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Why do I prize my Mignonette, *** * * *
It adds a pleasure to delight, * . .
What happy daylight dreams it brings .
My long—long hours of weary work,
It tells of May, my Mignonette,
What talks it of, my Mignonette 7
Of woodland banks of primroses,
Through country lames, and daisied fields—
Again I trip as when a girl,
For this I love my Mignonette,
That country thoughts and scents and sounds.
For this, though low in rich men's thoughts
I bless you, pleasure of the poor,
Greenwich. W. C. BeNNETT.
IIOW THE GREENWOODS GOT OVER THEIR
“PATIENCE (" repeated the man, in the loud and querulous tones of anger. “What do we gain by it?—what will it do for us?—Patience, indeed The word is a very good one for folks who know nothing of hunger and cold—a fine, religious, peaceable word; but will it bring back what the parish officers have just robbed us of, and will it give me work—or find food for ourselves and children : Patience 1 I am sick of hearing of it. The shelter of this poor place was all that saved us from being paupers; and after paying rates and taxes these fifteen years, without once asking any of it back in parish bread, or parish allowance—because this severe weather has set in, and I have no means of getting a day's work, or of earning a day's wages, to come and take away the two or three comforts we had about us, and for the sake of five shillings, sell the things that cost us as many pounds, and that—what with hard times, and low wages, and our increasing family, we shall never be able to get together again—I say it is a eruel shame, a downright robbery; and you talk to me of patience 1 No, no—the poor-house will be our next place. Nell, they will make paupers of us, however hard we strive against it ; and who could have patience with such a chance before them ż" And the poor man, with his arms knotted on his breast, and his eyes bent on the floor, paced to and fro the wretched room, from which, in
No. xix.-WOL. IV. E
the course of the morning, nearly everything it contained had been stripped for arrears of poor's-rates—though, as Miles Greenwood had said, poverty alone prevented his paying them ; but the authorities had not thought it worth while to make distinctions— and preferred, in their inflexible wisdom, to force a whole family into the house, rather than suffer a man too poor to pay rates, the luxury of a roof independent of it. “Well, neighbour Howe, what's the news this morning o" he inquired, pausing as the latch of the door was raised, and a man in the garb of a farm servant entered ; “anything stirring besides my loss?" “Yes,” replied the other, eyeing the desolate room as he spoke, with a keen look of mingled commiseration and sternness; “good news for a few, but not o' much use to the most of us. The Barking fishing smacks can't get higher than Tilbury or Greys, on account of the ice in the river ; and two or three of the farmers have got the job of sending the fish up in their waggons—so some of us may perhaps get a turn.” “Please God!” said Miles Greenwood's wife, who sat rocking an infant in her arms, beside a fuming half-alive fire, of dead leaves and frozen branches, that exhaled more moisture than heat; “some of us begin to want work cruelly.” “Ay, and we may want, missus, all the time this weather lasts,” replied the man. “I met six or seven of our women on the road to Elmsly this morning,” he continued, “in all the snow; poor bodies' going to appeal against the rates.” “What, the widows o' inquired Miles. “Yes,” continued Joe Howe; “and if they distrain from them, I shall call it a harder business than your's. I swear they have suffered poorer diet, and less of it, than the people in the ‘house,' for the sake of having their children left with them, and keeping a roof over their heads; and instead of receiving the thanks of the whole parish for doing it, they are compelled to become paupers themselves, by being obliged, out of their poor means, to help support those that are.” “A crying shame !” exclaimed Miles Greenwood, while tears of sympathy trickled down Nell's cheeks. “A crying shame ! but mine is a hard case, too, neighbour—a very hard case. This is the first year I have ever failed in paying the poor's-rate, and have never had a farthing from the parish, though I have not always had work, any more than my neighbours, and have five children to maintain. They have taken the poor things' bed, a couple of chairs, and the table weate off—poor looking things enough, I dare say to them, who took them, but worth ten times as much to us as they seized them for ; and they knew there is no work for a man to get—that the fields are as hard as their own hearts. I say it is a cruel case, neighbour; a cruel case.” “Ah! what do they care, Master!” rejoined Joe Howe; “the more they grind us down, the better for themselves. Who pays for commissioners, and overseers, and guardians, and masters, and matrons, I should like to know, but the poor? Why, if we were better off, all these people would be out of place.” “I should just like to see how much their salaries come to,” said Miles, “and what proportion it bears to the cost of the paupers, when the numbers of the two classes are taken into account." “Don’t I wish I was a member of Parliament for a little time!” continued his neighbour ; “wouldn't I move for a return of these items 1 '' “Ah! you'd make a cleverer one than some of them that's there,” said Greenwood ; “you could tell the truth of the matter, and point out where we suffer, and what we want, which is more than they can do.” “But who, Master Howe, has got to send up the fish?” interrupted Nell, who dreaded the souring effect of this crude political debate on her husband's temper. “Does Mr. Bennett's waggon up 2" -- *. no, Mistress,” responded Howe, in a surly tone, “Master Bennett takes too much care of his dumb creatures for that—no fear of their being turned out to earn their oats upon a road as hard as iron and as slippery as glass—his horses are well fed, and well covered, which is more than his labourers are.” “Mr. Bennett has always been a good master to us,” said Nell, coyly raising the fire, which she had at last coaxed into drying itself, and making a show of burning. “But, of course, he expects to get labour as cheap as his neighbours, and we can't expect him any more than the rest to keep servants when he has nothing for them to do.” “Ah! that wasn't the plan when I first remember farm service,” rejoined Howe; “then a man was hired by the year, and kept in his master's house, if he was single, and if not, he had a cottage on the farm, and the privilege of keeping fowls, pigs, and sometimes even a cow—so that you hardly go into a labourer's E
house where you didn't see a side of bacon hanging in the chimney—and home-baked bread, and home-brewed beer on the table —instead of starving, as we do now, on poor Paddy's meal of potatoes, that in them times we thought only food for pigs, and mocked the Irish for living on them, little thinking how soon we should be brought to the same fare.” - “And not even enough of that,” groaned Miles, resuming his heat to and fro the room. “But I have heard some of the old people say,” rejoined Nell, “that one reason of the alteration was the dishonesty of the farm servants, who, not contented with the comforts of their situations, robbed their master's barns and stables to feed the fowls and pigs they were allowed to keep.” “Robbed!” repeated Mr. Howe, with considerable indignation, “as if they could have been hurt by a man's taking a few beans, or a handful of corn from the bin. They were always a hard lot, Mrs. Greenwood, and I've known one of them before now transport the best servant he had, for hiding a little extra corn to fatten his master's horses with.” “Nell always seems to take part against her own side,” interrupted Greenwood; “I’m sure there's no occasion to uphold the rich : all the strength is in their hands.” “But we should be just to every one,” replied Nell; “and against our master I am sure we have no right to complain: recollect how kind he was when you and the children were bad with fever. I shall never forget it. I am sure we had reason to thank God then that he was rich, for if it had not been for the nourishing things he sent, and the money he gave us, it would have gone: very hard with us, all. But you havn't told us yet, Master Howe,” she continued, wishing to turn the discourse, “you havn't told us yet, whose waggons are going up with the fish." “I believe Mr, Belson's and old Grimes's,” returned her neighbour. “But I must set about making sure of a job. If they shouldn't want me, Miles, they'd better keep a sharp look out. They won't start till pretty late, as it's no good their getting to town before Billingsgate is open in the morning; and if they find their cargo all right, I'll never snare a rabbit, or crow down a pheasant again. A fish supper is better than none; so if you go up with 'em don't look behind you when passing Deadman's Lane : recollect the hint, so now good day.” And with a familiarnod, and 'aiwink of wicked signifieunce, Master Howo, took his departure.