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The Borrower And The Gambler Post by :marketingtest Category :Essays Author :Richard Jefferies Date :April 2011 Read :3060

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The Borrower And The Gambler

'Where do he get the money from, you?' 'It be curious, bean't it; I minds when his father drove folks' pigs to market.' These remarks passed between two old farmers, one standing on the sward by the roadside, and the other talking to him over the low ledge, as a gentleman drove by in a Whitechapel dog-cart, groom behind. The gentleman glanced at the two farmers, and just acknowledged their existence with a careless nod, looking at the moment over their heads and far away.

There is no class so jealous of a rapid rise as old-fashioned farming people. They seem to think that if a man once drove pigs to market he should always continue to do so, and all his descendants likewise. Their ideas in a measure approximate to those of caste among the Hindoos. It is a crime to move out of the original groove; if a man be lowly he must remain lowly, or never be forgiven. The lapse of time makes not the least difference. If it takes the man thirty years to get into a fair position he is none the less guilty. A period equal to the existence of a generation is not sufficient excuse for him. He is not one whit better than if he had made his money by a lucky bet on a racehorse. Nor can he ever hope to live down this terrible social misdemeanour, especially if it is accompanied by the least ostentation.

Now, in the present day a man who gets money shows off more than ever was the case. In the olden time the means of luxury were limited, and the fortunate could do little more than drink, and tempt others to drink. But to-day the fortunate farmer in the dog-cart, dressed like a gentleman, drove his thorough-bred, and carried his groom behind. Frank D----, Esq., in the slang of the time, 'did the thing grand!' The dog-cart was a first-rate article. The horse was a high-stepper, such as are not to be bought for a song; the turn-out was at the first glance perfect. But if you looked keenly at the groom, there was a suspicion of the plough in his face and attitude. He did not sit like a man to the manner born. He was lumpy; he lacked the light, active style characteristic of the thoroughbred groom, who is as distinct a breed as the thoroughbred horse. The man looked as if he had been taken from the plough and was conscious of it. His feet were in top-boots, but he could not forget the heavy action induced by a long course of walking in wet furrows. The critics by the hedge were not capable of detecting these niceties. The broad facts were enough for them. There was the gentleman in his ulster, there was the resplendent turn-out, there was the groom, and there was the thoroughbred horse. The man's father drove their pigs to market, and they wanted to know where he got the money from.

Meantime Mr. D----, having carelessly nodded, had gone on. Half a mile farther some of his own fields were contiguous to the road, yet he did not, after the fashion of the farmer generally, pause to gaze at them searchingly; he went on with the same careless glance. This fact, which the old-fashioned folk had often observed, troubled them greatly. It seemed so unnatural, so opposite to the old ideas and ways, that a man should take no apparent interest in his own farm. They said that Frank was nothing of a farmer; he knew nothing of farming. They looked at his ricks; they were badly built, and still worse thatched. They examined his meadows, and saw wisps of hay lying about, evidence of neglect; the fields had not been properly raked. His ploughed fields were full of weeds, and not half worked enough. His labourers had acquired a happy-go-lucky style, and did their work anyhow or not at all, having no one to look after them. So, clearly, it was not Frank's good farming that made him so rich, and enabled him to take so high and leading a position.

Nor was it his education or his 'company' manners. The old folk noted his boorishness and lack of the little refinements which mark the gentleman. His very voice was rude and hoarse, and seemed either to grumble or to roar forth his meaning. They had frequently heard him speak in public--he was generally on the platform when any local movement was in progress--and could not understand why he was put up there to address the audience, unless it was for his infinite brass. The language he employed was rude, his sentences disjointed, his meaning incoherent; but he had a knack of an _apropos_ jest, not always altogether savoury, but which made a mixed assembly laugh. As his public speeches did not seem very brilliant, they supposed he must have the gift of persuasion, in private. He did not even ride well to hounds--an accomplishment that has proved a passport to a great landlord's favour before now--for he had an awkward, and, to the eye, not too secure a seat in the saddle.

Nor was it his personal appearance. He was very tall and ungainly, with a long neck and a small round head on the top of it. His features were flat, and the skin much wrinkled; there seemed nothing in his countenance to recommend him to the notice of the other sex. Yet he had been twice married; the last time to a comparatively young lady with some money, who dressed in the height of fashion.

Frank had two families--one, grown up, by his first wife, the second in the nursery--but it made no difference to him. All were well dressed and well educated; the nursery maids and the infants went out for their airings in a carriage and pair. Mrs. D----, gay as a Parisian belle, and not without pretensions to beauty, was seen at balls, parties, and every other social amusement. She seemed to have the _entree_ everywhere in the county. All this greatly upset and troubled the old folk, whose heads Frank looked over as he carelessly nodded them good-morning driving by. The cottage people from whose ranks his family had so lately risen, however, had a very decided opinion upon the subject, and expressed it forcibly. "'Pend upon it," they said, "'pend upon it, he have zucked zumbody in zumhow."

This unkind conclusion was perhaps not quite true. The fact was, that Frank, aided by circumstances, had discovered the ease with which a man can borrow. That was his secret--his philosopher's stone. To a certain extent, and in certain ways, he really was a clever man, and he had the luck to begin many years ago when farming was on the ascending side of the cycle. The single solid basis of his success was his thorough knowledge of cattle--his proficiency in dealership. Perhaps this was learnt while assisting his father to drive other folks' pigs to market. At all events, there was no man in the county who so completely understood cattle and sheep, for buying and selling purposes, as Frank. At first he gained his reputation by advising others what and when to buy; by degrees, as people began to see that he was always right, they felt confidence in him, and assisted him to make small investments on his own account. There were then few auctioneers, and cattle were sold in open market. If a man really was a judge, it was as good to him as a reputation for good ale is to an innkeeper. Men flock to a barrel of good ale no matter whether the inn be low class or high class. Men gather about a good judge of cattle, and will back him up. By degrees D---- managed to rent a small farm, more for the purpose of having a place to turn his cattle into than for farming proper--he was, in fact, a small dealer.

Soon afterwards there was an election. During the election, Frank gained the good-will of a local solicitor and political agent. He proved himself an active and perhaps a discreetly unscrupulous assistant. The solicitor thought he saw in Frank talent of a certain order--a talent through which he (the solicitor) might draw unto himself a share of other people's money. The lawyer's judgment of men was as keen as Frank's judgment of cattle. He helped Frank to get into a large farm, advancing the money with which to work it. He ran no risk; for, of course, he had Frank tight in the grasp of his legal fist, and he was the agent for the landlord. The secret was this--the lawyer paid his clients four per cent, for the safe investment of their money. Frank had the money, worked a large farm with it, and speculated in the cattle markets, and realised some fifteen or perhaps twenty per cent., of which the lawyer took the larger share. Something of this sort has been done in other businesses besides farming. Frank, however, was not the man to remain in a state of tutelage, working for another. His forte was not saving--simple accumulation was not for him; but he looked round the district to discover those who had saved.

Now, it is a fact that no man is so foolish with his money as the working farmer in a small way, who has put by a little coin. He is extremely careful about a fourpenny piece, and will wrap a sovereign up in several scraps of paper lest he should lose it; but with his hundred or two hundred pounds he is quite helpless. It has very likely occupied him the best part of his lifetime to add one five-pound note to another, money most literally earned in the sweat of his brow; and at last he lends it to a man like Frank, who has the wit to drive a carriage and ride a thoroughbred. With the strange inconsistency so characteristic of human nature, a half-educated, working farmer of this sort will sneer in his rude way at the pretensions of such a man, and at the same time bow down before him.

Frank knew this instinctively, and, as soon as ever he began to get on, set up a blood-horse and a turn-out. By dint of such vulgar show and his own plausible tongue he persuaded more than one such old fellow to advance him money. Mayhap these confiding persons, like a certain Shallow, J.P., have since earnestly besought him in vain to return them five hundred of their thousand. In like manner one or two elderly ladies--cunning as magpies in their own conceit--let him have a few spare hundreds. They thought they could lay out this money to better advantage than the safe family adviser 'uncle John,' with his talk of the Indian railways and a guaranteed five per cent. They thought (for awhile) that they had done a very clever thing on the sly in lending their spare hundreds to the great Mr. Frank D---- at a high rate of interest, and by this time would perhaps be glad to get the money back again in the tea-caddy.

But Frank was not the man to be satisfied with such small game. After a time he succeeded in getting at the 'squire.' The squire had nothing but the rents of his farms to live upon, and was naturally anxious for an improving tenant who would lay out money and put capital into the soil. He was not so foolish as to think that Frank was a safe man, and of course he had legal advice upon the matter. The squire thought, in fact, that although Frank himself had no money, Frank could get it out of others, and spend it upon his place. It did not concern the squire where or how Frank got his money, provided he had it--he as landlord was secure in case of a crash, because the law gave him precedence over all other creditors. So Frank ultimately stepped into one of the squire's largest farms and cut a finer dash than ever.

There are distinct social degrees in agriculture. The man who occupies a great farm under a squire is a person of much more importance than he who holds a little tenancy of a small proprietor. Frank began to take the lead among the farmers of the neighbourhood, to make his appearance at public meetings, and to become a recognised politician--of course upon the side most powerful in that locality, and most likely to serve his own interest. His assurance, and, it must be owned, his ready wit, helped him in coming to the front. When at the front, he was invited to the houses of really well-to-do country people. They condoned his bluff manners--they were the mark of the true, solid British agriculturist. Some perhaps in their hearts thought that another day they might want a tenant, and this man would serve their turn. As a matter of fact, Frank took every unoccupied farm which he could get at a tolerably reasonable rent. He never seemed satisfied with the acreage he held, but was ever desirous of extending it. He took farm after farm, till at last he held an area equal to a fine estate. For some years there has been a disposition on the part of landlords to throw farms together, making many small ones into one large one. For the time, at all events, Frank seemed to do very well with all these farms to look after. Of course the same old-fashioned folk made ill-natured remarks, and insisted upon it that he merely got what he could out of the soil, and did not care in the least how the farming was done. Nevertheless, he flourished--the high prices and general inflation of the period playing into his hand.

Frank was now a very big man, the biggest man thereabout. And it was now that he began to tap another source of supply--to, as it were, open a fresh cask--_i.e._ the local bank. At first he only asked for a hundred or so, a mere bagatelle, for a few days--only temporary convenience. The bank was glad to get hold of what really looked like legitimate business, and he obtained the bagatelle in the easiest manner--so easily that it surprised him. He did not himself yet quite know how completely his showy style of life, his large acreage, his speeches, and politics, and familiarity with great people, had imposed upon the world in which he lived. He now began to realise that he was somebody. He repaid the loan to the day, waited awhile and took a larger one, and from that time the frequency and the amount of his loans went on increasing.

We have seen in these latter days bank directors bitterly complaining that they could not lend money at more than 7/8 or even 1/2 per cent., so little demand was there for accommodation. They positively could not lend their money; they had millions in their tills unemployed, and practically going a-begging. But here was Frank paying seven per cent, for short loans, and upon a continually enlarging amount. His system, so far as the seasons were concerned, was something like this. He took a loan (or renewed an old one) at the bank on the security of the first draught of lambs for sale, say, in June. This paid the labourers and the working expenses of the hay harvest, and of preparing for the corn. He took the next upon the second draught of lambs in August, which paid the reapers. He took a third on the security of the crops, partly cut, or in process of cutting, for his Michaelmas rent. Then for the fall of the year he kept on threshing out and selling as he required money, and had enough left to pay for the winter's work. This was Frank's system--the system of too many farmers, far more than would be believed. Details of course vary, and not all, like Frank, need three loans at least in the season to keep them going. It is not every man who mortgages his lambs, his ewes (the draught from a flock for sale), and the standing crops in succession.

But of late years farming has been carried on in such an atmosphere of loans, and credit, and percentage, and so forth, that no one knows what is or what is not mortgaged. You see a flock of sheep on a farm, but you do not know to whom they belong. You see the cattle in the meadow, but you do not know who has a lien upon them. You see the farmer upon his thoroughbred, but you do not know to whom in reality the horse belongs. It is all loans and debt. The vendors of artificial manure are said not to be averse sometimes to make an advance on reasonable terms to those enterprising and deserving farmers who grow so many tons of roots, and win the silver cups, and so on, for the hugest mangold grown with their particular manure. The proprietors of the milk-walks in London are said to advance money to the struggling dairymen who send them their milk. And latterly the worst of usurers have found out the farmers--_i.e._ the men who advance on bills of sale of furniture, and sell up the wretched client who does not pay to the hour. Upon such bills of sale English farmers have been borrowing money, and with the usual disastrous results. In fact, till the disastrous results became so conspicuous, no one guessed that the farmer had descended so far. Yet, it is a fact, and a sad one.

All the while the tradespeople of the market-towns--the very people who have made the loudest outcry about the depression and the losses they have sustained--these very people have been pressing their goods upon the farmers, whom they must have known were many of them hardly able to pay their rents. Those who have not seen it cannot imagine what a struggle and competition has been going on in little places where one would think the very word was unknown, just to persuade the farmer and the farmer's family to accept credit. But there is another side to it. The same tradesman who to-day begs--positively begs--the farmer to take his goods on any terms, in six months' time sends his bill, and, if it be not paid immediately, puts the County Court machinery in motion.

Now this to the old-fashioned farmer is a very bitter thing. He has never had the least experience of the County Court; his family never were sued for debt since they can remember. They have always been used to a year's credit at least--often two, and even three. To be threatened with public exposure in the County Court because a little matter of five pounds ten is not settled instantly is bitter indeed. And to be sued so arbitrarily by the very tradesman who almost stuffed his goods down their throats is more bitter still.

Frank D----, Esq.'s coarse grandeur answered very well indeed so long as prices were high. While the harvests were large and the markets inflated; while cattle fetched good money; while men's hearts were full of mirth--all went well. It is whispered now that the grand Frank has secretly borrowed 25_l_. of a little cottage shopkeeper in the adjacent village--a man who sells farthing candles and ounces of tea--to pay his reapers. It is also currently whispered that Frank is the only man really safe, for the following reason--they are all 'in' so deep they find it necessary to keep him going. The squire is 'in,' the bank is 'in,' the lawyer is 'in,' the small farmers with two hundred pounds capital are 'in,' and the elderly ladies who took their bank-notes out of their tea-caddies are 'in.' That is to say, Mr. Frank owes them so much money that, rather than he should come to grief (when, they must lose pretty well all), they prefer to keep him afloat. It is a noticeable fact that Frank is the only man who has not raised his voice and shouted 'Depression.' Perhaps the squire thinks that so repellent a note, if struck by a leading man like Frank, might not be to his interest, and has conveyed that thought to the gentleman in the dog-cart with the groom behind. There are, however, various species of the facade farmer.

'What kind of agriculture is practised here?' the visitor from town naturally asks his host, as they stroll towards the turnips (in another district), with shouldered guns. 'Oh, you had better see Mr. X----,' is the reply, 'He is our leading agriculturist; he'll tell you all about it.' Everybody repeats the same story, and once Mr. X----'s name is started everybody talks of him. The squire, the clergyman--even in casually calling at a shop in the market town, or at the hotel (there are few inns now)--wherever he goes the visitor hears from all of Mr. X----. A successful man--most successful, progressive, scientific, intellectual. 'Like to see him? Nothing easier. Introduction? Nonsense. Why, he'd be delighted to see you. Come with me.'

Protesting feebly against intruding on privacy, the visitor is hurried away, and expecting to meet a solid, sturdy, and somewhat gruff old gentleman of the John Hull type, endeavors to hunt up some ideas about shorthorns and bacon pigs. He is a little astonished upon entering the pleasure grounds to see one or more gardeners busy among the parterres and shrubberies, the rhododendrons, the cedar deodaras, the laurels, the pampas grass, the 'carpet gardening' beds, and the glass of distant hothouses glittering in the sun. A carriage and pair, being slowly driven by a man in livery from the door down to the extensive stabling, passes--clearly some of the family have just returned. On ringing, the callers are shown through a spacious hall with a bronze or two on the marble table, into a drawing-room, elegantly furnished. There is a short iron grand open with a score carelessly left by the last player, a harp in the corner, half hidden by the curtains, some pieces of Nankin china on the side tables.

Where are the cow-sheds? Looking out of window a level lawn extends, and on it two young gentlemen are playing tennis, in appropriate costume. The laboured platitudes that had been prepared about shorthorns and bacon pigs are quite forgotten, and the visitor is just about to ask the question if his guide has not missed the farm-house and called at the squire's, when Mr. X---- comes briskly in, and laughs all apology about intrusion to the winds in his genial manner. He insists on his friends taking some refreshment, will not take refusal; and such is the power of his vivacity, that they find themselves sipping Madeira and are pressed to come and dine in the evening, before one at least knows exactly where he is. 'Just a homely spread, you know; pot-luck; a bit of fish and a glass of Moet; now _do_ come.' This curious mixture of bluff cordiality, with unexpected snatches of refinement, is Mr. X----'s great charm. 'Style of farming; tell you with pleasure.' (Rings the bell.) 'John' (to the manservant), 'take this key and bring me account book No. 6 B, Copse Farm; that will be the best way to begin.'

If the visitor knows anything of country life, he cannot help recollecting that, if the old type of farmer was close and mysterious about anything, it was his accounts. Not a word could be got out of him of profit or loss, or revenue: he would barely tell you his rent per acre, and it was doubtful if his very wife ever saw his pass-book. Opening account book No. 6 B, the explanation proceeds.

'My system of agriculture is simplicity itself, sir. It is all founded on one beautiful commercial precept. Our friends round about here (with a wave of the hand, indicating the country side)--our old folks--whenever they got a guinea put it out of sight, made a hoard, hid it in a stocking, or behind a brick in the chimney. Ha! ha! Consequently their operations were always restricted to the same identical locality--no scope, sir, no expansion. Now my plan is--invest every penny. Make every shilling pay for the use of half a crown, and turn the half-crown into seven and sixpence. Credit is the soul of business. There you have it. Simplicity itself. Here are the books; see for yourself. I publish my balance half-yearly--like a company. Then the public see what you are doing. The earth, sir, as I said at the dinner the other day (the idea was much applauded), the earth is like the Bank of England--you may draw on it to any extent; there's always a reserve to meet you. You positively can't overdraw the account. You see there's such a solid security behind you. The fact is, I bring commercial principles into agriculture; the result is, grand success. However, here's the book; just glance over the figures.'

The said figures utterly bewilder the visitor, who in courtesy runs his eye from top to bottom of the long columns--farming accounts are really the most complicated that can be imagined--so he, meantime, while turning over the pages, mentally absorbs the personality of the commercial agriculturist. He sees a tall, thin farmer, a brown face and neck, long restless sinewy hands, perpetually twiddling with a cigar or a gold pencil-case--generally the cigar, or rather the extinct stump of it, which he every now and then sucks abstractedly, in total oblivion as to its condition. His dress would pass muster in towns--well cut, and probably from Bond Street. He affects a frock and high hat one day, and knickerbockers and sun helmet the next. His pockets are full of papers, letters, etc., and as he searches amid the mass for some memorandum to show, glimpses may be seen of certain oblong strips of blue paper with an impressed stamp.

'Very satisfactory,' says the visitor, handing back No 6 B; 'may I inquire how many acres you occupy?'

Out comes a note-book. 'Hum! There's a thousand down in the vale, and fifteen hundred upland, and the new place is about nine hundred, and the meadows--I've mislaid the meadows--but it's near about four thousand. Different holdings, of course. Great nuisance that, sir; transit, you see, costs money. City gentlemen know that. Absurd system in this country--the land parcelled out in little allotment gardens of two or three hundred acres. Why, there's a little paltry hundred and twenty acre freehold dairy farm lies between my vale and upland, and the fellow won't let my waggons or ploughing-tackle take the short cut, ridiculous. Time it was altered, sir. Shooting? Why, yes; I have the shooting. Glad if you'd come over.'

Then more Madeira, and after it a stroll through the gardens and shrubberies and down to the sheds, a mile, or nearly, distant. There, a somewhat confused vision of 'grand shorthorns,' and an inexplicable jumble of pedigrees, grand-dams, and 'g-g-g-g-g-g-dams,' as the catalogues have it; handsome hunters paraded, steam-engines pumping water, steam-engines slicing up roots, distant columns of smoke where steam-engines are tearing up the soil. All the while a scientific disquisition on ammonia and the constituent parts and probable value of town sewage as compared with guano. And at intervals, and at parting, a pressing invitation to dinner (when pineapples or hot-house grapes are certain to make their appearance at dessert)--such a flow of genial eloquence surely was never heard before!

It requires a week at least of calm reflection, and many questions to his host, before the visitor--quite carried away--can begin to arrange his ideas, and to come slowly to the opinion that though Mr. X---- is as open as the day and frank to a fault, it will take him a precious long time to get to the bottom of Mr. X----'s system; that is to say, if there is any bottom at all to it.

Mr. X---- is, in brief, a gambler. Not in a dishonest, or even suspicious sense, but a pure gambler. He is a gigantic agricultural speculator; his system is, as he candidly told you, credit. Credit not only with the bank, but with everybody. He has actually been making use of you, his casual and unexpected visitor, as an instrument. You are certain to talk about him; the more he is talked of the better, it gives him a reputation, which is beginning to mean a great deal in agriculture as it has so long in other pursuits. You are sure to tell everybody who ever chooses to converse with you about the country of Mr. X----, and Mr. X----'s engines, cattle, horses, profuse hospitality, and progressive science.

To be socially popular is a part of his system; he sows corn among society as freely as over his land, and looks to some grains to take root, and bring him increase a hundred fold, as indeed they do. Whatever movement is originated in the neighbourhood finds him occupying a prominent position. He goes to London as the representative of the local agricultural chamber; perhaps waits upon a Cabinet Minister as one of the deputation. He speaks regularly at the local chamber meetings; his name is ever in the papers. The press are invited to inspect his farms, and are furnished with minute details. Every now and then a sketch of his life and doings, perhaps illustrated with a portrait, appears in some agricultural periodical. At certain seasons of the year parties of gentlemen are conducted over his place. In parochial or district matters he is a leading man.

Is it a cottage flower-show, a penny reading, a cricket club, a benefit society--it does not matter what, his subscriptions, his name, and his voice are heard in it. He is the life and soul of it; the energy comes from him, though others higher in the scale may be the nominal heads. And the nominal heads, knowing that he can be relied upon politically, are grateful, and give him their good word freely. He hunts, and is a welcome companion--the meet frequently takes place at his house, or some of the huntsmen call for lunch; in fact, the latter is an invariable thing. Everybody calls for lunch who happens to pass near any day; the house has a reputation for hospitality. He is the clergyman's right hand--as in managing the school committee. When the bishop comes to the confirmation, he is introduced as 'my chief lay supporter.' At the Rural Diaconal Conference, 'my chief supporter' is one of the lay speakers. Thus he obtains every man's good word whose good word is worth anything. Social credit means commercial credit. Yet he is not altogether acting a part--he really likes taking the lead and pushing forward, and means a good deal of what he says.

He is especially quite honest in his hospitality. All the same, so far as business is concerned, it is pure gambling, which may answer very well in favourable times, but is not unlikely to end in failure should the strain of depression become too severe. Personal popularity, however, will tide him over a great deal. When a man is spoken highly of by gentry, clergy, literally everybody, the bank is remarkably accommodating. Such a man may get for his bare signature--almost pressed on him, as if his acceptance of it were a favour--what another would have to deposit solid security for.

In plain language, he borrows money and invests it in every possible way. His farms are simply the basis of his credit. He buys blood shorthorns, he buys blood horses, and he sells them again. He buys wheat, hay, &c., to dispose of them at a profit. If he chose, he could explain to you the meaning of contango, and even of that mysterious term to the uninitiated, 'backwardation.' His speculations for the 'account' are sometimes heavy. So much so, that occasionally, with thousands invested, he has hardly any ready money. But, then, there are the crops; he can get money on the coming crops. There is, too, the live stock money can be borrowed on the stock.

Here lies the secret reason of the dread of foreign cattle disease. The increase of our flocks and herds is, of course, a patriotic cry (and founded on fact); but the secret pinch is this--if foot-and-mouth, pleuro-pneumonia, or rinderpest threaten the stock, the tenant-farmer cannot borrow on that security. The local bankers shake their heads--three cases of rinderpest are equivalent to a reduction of 25 per cent. in the borrowing power of the agriculturist. The auctioneers and our friends have large transactions--'paper' here again. With certain members of the hunt he books bets to a high amount; his face is not unknown at Tattersall's or at the race meetings. But he does not flourish the betting-book in the face of society. He bets--and holds his tongue. Some folks have an ancient and foolish prejudice against betting; he respects sincere convictions.

Far and away he is the best fellow, the most pleasant company in the shire, always welcome everywhere. He has read widely, is well educated; but, above all, he is ever jolly, and his jollity is contagious. Despite his investments and speculations, his brow never wears that sombre aspect of gloomy care, that knitted concentration of wrinkles seen on the face of the City man, who goes daily to his 'office.' The out-of-door bluffness, the cheery ringing voice, and the upright form only to be gained in the saddle over the breezy uplands, cling to him still. He wakes everybody up, and, risky as perhaps some of his speculations are, is socially enlivening.

The two young gentlemen, by-the-by, observed playing lawn-tennis from the drawing-room window, are two of his pupils, whose high premiums and payments assist to keep up the free and generous table, and who find farming a very pleasant profession. The most striking characteristic of their tutor is his Yankee-like fertility of resource and bold innovations--the very antipodes of the old style of 'clod-compeller.'

(The end)
Richard Jefferies's essay: The Borrower And The Gambler

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Going Downhill Going Downhill

Going Downhill
An aged man, coming out of an arable field into the lane, pauses to look back. He is shabbily clad, and there is more than one rent in his coat; yet it is a coat that has once been a good one, and of a superior cut to what a labourer would purchase. In the field the ploughman to whom he has been speaking has started his team again. A lad walks beside the horses, the iron creaks, and the ploughman holding the handles seems now to press upon them with his weight, and now to be himself bodily pulled along.

An Agricultural Genius-old Style An Agricultural Genius-old Style

An Agricultural Genius-old Style
Towards the hour of noon Harry Hodson, of Upcourt Farm, was slowly ascending the long slope that led to his dwelling. In his left hand he carried a hare, which swung slightly to and fro as he stepped out, and the black-tipped ears rubbed now and then against a bunch of grass. His double-barrel was under his right arm. Every day at the same hour Harry turned towards home, for he adhered to the ways of his fathers and dined at half-past twelve, except when the stress of harvest, or some important agricultural operation, disturbed the usual household arrangements. It was