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and water. Sometimes the talk would be of hunting, or even
“Ah!" said the expert, "that's where you lost your crop.” The rest looked approval. Some said, “ That's it;" others said, “Ah!” The young man said nothing, but looked gloomy. Evidently the oracle had spoken, and nothing more was to be said ; but I have often wondered since if that really was the cause of the bad crop of wheat. There seem to be so many other things to be taken account of—the kind of seed used; the mode of sowing, whether broadcast or drilled; the quantity and kind of manure used; the condition of the soil as regards moisture, freedom from weeds, and many other matters ;-all, one would think, equally important with the mere difference between one or two ploughings. I should have liked to have asked about this at the time, but I was too shy and afraid of exposing my ignorance.
The farmers here were very proud of their mutton, and one with whom we were especially friendly told us one day about a fine sheep he had killed the previous year-five years old, I think he said—and that he had kept one of the legs of mutton six months in his cellar, which was large and very cool. He assured us that it was perfectly sweet, and that he invited several of his friends to dinner, and they all agreed that they had never eaten such fine mutton in their lives. At the time I hardly believed this, holding the usual opinion that meat necessarily putrefied, but I have no doubt now that he was speaking the truth, and that much of our meat would be greatly improved in quality if we had suitable places in which to store it for a few weeks or months before cooking.
Soon after we came to Turvey a young gentleman from Bedford came to us to learn a little surveying. He was, I think, the son of an auctioneer or estate agent, and was about eighteen or twenty years old. As my brother was occasionally away for several days at a time when we sometimes had nothing to go on with, he would amuse himself fishing, of which he was very fond. Sometimes I went with him, but I usually preferred walking about the country, though I cannot remember that I had at this time any special interest in doing so. He often caught some large coarse fish, such as bream or pike, which were the commonest fish in the river, but were hardly worth eating. Towards the latter part of our survey in the spring months, my brother left us a portion of the work to do by ourselves when he was away for a week or two, and as we worked very hard, and seldom got home before six in the evening, we had an unusually good appetite for our evening meal, and sometimes astonished our hosts. One occasion of this kind I have never forgotten. They had provided for our dinner a sparerib of young pork—a very delicate dish but not very substantial—with potatoes. My friend first cut the joint in half, about three or four ribs in each, and said to me, "I know you like fat; if I cut off this lean piece, will you have the rest?” I joyfully assented, as I was very fond of the picking on the bones. We soon finished our portions, and then he cut the lean off the rest of the joint, gave me the ribs, and we very soon left nothing but the clean-picked bones, half of which I put on his plate so that it might not be thought that I had eaten the whole joint myself. The servant looked astonished at the empty dish when she brought us in a rather small apple-pudding. This was cut in two, and was hardly as much as we should have liked ; and when the servant saw another empty dish she smiled, and told us that some people had been waiting for the rest of the pork and pudding, and now had nothing for dinner ; at which we smiled, and asked for bread-andcheese to finish with.
When at home and spending the larger part of every day in the schoolroom, I had never liked fat, which often made
me ill. But exercise for about ten hours every day in the open air had improved my digestion and my general health so that I could eat most kinds of fat, and have been very fond of it during my whole life.
During our stay here we made the acquaintance of some pleasant people, and on Sundays we were often asked out to tea, which I should have enjoyed more than I did had it not been for my excessive shyness, which was at this time aggravated by the fact that I was growing very rapidly, and my clothes, besides being rather shabby, were somewhat too small for me. Another drawback was that our residence at any place was too short to become really at home with these passing friends. I was therefore left mostly to the companionship of our own temporary pupil, and he, like the majority of the young men I met at this period of my life, was by no means an edifying acquaintance. Sporting newspapers, which were then far grosser than they are now, were, so far as I remember, his chief reading, and he had a stock of songs and recitations of the lowest and most vicious type, with which he used occasionally to entertain me and any chance acquaintances. There was one paper which I used very frequently to see about this time, and which I think must have been taken at most of the country inns we frequented. It was called, if I remember rightly, The Satirist, and was full of the very grossest anecdotes of well-known public characters, trials for the most disgraceful offences reported in all their details, and full accounts of prize-fights, which were then very common. It was a paper of a character totally unknown now, and as it no doubt reflected the ideas and pandered to the tastes of a very considerable portion of the public in all classes of society, it is not very surprising that most of the young men of the middle classes that came across my path should have been rather disreputable in conversation, though, perhaps, not always so in character.
But, notwithstanding that I was continually thrown into such society from the time I left school, I do not think it produced the least bad effect upon my character or habits in after-life. This was partly owing to natural disposition,
which was reflective and imaginative, but more perhaps to the quiet and order of my home, where I never heard a rude word or an offensive expression. The effect of this was intensified by my extreme shyness, which made it impossible for me to use words or discuss subjects which were altogether foreign to my home-life, as a result of which I have never been able to use an oath, although I have frequently felt those impulses and passions which in many people can only find adequate expression in such language. This, I think, is a rather striking example of the effects of home influence during childhood, and of that kind of education on which Robert Owen depended for the general improvement of character and habits.
BEDFORDSHIRE: SILSOE AND LEIGHTON BUZZARD
It was some time in May or June of 1838 that we left Turvey for Silsoe, where my brother had some temporary work. I walked there, starting very early-I think about four or five in the morning; and a few miles from the village a fine fox jumped over a bank into the road a few yards in front of me, trotted quietly over, and disappeared into a field or copse on the other side. Never before or since have I seen a wild fox so near or had such a good view of one. I breakfasted at Bedford, and then walked to Silsoe.
This very small village is an appanage of Wrest Park, the seat of Earl de Grey, and is about halfway between Luton and Bedford. It consisted of a large inn with a considerable posting business, a few small houses, cottages, and one or two shops, and, like most such villages, it is no larger to-day than it was then. We boarded at the inn kept by a Mr. Carter, whose wife and two daughters, nice well-educated people, took an active part in the management. At this time it was very full of visitors in consequence of the work of building a fine new mansion then in progress and nearing completion. The architect and his clerk of the works were usually there, as was Mr. Brown, a nephew of the agent, and the lively young gentleman, Mr. A., who had been with us at Barton. Besides these, there were others who came for short periods, among whom I particularly remember a grave middle-aged man in black, whose conversation with my brother showed literary tastes and good education, which VOL. I.