on their native soil. No landowners possess it in their hearts and lives as they do. A hind does not stretch his limbs or bend his back as he labours the land every day for years on end without catching the silent spirit of the soil he tills.

In my village of Æthelston I seldom seem to know to-day; in yesterdays I principally live. A miser in the same way is never sure of gold or notes till he has banked them; and it is the long habit of the farmers here at seed-time or harvest never to reckon on to-day until with the flight of the hours it has become yesterday. Yesterday is ours, actually lived, and after eight hours' sleep has been digested into our frames. The fields are eloquent of yesterdays in early spring; they furnish gossip for the hinds, and it is on them I depend for mental gleanings. The old walls, the budding hedgerows, the springing grain fields, the agued hinds in the fen lands, and the drooping trees alongside the broad deep ditches, know more of the gathered-in yesterdays than the treacherous to-day. To-day comes and goes, but it is only when it is eaten up in yesterday that it has a grip

on me.

In my village of Æthelston I am at peace with the world of life.

Scholars tell us that the name points to a Saxon king for its derivation, and probably they are correct; but he was a wise man who hit upon the idea of having for the common use of the villagers the large green sward in the centre, and appropriately cut in the shape of a heart. And so every old man and woman from their log seats at the outside of their doorways can without trouble witness all the sports of the lads and lasses on the green, who are thus brought within sight of the whole villagers and made subjects of their consequent toothsome remarks. A tottering age-worn woman leans against the outer door-post, shading her eyes from the western rays at evening with a trembling hand, and asks a younger neighbour if she sees her bit o' lassie' coming home yet-a daughter who has seen fifty autumns. At times the tottering figure may be seen in the dusky evenings in the small back garden calling on her large poaching cat, which cautiously approaches with the welcome young rabbit flung across his shoulders. The love for poaching is as strong in some cats as in some countrywomen. The stillness of a frosty evening is once a week broken by the jingling noise of carthorse chains, the rattle of empty carts, and the quick light steps of horses returning from the market town ten miles distant. The ploughmen are unusually voluble to-night as to the light of the bobbing lantern they unyoke and stall their horses; but a leveret and wild duck which they had 'picked up' on their way to the market explain their wagging heads and the flavour of spirits. Later in the evening the market gardener's spring cart comes smartly trotting through the village from the city about five and twenty miles in the west, and so completes the night's return. And later in the still evening the only open door in the village is that of the inn, with its flickering gas-light striking across the highway and reaching the edge of the green.

The return of the swallow in spring, twittering and fluttering about the favourite window, and skimming across the village green, heralds the approach of the visitors, who, as the summer approaches, outnumber the yearly inhabitants. Like my neighbours, I too linger out of doors in the lengthening evenings, keeping one eye upon them, while they habitually group themselves at the village corners, as an army naturally selects a strong situation to bivouac, where they can without any physical effort see all moving forms on the roadway or across the green, and my other eye upon the world of sky, of trees, of castle, and of birds. The spring sunset shifts and flits across the slips of fields, lingers upon steel-grey walls, then upon the tall barebranched trees, and running up the staff, stripped of its waving flag, tips the top of gold, and expires as with a hectic flush. The pheasants wing their heavy flight home to the protection of the castle grounds. The rooks in the distant wood are heard going over their last roll-call. In the orchards the mavis cheerily pipes his even song, where glowing light comes from the burning dry wrack,' and the smoke, trailing its purple lines o'er plots of garden earth, hangs about the trees, and betimes melts into air. A farm lad, clay-coloured from head to foot, strides

homeward, whistling vigorously as any lark. Some schoolboys play football on the village green regardless of the rules of the Rugby Union or Association, and yet enjoy themselves; others spin the top;. and a lazy lad, lying on the grass, with his pocketknife of enormous blade, which was bartered in turn from a host of schoolboys, cuts his initials out on the turf, and breathes freely only when he stands bolt upright. Privileged old maids carrying baskets or jugs, with head gears and shawls and gowns of last century's tender colours, cluster at the bottom of the slippery, well-worn stone steps of the post-office, and contribute their sayings to the talk of the place. The red tiles, the whitewashed front, the small windows coloured with early spring flowers, and washed like the doorway with pale yellow ochre, the modest apologising lettered sign, the tidy garden plot scented with pretty primroses and lilies of the valley, and the trimness of the village dames, clad in sober, dull hues, form to me a decidedly piquant picture, turning one's thoughts to art, sweetness, and bygone colours. They are healthy pictures of youthful old age. And how easy these old dames group themselves into the simplest positions, so that an artist has no composition, but only judicious copying. The rambling old inn utters as loud a protest against the abandonment of stagecoaches as could any crumbling, rain-stained walls and fading sign... Its grim, haggard, and inhospitable face is not in sympathy with the cared-for, thriving villagers' houses; it dissents from them. An air of penurious gentility surrounds it. A small parlour serves for the country folk, the other rooms are left to associations of an older time. It is the stamp of a roadside inn I should like to rest in after a good day's walk. In this village one may, like Charles II., delight in the bewitching kind of pleasure called sauntering, and be no courtier as he was who hit upon these words. The folk have been lonely enough in their out-door work all day, and gather together in the evening at a house end. But my thoughts then invariably wander along byroads and hedges, and my feet instinctively lead me there without any eye guidance. This, I am inclined to think, is the test of a healthy heart. If you were polling to-morrow the world of lovers, you would find that their hearts grew warmer as they wandered near fields or alongside rivers, whither they were led by the craving of nature. No murderer trudges happily afoot in the loneliness between hedgerows. Only one who has used byroads regularly can appreciate them. The blacksmith's hammerman, who lives at an outlying farm, is afforded, by using the byroad, half an hour extra sleep. There are byroads leading from farms to the church, and known for generations as the church roads; and sacred they are to the people, as many a farmer knows who has ploughed them up and sown them over, only to find his labour and seed tramped religiously under foot in the spring. There are byroads alongside strips of plantations and deep-cut rivulets, leading to the back of the village common and away to the downs, where they are lost in sheep and rabbit runs. Indeed the byroads, whether or no they lead to the church, are known by the name

of church roads, suggesting that but a foot breadth of land is required to walk to the church.

Crumbling ruins of a castle, roofless and useless, tenanted only by owls and starlings, with the floors and stairways a mass of grasscovered mounds, and the only signs of handicraft other than a mason's being those of a solitary iron-barred window, with the ivy and lichen thickly clustering on the walls, as fungus on a lifeless body; the great unroofed halls, skeleton windows, dead walls, and dry moat present to me no pleasant picture, suggest no happy memories, and dull the reverence of one's natural feelings for bygone days. The lifeless picture has broken the view for four centuries, and been out of harmony with the living surroundings. The dead walls should have been buried with their dead barons. The poor labourers of the fields, whom they wearied and oppressed, have been succeeded by as peaceful peasants, who unconsciously bear out that the fittest only survive. Truly a living hind is better than the most decayed castle. Old castles have outlived their day. They tell us in as sad language as dead walls can proclaim, that they have no desire to occupy fruitful soil. They are dead with the dead ages of romance and chivalry. The dusty mortar crumbles at a touch, and the stonework yields at a vigorous kick, as if these remnants of war-stained chronicles were anxious to escape mortal eye and be levelled with the dust. The once mighty fabric is a shapeless wreck, and only waits for the stormy waves of years to sweep it from the horizon. If all the grey castle ruins within our shores could be gathered together, they would form as ghastly a day's sight-seeing as the Tower of London. It has long been the boast of an Englishman that we have no need for castles, and old ones should, like the flint gun, have been gathered together. Seldom, if ever, can one's heart beat with pride at their sight, for, on listening at the faint yet distinct murmurs of the people as they are heard in the deafened records, one's ears tingle at the weary heavy burthens of their complainings, and their despairing cries to be delivered from the domination of those petty, paltry tyrants who revelled within the walls. The people were mercilessly bandied about with the treasonable and thievish adventurers, and suffered for what is politely termed the misfortunes of their liege lord. The hot-blooded lords had in turns for about six centuries amused themselves in their noble fashion of playing hazard with their vassals and serfs nestling in the fens and sloping ground around, by assailing and being in turns assailants in

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Wise Sir Thomas More has strikingly said in Utopia: Therefore I must say, that as I hope for Mercy I can have no other Notion of all the other Governments that I see or know, than that they are a Conspiracy of the richer sort . . . that they may without Danger preserve all that they have so ill-acquired, and then that they may engage the poorer sort to toil and labour for them at as low rates as is possible, and oppress them as much as they please.' The late Professor Brewer in English Studies puts it clearly: For, unlike the wars of modern times, the civil wars of England were fought by the tenants and labourers of the lord who returned at the close of the struggle to the plough and the spade, to live and die in most instances at no great distance from the scene of their military exploits.'

arms and all that was becoming of a baron's power, until Cromwell wisely set a tether to their folly, and his men had torn its baronial greatness to shivers, let the free light of heaven strike upon its roofless floors, and flung its once barred doors open to the winds. Long ago it has completed its cycle of tales, and the winding sheets of time only fall to be thrown over it, and the inevitable finis has but to be writ large on its only unstained page. As we listen to the sounding voice of history, we hear the monks, who became landowners, with tenants and husbandmen, and many granges and herds, crying out Diram guerram! Ruins are in all earnestness a fit monument to the generations of oppressors of the poor and needy, the spoilers by violence of the bulk of the common people. The chipped sundial in the garden seems to have lost all interest in all time with the obliteration of the hour marks. Generations of different owners, threatened in turns with dag and daggers, with penalties of the law and lawsuits, have come and gone, and their memories to-day are as sad in the dull ear of local history as the ruins are to one's eyes, while what an old author neatly termed the chaste voice of the people has more of the divine living force than ever. The surrounding high wall separates the knotted, figured bushes-some cut like images, which Bacon indignantly said were for children: they be but toys, you may see as good sights many times in tarts,'-from the beauty of the village green and the villagers' simple garden plots. The great hedges and the grassy bowling alley with retreating intersecting walks may form a background to an artist for a bygone century subject, with stately damsels and sword-wearing knights in the foreground; but to my mind the huge, beehive-like dovecot at the corner, with its broken stone bands and crumbling stone roof, with the love music of the doves and their coquettish movements, form the only delightful picture. My eyes return always to this picturesque dovecot; from its outside slopes the boys start their races, and for hours I watch the soft-coloured pigeons flying out and in, and their rapid counter-movements on the grey broken roof. A quaint dovecot, with the graceful flight of the pigeons, has only to be set against unshapen ruins to bring out its beauty. And ever after one has a fondness for old dovecots, and studies their varying designs all over the shire with keen interest. They were as little a source of pleasure to the husbandmen as the castles. The pigeons were apt to empty the heads of corn ready for the sickle, and bury themselves in ricks of peas, and were reckoned by the farmers a great plague. The farmers followed them home, if they pleased: to their angry complaint the landowner gave a ready smile; they could capture stray cows and horses till the damage they caused was repaired, but against the owners of pigeons the tillers of the land had no redress except, as was said with a burst of satire, that of preventing them, if possible, from alighting on one's fields. Now the soothing notes of pigeons in the old castle are heard in place of soldiers' oath-barbed talk of sallies and palisadoes, and the lowings of cows are heard in the fields in place of monks' voices. In one corner of the

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