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THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 103, 22 May 1880
THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
THE TWO LANDLORDS.
(From the Agricultural Gazette . ) CONTINUED. “ Fill my jug Mrs. Crockit,” said the gardener, and then addressing Sam, after looking at him for some time, he invited him to cross over and sit by his side. “ Come here ! ” said the gardener. Sam crossed the room and stood before his friend, and gave him his jug, and the gardener returned the compliment and gave his jug to Sam, and then the gardener spoke in solemn tones. Fixing his eyes on Sam, he said, “ Come here ! ” “ l am here, John.” “Yes, you are ; I see you are,” said the gardener. “lean see your beloved face, my friend, especially your nose. I can feel yon with my mug. Sam, so ! I am glad we are both where we are. This morning I was in a place I hates. ” “I know you were,” said Sam, who knew the circumstances of a case before the magistrates in which the gardener had been too deeply interested. His daughter, a pretty and rather flighty girl, much given to extravagance in dress, had purloined some trifling article from her mistress. The gardener had attended the bench, and hence the tone of his reflections, and hence, perhaps, the several pots of beer in which he had endeavored to drown his grief. “ I hate a court of justice,” he continued. “ I hates the buzz, and I hates the hum and the turning over this and that and crying 4 Order ! ’ Eh ? I hates it, and I’m glad I’m here. ” The company assured the gardener they were glad to see him. He had opened his heart as wide as the company seemed to expect. “You can’t say more, John,” was echoed round the room.—“ We don’t expect it,” said Sam. “We know you can’t say more, John. ” “No, I can’t; you know I can’t,” said the gardener. ‘"But this I will say ;in the morning I went off by the first train sorrowful ; you all know where I went. ” (His daughter had been let off.) “Well, I am come back to the Dew Drop, where we all feels at home ; and what I say is, I hates a court of justice. In the place where I be now, as the Scripture says, my sorrow’s took away. ” The landlady, it seems, had a particular objection to people “talking Scriptures,” as she called it, in her house. “ Take your Scriptures, somewhere else,” she said sternly; “ I always say Scriptures aint fit for a public-house. Talk ’em at home. I have nothing to say against that; or go outside and talk ’em in the cold, but don’t talk ’em here.” The gardener made no reply, but the reprimand confused him, and he began twisting up a local newspaper and lighting it instead of a spill for his pipe. During the confusion of extinguishing the - blazing journal, a messenger entered with important news. Squire Chisel had been found dead in his smoking room. The old regime, such as the reader may infer it to have been, from this slight sketch, was over. “ The world’s a stage,” said the poet ; he might have said a staircase, since by it we climb. William Root had been created by the Almighty, in spirit, incarnate, in matter, a little lower than the angels, that he might ascend by the ladder of his fleshly life to the presence of his Maker. But how in Compton could he climb ? To use a philosophic term, what could be the motif of his life? It is said that education, in its broadest sense—call it pro- . bation if you will—is the meaning and the cause of man’s existence on earth. It is said to be the key to the enigma of life ; and if that be so, how ill must it fare, in this world and the next, if pulpit truth be really true, with men like* William Root! What sort of education can laboring folk enjoy in such a place as Compton? We have seen William, not at schoolboy stage of existence, but in the vigor of his manhood—the ripened fruit of a system not uncommon in the rural districts twenty or thirty years ago—and we venture to predict that his character must have borne a close relation to the circumstances by which he had long been surrounded. Without being utterly debased or desperately wicked, he was, at forty years of age, extremely ignorant, and much too fond of beer. As for the motif of his life, it might have carried him perhaps, at the highest stretch of his noble aspiration, as far as the top of the haystack he was engaged in covering with thatch ; and, on the other hand, the motif of his life in the winter months, when ho and his family were starving on 9s. a week, might let him down as low at least as poaching, and, at a pinch, even so low as the stealing of his master’s corn. It must be admitted, then, bearing in mind the acknowledged duties of property, that Squire Chisel had been much to blame in regard to William Root, and that such landlords form a sufficient explanation, if not excuse, for those rabid land reformers who would relieve the Chisels of their neglected trust and set the Roots in their place. The Rector of Compton had been for several years as the sower who went forth to sow. And not a single grain had fallen on good land as yet : not one ear of corn had been produced. “ Slay Heaven in its mercy grant this parish the blessing of a well-disposed and wealthy landowner ! ” Such was the prayer of the good rector ; and thinking, simple-minded man, that _ he might bo the appointed means of hunting up a good landlord, and, learning 1 shortly after Mr. Chisel’s death, that the estate was not entailed, and was, in fact, on the market, he repaired at once to a gentleman who had written against the * land laws. “Sir,” said the worthy gentleman, ‘‘l am the rector of a most unhappy parish 1 - named Compton. The proprietor is lately . dead. 1 know your deep interest in the reform of evils such as my unfortunate t parish labors under, and learning that you are rich, I have come to implore you to buy the estate of Compton, -which is now in the market. ” The reformer stared. He was a harshlooking, hard-voiced, dark-complexioned, pompous man of commerce. It w T as said of him in the City—“ If you want a fivepound note of Jowder, even at Christmas I time, and for however good a purpose, J yon must ask for it very early in the morning.” i'll - - .Jmvvli.t r.-s.-iitfiillv at tinrector’s kind face, and then fixed his uugenial eye on the ink-bottle on the table, and uttered a loud expressive “ Hum ! ” The rector started at the sound. “But, sir,” he pleaded, “ though the people may be poor, the land, I am told, is rich. ” m “ How many acres ? ” inquired Jowler. Like others of his kind, he liked to revel in the idea of possessing land, and would sometimes collect all the particulars of sale of a great estate and gloat over them ; but he never w r cnt further, because 7 per cent, is so much more attractive than 2h. “How many acres?” asked Jowler, who was the last man in London to buy more than just enough land for his house to stand, in some cheap suburb. - “ Five thousand,” said the rector, looking much disappointed. Mr. Jowler’s three words and one ejaculation, and something in the forbidding aspect of his face, had completely SI dis-illusionised the good parson, so easy is it to read the bit of heart belonging to an avaricious man, even though a land reformer and would-be M. P. (to be continued.)
THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 103, 22 May 1880
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