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there being so few gradations as to residence, as one of the greatest evils. A separate cottage in bad condition, with a small garden, generally too small to be of much advantage, and therefore neglected, forms, with I think one or two exceptions, the highest class of labourers' tenements. The consequence is, the great stimulus to exertion, the hope of advancement, has scarcely any operation. If there were gradations, from a couple of rooms to comfortable family cottages, with land sufficient for a garden, a small orchard, and to keep a cow or two, there would be an obvious inducement continually held out to thrift and good character, in hopes of obtaining the higher prizes. Individuals would begin to strive for themselves, and would cease, as at present, to make common cause against the parish.* The success of one would excite the emulation of others; and the general character would be raised. The children of those in the higher rank of labourers would often be deterred from too early marriages by the dread of descending from their station, and the children of the lowest class would sometimes, from feelings of prudence or ambition, wait till they had the means or opportunity of advancement. The impulse of character would be felt, and the present practice of heedless marriages would cease to be so prevalent. +
* Being on one low level, the labouring classes here have all one common corresponding feeling. Though apparently quiet and orderly, I found them in reality more violent and unreasonable, particularly the women, and less intelligent, than I have experienced in the manufacturing districts.
+ Passion, affection, the hope of offspring or of domestic comfort, have comparatively little operation in producing marriages in this degraded class. Mere custom is one great cause. If the men could obtain employment as easily whilst single as when married, and could meet with accommodation undisturbed by the matrimonial uncomforts of others, and the women had a more marked choice between provident and improvident husbands, a great alteration for the better would take place. Houses kept by respectable middle-aged people without any young children, where single men could have accommodation according to their inclination or means, would considerably conduce to prevent The advantages of gardens to cottages, I believe, are universally allowed: the smallest size, as some of the labourers informed me, should be one-eighth of an acre. I am aware that an objection would be alleged to their having orchards, as affording them a cover for stealing and selling the farmers' apples; but as only those would possess them who had advanced themselves, or whose fathers had done so before them, I do not think the objection valid against the moral effect of making a higher gradation. Indeed, robbing orchards would probably be held in greater disrepute than it is, when some of the class, who are now the offenders, might themselves suffer from the practice. I have heard it objected, that labourers keeping cows diminishes the farmers' profits; but experience in many parts of the country where it is the custom, so fully proves its advantages, that I hold it unnecessary to say much upon the subject. A plentiful supply of milk, and domestic employment for females, much more than counterbalance any inconvenience, if there be any, which I much doubt, from a labourer's cow. With a proper-sized garden, a cow, a pig, and a few bens, a cottager's wife never need be at a loss for work, and the difference between a female so occupied and the gossiping women of Bridgetown and Berry, would soon become apparent. The men, too, under such circumstances can, in a great degree, find employment at home in wet weather, or at the seasons of the year when the least labour is wanted, which prevents them from being a burden to the farmers or the parish, or living upon their savings, or wasting them at the alehouse. I have mentioned the highest class of cottages having land enough for two cows, and this I think might be desirable for three reasons: 1st. Because it is making a higher gradation, which is giving a greater stimulus, and raising the moral character. 2ndly. Because it would increase the facility of obtaining milk to those who have no cow, or who are temporarily in premature marriages, and would be otherwise advantageous in many
want of a supply; for where the labourers are wholly dependent for milk upon the farmers, they are seldom regularly or sufficiently accommodated. And 3rdly. Because I think it highly desirable to have a reserve of labour for those periods of the year when there is the greatest demand for it in a class of persons, who, for a trifling advance, as in harvest, or when they are particularly wanted, are willing to work for others, and at other times can depend upon themselves. In the present state of things, where there is only one class of mere labourers, living from hand to mouth, there must either be at some seasons too few, or at others too many, and consequently the farmers must either suffer inconvenience from a scarcity of hands, or else from a degraded set of supernumeraries, frequently living partly upon the parish, and partly by depredations.*
With respect to the method of bringing about the change, in case your Grace should be inclined to make the attempt, either wholly or in part, I think the principal thing is to let your intentions be generally known, and the farmers who desire to have cottages built upon their farms, may signify the same to your steward. In such cases the cottages should go with the farms. The labour of men resident is worth more than that of those at a distance; and a few steady labourers, dispersed over a farm, are a great advantage in preventing trespasses and depredations, and in watching the cattle and sheep, besides the advantages to the labourer in living near his work, which are very considerable, especially in bad
* Instead of keeping cows, the land might, in many cases, be applied to other purposes, according to circumstances. Where there has been a long connexion between farmer and labourer, and the latter afterwards becomes, by his prudence, occupant of a little land, still holding himself at the disposal of his former master during periods of extra demand for labour, and in his turn receiving assistance from the farmer's teams, &c. how profitable, both morally and pecuniarily, is such a relation, compared with that arising from the system of pauper supernumeraries!
weather. There are, I believe, on the Berry estate many plots of land, at present, from their rough state or inferior quality, of little or no value to the farmers, which would, in the hands of industrious labourers, working for themselves at spare times, soon become fit for cultivation. Cottages, not built for the convenience of particular farms, should be held immediately from your Grace, and, if let to proper persons, the trouble of collecting the rents would be very trifling. I think it would be well to encourage applications from the labourers themselves for cottages, or gardens, or land, as a stimulus to exertion and good conduct; but particular care should be taken to examine into the merits of each case.* If a man applied to have his garden enlarged, I would first see that he made the most of what he had already. If he asked for land for a cow, I would not only make him show that he had money to buy one, but I would ascertain that the cow would be well managed. If he asked for a cottage, I would ascertain that a labourer was wanted, and give him accommodations according to his means already provided. A few applications properly scrutinized, and graciously complied with, I have no doubt would produce a very good effect, and could not be accompanied by any of those inconveniences which frequently attend inconsiderate alterations. Many wellmeaning people attempt to remove evils of long standing, and arising from complicated causes, by hasty and general processes. The consequence is, they utterly fail in their endeavours, or perhaps even aggravate the mischief, and then give up in despair or disgust. Whereas, in such cases, investigation, discretion, and time, are indispensable. Poverty produced by improvidence, is not removed, but confirmed by pecuniary bounty; and improvidence itself, as it proceeds from various causes, frequently demands as various remedies for its cure. From the method I would point out, no disad
* Much might be done at a small expense, in improving and altering the present cottages.
vantages could well arise; for I would do nothing for those who did not give earnest of their merit by first doing something for themselves. I would assist the deserving in their endeavours, but the usual objects of attention I would leave to the consequences of their own misconduct. It is too much the fashion to bestow every thing on those who deserve nothing, and to let the meritorious struggle on, not only unaided, but frequently under the disadvantage of baving the undeserving preferred before them.* Perhaps in the outset a little pecuniary encouragement to one or two of the most provident labourers, of two or three pounds each, to assist them in buying a cow, or for some such purpose, might set the plan forward with advantage; but I am against giving, except in very particular cases, and in aid of exertion, and not to save it. Whatever improvement takes place, I think it ought to make an adequate return in rent.
I am far from holding out that the adoption of the foregoing suggestions would work miracles, but I think it would produce an improvement in the condition of the labouring classes on your Grace's estate, and, with judicious management, a very considerable one; and at the same time would be the means of increasing the value of the farms, and of the property generally.”
There is a sect, unfortunately well known to most in this land, under the denomination of Grumblers, whose fundamental maxim is—whatever is, is wrong. Wherever they
* I would reverse this process, and, if I may so say, would Macadamize the roads to self-advancement, at the same time making the ways of improvidence as difficult and cheerless as possible. I have learnt to look with a very suspicious eye at what are called the unfortunate, especially when they have plausible tongues.