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Change in the Village   By: (1863-1927)

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First Page:

CHANGE IN THE VILLAGE

BY

GEORGE BOURNE

NEW YORK GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY 1912

Printed in Great Britain by Billing & Sons, Ltd., Guildford, England

TO

MY SISTERS

CONTENTS

I PAGE I. THE VILLAGE 3

II

THE PRESENT TIME

II. SELF RELIANCE 21 III. MAN AND WIFE 38 IV. MANIFOLD TROUBLES 50 V. DRINK 65 VI. WAYS AND MEANS 79 VII. GOOD TEMPER 97

III

THE ALTERED CIRCUMSTANCES

VIII. THE PEASANT SYSTEM 115 IX. THE NEW THRIFT 127 X. COMPETITION 143 XI. HUMILIATION 151 XII. THE HUMILIATED 167 XIII. NOTICE TO QUIT 180

IV

THE RESULTING NEEDS

XIV. THE INITIAL DEFECT 193 XV. THE OPPORTUNITY 200 XVI. THE OBSTACLES 217 XVII. THE WOMEN'S NEED 229 XVIII. THE WANT OF BOOK LEARNING 244 XIX. EMOTIONAL STARVATION 260 XX. THE CHILDREN'S NEED 272

V

XXI. THE FORWARD MOVEMENT 289

I

THE VILLAGE

I

THE VILLAGE

If one were to be very strict, I suppose it would be wrong to give the name of "village" to the parish dealt with in these chapters, because your true village should have a sort of corporate history of its own, and this one can boast nothing of the kind. It clusters round no central green; no squire ever lived in it; until some thirty years ago it was without a resident parson; its church is not half a century old. Nor are there here, in the shape of patriarchal fields, or shady lanes, or venerable homesteads, any of those features that testify to the immemorial antiquity of real villages as the homes of men; and this for a very simple reason. In the days when real villages were growing, our valley could not have supported a quite self contained community: it was, in fact, nothing but a part of the wide rolling heath country the "common," or "waste," belonging to the town which lies northwards, in a more fertile valley of its own. Here, there was no fertility. Deep down in the hollow a stream, which runs dry every summer, had prepared a strip of soil just worth reclaiming as coarse meadow or tillage; but the strip was narrow a man might throw a stone across it at some points and on either side the heath and gorse and fern held their own on the dry sand. Such a place afforded no room for an English village of the true manorial kind; and I surmise that it lay all but uninhabited until perhaps the middle of the eighteenth century, by which time a few "squatters" from neighbouring parishes had probably settled here, to make what living they might beside the stream bed. At no time, therefore, did the people form a group of genuinely agricultural rustics. Up to a period within living memory, they were an almost independent folk, leading a sort of "crofter," or (as I have preferred to call it) a "peasant" life; while to day the majority of the men, no longer independent, go out to work as railway navvies, builders' labourers, drivers of vans and carts in the town; or are more casually employed at digging gravel, or road mending, or harvesting and hay making, or attending people's gardens, or laying sewers, or in fact at any job they can find. At a low estimate nine out of every ten of them get their living outside the parish boundaries; and this fact by itself would rob the place of its title to be thought a village, in the strict sense.

In appearance, too, it is abnormal. As you look down upon the valley from its high sides, hardly anywhere are there to be seen three cottages in a row, but all about the steep slopes the little mean dwelling places are scattered in disorder. So it extends east and west for perhaps a mile and a half a surprisingly populous hollow now, wanting in restfulness to the eyes and much disfigured by shabby detail, as it winds away into homelier and softer country at either end... Continue reading book >>




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