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home.” Supposing you to have gained some rural stile, over which you have climbed, and by a slow and easy ascent reached the summit of a range of high fields or sloping hills—or, more properly, an upland scene, you look down in the distance, and see a laden waggon moving slowly along, with its last load of wheat. The harvest-field still shines like gold; for, although the last sheaf is piled upon the heavy wain, the stubble has, in the distance, the appearance of a dwarfish cornfield. Groups of gleaners also dot the newly-cleared lands,—for there is a rich gathering in those spots where the sheaves were piled to dry: but they are not gleaning now, for all are standing erect ; even the children are waving their little hats and caps, as the waggon recedes from them; and their mothers too have lifted up their voices, and joined in the shout of “Harvest-home.” See, the train approaches ! On the first horse is seated a beautiful girl,-her straw-bonnet is decorated with a wreath of flowers : the horses, too, wear the same ornaments ; each one is led by a youth, who is embrowned with summer toil. There are others mounted on the corn-sheaves, huzzaing to the highest pitch of their voices, while one holds a few of the finest ears upon the point of his pitching-fork: these ears will be decorated with ribands in the evening, and suspended either from the ceiling of the house, or from a branch of the tree under which they keep their harvest-feast. There are boys in almost every tree by which the wain passes, looking down upon the last load, and shouting with all their might -- then descending, and joining the train before or behind, and keeping up the cheerful sound of “Harvest-home.” Now they near the large goodlooking farmhouse ; see, the old farmer is at the gate, with a foaming tankard in his hand! His wife, too, is beside him ; and his handsome daughter hath taken off her round gipsy hat,hark, how her clear voice rings! There is a youth, too, beside her – it is the young squire : he has also come to share in the merriment of “ Harvest-home.” But, listen ! for they have halted beside the gate which opens to the front of the house, and are singing a stave nearly as old as the hills.
And see! others have emerged from the stack-yard, in their clean white frocks, their faces ruddy with toil and health ; and now they take their seats under the old oak-tree, where a substantial dinner is smoking. At each end of the table are seats covered with green branches – those are for the lord and lady of the harvest. But even the peasants are courteous, and have resigned them to the young squire and the farmer's daughter, who they expect will one day be their master and mistress. And now the old man is carving the large sirloin, and the good wife is busied in attending to their wants: neither of them will eat a mouthful until the others are supplied. What platefuls they devour ! Look at those enormous plum-puddings, at first loads for an Atlas ! What inroads have they made on the thick rotundity of a world of sweets! and how happy they all appear! Saw ye that good-looking youth drink to the lovely maiden opposite ? They have reaped side by side all the summer, and lingered in the field longer of an evening than the rest ; and he always bound up her sheaves, and cut wider into the lands than fell to the share of his sickle ; and when any thistles or thorns had pierced her fingers, he extracted them -oh how carefully! They sat down on the same sheaf to eat their meals; and she had always a few sweet apples in her basket, and he had always a store of honest manly words, and they have talked about marriage to each other,--nay, he even told her how much money he had saved in service, enough to
furnish a little cottage. See, the old farmer hath observed them, and he hath whispered to an old man who has seen sixty harvest-homes; and now he says, “ John, when shall we welcome Harriet home ?”—and now the whole table is in a roar- for they are all in good humour, and willing to receive anything as wit ; and John, in reply, says, “Oh, sir, she 'll not be the last load !" Now they laugh louder than ever, and some of them glance at a fiery-headed fat dairymaid who has long been a load ; but Harriet only blushes, and looks down, and moves her feet to and fro, and thinks about John, and feels proud of his wit, and forgets all about harvest-home. But we must leave them now, and listen to old Herrick's
HOCK-CART, OR HARVEST-HOME.
We are the lords of wine and oil ;
with all the country art.
Well on, brave boys! to your lord's hearth
And Stevenson says, in his “ Twelve Months,” 1661, that "the frumenty pot welcomes home the harvest-cart, and the garland of flowers crowns the captain of the reapers. The battle of the field is now stoutly fought. The pipe and the tabor are now busily set at work, and the lad and the lass will have no lead on their heels. Oh ! 'tis the merry time wherein honest neighbours make good cheer; and God is glorified in his blessings on the earth.”
In the “Journal of a Naturalist” are the following remarks on
gleaning :-" It may be difficult to comprehend how the picking up a head of corn here, and another there, should be a remunerative employ; but in this case, like all other slow operations, a distant result, rather than instant effect, must be looked for. I have found some little difficulty in obtaining intelligence sufficient to acquire a knowledge of the gain by this employ. The poor are often jealous and suspicious of the motives, when any attempts are made to procure information regarding their profits or improvements; and indeed the advantages of one year are uncertain in another. Catching, doubtful seasons, when the farmer collects in haste and is unmindful of trifles, afford the best harvest to the gleaner. In fine settled weather, the operation of reaping is conducted with more deliberation, and less corn is scattered about. When a woman with two or three active children lease in concert, int becomes a beneficial employ. I have heard of a family in the parish thus engaged, who have in one season obtained eight bushels of clear wheat; but this was excess.
I know a single woman, also, who has gleaned in the same period four bushels and a half; but this, again, was under very favourable and partial circumstances. In general, a good leaser is satisfied if she can obtain, single-handed, a clear three bushels in the season, which gives her about a bushel in the week; and, if taken at seven shillings, is very reasonable, and far from being any great accession of profit-less than is generally supposed to be the emolument of the gleaner ; and this may have been acquired by the active labour of eight or nine hours daily. Yet such is the ardour for this occupation, the enjoyment of this full association with their neighbours—the prattle, the gossip, the glee, the excitement it occasions, that I am sure the allowance of fourteen-pence a day, certain and constant, would hardly be accepted by my leasing neighbours in place of it. Indeed, I would not offer it, believing that this gleaning season is looked forward to with anxiety and satisfaction ; and is a season, too, in which the children of the family can con