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Hodge and His Masters   By: (1848-1887)

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HODGE AND HIS MASTERS

BY

RICHARD JEFFERIES

Author of 'The Gamekeeper at Home,' 'Wild Life in a Southern County,' 'The Amateur Poacher,' 'Round About A Great Estate,' Etc.

PREFACE

The papers of which this volume is composed originally appeared in the Standard , and are now republished by permission of the Editor.

In manners, mode of thought, and way of life, there is perhaps no class of the community less uniform than the agricultural. The diversities are so great as to amount to contradictions. Individuality of character is most marked, and, varying an old saw, it might be said, so many farmers so many minds.

Next to the tenants the landowners have felt the depression, to such a degree, in fact, that they should perhaps take the first place, having no one to allow them in turn a 20 per cent, reduction of their liabilities. It must be remembered that the landowner will not receive the fruits of returning prosperity when it comes for some time after they have reached the farmer. Two good seasons will be needed before the landowner begins to recoup.

Country towns are now so closely connected with agriculture that a description of the one would be incomplete without some mention of the other. The aggregate capital employed by the business men of these small towns must amount to an immense sum, and the depreciation of their investments is of more than local concern.

Although the labourer at the present moment is a little in the background, and has the best of the bargain, since wages have not much fallen, if at all; yet he will doubtless come to the front again. For as agriculture revives, and the sun shines, the organisations by which he is represented will naturally display fresh vigour.

But the rapid progress of education in the villages and outlying districts is the element which is most worthy of thoughtful consideration. On the one hand, it may perhaps cause a powerful demand for corresponding privileges; and on the other, counteract the tendency to unreasonable expectations. In any case, it is a fact that cannot be ignored. Meantime, all I claim for the following sketches is that they are written in a fair and impartial spirit.

RICHARD JEFFERIES.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I. THE FARMERS' PARLIAMENT

II. LEAVING HIS FARM

III. A MAN OF PROGRESS

IV. GOING DOWNHILL

V. THE BORROWER AND THE GAMBLER

VI. AN AGRICULTURAL GENIUS OLD STYLE

VII. THE GIG AND THE FOUR IN HAND. A BICYCLE FARMER

VIII. HAYMAKING. 'THE JUKE'S COUNTRY'

IX. THE FINE LADY FARMER. COUNTRY GIRLS

X. MADEMOISELLE, THE GOVERNESS

XI. FLEECEBOROUGH. A 'DESPOT'

XII. THE SQUIRE'S 'ROUND ROBIN'

XIII. AN AMBITIOUS SQUIRE

XIV. THE PARSON'S WIFE

XV. A MODERN COUNTRY CURATE

XVI. THE SOLICITOR

XVII. 'COUNTY COURT DAY'

XVIII. THE BANK. THE OLD NEWSPAPER

XIX. THE VILLAGE FACTORY. VILLAGE VISITORS. WILLOW WORK

XX. HODGE'S FIELDS

XXI. A WINTER'S MORNING

XXII. THE LABOURER'S CHILDREN, COTTAGE GIRLS

XXIII. THE LOW 'PUBLIC' IDLERS

XXIV. THE COTTAGE CHARTER, FOUR ACRE FARMERS

XXV. LANDLORDS' DIFFICULTIES, THE LABOURER AS A POWER. MODERN CLERGY

XXVI. A WHEAT COUNTRY

XXVII. GRASS COUNTRIES

XXVIII. HODGE'S LAST MASTERS, CONCLUSION

CHAPTER I

THE FARMERS' PARLIAMENT

The doorway of the Jason Inn at Woolbury had nothing particular to distinguish it from the other doorways of the same extremely narrow street. There was no porch, nor could there possibly be one, for an ordinary porch would reach half across the roadway. There were no steps to go up, there was no entrance hall, no space specially provided for crowds of visitors; simply nothing but an ordinary street door opening directly on the street, and very little, if any, broader or higher than those of the private houses adjacent. There was not even the usual covered way or archway leading into the courtyard behind, so often found at old country inns; the approach to the stables and coach houses was through a separate and even more narrow and winding street, necessitating a detour of some quarter of a mile... Continue reading book >>




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