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with the individuality of the place and of the designer. The finest old roofs were built of oak or chestnut; the beams are black with age, and, in that condition, oak is scarcely distinguishable from chestnut.
So the roof has its natural history, its science, and art; it has its seasons, its migrants and residents, of whom a housetop calendar might be made. The fine old roofs which have just been mentioned are often associated with historic events and the rise of families; and the roof-tree, like the hearth, has a range of proverbs or sayings and ancient lore to itself. More than one great monarch has been slain by a tile thrown from the housetop, and numerous other incidents have occurred in connection with it. The most interesting is the story of the Grecian mother who, with her infant, was on the roof, when, in a moment of inattention, the child crept to the edge, and was balanced on the very verge. To call to it, to touch it, would have insured its destruction; but the mother, without a second's thought, bared her breast, and the child eagerly turning to it, was saved!
ONE OF THE NEW VOTERS.
Ir any one were to get up about half-past five on an August morning and look out of an eastern window in the country, he would see the distant trees almost hidden by a white mist. The tops of the larger groups of elms would appear above it, and by these the line of the hedgerows could be traced. Tier after tier they stretch along, rising by degrees on a gentle slope, the space between filled with haze. Whether there were corn-fields or meadows under this white cloud he could not tell-ȧ cloud that might have come down from the sky, leaving it a clear azure. This morning haze means intense heat in the day. It is hot already, very hot, for the sun is shining with all his strength, and if you wish the house to be cool it is time to set the sunblinds.
Roger, the reaper, had slept all night in the cowhouse, lying on the raised platform of narrow planks put up for cleanliness when the cattle were there. He had set the wooden window wide open and left the door ajar when he came stumbling in overnight, long after the late swallows had settled in their nests on the beams, and the bats had wearied of moth catching. One of the swallows twittered a little,
as much as to say to his mate, "My love, it is only a reaper, we need not be afraid," and all was silence and darkness. Roger did not so much as take off his boots, but flung himself on the boards crash, curled himself up hedgehog fashion with some old sacks, and immediately began to breathe heavily. He had no difficulty in sleeping, first because his muscles had been tried to the utmost, and next because his skin was full to the brim, not of jolly "good ale and old," but of the very smallest and poorest of wish-washy beer. In his own words, it "blowed him up till he very nigh bust.” Now the great authorities on dyspepsia, so eagerly studied by the wealthy folk whose stomachs are deranged, tell us that a very little flatulence will make the heart beat irregularly and cause the most distressing symptoms.
Roger had swallowed at least a gallon of a liquid chemically designed, one might say, on purpose to utterly upset the internal economy. Harvest beer is probably the vilest drink in the world. The men say it is made by pouring muddy water into empty casks returned sour from use, and then brushing them round and round inside with a besom. This liquid leaves a stickiness on the tongue and a harsh feeling at the back of the mouth which soon turns to thirst, so that having once drunk a pint the drinker must go on drinking. The peculiar dryness caused by this beer is not like any other throat drought-worse than dust, or heat, or thirst from work; there is no satisfying it. With it there go down the germs of fermentation, a sour, yeasty, and, as it were, secondary fermentation; not that kind
which is necessary to make beer, but the kind that unmakes and spoils beer. It is beer rotting and decomposing in the stomach. Violent diarrhoea often follows, and then the exhaustion thus caused induces the men to drink more in order to regain the strength necessary to do their work. The great heat of the sun and the heat of hard labour, the strain and perspiration, of course try the body and weaken the digestion. To distend the stomach with half a gallon of this liquor, expressly compounded to ferment, is about the most murderous thing a man could do-murderous because it exposes him to the risk of sunstroke. So vile a drink there is not elsewhere in the world; arrack, and potato-spirit, and all the other killing extracts of the distiller are not equal to it. Upon this abominable mess the golden harvest of English fields is gathered in.
Some people have in consequence endeavoured to induce the harvesters to accept a money payment in place of beer, and to a certain extent successfully. Even then, however, they must drink something. Many manage on weak tea after a fashion, but not so well as the abstainers would have us think. Others have brewed for their men a miserable stuff in buckets, an infusion of oatmeal, and got a few to drink it; but English labourers will never drink oatmeal-water unless they are paid to do it. If they are paid extra beer-money and oatmealwater is made for them gratis, some will, of course, imbibe it, especially if they see that thereby they may obtain little favours from their employer by yielding to his fad. By drinking the crotchet perhaps
they may get a present now and then-food for themselves, cast-off clothes for their families, and so on. For it is a remarkable feature of human natural history, the desire to proselytize. The spectacle of John Bull-jovial John Bull-offering his men a bucket of oatmeal liquor is not a pleasant one. Such a John Bull ought to be ashamed of himself.
The truth is the English farmer's man was and is, and will be, a drinker of beer. Neither tea, nor oatmeal, nor vinegar and water (coolly recommended by indoor folk) will do for him. His natural constitution rebels against such "peevish peevish" drink. In winter he wants beer against the cold and the frosty rime and the heavy raw mist that hangs about the hollows; in spring and autumn against the rain, and in summer to support him under the pressure of additional work and prolonged hours. Those who really wish well to the labourer cannot do better than see that he really has beer to drink-real beer, genuine brew of malt and hops, a moderate quantity of which will supply force to his thews and sinews, and will not intoxicate or injure. If by giving him a small money payment in lieu of such large quantities you can induce him to be content with a little, so much the better. If an employer followed that plan, and at the same time once or twice a day sent out a moderate supply of genuine beer as a gift to his men, he would do them all the good in the world, and at the same time obtain for himself their goodwill and hearty assistance, that hearty work which is worth so much.
Roger breathed heavily in his sleep in the cowhouse, because the vile stuff he had taken puffed