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LIFE IN THE WILDS. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 1 (Life in the Wilds, Hill and the Valley, Brooke and Brooke Farm) 
Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1832). Vol. 1.
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LIFE IN THE WILDS.
LIFE IN THE WILDS.
WHAT HAVE THEY LEFT US?
There are few climates in the world more delightful to live in than that of the south of Africa. The air of the mountains behind the Cape of Good Hope is pure and wholesome; and the plains which stretch out towards the north at a great height above the sea, are fertile in native plants when uncultivated, and richly repay the toil of the farmer. The woods are remarkable for the variety of trees and shrubs, and there are as many animals which may serve for food or for beasts of burden as in this country. These advantages would lead numbers of our countrymen to settle in southern Africa, who now go elsewhere, if it were not for one great drawback. It is not that there are beasts of prey; for lions, leopards, and panthers, may be kept away from a settlement by the use of proper precautions: it is that a race of men, more fierce than wild beasts, and full of cunning, inhabit the mountains on the northern frontier of the European settlements, and descend, from time to time, upon the lonely farms or small villages scattered over the plain, and slaughter the inhabitants, burn their dwellings, and carry off their cattle and their goods. It is nearly impossible to guard against the attacks of these savages; and as a considerable force is required to resist them, it is no wonder that settlers are disposed to sacrifice many advantages of climate, soil, and productions, rather than be subject to the continual dread of a visit from the Bushmen, as these people are called. The settlements towards the northern frontier are therefore few and small, and consist of those whose poverty induces them to brave danger, and whose courage is improved by constant exercise.
The Bushmen were the original possessors of much of the country about the Cape, which the British and the Dutch have since taken for their own. The natives were hunted down like so many wild beasts. This usage naturally made them fierce and active in their revenge. The hardships they have undergone have affected their bodily make also; and their short stature and clumsy form are not, as some suppose, a sufficient proof that they are of an inferior race to the men they make war upon. If we may judge by the experiments which have been tried upon the natives of various countries, it seems probable that if Europeans were driven from their homes into the mountains, and exposed to the hardships of a savage life, they would become stunted in their forms, barbarous in their habits, and cruel in their revenge. They might, like the Bushmen, visit the sins of the first invaders upon their innocent successors, and cause as much undeserved distress as that we are about to relate.
It was in the month of September—a season of extreme heat in the climate we have described — when the inhabitants of a small British settlement in the north of the European territories of South Africa, met to consider what should be done to relieve the want to which they were suddenly reduced. The evening before, their village looked thriving, and its inhabitants gay and prosperous; and now, just when morning had dawned, they assembled to look on the ruin of their habitations, and the nakedness of their meadows, from which all the cattle had been driven away. The savages had carried off their tools and their arms, burned their little furniture with the houses, and left them nothing but the clothes they wore, and the seed which was buried in the ground. Happily, but few lives were lost, for the attack had been so sudden, that little resistance had been attempted: but yet some were gone whose services could ill be spared, even if they had not attached their companions to them by having shared the same toils, or by their several good qualities. Williams, the carpenter, was found dead among the ashes in the saw-pit ; and “Humby had been slaughtered on the threshold of the new hut he was building on his little farm. Some of the children, too, had perished in the flames; but the loss of life was found to be much less than every one had supposed before the numbers were called over. The most general and eager inquiries were for the safety of Captain Adams, and of Mr. and Mrs. Stone and their child, who were all alive and unhurt.
Mr. Stone was the best-educated man in the settlement, and was therefore much valued as a chaplain and teacher, as well as in his character of a practical farmer. His wife was an amiable, strong-minded woman, who assisted her husband in his labours abroad and at home. She was, by common consent, called the Lady of the settlement; but she refused the title; not because she was not really a lady, but because she thought there was no reason for such a distinction in a place where all were obliged to exert their own power for their own subsistence. She had one child, a girl of three years old.
Mr. Adams was called Captain only because he, in a manner, took the direction of the affairs of the settlement. Having been long accustomed to the climate, and acquainted with all the peculiarities of the country, he was well qualified to advise respecting the proceedings of his neighbours, who looked up to him as if he had really been what they called him, and had a captain's authority over them. It was he who now assembled them under the shelter of a few trees which grew in a nook between two hills.
When they met, they looked on one another, and no one seemed disposed to speak. The captain was about to break silence, when the sobbing of one of the women who had lost her child, and the wailing of the carpenter's widow, affected him so much that he could not command his voice. Mr. Stone, who was remarkable for his self-command, next came forward, and said that the friends around him had been called together that they might determine what measures should be taken for their safety and subsistence; and that it appeared to him that the right way to begin was by addressing God in a spirit of resignation for what they had lost, and of thankfulness for what remained. This was the readiest means of consoling the mourners who were among them, and of so calming the minds of all, as that they might deliberate soberly, and judge wisely in an extremity so awful.
To this there was a general assent; and all heads were bowed, and all sounds, except the voice of Mr. Stone, hushed in prayer.
When this was over, and a pause had succeeded, the captain observed that the first consideration of every man among them must be to secure food and shelter,—food for the present day, and shelter for perhaps one night only: for the next question was, whether they should remain in the settlement and build up its ruins as well as they could, or set out southwards with the hope of finding a safer resting-place, or aid from their countrymen. In the first place, then, he must declare his hope that every individual would lay aside all selfish thoughts and come forward to say what provisions remained in his hands or upon his portion of ground.
Mr. Stone offered an antelope which had been snared the day before, and fastened within an inclosure which the savages had not entered. He feared that but little was left of his first crop of fruit, and that the next would not be ripe for some weeks; but said, that whatever remained should be carried to any appointed spot. Campbell, the herdsman, said he had not a beast left of all the flocks he had charge of; but he would venture to follow on the track of the savages for a few miles, and if a stray ox or sheep should be left behind, it should be in the camp before nightfall. Upon this, two or three men offered to go out hunting if weapons were furnished; and others proposed fishing, if they had but tackle.
“This is all very well,” said the captain, who suspected that neither weapons nor tackle were to be had; “ but our object is to find out what food is actually in our possession.”
Alas! this was soon made out. There was only Mr. Stone's antelope, a few oranges, grapes, and figs; some eggs which were found near the roosts, and some fowls which began to appear again after having been scared away by the fires. This was all the provision that could be collected for fifty-four persons.
“It is clear, then,” said the captain, “that the greater number of us must disperse in search of food, and that all considerations of removal must be deferred till tomorrow, at least. We are in no condition to travel this day. But our night's shelter must also be thought of. Let any one speak who has a plan to propose.”
Here again there was a pause, for every one was wishing that poor Williams, the carpenter, was among them. At length, Robertson, a farmer said,
“If we could find up tools enough, we might have a sort of roof over our heads before night, for I believe there are several here who have been used, like myself, to handle a hatchet, though not as a regular business, like poor Williams who is gone. But if we cannot have tools, I see nothing for it but to sleep under the open sky. It is damp in the woods; and besides, the beasts would couch in our neighbourhood, and the women and children would not sleep for their roaring, even supposing we men could.”
“ The nights are frosty,” said Mr. Stone; “ it is dangerous to sleep unsheltered after such hot days. Who has a hatchet to produce?”
Not one was forthcoming, and each looked at his neighbour in dismay.
A labourer then proposed that a party of two or three should explore the pass of the mountains to the east, and see whether there were caves, or any places in the rock which might be covered in with boughs and rushes so as to make a convenient sleeping-place.
“Excellent!” cried the captain. “And lest this plan should fail us, let another company go into the wood, and try whether we cannot get possession of some stout branches, though we have no tools. Some must have snapped in the wind last week, I should think; and so dry as the weather has been for many weeks, some will yield to force, if we put our strength into our hands. We must remember that our hands are our tools to-day, and we must ply them well.”
“I do not see,” said Mr. Stone, “why the weakest should be idle. Cannot the children pluck dry grass and brushwood to make fires round our sleeping-place?”
“My child shall do her part,” said Mrs. Stone. “She shall look for eggs about the roost; and some of the boys and I will gather the fruit and cook the antelope, and whatever game may be brought in.”
“And I,” said her husband, “will see that the bodies of those we have lost are buried without delay, and with proper respect. Let the mourners of their families follow me.”
When Mr. Stone and about eight of the company had retired, the captain proceeded to appoint to the others their various tasks. His office of superintendent was enough for him. His advice and help were wanted every moment; for it was no easy matter to perform tasks, all the materials for which were wanting.
First of all, Campbell, the herdsman, was sent with two of Robertson's labourers to follow the Bushmen, and pick up any stray lamb or wearied beast which might have been left behind. They looked round wistfully for a noose, thinking that they might snare an antelope by the way; but not a thread of cordage was left. They were obliged to be content with a stout cudgel each, which they took from the trees as they passed.
Jack, the tanner's man, set off with two companions up the pass in search of a sleeping-place; while his master, who was accustomed to go into the woods to obtain bark for tanning, guided a party of labourers to a tree of remarkably hard and tough wood which he had barked and stripped of its branches, of which he thought tools of a rude kind might be made. It occurred to him also that the want of ropes might be supplied by thongs of leather tanned and prepared according to the manner of the natives; and he wished, therefore, to proceed upon the antelope's skin without delay. So his object was to obtain hard wood to make a rude sort of tools, and bark for tanning.
Hill, the barber-surgeon, had explored the whole neighbourhood in search of herbs for his medical purposes; and he told of a pool of remarkably fine water, about two miles off, which abounded with carp. They had only to pass a net through the water, he said, and they would soon catch enough to feed their company. This might be true, but where was the net? Hill could not furnish one; but he could tell how one might be obtained within a short time. He could shew where flax grew in abundance; and if two or three clever pairs of hands would help him, the fibres might be dried and pulled out and twisted and woven into a net, and in three days they might have a plentiful meal of fish. Hill's wife and her sister Kate, and the three children, went with him about this business.
“If they had but left us our dogs,” said Arnall, a great sportsman and one of the partners of the store or shop where all the commodities of the settlement were exchanged,—“if they had but left us our dogs, we might have started game in abundance.”
“And much use it would be of to us,” replied his partner, Mr. Duan, “when we have no guns to bring it down.”
“I shot a partridge without a gun, the other day,” said George Prest, the butcher's son. “Mr. Arnall laughed at my bow and arrows then; but perhaps he would like such an one now very well.”
“If you will bring me such an one to-morrow, my boy,” said Arnall, “you shall have the first bird I bring down.”
“I am afraid your arrows are not strong enough to kill a hare,” said Dunn. “If you help me to a hare, you shall have her skin to make a cap of for your bare head.”
“If your dogs will run me down a porcupine,” said the boy, “you shall have your hare and her skin into the bargain. A hedgehog's bristles are strong enough to wound a partridge, but nothing less than a porcupine quill will reach larger game.”
So saying, George ran off to beg a string of the gut of the antelope from Mrs. Stone, and to find a suitable slip of wood for a bow, and some lighter pieces for arrows, with tufts of the soft hair of the antelope, which must serve instead of feathers till a bird could be brought down. Meanwhile, Arnall climbed a hill, and whistled shrill and long for his dogs, one of which at length made his appearance, limping and wearied. Jowler had, however, sport enough in him to turn out a hedgehog, which was immediately killed, stripped of its bristles, and put away to be cooked the next day, after the manner of tim natives, if better food should fall short.
The rest of the labourers, meanwhile, were employed under the captain's direction in various tasks. Some assisted at the burial of their companions. As they had not the means of digging graves for the dead, and as it was necessary, on account of the extreme heat, not to defer the rite, the bodies were deposited together in the saw-pit, which was afterwards filled up with sand and earth. Others of the men built a sort of oven with stones; one large fiat one being placed at the bottom of a hole scooped out in the sand, and others placed upright round the sides of the hole. This was filled with burning wood till the stones were thoroughly heated; then the ashes were swept out, and the meat (which had been skinned and cut up with fragments of granite) put in, and the whole closed with a hot stone; and lastly, fire was heaped above and round the whole.
“I wonder whether it will be good,” said one of the children, who watched the whole proceeding. “There is no flour to sprinkle it with, nor yet salt. There will be very little gravy.”
“And what there is will all run out between the stones into the sand,” said another. “And what shall we eat our dinner off? We have no dishes or plates. I never had my dinner without a plate.”
“If you cannot eat without a plate,” said Mrs. Stone, “suppose you try to find or make one, instead of standing with your hands behind you. If you and your brother go into that quarry which is just opened, I should not wonder if you find a service of plates which will answer our purpose very well.”
“There is nothing there but slates,” said the boy. “They are flat enough for plates, to be sure; but they have no rim; and even Jowler's trencher had a rim.”
Being again reminded, however, that there was likely to be no gravy to run over, little Harry set off in search of a dinner service. He looked out a great many flat pieces of slate, and rubbed them so clean with dry grass, that no dust remained. His brother, meanwhile, broke stones against the hard rock, and picked out the sharpest bits to serve for knives.
When they had done this, Mrs. Stone called them to help her to gather fruit; and they climbed the trees in the orchard, where a few oranges were still hanging among the dark leaves. Some plums and apples also remained, and a purple bunch of grapes here and there upon the trailing vines. Little Betsy, their sister, had a quick ear; and while she was picking up oranges, she heard, some way off in the wood, the cry of a bird which she knew very well. So she slipped away, without being missed, to try whether she could not add something acceptable to the dessert, by the help of this bird. The Honey-cuckoo, as Betsy's friend is called, lives on the honey which the wild bees store in the hollow trunks of trees. It is sometimes called the Indicator, because by uttering its peculiar cry whenever it meets with a stock of honey, it points out the way to the honey-tree. Betsy had often followed this bird from tree to tree; and when the bees were absent, (as wild bees usually are on a sunny day,) it was her custom to place a leaf on the ground with some honey on it for the bird, and then to carry off a part of what remained. Nothing had been easier, hitherto, than to obtain and bring away this honey, which was as clear and liquid as water. Betsy brushed it out of the hollows of the wood with a painter's brush which she kept clean for the purpose; and she let it run into the white basin out of which she ate her breakfast. But now, the brush was burned and the basin gone; and when she had overtaken the bird in the wood, she did not know what to do for want of her utensils, and her guide fluttered onwards and did not like to be kept waiting. She twisted a wisp of dry grass, which did very well instead of her brush: but after she had taken possession of a leaf-full of honey, and found that it ran over and escaped between her fingers, she found she must devise a better plan or leave the honey behind. She had nothing on that she could make into a basket or basin;—no hat, no pocket; nothing but her shoes, and those she could not spare. At last, she bethought herself of marking the trees and returning for the honey when the bird should be gone: so she picked up a piece of red earth, and marked each honey-tree with a cross. When she had marked six and began to be tired, she followed the bird no farther, but sat down beside a pool of water where rushes grew in plenty, and began to weave them into a sort of basket or basin. She had been accustomed to make caps of rushes for her brothers in play, and was expert. She made just such an one now, and lined it thick with the large leaves of the fig-tree, and tied twigs crosswise over the top to keep it in shape. By the time this was done, she was rested, and made her way back merrily through the wood, delighted to find how abundant the honey was, and how well her vessel held it. On the way, it occurred to her that it would not be pleasant to eat honey by dipping the fingers into it when other persons were doing the same; and no better mode seemed to be left. She wondered whether she could make a spoon-brush, such as she had seen the natives prepare and use for taking up liquids. The plant of which this sort of brush is made grows in great abundance in those parts, and she had no difficulty in finding it. Its stem is hard and fibrous, and flat: being about two inches broad, and very thin. Betsy cut the stem off in the middle with a sharp stone, and then beat it till it was bruised so that she could separate the fibres with her fingers. When it was done, she dipped it into the honey, and found that it took up quite sufficient for a mouthful. She made six before she turned her face homewards. As she took down her honey-basket from the bough on which she had hung it, she was rather alarmed to see that the sun was getting low in the sky, and pursued her way as fast as she could; lest she should hear the roaring of wild beasts before she got out of the wood.
Just when she was quitting the shade, and going to cross the meadow, she heard a rustling in the bushes close beside her. She did not scream, but her limbs bent under her, for she expected to see a panther, or perhaps a lion, ready to spring upon her. She looked behind her for the fiery eyes which she supposed were glaring amidst the underwood. Her delight was great to see that it was the herdsman's dog—an old acquaintance, whose bark now sounded cheerily, when she had listened only for a savage growl. Campbell himself soon appeared with a lamb on his shoulder, which he had overtaken feeding by itself upon the hills.
Betsy wished him joy of his prize; but he did not answer her, and looked very melancholy.
“Has any new tiring happened?” asked the little girl. “Are Will and Richard safe?”
“Yes; they are behind, driving home a bullock; and Will has got a hare that Keeper took by the ears for us.”
“O, what good luck!” cried Betsy. “But one would not have thought it by your looks. What makes you look so gloomy?”
“Why, it seems ungrateful to say that it is this lamb,” said Campbell. “It is not that I do not like to have it back again; but it makes me pine for the rest. This morning, when I went out, I thought, as was fit, less about the poor beasts than about the folks we are going to, seeing how little prospect of food there was before them. But when I heard the bleat of this lamb, and I saw it come skipping towards me, I thought to myself, ‘Where are the rest?’ And then it seemed hard to see the very traces of them in the track, and to know what a little way they were before us, and yet to turn back and leave them to be slaughtered by those savages. I little thought when I called home the cows, and penned the sheep, last night, that I should never see one of all of them again but this poor beast.”
Little Betsy did not know what to say; and so she plucked a handful of grass for the lamb.
In a few minutes they reached the place where dinner was going forward. Though it was the first meal that day, many of the people had eaten sparingly, not knowing whether anything might be provided for the next day. When they saw the lamb, however, and heard of the bullock, they helped themselves again. They did not relish their hard-earned meal the less for the clumsy manner in which they were obliged to eat it.
Campbell would not join them till he had disposed of his charge. The fences were so injured that it was necessary to pile up all the wood that could be laid hold of to stop the gaps. This done, the herdsman cast a mournful glance at these poor remains of his droves and flocks, and sat down to refresh himself.
Mrs. Stone, and Betsy's mother, Mrs. Links, the smith's wife, had grown uneasy about the little girl, on account of her long absence: but they could not blame her when they saw what she had been doing. They bade her carry the honey and brushes to the captain, who acted as storekeeper, and receiver-general of whatever was brought in. He patted her on the head, and said she had done her part; and he moreover gave her his share of fruit, without which she would have had none, for there was not enough for everybody. The captain said that the honey should be for those who came too late for the fruit, that all might have some kind of vegetable nourishment. And as for the spoon-brushes, they were so useful that everybody must have one. So little Betsy determined to make plenty more the next day, and was quite happy.
“And now,” said the captain, “it is high time we were setting off to our sleeping-place. Jack, kindle your torch and go first, and Hill and Robertson will follow with lights. The rest of you must take care of your own families, and see that none are left behind but the few who have not returned from the woods. I will just stay to light the fire we have piled for them, and then follow you. If they do not come by the time that wood-heap is burnt, we shall not see them tonight.
So saying, the brave captain took his stand, and hurried the people away, first lighting his torch, and promising to follow soon. All the way as they went, Mr. Stone looked back, in hopes of seeing his friend advancing; but it was not till they had been settled at their sleeping-place nearly an hour, that they saw the glimmering light of his torch coming slowly up the pass between the rocks.
The sleeping-place was such an one as the whole party were very thankful to have found, though its distance (two miles) from the settlement was likely to add considerably to their daily toils. It consisted of two caverns, one within the other, sufficiently dry and open to the air to be wholesome, but not lofty enough to admit of a fire being kindled within, or even of a torch being burned there for any length of time. The inner cave, which was set apart for the women and children, had been swept out with bundles of rushes, and the floor thick-strewn with dry grass, by the men who had explored it in the morning. Mr. Stone entered it first this night, in order to satisfy himself that there was no other passage to it than from the larger cave; and when he came out, he delivered the torch to his wife, desiring her to give it into no hand less careful than her own, while her companions were laying themselves down to rest, and to return it to him before she should herself retire; for if a single spark should fall on the dry grass, they would inevitably be driven from their shelter.
“What a beautiful room!” cried some of the little children, as they opened their sleepy eyes, and saw how the sides and roof, glittering with crystals, sparkled in the torch-light.
“If they do but keep up the fire on the outside,” said one of the mothers, “we may sleep as safely and warmly as in our own houses.”
Perhaps she would not have said this if she had known what Jack could have told, but wisely kept to himself, that he had found in that very cave traces of a lion, which had perhaps couched there the night before. Jack properly considered that this was not a sufficient objection to the place, as there were few spots in the neighbourhood where lions had not couched some time or other, and as a good fire at the entrance of the cave was always a perfect security against the attack of wild beasts. Lest others should not think so, however, he held his peace towards everybody but the captain, taking care that brushwood enough was stored to keep up a large fire till sunrise.
When the captain had joined his people, Mr. Stone offered to conduct their devotions, as he had done this morning. Standing at the entrance, between the two caverns, so that he could be heard by those within and those without, he offered thanks giving for their preservation during so eventful and perilous a day, and besought protection during the night.
He and the captain then took their station as watchers just within the outer cave, having promised that Robertson and Arnall should be called up to take their place when half the night had passed.
WHAT IS WEALTH?
“ Well, my friend,” said the captain to Mr. Stone, as they sat watching their fire, “how do you feel at the close of this strange day?”
“ Very much as if I were in a dream. When I look round this place and think of all that I have seen and done since morning, I can scarcely believe that we are the same people, living in the same age of the world as yesterday. We seem to have gone back in the course of a night from a state of advanced civilization to a primitive condition of society.”
“Except,” interrupted his friend, “that the intelligence belonging to a state of advancement remains.”
“True,” replied Mr. Stone; “and it is this which makes the present too good an opportunity to be lost of observing what the real wealth of society consists of, and what the unassisted labour of man can do towards producing that wealth.”
“I wish,” said the captain, “that the people in England, who think that wealth consists in gold, and silver, and bank notes, would come here, and see how much their money is worth in our settlement. A thousand sovereigns would not here buy a hat, nor a roll of bank notes a loaf of bread. Here, at least, money is not wealth.
“Nor any where else,” said Mr. Stone, “as we may see by putting a very simple case. Put a man with a bag of gold into an empty house, in England or anywhere else, and he will starve in a week, unless he is allowed to give his gold in exchange for what will supply his wants. But give a man, who has not a shilling, a room well stocked with meat, and bread, and beer, and he has wealth enough to maintain him for a week or a fortnight, or as long as his provision lasts. And this is a test which holds good all the world over.”
“And yet gold and silver may be called riches,” said the captain, “while they procure us things of greater value than themselves.”
“Certainly: they are, as long as they can be made use of, a part of wealth, though only one, and that not the greatest part. Wealth is made up of many things—of land, of houses, of clothes, furniture, food, and of the means (whether gold and silver, or anything else) by which these things may be obtained. Whatever lives, or grows, or can be produced, that is necessary, or useful, or agreeable to mankind, is wealth.”
“ Then our settlement,” said the captain, “is not stripped of all its property. We have some wealth left.”
“Poor as we are,” said his friend, “we are richer than if we were in the midst of the sandy desert to the north of us, with a waggon full of gold in our possession. We have here what gold could not buy in such a place, food and shelter.”
“And other things too,” said the captain.
“We have clothing, for flax grows in the woods, and there are plenty of animals within reach, whose skins can be dried and cleaned to make us cloaks or beds, or tanned for shoes and caps and aprons for our workmen. We have furniture, for there is plenty of timber in the woods to make tables and chairs. We have———”
“Stay,” interrupted his friend, “you are getting on too fast. All these things are likely to become ours, I grant you; but before we can call them our own,—before they become wealth to us, something must be added which we have not yet taken into consideration. You forget that there is no wealth without labour; and labour must be applied before the commonest productions can become wealth.”
“True,” replied the captain. “The flax must be gathered, and dried, and hackled, and woven, before it will make a shirt; and the animals must be caught, and a great deal of labour be spent upon their skins before they become fit for clothing or bedding; and the timber must be felled and sawn, and the pieces put skilfully together, before we possess it in the form of tables and chairs. But surely the case is different with food, of some kinds at least. There is fish in the pond, and fruit on rite tree, ready made for man's use. Man spends no labour on the fruit that grows wild in such a climate as this; and yet we daily find that it is wealth to us.”
“I beg your pardon,” said Mr. Stone. “There is the labour of gathering it. An orange is of no use to any man living unless he puts out his hand to pluck it. And as for the fish in the pond,—think of the carp that Hill told us of this morning. They are no wealth to us till we can catch them, though the pool is within reach, and they belong to nobody else.”
“We should have had them by this time if we had but got a net,” said the captain.
“The net is one thing wanting, certainly,” said his friend, “but labour is another. If the net were now lying ready on the bank, we should be no better for the fish, unless some one took the trouble of drawing them out of the water. I do not say that unassisted labour will furnish us with all that we want; but I do say that nothing can be had without the exertion of getting it; that is, that there is no wealth without labour.”
“True,” said the captain. “Even the manna in the wilderness would have been of no more use to the Hebrews than the carp in the pool to us, if they had not exerted themselves to gather it up. Food was never yet rained into the mouth of any man.”
“And if it had been,” said Mr. Stone, “he must have troubled himself to hold back his head and open his mouth. So you see what conclusion we come to, even in an extreme case.”
“But with all our labour,” said the captain, “how little we can do in comparison with what is done for us! Labour may be necessary to make the productions of Nature useful to us; but how much greater are the powers of Nature in preparing them for us! To look hack no farther than to-day,—the antelope could not have been food for us unless haman hands had prepared it; but how much was done beforehand! It was nourished, we know not how, by the grass it fed upon; it was made, we know not how, fit food for our bodies: and our bodies were so formed as to be strengthened by this food. Neither do we understand how fire acts upon the flesh so as to make it tender; or even how wood in its turn nourishes the fire. All that human labour has done was to bring together the wood, and the fire, and the animal, and then to eat the food prepared. Nature did the rest.”
“The case was the same with little Betsy's treat of honey,” added Mr. Stone. “The earth, and the air, and the dew, had nourished the flowers from which the honey was collected: the bees were curiously formed and animated, so that they could gather and store the honey; and the hollows of the tree so made as to hold it. Then again, the rushes, and the twigs, and the leaves, were all fit for the use Betsy made of them; her business was to bring them together in a particular manner so as to make a basket. And thus it is in every case. And even where we seem to make the materials, we only bring together simple materials to make compound ones. We say that the materials of a rush basket are not made by human labour; but that the materials of a paper basket are made by human labour; but though paper is made of linenrags, those rags are made of flax which grows out of the ground. So that Nature still works at the bottom.”
“In the same way,” said the captain, “we say” that the material of a hare-skin waistcoat is not produced by human labour, but that the velvet one of a gentleman of fashion is altogether made by human hands; but still Nature works at the bottom, as you say; for velvet is woven of silk spun by a worm.”
“True” said Mr. Stone; “and thus far only is the labour of man appointed to go. He works with Nature, and his only way of doing so is by motion. He moves her materials together; but how they act upon one another he does not know. You put your torch of wood into the flame, and it blazes. Robertson lets the seed fall into the ground, and it sprouts; he pulls up a root, and it withers. Hill applies certain herbs to a wound, or gives certain medicines, and his patients are cured; or, if they die, he does not know how to prevent it. Fulton dips and rubs his leather in a certain preparation of bark, and it becomes soft and fit for use. His mother puts flour and salt and barm together, and the dough works; she places it in a great heat, and it becomes fit for food. So man brings materials together; but Nature first furnishes them, and then makes them act upon one another.”
“It seems but little that man can do,” said the captain; “but yet that little is all-important to him.”
“Since it is necessary to him,” said Mr. Stone, “it becomes great; and indeed it may be said that there are no bounds to what man can do, since there seem to be no bounds to the powers of Nature. Look what has been done! There may have been, I doubt not there was, a time when the founders of nations could do nothing more than gather the wild fruits of the earth, and find shelter in caves; and now, the successors of these very men produce merchandize, and build ships, and rear splendid buildings, and make roads over mountains, and do a thousand things which would have appeared miracles to their forefathers: and all this time, the wisest men are aware that labour may be employed in a multitude of ways of which we yet know nothing.”
“I should like our people to remain in this settlement,” said the captain, “that we might observe how fast they will advance from the primitive state to which we are reduced, to that in which their countrymen are in England.”
“They will advance rapidly,” replied Mr. Stone; “because they know how to apply their labour. They know what improvements they would aim at, instead of having to try experiments. I hope we shall all stay, for I am curious to see how much may be done by pure labour; and pure labour is our only resource till we can get tools from Cape Town.”
“It will take a long time to do that,” said the captain: “but I am not uneasy. The Bushmen know well enough that nothing more is to be had from us; and we are therefore safe from another attack till we shall have gathered some property about us again. Do you know, my dear friend, nothing has given me so much satisfaction to-day as seeing your wife and yourself in such good spirits. None of our people had so much to lose in the way of property as yourselves,—for I, being a single man, do not care much about those matters. You neither of you seem to be downcast about your losses.”
“Nor are we,” replied Mr. Stone; “but you must remember how different it is to lose everything in such a place as this, and in England. Here there are so few inhabitants, and the natural productions are in such plenty, that we know we have only to work, under the blessing of Providence, to provide ourselves and our child with all that is necessary now, and with comforts and luxuries by and by. Besides, there is here no loss of rank, or sacrifice of independence, because all are in the same condition. It could not happen so in England; and if any calamity should there oblige us to descend to a lower rank in society, or, worse still, to be dependent for our subsistence upon others, we should try, I hope, to be patient, but we could not be so happy as you have seen us to-day.”
“You have both good health, and industry, and contentment,” said the captain; “and they are exactly the qualities we all have most need of just now.”
“Thank God! we have always had cause for content,” replied his friend; “and as for industry, the only difference is, that we must now work in another way. We have always declared that none deserved to be maintained who would not labour, Before, we worked most with our heads; now we must work with our hands as well. And we are both willing.”
“And in order to be fit for labour,” said the captain, “you must sleep; so let us pile some more wood on the fire, and then rouse our watchmen.”
So when they had arranged the time and place for a general consultation on the affairs of the settlement, the next morning, the gentlemen gave up their charge to Robertson and Arnall, and betook themselves to rest.
EARN YOUR BREAD BEFORE YOU EAT IT.
During the first day of the troubles of our settlers, before the impression of their terror was worn out, and when it remained doubtful whether their immediate wants could be supplied, there was a general concern for the good of the community, and forgetfulness of petty personal considerations. None but the little children were heard that day to cry, “what will become of me?” One little boy complained, as we have seen, that there was no rim to his plate; and it was said that one baby girl lifted up her voice in weeping for her doll: but the grown children of the society seemed to have laid aside their childishness on so great an occasion. It was not long in appearing again, however; for amidst the winding course of human life, character is sure to peep out and show itself at every turn, however it may occasionally be hidden. There was as great a variety of habits and dispositions among these settlers as there is among the same number of persons all the world over: and when the first fears and difficulties were surmounted, this variety began to be quite as evident as before any misfortune had befallen. It would have been a curious study to an observer,—it was so to Mr. Stone,—to mark the different department of the people who attended the morning's consultation on the general state of their affairs. Some were in high spirits, excited by the novelty of their situation and full of a spirit of enterprise. These were principally labourers, who had had little or nothing to lose, or young men whose activity was greater than their love of property. Some were gloomy and panic-struck: the old and the weak, whose terrors made them equally afraid to attempt, unprovided, a journey southwards, and to remain within reach of the Bushmen. Some were more careful of their own dignity than of all besides, ready to plead their rights, to refuse any employment they might fancy degrading, and to resent any hint that the less was now said of distinction of ranks the better.
At the head of these was Arnall, the storekeeper, who had always been disliked for his haughtiness. He had complained of his partner, Mr. Dunn, ever since their first connexion, for being on such familiar terms with the customers of all ranks who came to their shop; and it spoke well for Mr. Dunn that this was the only fault of which his fastidious partner did complain. Arnall was as obsequious as any man to the public as a whole. No petitions for custom were so full of compliments and protestations as is; but he of was not the less insolent for this. His insolence was particularly evident this morning, when the captain was offering his advice respecting the manner in which the various members of the society should employ their industry. Arnall was anxious to be sent out shooting, which he thought a very gentlemanly amusement; but as he had no gun, and had never practised with bows and arrows, it was thought best that he should yield the sport to the boys who were skilful at it, and assist, with all the hands that could be spared from other occupations, in carrying on the trenching, on which the growth of the crops depended. In very dry. seasons in that climate, there is no means of preserving the young corn but by digging trenches from the neighbouring streams through the fields. A large trench, from which several smaller ones were to branch out, had been nearly finished in Mr. Stone's field when the savages made their attack; and as the spring rains (for our autumn is their spring) were not expected for a month or more, it was of the utmost importance that water should be conveyed to the crops. Even if the settlers should wish to remove, they could not stir till they had provision for their journey, as, in a country like that, there was nothing to depend on by the Way. Many were eager to be employed in a work of such pressing importance: but not so Mr. Arnall.
“Do you actually mean, captain,” said he, “that I am to work in a ditch with ploughmen and hedgers? I am as willing as any body to do my part; but I assure you I have not been used to such companionship.”
“Nor have I,” said Mr. Stone, “yet I am going about my work without delay.”
“But it is contrary to all my habits,” persisted Arnall.
“Not more so than to your partner, Mr, Dunn's,” said the captain; “and there he is at work already. He and Jack made a very pretty spade between them this morning, of a piece of hard wood, which they sawed and burnt into shape with the fragments of the saw left in the pit, and with heated stones. They will give you that spade and make another, if you will go and ask them. Then you can work by yourself, which will suit your dignity better than helping those men who are turning out the clods so cleverly by crossing the stakes they have taken from the fence.”
“You must excuse me, indeed,” replied Arnall. “I must beg some other employment. Could not I be your messenger to Cape Town, and send out tools and all that you want? I shall have pleasure in undertaking the journey, and will represent your case forcibly to the Governor.”
“I am afraid, Sir, you are scarcely the man to be the representative of a hard-working agricultural community as ours must be now. There is a rival candidate in the person of Richard the labourer. We can ill spare him; but he is a hardy traveller on foot, and is, besides, a good judge of implements, which, by your own statement, you cannot be for want of experience. Stand aside, Sir, if you please, for my time is precious this morning. Choose. Your own occupation; but remember that you must find your own food unless you do our work.”
“The tables are turned, you ” see, “said one of the labourers to Arnall as he was retiring. “You held your head very high a week ago, because you had a genteeler employment than ours, as you thought. And now that 'we are all put to the test, see what a poor figure you make! I always said a farmer ought to rank above a shopkeeper.”
“Hey-day! what is that I hear?” said the captain. “Let me tell you, you are qute in the wrong, my friend. What our society is now, is no test of the value of its members a week ago. Because we cannot have a shop to-day, it does not follow that a shop was not a good thing when we had goods to buy and sell. If Mr. Arnall transacted his business properly, he deserved as well of society as the farmer who did his part honestly. As far as their labour is concerned, they rank equally.”
“But farmers do not give themselves airs like some shopkeepers I have known,” persisted the labourer; “and I see no gentility in such airs.”
“Nor I,” said the captain; “ but I have seen farmers as haughty with their men as any shopkeeper. All this has nothing to do with the question. A man may make himself liked or disliked by his manners; but they do not affect his rank as a labourer in the community.”
Arnall did not much relish being called a labourer in any sense, having a very narrow notion of the meaning of the word. Some others who were present fell into the same mistake, as we shall see by-and-by. Business was so pressing just now, however, that there was no time for conversation: but many minds were active that day in thinking over what was happening, while the hands were busily employed in various tasks.
It was soon settled that no removal should be thought of till after the rains, at any rate, as the settlers could not hope to establish themselves elsewhere in the interval, and were unwilling to desert their fields after all the labour which had been spent upon them. With heart and goodwill, therefore, men, women, and children set about improving their condition, determined to try what industry could do to make up for a scarcity of hands, and an almost total deficiency of tools.
Betsy's father, the smith, was in high spirits at having found the fragments of the large saw. Of one part he believed a serviceable hand-saw might be made, and of another a hatchet, if he could but fix handles go them. This he thought he could do by burning grooves in two pieces of wood which he fixed at each end of the fragment, and tying them on with thongs of the leather cordage we have mentioned, the thongs being passed from one end to the other through holes also burned in the wood. Fulton, the tanner, was, meanwhile, twisting and tanning his thongs as expeditiously as possible, for as many were wanted as he could prepare. They could not even make houses without his help, for cordage must now supply the place of nails.
There was some deliberation about what these houses were to be made of. They were to be only temporary sheds to sleep in, to save the extra labour of walking two miles up the pass every night to their cave. It was evident that they could not be built like their former habitations with timbers. Till tools should arrive, this was impossible.—Harrison, the brickmaker and potter of the settlement, (for in several instances two somewhat similar employments were undertaken by one man,) was urgent to be allowed to begin brick-making, as the clay-pits were open, and stones and wood were all the implements he should require. But a quicker method was devised, and Harrison was to build in a new fashion. The huts of the natives were composed of reeds, bound together and plastered over with clay, inside and out. The roofs were covered in with branches of trees and dry grass. Such were to be the sheds of the settlers.
Thus there was work for everybody. The men were some digging, some tanning, some smoothing a space among the trees for the sheds, for, as no foundations could be dug, it was necessary to make the trees themselves the corner-posts. The boys were busy scooping out and working the clay, or making bows and arrows, or cutting reeds. The women were preparing flax or cooking the dinner, or, with their little girls, collecting brushwood and dry grass for the fires, and to thatch the sheds with. The captain meanwhile went about from one party to another, ready to advise, and encourage, and assist, whereever he could.
One little party, however, escaped his notice, and that of everybody else. Little Betsy had taken her cue from what the captain had said the night before about her spoon-brushes and her basket. She could teach her little companions to make spoon-brushes, while she fancied that, with help from her brothers, she could make what was wanted much more, a strong substantial basket. There was a difficulty about carrying away the earth from the trench; and it occurred to her that, in the absence of barrows and all means of making them, it would be a good thing to have baskets which would take it all away in time, though it would certainly be slow work. Her brothers and she collected twigs in the wood, and she went for rushes to the waterside, and then they sat down to their work.
Having found, the day before, that she had no means of fastening the bottom in firm, she did not attempt to make a basket that would stand. She bent the twigs into the same shape she had been accustomed to make, only on a much larger scale, so that the basket, when finished, would look very like a sieve. She was particularly careful to fasten the ends of the twigs firmly to the stronger ones that made the rim, and to twist in the handles so that they would not easily give way. She tied the twigs wherever they crossed with bands of rushes, and then wove in the whole as closely as possible. This was not done in an hour's time. She and her companions made many attempts before they could get the twigs into any shape at all, and their fingers were scarcely strong enough to twist the rim firmly. Once, just when she thought she should succeed, the little bays left hold, saying they were tired and hungry. She was very near crying; but she thought the wiser way would be to let them rest, and find them something to eat, when they would, perhaps, help her again; for she little expected that any better assistance would come. She desired one of the boys to watch her basket lest the monkeys, which abounded in the wood, should destroy it; while, with the other brother, she looked about for wild strawberries and chesnuts. There were a few strawberries still left, and a great many chesnuts lying in the grass, and more to be had by throwing stones at the monkeys in the trees, which provoked the animals to pelt them with chesnuts in return. After a hearty laugh at these mimics, Betsy returned wtth her treasure of fruit; but the young gentleman who, tho day before, was mourning for gravy, could not, hungry as he was, cat his chesnuts unless they were roasted. Betsy cared much less about eating than about her basket; but she was a good-natured little girl, and ready to remember that her brother was younger than herself. So she advised him to run home and roast his chesnuts at the oven-fire; and told him not to come back again unless he liked. She sent a message to her mother to say that she was quite safe, and would be back before dark; but she charged Ned not to tell any body what she was busy about. Then she sent her other little companion with some chesnuts to the children who were making spoon-brushes some way off; and as soon as he was gone, she looked at her basket and sighed; for she feared she should not be able to finish it. Just then she heard some one coming through the bushes, and looking up, she saw it was Mr. Arnall. He had his hands in his pockets, and anybody would have thought by his appearance that it was a holiday in the colony.
“So you are eating chesnuts, my little girl,” said he. “Can you spare me some?”
“Yes, sir,” answered Betsy, pointing to the little heap beside her. “Will you help yourself?”
Arnall went on eating for some time in silence. “Where did you get these chesnuts?” he asked at length, when he had nearly made an end of them.
“Yonder, under the trees there.”
“They are very good. I dare say you will be my little maid, and get me some more: and here comes your brother; I will send him to roast them by the fire.”
“You must do it yourself, if you please, sir. We are very busy.”
“Indeed! What can children like you be busy about? Basket-making! Why, that basket will never stand.”
“It is not meant to stand,” said Betsy, who began to wish her visitor would go away and leave her to her business.
Arnall sat idly watching the little work-people, till seeing that greater strength of finger was what they wanted, he offered his services, which Betsy was very willing to accept. He became more interested as the affair went on, and continued his assistance till the framework was complete and the rim secure.
“And now,” said Betsy, jumping up joyfully, “now I will get you some chesnuts and welcome. I can easily finish the rest, for the weaving part will soon be done; and I should never have got so far without you.”
As soon as she was gone, Arnall took up the remainder of the twigs, and began another basket. He was really ashamed of doing nothing, and was glad to have found an employment which did not reduce him to toil with labourers or to provide his own dinner. He flattered himself that Betsy was saving his dignity by procuring his food; while she, in the innocence of her heart, thought he was working as much for her as she for him, and was grateful to him accordingly.
When it began to grow dusk, the little party in the wood made haste to gather up their materials and be gone. Arnall was no coward, as some very haughty people are. He had been long accustomed to the dangers of the woods, and if he had had his gun, would have been as ready as any man to make a defence against wild men or beasts: but it was only prudent, as he was unarmed, to leave the shade before night-fall. He did not choose to return to the settlement in company with the children; neither would he carry any of their goods. He lingered a while, till they were some way before him, and then appeared with his usual lounging gait, and his hands in his pockets. Of those who had time to observe him, some smiled at the unsuitability of his appearance to his circumstances, and others were indignant at his seating himself to eat that which they supposed he had done nothing to earn.
“Pardon me, sir,” said the captain; “but I hope you have your dinner in your pockets, or I am afraid you will have none. Our provisions are the right of those who work for them.”
“Mr. Arnall helped me to make my basket,” said little Betsy, “and he has got a great way with another; so I hope he may have the dinner I should have wanted if I had not found the chesnuts, and some for his own share besides.”
“Hold your tongue, child,” cried the gentleman, who was quite above owing his meal to the request of a little girl. “Who has any business with what I have been doing? Things have come to a pretty pass when one must account to anybody that asks for the use of one's time and hands.”
“By sitting down to table, sir”———
“To grass, you mean,” said Arnall. “We are in a fair way to eat in Nebuchadnezzar fashion, I think. Was ever a meal so served before?”
“If you will make us a table, we shall very thankfully accept it,” said the captain. “Meanwhile, as I was saying, by asking food, you demand the wages of labour, as we have agreed to live by the natural law, that food cannot be obtained without labour. You are accountable to us in no other way than all labourers are accountable to those who pay them wages. Little Betsy has settled your account with us: allow me, therefore, to help you to a lump (I wish I could say a slice) of lamb; or would you prefer hare?”
While the gentleman was picking his bone in silence, wondering when he should again be blessed with a knife and fork, Betsy placed beside him a pretty dessert of wild strawberries on a leaf.
He seemed barely to thank her, but began to resolve that he would either find some mode of being more useful, and thus feeling himself on equal terms with other people, or take himself off, where he need be accountable to nobody.
HAND-WORK AND HEAD-WORK.
The heat of the weather was, as we have said, very oppressive during the middle of the day. It was hard work to dig in the trench, for the badness of the tools more than compensated for the lightness of the soil. The labourers, fully aware of the importance of conveying water to the crops, toiled most diligently through all hours of the day, till it became evident that such exertion was injurious to their strength. A new regulation was made, according to which they began work two hours earlier in the morning, and rested in the shade for two hours at noon. Some slept, while others, who were stronger or more industrious, employed themselves in some light occupation, either preparing flax with the women, or looking for honey or fruit, or cutting the reeds of proper lengths, and binding them in bundles ready for the builder, or helping to make bows and arrows. This was the most pleasant and refreshing time of the day. It was the only time for conversation; for in working hours they were too busy, and at night too weary to enjoy it. Mr. Stone was always ready for cheerful talk at these intervals, both because he was sociable, and because he knew it to be a very important thing to keep up the spirits of the people by all such natural and proper means. A few days after the labours of the settlement were got into train, he was sitting with a party of companions on the trunk of a. tree which served as a workbench, and which was drawn within the shadow of a noble chesnut. He was making sandals for some of the people whose shoes were worn out, by fastening leather thongs to slips of wood made as nearly the size of the foot as the saw could bring them. Some of the men bad been for walking barefoot; thinking shoes too great a luxury for the present state of their affairs: but Mr. Stone would not hear of this, on account of the venomous reptiles in the grass, from whose bite there could be no security to the barefooted. He engaged to furnish each man with sandals as his shoes wore out, till there should be leather enough to make a sort of socks with wooden soles, which would serve the purpose better still. While he was thus busied, his wife was beside him mending his coat, which had received a terrible rent. It was amusing enough at first to see her set about this new sort of tailoring; for she had neither needle, thimble, nor scissors. George had furnished her with a porcupine's quill from the stock which had been placed in his hands for his arrows. With this she pricked holes in the cloth, through which a string of flax was passed; and thus, by slow degrees, the edges of the rent were brought together. To be sure, it did not look much like a gentleman's coat after this; but, as all clothes were now worn for a covering and not for ornament, it did not much signify. Next Mrs. Stone sat Hill, sorting and picking the herbs and roots he had gathered, that he might not be without medicines in case of sickness or accidental bruises. He had also furnished a poison in which the points of the arrows were dipped, as it was found that though the bristles wounded the game, they were not strong enough to bring it down. Hill had discovered how the natives procured, from a venomous snake, poison so powerful as to destroy all animals which it could be made to reach; and having provided himself with it, he suffered no one else to touch it, for fear of accidents. George, who formed one of the party, was therefore obliged to give up his arrows as they were made, and did not receive them again till the venom was dried on their tips. All the game, as it was brought in, was given into the charge of the butcher, who carefully took out the parts round the wound the arrow had made. His wife was now plucking partridges, which had become abundant since the best way of bringing down game had been discovered. The feathers were carefully dried and preserved to answer various purposes of clothing and bedding hereafter.
While the little party were thus busily employed and sociably conversing, they saw Arnall at a distance, practising shooting with bow and arrow at a mark.
“I wonder at the captain,” said Hill, “for calling that gentleman yonder a labourer, as he did the other day.”
“Arnall himself was surprised,” said Mr. Stone; “and I do not wonder at it: but I should have expected you would allow him the title. Remember, the captain spoke of him as he had been,—a shopkeeper.”
“He led a pretty genteel life as a shopkeeper,” replied Hill. “Look at his delicate hands and his slight make, and it seems ridiculous to call him a labourer.”
“Did he not buy his goods at Cape Town, and have them brought in his waggon; and did he not purchase various productions of his neighbours in large quantities and sell them by retail?” asked Mr. Stone.
“Certainly,” replied Hill; “but there was no hard work in all this. It would have done him good to have driven his own team over the mountains, and to have stuck fast among the rocks, as many a waggoner does, unless he can put his own shoulder to the wheel.”
“I should have liked to see him kill his own meat,” added the butcher's wife, “or thresh the corn he used to sell. A heavy flail would be a fine thing to put into hands like his.”
“We are not inquiring,” replied Mr. Stone, “what sort of discipline would be good for such a man; but whether he can properly be called a labourer. You seem to think, Hill, that there is no labour but that of the hands, and that even that does not deserve the name unless it be rough and require bodily strength to a great degree.”
“I don't mean to say so,” replied Hill. “I consider that I work pretty hard, and yet my hands shew it more by being dyed with these plants than roughened by toil. And there are the straw-platters of my native town in dear old England;—the Dunstable folks labour hard enough, delicate as their work is.”
“And you, sir,” said Mrs. Prest, the butcher's wife, “have done so much, setting aside your farm, that it would be a sin to say you have not toiled night and day for us. If there was a person sick or unhappy, or if your advice was wanted any hour in the twenty-four, you were always ready to help us. But you would not call yourself a labourer, would you?“
“Certainly,” replied Mr. Stone. “There is labour of the head as well as of the hands, you know. Any man who does anything is a labourer, as far as his exertion goes.”
“The king of England is a labourer,” said Mrs. Stone. “If he does nothing more than sign the acts of parliament which are brought to him, he does a very great thing for society. Those acts cannot become law till they are so signed; and the man, whoever he be, who performs a necessary part in making laws, is a labourer of a very high order, however little trouble the act of signing may cost him.”
“Arnall did take more trouble than that, to do him justice,” said Hill. “He kept his books very well, besides purchasing and looking after and selling goods: but still I cannot think he was so useful a man as the ploughman who helps us to food; for food is the most necessary of all things.”
“A great deal of harm has been done,” said Mr. Stone, “by that notion of yours, when it has been held by people who have more power to act upon it than you. In many states, it has been a received maxim that commercial labour is inferior in value to agricultural; and agriculture has therefore been favoured with many privileges, and manufactures and commerce burdened with many difficulties. This seems to me to be a very unjust and foolish policy; for the greatest good of society cannot be attained without the union of both kinds of labour. The thresher, and the miller, and the baker, do not help to produce food like the ploughman; but they are quite as useful as he, because we could not have bread without their help. They are manufacturers, and the retail baker is engaged in commerce; but it would be absurd to say that they are on that account to be thought less valuable than the sower.”
“But is not the case different, sir, said Hill, “when things of less importance than food are in question? is not a weaver worth less than a ploughman in society?”
“Suppose,” said Mr. Stone, “that in our society, consisting of fifty-four persons, “fifty-three were engaged in tilling the ground every day and all day long, and that the other was able to prepare flax and weave it into cloth and make it into clothes. Suppose you were that one; do not you think you would always have your hands full of business, and be looked to as a very important person; and that, if you died, you would e more missed than any one of the fifty-three ploughmen?”
“Certainly,” said Hill, laughing. “But what a folly it would be to raise ten or twenty times as much corn as we could eat, and to be in want of everything else!”
“It would,” replied Mr. Stone: “and in such a case, we should be ready to pass a vote of thanks to any man who would leave the plough and turn tanner or weaver; and then we would spare another to be a tailor; and, at last, when we had gathered a good many comforts about us, we would thank another to set up a shop where we might exchange our goods. Now, would it not he ungrateful and foolish, when we had reached this point, to say that the farmers were, after all, the most valuable to us; and that they must have particular honour and particular privileges?”
“To be sure,” said Hill. “The natural consequence of such partiality would be to tempt the shopkeeper to give up his shop, and the weaver his loom, and the tailor his sheers, to go back to the plough; and then we should be as badly off as before.”
“This would be the consequence in larger states, as well,” said Mr. Stone, “if the practice of the people well,” said not wiser than the principles of the policy by which they have hitherto been governed. People buy clothes and furniture and other comforts as they have need of them, without stopping to pronounce how much less valuable they are than food.”
“All the world seems to have agreed,” said Mrs. Stone, “that the right leg is worth more than the left; and if a man had the choice which he would lose, he would probably rather part with the left: but it would be a sad waste of time to argue about which is the more useful in walking.”
“All labour, then, should be equally respected,” said Hill, “and no one kind should be set above another.”
“Nay; I was far from saying that,” replied Mr. Stone. “Our friend George, there, makes beautiful little boats out of walnut-shells, and he must have spent a good deal of trouble on his art before he could carve the prow and stern and put in the deck as he does. If he were now to set to work and make us each one within a week, he would no more have earned his dinner every day than if he should lie down and sleep for seven days. We do not want walnut-shell boats, and his ill-directed labour would be worth no more than no labour at all.”
“The captain was telling me, though,” said George, “that if I were at some place he mentioned in England, I might get a very pretty living by those same boats. He said the quality would give me five shillings a-piece for them.”
“Very likely,” said Mr. Stone; “and in that ease your labour would not be ill-directed. The rich, in any country, who have as much as they want of food and clothes and shelter, have a right to pay money for baubles, if they choose; and in such a state of things there are always labourers who, not being wanted for necessary occupations, are ready to employ their labour in making luxuries.”
“The lace-makers and jewellers and glass-cutters, and even those who spin glass for the amusement of the wealthy, are respectably employed in England, where there is a demand for their services,” observed Mrs. Stone; “but they would be sadly out of place here, and very ridiculous. All labour must be directed by the circumstances of the state of society in which it is employed; and all labour, so regulated, is equally respectable.”
“I am afraid, madam,” said Hill, “that your doctrine would go far towards doing away the difference between labour that is productive and that which is unproductive.”
“It is impossible,” replied Mr. Stone, “to do away that difference, because it is a difference of fact which no opinions can alter. It must always be as clear as observation can make it whether a man's labour produces any of the things which constitute wealth. But the respectability of labour does not depend on this circumstance. I hope you do not think it does?”
“I have been accustomed, certainly, to think productive labourers more valuable than unproductive.”
“It depends upon what you mean by the word valuable,” replied Mr. Stone. “If you mean that productive labourers add more to the wealth of the society, the very way of putting the question shews that you are right: but we may see, in the case of every civilized state, that a mixture of productive and unproductive labourers is the best for the comfort and prosperity of society.”
“What would the English nation do,” said Mrs. Stone, “without household servants, without physicians and soldiers, and clergy and lawyers, without a parliament, without a government? If they were a nation of farmers and graziers and builders, without any unproductive labourers, they would have abundance of corn and cattle and houses; but no towns, no commerce, no law, and no king. They would be a savage nation.”
“Ours was not a savage settlement,” said George, “and we had no unproductive labourers. Everybody worked very hard.”
“However hard our people worked,” said Mr. Stone, “they were divided into productive and unproductive labourers, as the people of every civilized society are. If you will just run over a few names, we will try to divide the two classes.”
“Let us begin with the lowest,” said George. “The labourers on Robertson's farm and on yours, sir, are productive labourers, because they produce corn for ourselves, and hay for the horses, and flax for our clothes. Then there are the other servants, who have wages paid them,—the captain's errand-boy, and your maid, ma'am, who nurses the child, and kept the house clean when you had one, and Goody Fulton, who attended to Arnall's shop when he was out shooting———”
“Well: go on,” said Mr. Stone; “tell us what they produced.”
George laid down his bow to consider; but he could not think of anything produced by these last-mentioned people. He owned that however industrious and useful they might be, domestic servants were unproductive labourers. Then he went on with his list.
“Fulton, I suppose, sir, produces leather out of what was only the hide of a beast; and Harrison makes bricks out of what was only clay; and Links———let me see, what does the farrier do? He puts on horse-shoes: that is not making anything. He is unproductive, I suppose.”
“As a farrier;—but he is also a smith, and makes horse-shoes and nails, and implements of many sorts, out of what was only a lump or a bar of iron.”
“Then he is a labourer of both kinds. That is curious. And so are you, Mr. Hill. You make medicines; but when you give your advice, or bleed your patients, or shave my father on Saturday night, you are an unproductive labourer.”
“And at the same time, one of the last men we could spare,” said Mr. Stone. At which, Hill rose and bowed low.
“I am afraid my father is an unproductive labourer,” said George. “I cannot think of anything that a butcher makes.”
“Why should you say ‘afraid’?” inquired Mr. Stone. “Your father is of the same class with the captain.”
“Why, that's true,” cried George; “and there's an end of all objections to unproductive labour; for who works harder than the captain, and how should we get on without him?”
“And how do you class yourself, my dear?” said Mrs. Stone.
“Unproductive in my pulpit and in the school-room,” replied her husband, “and productive when I am working in my field. I leave it to my friends to say in which capacity I am most useful.”
“You have cleared up the matter completely, sir,” said Hill. “We see now that the words relate to wealth and not to usefulness. I am only sorry I eve runderstood any reproach by the word unproductive; but I shall never fall into the mistake again.”
“It is as well to observe, however,” said Mr. Stone, “that the prosperity of a nation depends much on the proportion between these two classes of labourers. If it would be a bad thing to have a population that could do nothing but produce food, and clothes, and habitations, with as many other comforts and luxuries as the industry of man can supply, it would be worse by far to have more unproductive labourers among us than the labour of the productive could maintain.”
“Our settlement would soon be ruined,” observed his wife, “if we had a great many soldiers, and two or three clergymen, and four or five surgeons, and several household servants in every family. However skilful all these might be in their several ways, they would soon eat us out of house and home. In the same way the welfare of an empire depends on its productive resources being abundant enough to supply the wants and reasonable wishes of the whole people. But, my dear, what noise is that?”
The little party started to their feet as they heard the sound of a horn. For a moment they were alarmed by the fear that an enemy was upon them; but some labourers passing by informed them that the captain had ordered the horns of the bullock which had been slain to be taken care of; and had turned one to the best account by using it as a summons to call the people together. It was, from this time forward, to be blown at the hours of work, of eating, and of rising and going to rest. The two hours of repose being now over. Mr. Stone went to his work in the trench, and the little party broke up.
In a few days from this time, some of the most thoughtful of the settlers began to ponder the necessity of increasing their supplies of food. Prest, the butcher, sighed every day as he passed the ruined paddocks and saw no cattle in them for him to exercise his skill upon. “Heaven knows,” said he to his wife, “when I may have the pleasure of slaying a beast again. And as for our ever having a drove or a herd, there is no possibility of it unless we can get hides enough to make thongs for snares. Fulton says he has used up every scrap of leather, and unless we can get more, Campbell and I may both lay aside our craft, for we shall never more have droves in our fields, or smoking joints on the table.”
“We must live like savages, on roots and fruit and fish,” said his wife. “Now, fish is very good in its way; but we have had so much lately, that one might fancy it was to be Lent all the year round.”
While they were thus talking, a plan was being settled between Arnall and the captain which promised fair to supply the butcher with employment, and the paddocks with stock which might increase in time so as to employ a herdsman on the hills. This magnificent plan entered Arnall's head one day when he was thinking how he might distinguish himself in a genteel way, and shew himself a benefactor to the settlement without sacrificing his dignity.
He had once passed a pit, dug in the middle of a plain and quite empty and apparently useless. He could not make out at the time what it was for; but now he remembered having read that the natives of some countries dig pits for snaring wild animals, covering them over lightly so as to look even with the rest of the ground, that the beast may fall in unawares. He thought that he might secure antelopes in this way, or even the buffalo—fierce and strong as it is, and more difficult to deal with than the wildest bull of his own country. He could not prepare the pit with his own delicate hands, of course; and was therefore obliged to apply to the captain for leave to employ some labourers. Their help was promised as soon as the trench should be completed, which was to be in two days. Nothing must interrupt that important work, the captain said; and in the mean while they must live as well as they could on what might come in.
“Now is my time then,” thought the sportsman, “to try my new arrows, and my skill in using them; and if I fail, nobody will know but George Prest, and I can trust him for not telling. He will hold his tongue in return for my shewing him how to get the eggs.”
Here were three different schemes,—the pits for buffaloes, a new sort of arrows for smaller game, and a way of getting the enormous eggs of the ostrich,—a rich and nourishing food. Truly Arnall had exerted his wits to some purpose.
“If I succeed,” thought he, “I will give each man his due. I will own that Harrison gave me these reeds, so much stronger and more fit for arrows than the common sort. And I will thank Prest for pointing out how sharp the thigh bone of the antelope is, though he did not think of making an arrow-head of it; and Hill has the merit of the poison altogether. And then,—if the captain should say that no other man might have put these things together so ingeniously and made so good a use of them,—why, then I need not mind their laughing at me as they did last week, because I would not work in the trench. What a pity I cannot climb trees! for then I might get these eggs without any body's help.”
Thus thinking, Arnall went out into the plain in search of game. He hid himself among some bushes till he saw a herd of buffaloes coming in sight. They ran for some way, tossing their horned heads in the air and lashing their tails; then some among them stopped to graze. Arnall determined that if a stray one came within shot, he would take aim at it; but it was long before any of the herd seem disposed to afford him the opportunity, and when they did, they seemed likely to give him too much of it. They all set off again at once, and exactly in the direction of the bushes where the sportsman lay. He knew something of what it was to be trodden and gored by a buffalo, as he had seen more than one man who had been maimed by such an accident, and had heard of the deaths of others: so when he saw the herd coming on in full trot, he had half a mind to try whether he could not really climb a tree. If he had had three minutes more, he would certainly have made the attempt; but it was now too late; and all he could do was to crouch in the thicket, and take his chance for escape. Only two entered the bushes, and they passed quickly through, and left poor Arnall breathing space again. He soon recovered from his terror; for, as we have said, he was not a timid man. Looking out upon the plain, he saw that two of the herd were again grazing, and now within bow-shot. Thinking this too good an opportunity to be lost, he let fly one of his precious arrows. It struck the animal in the flank, but was not strong enough to pierce the thick hide. It broke and fell to the ground, while the startled beast, now tossing his horns and now goring the ground beneath him, turned his flight first one way and then another, and at length followed his companions at full speed.
“There is one arrow gone to no purpose,” thought Arnall; “but I think I can recover the head. I must aim at a thinner hide next time.”
He looked for and found the fragments of his arrow, and took his station, waiting to see what game would next come by. In the course of a few hours, several flocks of ostriches passed within sight, but at a great distance. As Arnall watched these enormous birds, running swiftly with their wings outspread in the wind, like sails to help their progress, he longed to be near enough to fix an arrow in the tender part beneath the wing where it is easiest to wound them; but they kept their distance; and he was obliged to content himself with vowing a warfare against them for the sake of their eggs, if they would not let themselves be caught.
At last, he was rewarded by the approach of a troop of antelopes of the largest kind, called Elands. As he looked at their majestic form, (like that of the ox, only more slender,) and measured them with his eye, he felt that if he could secure one, he would have made a good day's work of his hunting. Their length was, as nearly as he could measure by the eye, seven or eight feet, and their height between four and five; and he knew that the weight of each was seldom less than seven or eight hundred pounds. He counted fifteen of them, and thought it would be hard if not one of such a number should fall into his power. They came nearer, sometimes trotting all together, sometimes dispersing on the plain, and then collecting again. It seemed a wearisome time to Arnall, till, after many freaks and gambols, the whole herd began to graze very near him. He laid an arrow on the string, and disposed two more close beside him, that he might shoot one after another as quickly as possible. Whizz! went the first, and struck the nearest animal in the neck. While it was staggering away to a little distance, and before the alarm had well been given, he shot again and wounded another in the flank. The poor beast took flight, but Arnall knew that if the poison did its work, the run would be soon over. A third arrow which he despatched fell short, for the troop were making their escape full speed. Arnall came out of his hiding-place with the sort of stone-hatchet that he used for a knife, and seating himself on the head of his victims, which were quivering in the agonies of death, he cut their throats. As soon as they were quite dead, he carefully cut out all the parts round the poisoned arrow-head, and then prepared to carry home his trophies of victory. It was necessary to lose no time, if the carcasses were to be housed before night; so, severing the horns and gathering up his weapons, he hastened home. There was great joy in the settlement at his success; and Prest, the butcher, had soon formed his party, and prepared the hurdles on which the prey was to be dragged home. They took torches with them, to guard against the dangers of being benighted; and it was well they did; for the procession did not reappear till two hours after dark, and reported that the howlings of wild beasts were heard, not far off, the whole way as they were returning. Not the youngest child in the settlement went to rest that night till fires were lighted round the carcasses and the dogs set to watch.
The next day, all hands that could be spared were employed in preparing this new supply of meat for being preserved. There was a pool of very salt water in the neighbourhood—such as occurs very frequently in that part of the world—and the salt which had been procured from it by evaporation was rubbed into the meat as the butcher cut it into strips; and then the strips were hung up in the smoke of a wood fire till they were quite dry; after which they were buried in a hole in the sand, lined and well secured with stones. The honour of superintending the preparation of this game was offered to Arnall; but he declined it, asking, in preference, the favour of having George for his companion in an excursion, and the loan of a hide-sack which had been made for general use. George, who was not particularly fond of Arnall, and did not know what they were going to do, had much rather have stayed to help his father; but he felt that Arnall had earned the right of asking his assistance, and therefore willingly accompanied him.
When they were out upon the plain, Arnall looked round upon the various clumps of trees which grew here and there.
“Which is the highest, George,” said he, “yonder middle tree of that copse, or the straggler to the west?”
“That to the west,” answered George, “but they are neither of them fruit-trees, and they are not places likely for monkeys to lodge in.”
“I want neither monkeys nor fruit,” said Arnall. “They can be had nearer home. I want ostriches' eggs.”
George looked puzzled, for he knew ostriches laid their eggs in the sand, far away from trees. His companion, however, explained that the ostrich is so shy a creature, that it is impossible to learn where her eggs are hid, unless she is watched from a distance, and even at that distance it must be from some place of concealment, so sharpsighted and timid are these singular birds.
“Do you get as high in the tree as you can,” said Arnall, “and watch for ostriches on all sides. If you see any one run round and round in a circle, mark the spot carefully, and when you are sure of it, come down. If the birds choose to go to a distance of their own accord and to leave the eggs (as they often do on so hot a day as this), we shall be obliged to them for saving us a deal of trouble; but if one remains sitting, I will go out with my dogs and make a hubbub, and put them all to flight. While we are pursuing them, do you take the sack and go straight to the nest, and carry off some eggs.”
“How many?” asked George.
“Why, I must tell you a little about the make of the nest. It is nothing more than a large hole in the ground, with a little bank round it, made by their scratching up the earth with their feet. Inside you will see the eggs set up on end, to save room. If there should be half a dozen or so, you may bring all; for then they can have been only just laid, and must be good eating. If you find as many as fifteen, bring away the outer circle, which will be eight or nine. If there are thirty”—
“Thirty eggs in one nest!” cried George. “I never heard of such a thing.”
“Perhaps not, because you may never before have heard of a tribe of birds whose habit is to unite in flocks that all the eggs of a flock may be laid in one nest. As I was saying, if there are as many as thirty, you will find some laid on the outside of the bank. They are the best that can be got, so bring them all, and as many of the next outer circle as you can carry.”
“And if I find any feathers,” said George, “shall I bring them too? The time may come when we shall be able to sell them to advantage. Ostrich feathers bear a good price in England at all times.”
“True,” said Arnall; “but when we deal in ostrich feathers we must take more pains to get them than just picking them up. You will find plenty lying about the nest; but let them lie. They are good for nothing, unless it be to stuff our pillows by and by, when we come to have pillows again. The beautiful white feathers which English ladies wear must be plucked from the male ostrich. The feathers of the female are of a dark grey or black. When we get every thing comfortable about us, we will have ostrich-hunts, and sell the feathers for three or four shillings a-piece; but just now we want the eggs more by far.”
Arnall knew that a few snakes of the poisonous kind would be very acceptable to Hill; so he employed himself in looking for them in the copse, while George was swinging about at the top of the tree. There is little or no danger of a bite when people are on their guard; and the dogs having been trained to catch them, several were soon secured without difficulty, their heads cut off for a present to Hill, and the bodies put into the sack to be cooked for dinner, many people being as fond of them as of eels. Arnall was just carrying a beautiful one, lemon-coloured, and speckled with black, and five feet long, to the foot of the tree, to show to his young companion, when he saw George coming down in great haste.
“Off with you and your dogs,” said the boy.
“Due east, to the left of yonder thicket, and I will follow and strip the nest presently. They are not three hundred paces off. But where's the sack?”
Arnall pointed to the place in the copse where he had left it, whistled to his dogs, and set off at full speed. As soon as the ostriches saw him, they took flight; and as his pursuit was only a pretence, he was not too eager to observe their motions. There was something laughable in the way in which they sped along, one behind another, with their short wings and tufted tails spread, and their long legs clearing the ground as swiftly as a race-horse can follow. When they were out of sight, our sportsman whistled back his dogs, and stood to wipe his brows and look round for his companion. He could see no one, but supposed some rising of the ground might conceal the lad, or that he might be stooping after the eggs; so he walked leisurely back. Presently he came upon an ostrich's nest, crowded with eggs, and with so many lying round the outside, that he was sure no one had meddled with it. He looked again and again, and measured the space with his eye, and calculated the direction, and after all could not make himself sure whether this was the right nest. It was not usual, he knew, for two nests to be so near together; but, if this were the one, he could not conceive the reason of George's delay.
“He is so ready-witted and so quick-handed,” thought he, “it is impossible he should be groping for the sack all this time. I will carry off as many as I can take, and come back with him for more. I will put one of these feathers into my cap too, grey though they be, and give one to him too, for a trophy. And I do not see why these skins should not make us caps and waistcoats, under Fulton's good management; so I shall take these dead beasts into the shade and skin them.”
The beasts he spoke of were a jackal and two wild cats, which had ventured near the nest for eggs in the night, and had apparently been crushed to death by a blow from the foot of the cock-ostrich, whose office it is to keep guard at night. Arnall tied them together by the tails, and slung them over his shoulder, and carried also three eggs, which were as many as he could manage without a sack; for they were each as large as a pumpkin. All the way as he went, he whistled aloud and shouted, but could see and hear nothing of George.
When he entered the shade of the copse, his heart misgave him, for at last he began to fear some accident had happened. Before he had advanced many paces, he saw the poor lad lying on his back, his face expressive of great suffering, and one of his legs swollen to an enormous size. His countenance brightened a little when Arnall appeared.
“I thought you would not go home without coming back to see what had become of me,” he said.
“And what has happened to you, my poor boy?” said his companion. “Have you been bitten by a snake, or a scorpion, or what?”
“By a horned-snake,” said George. “I did not see him till I was close upon him, so that I could not get away: so I tried to kill him as the natives do; but he struggled hard and slipped his neck from under my foot; and before I could get him down again, he bit me in the calf of my leg. I did kill him at last, and yonder he lies; but do you know, Mr. Arnall, I think he has killed me too!”
Arnall was too much grieved to speak. He examined the wound, and tried to ease the swollen limb by cutting off the trowser which confined it. He gathered some leaves of a particular plant, and bruised them, and applied them to the part, as he had seen the natives do on such an occasion, and then told George that he would carry him home as fast as possible.
“Can you carry me three miles?” said George. “I do not feel as if I could help myself at all, but I will try. I should like to see father and mother again.”
“They shall come to you if we cannot reach home,” replied Arnall; “but let us try without losing more time. I want that Hill should see your leg.”
“There would be little use in that,” said poor George, faintly, as, on trying to sit up, he felt sick and dizzy.
“Put your arm round my neck, and I will lift you up,” said Arnall; but George did not move. His companion put the arm over his shoulder; but it fell again. George seemed insensible.—Arnall made one more trial.
“Will you not make an effort to see your mother?”
George opened his eyes, raised himself, and made a sort of spring upon his companion's shoulder, and then laid his head down, clinging with all his remaining strength. Arnall used all the speed he could with so heavy a burden, and was comforted by finding that either the air or the motion seemed to rouse the poor patient, who appeared better able to keep his hold, and even spoke from time to time.
“Mr. Arnall!” said he.
“There is a thing I want to tell you about making arrows. Bring me a reed when you put me down, and I will shew you how the natives barb them. I meant to have made the first myself, but as I can't, I will teach you.”
“Thank you: but do not tire yourself with talking.”
After a while, however, George began again.
“Do you know, Mr. Arnall, I think when the crops are got in, and the houses built, and some cattle in the fields again, you will have the Bushmen down upon you some night?”
“Well, we have sent for arms and powder from Cape Town.”
“I know: but they will be of no use if every body is asleep. I meant to ask to be a watchman with as many as would join me, and to take it in turn, three or four every night. I wish you would see it done, and have all the boys taught to fire a gun.”
Arnall promised, and again urged him to be silent.
“I will, when I have said one other thing about my mother. I wish you would tell her——”
Here his head drooped on Arnall's shoulder, and presently, being unable to hold on any longer, he fell gently on the grass, and his companion saw with grief, that it was impossible to move him farther.
“The dogs will stay and take care of you, George,” said he, “while I run for your parents and Hill. I will be back the first moment I can. Here; I will put the sack under your head for a pillow. In less than an hour you will see us. God bless you!”
“Stay one moment,” said George. “Tell little Mary the whistle I promised to make her is just finished, and it lies in the hollow of the chestnut-tree,—call it my cupboard and she will know.”
“All this will do when I come back,” said Arnall, who was impatient to be gone. He wiped the boy's moist forehead and kissed it. George pressed his hand and whispered:
“Let me say one thing more, only this one. If my father had seen you do that, he would never call you proud again; and if you would only play with Mary Stone sometimes, and speak a little kinder to dame Fulton, you can't think what a difference it would make. Do, for my sake. I want them to know how kind you are, and I do not think I shall live to tell them. You are not crying for me, surely? No; 'tis for mother. God bless you for those tears, then! Good bye, Mr. Arnall.”
Arnall looked back once or twice, and then George feebly waved his hand.
As many as were near enough to hear the sad news Arnall brought to the settlement followed with those he came to seek. They made all speed; but the whining of the dogs as they approached made them fear that they were too late. It was indeed so, though at the first moment it seemed doubtful whether George was not asleep. One arm was about the neck of his favourite Rover. The other hand was over his eyes, as if the light had been too much for him. He did not move when the dog was released. He never moved again.
MANY HANDS MAKE QUICK WORK.
The death of George Prest was lamented as a public misfortune in the settlement; for he was not only a dutiful son and an amiable companion, but one of the most ready and industrious of the labourers for the community. A sudden damp seemed to be cast over all the plans and doings of the little society by this event, and the affairs which had been most interesting in the morning had lost their interest by night.—The water flowed into the finished trenches, and no one looked on but the one labourer and Mr, Stone who finished the work; and when, the next morning, the young corn which had been parched and withered began already to show signs of revival, no one smiled at this promise of fruitfulness. The little company walked in silence to their cave at night, and seemed unwilling to be roused by the dawn. The fathers grasped the hands of their children, as if some danger was at hand; and it was long before any mother in the settlement would allow her little ones to go out of her sight. It was an affecting thing to observe how George was missed by every body; a sure sign what a valuable member of society he had been. His father and mother mourned him in silence, but the little children, who could not be made to understand what had happened, were continually asking for him.
“I want George. Where is George?” was the daily complaint of little Mary and some of her playmates; and long after they had become accustomed to his absence, and had ceased to mention him, his older friends felt the same want, though they did not express it. The captain himself often said in his heart, “I wish George was here.”
As the captain was going his rounds a few days after the funeral, he stopped to look on while Harrison worked at the reed-house. Harrison looked grave,—almost sulky.
“I'll tell you what, captain,” said he, “it is too bad to expect so much of me as you seem to do. Unless I have more help, I shall never get a roof over our heads before the rains come. 'Tis a folly to expect it.”
“That is just what I was thinking about,” said the captain. “Mr. Stone told me this morning that the wind has changed a little, and that he thinks we shall be in for the rainy season ten days hence. What help would you like?”
“As much as ever you can spare me,” answered Harrison. “If we had half a dozen hands, the work would go on a dozen times as fast, for I lose much of my time in turning from one thing to another, and so does my man. Before he has brought reeds enough, my I want them made up in bundles to my hand; and before he has tied three or four bundles, he wants more thongs. And then again the clay might be drying on the parts that are done if it was ready, and somebody was here to plaster; and if I set about that, I am directly told that the first thing to be done is to cover in the part that is reared, in case of the rains coming; but then the wood (whatever it is to be) for the roof is not ready, nor yet the thatch: and so we go on,”
“I was sorry,” said the captain, “to Call off the men I promised you at first; but the trench was the great object, you know. Now that is finished; and I hope the folks will be home from the hunt to-night, and then you shall have as much help as you wish for.”
Harrison touched his cap, and hoped no offence from his manner of speaking; but it wounded him, he said, to think how he had lost the little help he had. It was poor George who had worked the clay, and who had plastered the chief part of the wall that was done.
The captain himself took up the spade that lay idle, and watered and worked the clay till he was called away; and this, and the prospect of more help to morrow, put Harrison into good humour again.
The hunt, of which the captain spoke, proved grandly successful. As there were neither horses nor guns, and a very few dogs, it could scarcely be called a hunt, in comparison with many which take place in that country. All that could be done was to alarm the herds of buffaloes and antelopes with noise, and so to echo the din as to drive the animals towards the pits which had been dug and carefully covered over, that they might not be observed by the prey. On they rushed; and though some seemed to escape the traps by a hair's breadth, others fell in: and when one herd after another had been driven over the ground till dark, it was found that out of seven pits which had been prepared, five had caught a prey. The huntsmen then lighted their torches, and proceeded to examine their gains; two or three of them with secret hopes that they might find a stray horse or two out of a small number they had seen crossing the plain in the morning. As it does not appear that there is now a breed of wild horses at the Cape (though it is supposed there formerly was), these were probably once the property of settlers in some neighbouring district, who had either lost them after turning them out to feed on the mountains, or had set them free on quitting their settlement. However it might be, these horses appeared of so elegant a form, and so rapid and even in their paces, that our hunters could not but long to have them in possession; and their wishes were partly gratified. A fine grey mare was found in one of the traps. The fear was that she might have been injured by the fall; and great was the anxiety of the lookers on till, one noose being securely slipped over her head, and another prepared for her fore-legs, she was got out of the pit. She appeared to be unhurt, and sound in every part, and began to neigh when she felt herself on open ground again, as if she would have called all her companions round her. One only answered her; her own foal, which came bounding to her, fearless of all the enemies at hand. He was presently secured, and this valuable prey led home. In three of the other pits they found three antelopes, which were led home for stock, and in the fourth a buffalo. He alone was destined for slaughter. He was slain and removed at once, that the pits might again be covered over for the chance of a further prey. It was very late before the whole was finished; but it was a satisfaction that most of the hands thus employed would be at liberty for other work the next day.
Before they slept, the captain and Mr. Stone had a consultation on a matter of increasing importance.
“I am afraid,” said the captain, “we are on a wrong plan. Indeed, I hope to find we are, for unless some change can be made in our mode of operation, I shall be quite at a loss to know what answer to make to all the entreaties for help in the works we have in hand. Our people seem to think I can command labour to any extent.”
“All governors,” said Mr. Stone, “are supposed to have boundless resources, and are doomed to disappoint their subjects. You only pay the regular tax for your dignity. But do you think there is a proper economy of labour in our society?”
“That is what I want to consult you about. I think not. I think we have too many undertakings at once for our number of hands.”
“It has occurred to me,” said Mr. Stone, “that we should get on faster by putting all our strength into one task at a time, than by having a dozen at once on hand, with little prospect of finishing them. Look how poor Harrison frets over his building; and well he may. The weather is beginning to change, and instead of having three sheds, I doubt whether we shall have one finished by the time the rains come on.”
The captain here interrupted him with an ac count of what had passed in the morning; and it was agreed that building should now be the first object.
“I could not help thinking,” said Mr. Stone, “that the women and children set us a good example as to the wisdom of saving labour, when they laid their own little plans for doing their appointed tasks. Have you observed the boys making their bows and arrows, and other weapons?”
“I saw by the number they made that they must be proceeding on a good plan. What was it?”
“The first day,” said Mr. Stone, “they sat down, each by himself under a tree, to cut his piece of wood the right length and thickness for his bow. It was weary work with any tool but the hatchet, which was lent them while it was not wanted for other purposes. There was but one hatchet among three, after all; so while Joe used it, little Tommy stood by waiting. He would not go to seek reeds for arrows like John, because he expected every moment that he might have the hatchet; so there he stood, with the wood in his hand, winking at every stroke of the hatchet, and looking disappointed as often as Joe shook his head and began again. At last, he got possession of it; but he was very awkward, and first chopped his wood too short, and then shaved it too thin; and by the time he had spoiled one piece, John came up and wanted the tool. ‘Presently,’ said Tommy; and in his hurry he split the next piece all the way up, so that it was fit for nothing. Then he lost his patience, and cried out, ‘I wish you would look and see what Joe is doing, instead of staring at me in that manner.’ So John turned to observe his friend Joe.”
“And what was Joe doing?”
“He was getting on little better than Tommy. The next thing to be done was to twist the gut for the bow-string—an easy task enough: but Joe's hand shook so with using the hatchet, that he could scarcely fasten the ends ready to twist. Besides this, it was all uneven and knotty, and not fit to be used at last. ‘Dear me,’ said Tommy, coming to see, while he fanned himself with his cap and took breath, ‘I can twist a bow-string better than that any day.’ ‘Well, then,’ said Joe, ‘I wish you would do my job for me, and I will do yours for you.’ ‘And while your hand is in,’ said John, ‘you may as well do mine too, and I will make your arrows; for that is a sort of work I am accustomed to.’”
“A good bargain,” observed the captain.
“Indeed, they found it so; for instead of wounding themselves and spoiling their materials and losing time by going from one kind of work to another, they each did what he could do best, and thus made a great saving of time and labour. The three bows were finished so soon, that the little lads were inclined to make more to change away for something they wished for; and they have set up a regular manufactory under the great oak. There is a block for Joe to chop upon; and a hook for Tommy to fasten his bow-strings to; and a sharp stone fixed into a chink, for John to point and barb his reeds with.”
“So with them the division of labour has led to the invention of machinery,” said the captain.
“A certain consequence,” replied his friend. “Men, women, and children, are never so apt at devising ways of easing their toils as when they are confined to one sort of labour, and have to give their attention wholly to it. That puts me in mind of what our ladies are doing.”
“What is that?”
“They have divided their labour according to their talents or habits, and daily find the advantages of such a plan. My wife was telling me how little she could get done while she had to turn from her cooking to her sewing, and from her sewing to take charge of the children when they strayed into the wood.”
“It was a new sort of sewing and a new sort of cooking,” said the captain, “and I dare say it was some time before she got her hand in, as we say.”
“To be sure; and it is clear that if each person had only one new method to practise, and was not disturbed when once her hand was in, the work of every kind would go on faster. My wife's neighbours found that she used the porcupine's quill—her new needle—and the threads of flax more handily than they; so they offered to do her other work, if she would mend their own and their husbands' clothes. She was very willing, because she could thus keep our little girl always beside her. The child is too young, you know, to play in the wood with the others.”
“And what becomes of them?”
“Kate goes with them to take care of them; and while she watches their play, she plats dry grass to make hats for us all. She is a neat and quick hand at this, and it is a work which can be done as she goes from place to place. By the time the sun shines out again after the rains, there will be a large light straw hat for each labourer—a very good thing in such a climate.”
“I wondered,” said the captain, “what made Robertson steal away into the wood so often, so steady a workman as he is; and I thought it was a new fancy in him to have some pretty wild flower in his hat or his breast when he came again.”
“I dare say the lovers do not turn off less work on the whole,” said Mr. Stone, “for these few moments' chat during the day. Did you not observe that he is the first man in the settlement who has had a straw hat?”
“I did. Well: who undertakes the cooking?”
“Mrs. Prest; whose husband helps her with the management of the oven and the more laborious parts of her business. Then little Betsy and her mother are our housemaids. They stay behind when we leave the cave in the morning, and sweep it out, and strew fresh rushes, and pile the wood for the night fire. And between this division of labour and the little contrivances to which it gives occasion, we are certainly better waited on and taken care of by our wives and companions than if each had to do all the offices of one household.”
“True: and as long as we cannot have the comfort of a private home to each family, such a division is wise in every way. But it will not be long before the state of things will change.”
“Even then,” said Mr. Stone, “it will be desirable to continue the same plan till labour becomes less precious than it will be to us for months to come. When each family has a house, let each family eat in private; but why should not the cooking go on as at present? There will soon be baking to do in addition, and an increase of labour in proportion to our increased means of comfort: so that we must spare labour to the utmost till we can get a stock of labourers who do not require to be fed and taken care of.”
“You mean machines.”
“I mean, in the first place, the tools which will soon be on their way from Cape Town, and which will be our simple machinery: and, in the next place, the more complicated machinery which those tools will make. When we get such a fund of labour as this at our command, we may begin to indulge in the luxury of having everything within our houses done for us by those we love best, and according to our own fancy. Our society must be much richer, one and all, than now, before I think of having one of my wife's Dorsetshire pies, made by her own neat hands, and baked in an oven of our own.”
“There must be an extensive division of labour,” said the captain, “before even that single dish can be prepared.” To say nothing of what has already been done in our fields in fencing, ploughing, sowing, and trenching, there is much work remaining in reaping, threshing, and grinding, before you can have the flour. Then the meat for your pie is still grazing, and must be brought home and slaughtered and cut up. Then the salt must be got from the lake yonder; and the pepper,—what will you do for pepper?”
“The pepper must come from over the sea; and only think of all the labour that will cost: the trouble of those who grow and prepare it in another land, the boxes in which it is packed, the ship in which it is conveyed, the waggon which brings it from Cape Town; all these things are necessary to afford us pepper for our plainest pies.”
“And how much more would a plum-pudding cost! The flour and the butter may be had near home; but the sugar must be brought from one country, and the raisins from another, and the spice from a third, and the brandy from a fourth There could be no plum-puddings without such a division of labour as it almost confuses one to think of.”
“No, indeed; for we must consider, moreover, the labour which has been spent in providing the means of producing and conveying the things which make a plum-pudding. Think of the toil of preparing the vineyards where the raisins grow; of the smith and the carpenter who made the press where the grapes are prepared, and of the miner, the smelter, the founder, the furnace-builder, the bricklayer, and others who helped to make their tools, and the feller of wood, the grower of hemp, the rope-makers, the sail-makers, the ship-builders, the sailors who must do their part towards bringing the fruit to our shores. And then—”
“Nay, stop,” said the captain laughing; “you have said quite enough to show that it would cost more than the toil of a man's whole life to make a plum-pudding without the division of labour which renders it so easy a matter to any cook in England. I have heard it said that the breakfast of an English washerwoman has cost the labour of many hundred hands; and I believe it. If we think of nothing but the tea and the sugar, we may fairly say this; for the one comes from the East Indies and the other from the West, and innumerable are the hands which have been engaged in growing and preparing and conveying them to the table of an English kitchen. Our countrymen little think how much the poorest of them owes to this grand principle of the division of labour.”
“They little think,” added Mr. Stone, “how many kings and princes of countries less favoured than theirs would be glad to exchange their heaps of silver and gold for the accommodations of an English day-labourer. Many a sovereign, who covers himself and his courtiers with jewels, or who has absolute power over the lives and liberties of a million of people, could not, if he would, have anything better than a mat or a skin to sleep on: he could not, if he would, have anything better than a wooden trencher to eat off, or the shell of a large nut to drink out of; and as to what he eats and drinks, he might give the wealth of his kingdom in vain for any thing so good as a plum-pudding, or a Dorsetshire pie, or a breakfast of tea and toast. And all this, because he and his people know nothing about the division of labour.”
“Well,” said the captain, “we are not yet in a condition to have tea and toast; but we will try to-morrow what a division of labour will do towards rearing a house over our heads.”
“And next,” said Mr. Stone, “in getting some earthenware utensils. I see Harrison is in a hurry to begin his pottery. I tell him that we can eat off wooden trenchers for a while; but I believe we shall be glad to have a better draught than we can fetch with the palms of our hands.”
GETTING UP IN THE WORLD.
A rapid improvement took place in the affairs of the settlement within three months. An abundant supply of food being secured by the getting in of the harvest, the most efficient labour of the society was directed towards the procuring of the domestic comforts for which every man, woman, and child of them was beginning to pine. Their condition at tiffs time may be best described by giving a picture of a sick-room, inhabited, alas! by Mrs. Stone, who had fallen ill of a fever in consequence of over-exertion, and of anxiety for her husband and for the poor little girl who had appeared too young and tender for the hardships of a settler's life. Mr. Stone, however, had suffered nothing beyond temporary fatigue; and the little girl was taken so much care of by every body, that she throve as well as she could have done under any circumstances. The warmest corner of the cave and the softest bed of dry grass had been set apart for this child. Little Mary was presented with a straw-hat by Kate before her lover's was even begun; and it was made large enough to protect her delicate skin as well as to shade her eyes from the glare of the sun. The first draught that was milked from the antelope was brought to little Mary; and dame Fulton tied a charm round her neck to prevent her being wounded by any venomous reptile. Nobody, to be sure, thought this of any use but the dame herself; but as the child was never stung by any thing worse than midges, the old lady appealed triumphantly to fact in defence of her charm. The men used to carry Mary on their shoulders to the wood and hold her up to gather an orange or a bunch of grapes; and then the fruit was brought to the captain or Mary's papa as the little girl's gift. Then the boys had a tame monkey, and they taught Mary how to play with it without teasing it; and they trained one of the dogs to carry the little girl while one of the older lads held her on; and she generally took a ride every morning and every evening, before and after work; and being thus carefully tended and so well amused, little Mary grew fat and strong, and her papa found, as regularly as Sunday came about, (for he could not be much with her on other days,) that she had learned to do something which she could not do the week before. At last, Mrs. Stone ceased to be anxious about her child, and then she fell ill herself. It was not a dangerous illness; but it was a tedious time to herself, and a very uneasy one to her husband, who sighed for many comforts on her account that he would never have cared for on his own. She tried continually to console him, and often pointed out her many blessings, and expressed her thankfulness for the care that was taken of her. Mr. Hill, who was not very sorry to have a patient once more, was experienced as well as attentive. He was a good deal put out at first at having neither phials nor gallipots to send in to his patient, for he had been accustomed to think them as essential to a sickroom as the medicines themselves: but when he found that the lady slept as well after taking her draught out of a coarse earthen pipkin as if it had been brought, duly labelled, in a phial, he began to think, as she did, that it was a fine thing to have medicine at all in such a situation, and that his importance was wholly independent of the furniture of his surgery.
It was a happy circumstance that the removal from the cave had taken place before Mrs. Stone's illness began. She was lodged in the largest of the three reed-houses which bad been built, and each of which had been partitioned off into apartments for the families of the settlement. The invalid had the middlemost one, as being the coolest. A very good bed had been made by sewing up a soft hide into a bag and filling it with chaff. This was laid in one corner, on a frame supported by blocks of wood, the second bottom being made of hide in the absence of sacking. It is too dangerous to lie on the ground in places where venomous insects may enter. The covering of the bed was a light, flexible mat, woven by Kate's neat hands. A shelf of wood rested on tressels, within reach of the patient, on which stood a rude earthenware plate of figs and grapes, and a basin of cooling drink pressed from the sweet orange, and flavoured with its fragrant rind. There was a cupboard, stored with little dainties sent in by the neighbours to tempt the appetite of the sick lady:— sweetmeats, made of various fruits and honey; cakes of wheat and other flour with orange peel, honey, and seeds of various flavour; and abun-dance of broth, jelly, and other preparations of animal food. The only comfort the lady wanted was that of books; but as she knew it was impossible at present to procure them, she said nothing of her wish. Her neighbours were very kind in coming to see her and amuse her with accounts of all that was going on; and her husband spent by her side whatever time his other duties allowed. She had also a well-stored mind, and was thankful to be able to interest herself again in what she had read when she had little idea that she should ever be debarred from books. But with all these resources, she could not help sighing now and then for one favourite volume or another that might improve her knowledge and occupy her attention.
One day when she was sitting up, and when her husband was sure she was so much better as to be able to see a new face without too much fatigue, he brought the captain to pay her a visit.
“Why, really,” said he, when he began to look round him, “though this is not exactly the way one would furnish a sick-room if one had the choice, it is surprising how comfortable this place has been made.”
“I assure you,” said Mrs. Stone, “I have wanted for nothing really necessary, and have had many luxuries. I do not believe I should have recovered a day sooner if I had had the best room in the best house in England.”
“Every thing needful for bodily comfort has been furnished,” said her husband; “but it has been a daily regret to me that we could not supply you with the independent enjoyment of books. If we could, you would have been spared many a tedious hour when I was obliged to be away from you.”
“I have certainly felt enough of this,” said his wife, “to be more than ever sensible that, though it is a most desirable thing that the external comforts of life should be provided for every body, these comforts are after all only means to a higher end. When we have all that can be obtained in that way, we remain unsatisfied unless there be pursuits to occupy the mind.”
“It is as a pursuit occupying the mind,” observed her husband, “that productive industry is chiefly valuable. It has another object,— to place us in a condition fit for a further and better pursuit: and if we stop short when we have secured the requisite leisure and comfort, we stop short of what we were made for.”
“I am rather afraid of our people mistaking the means for the end,” said Mrs. Stone. “They know that they are doing their duty—that they are employed to the best possible purpose at present, in providing for the support and comfort of themselves and their families; and the pursuit itself keeps their minds active, and therefore makes them happy. But I am afraid of their going on to make this their only object, when they ought to be reaching forward to something better. In a few months we shall have stores of whatever we want; and it would be a pity to forget all we have learned from books and seen in the world, for the sake of heaping up more food and clothing than we can possibly use.”
“You need not fear, madam,” said the captain. “Our people are already thinking of trading with the next settlement, and even with Cape Town. I should not wonder if in five years we have a flourishing commerce, exchanging our productions for the manufactures of England. If we should go on working till we have a regular town of brick or stone houses, and roads and bridges, and periodical conveyances to and from Cape Town, with all the new objects which would be introduced by these means, you would no longer fear our people's not having a sufficient variety of pursuits, would you?”
“Certainly not,” said Mrs. Stone, “because I know what is the natural course of things where such improvements take place. We shall by that time have a chapel and a school-house, and a library; and, however the business of the society may be extended and varied, its members will become more and more disposed to find leisure for the improvement of their minds.”
“And this in its turn,” said the captain, “will tend to the improvement of their temporal condition. We shall have new inventions and discoveries which will help us to procure the comforts we have been used to with more and more ease continually, and will supply us with new ones which we little dream of at present. There are no bounds to what labour can do when directed by knowledge.”
“We were saying one night over our fire, captain, (as I dare say you remember,) that it is Nature that works, and that human labour only brings her materials together. Now,—as we do not know nearly all the materials that there are in nature, nor nearly all the different ways in which they may be combined, we do not know nearly all that human labour can do.”
“Witness what has been already done,” said the captain. “It is probable that men were possessed of timber, and cloth, and ropes, and that they had observed the power of the winds, long before they brought these things together to make a ship. And see what human labour, working with nature, has done in enabling men to cross oceans, and to traverse the globe if they choose. And so it is with the steam-engine, and with all the arts of life which raise the condition of man higher and higher. Nature has furnished the materials ever since the day of creation; it is human labour directed by knowledge, which makes more and more use of them from age to age.”
“We can see no bounds to the improvements which will take place,” said Mr. Stone, “because we see no bounds to the means which constitute them. Nature appears inexhaustible; human labour increases with the increase of population; to say nothing of a more rapid mode of growth.”
“What is that?” asked his wife.
“I will explain myself by and by. Natural materials and human labour are inexhaustible, and the other thing wanted—the directing wisdom of man—seems likely to grow for ever. So where shall improvement stop?”
“Providence,” said the captain, “by which all these things are framed and adapted, seems to work on a plan of perpetual progress, and to open a prospect of growing brightness to all who will look far enough. Providence points out one great truth respecting the temporal condition of mankind which, if properly understood, would banish all fear for the temporal prosperity of the whole race in the long run; and if duly acted upon, would put an end to most of the partial distress which now exists.”
“What is that truth?”
“That Labour is a power of which Man is the machine; and that its operation can be limited only by the resources of Man.”
“And how do you mean to act upon your knowledge of this truth, captain? You hold a very responsible situation; and I know you are not the man to let a truth lie by idle when you have a firm hold of it.”
“I have been thinking a great deal about my duty in this matter, I assure you,” replied the captain. “The more I consider the influence of a government in guiding or perverting this vast power of human labour, the more anxious I am to exercise my share of influence properly.”
“I thought,” said Mrs. Stone, “the only thing government had to do in this matter was to let people alone, and leave labour to find its right direction.”
“That is true,” replied the captain, “as far as the different kinds of labour are in question. It is no business of mine to pronounce a farmer's labour better than a shopkeeper's, or to show favour to any one class more than to another; but it is in my power to increase or lessen the usefulness of labour by the policy I pursue.”
“For instance,” said Mr. Stone, “if you encourage the division of labour to the utmost that our supply will allow, you increase its power immeasurably. If, on the other hand, you were to use your influence in persuading our people to work apart, each for himself, you would be wasting, to the utmost, the chief resource of the settlement.”
“True,” said the captain; “and thus may the energy of labour be increased without bounds by encouraging the division of labour: for, by such division, the same quantity of labour furnishes a more abundant produce: and the same remark applies to the encouragement of machinery; for machines shorten and assist all the operations of industry to a greater degree than we can calculate. But I have it in my power also to affect the extent of labour. I must take care that the more mouths there are to feed, the more industry there is in raising food. I must allow no idleness, and see that the number of unproductive labourers is not out of proportion to the productive.”
“You can do this in a little settlement like ours, captain; but surely the rulers of an empire cannot?”
“It is not the duty of the English government,” replied the captain, “to inquire who is idle in the kingdom and who is not, and to punish or encourage individuals accordingly. This would be an endless task, and an irksome one both to rulers and the ruled. But the same work may be done in a shorter way. Governments should protect the natural liberty of industry by removing all obstacles,—all bounties and prohibitions,—all devices by which one set of people tries to obtain unfair advantages over another set. If this were fairly done, industry would find its natural reward and idleness its natural punishment; and there would be neither more nor less unproductive labourers than the good of society would require.”
“I see plainly,” said Mrs. Stone, “the truth of what you have last said, but I want to know———”
Before she could explain what it was that she wished to learn, a message was brought in that the gentlemen were wanted.
“Which of us?”
“Both, sir, I fancy. There has been a meeting held under the great chestnut, and I believe it is a deputation from the meeting that is waiting without.”
Mrs. Stone said that if her husband would give her his arm, she should like to go and sit in the porch, and hear what was going forward. In answer to his fears that she would be tired, she declared that conversation, like a book, refreshed instead of fatiguing her, and that she was quite disposed for more of it.
Hill, who was one of the deputation, was surprised to see his patient advancing and appearing fully able to walk with her husband's assistance. Suiting his advice to the inclinations of his patient, (which medical men know it is often wise to do,) he doubted not that she would find the air reviving; and if she was strong enough to be amused, nothing could be better for her. So the lady was soon seated in the porch with her pillow at her back, and a log at her feet for a footstool, and a straw hat, as large as a West India planter's, on her head. Little Mary saw from a distance that something was doing in the porch, and came to look on. She had left her mamma on the bed an hour before, and had no idea of seeing her any where else this day.
“Mamma! mamma!” cried the delighted child, trying to climb the seat. “Take me up on your lap, mamma; I want you to kiss me.”
Her papa lifted her upon the seat, and she nestled with her head on her mamma's shoulder, and would not go to play again, though her companions came and peeped and called her. They all looked in in turn, that they might each have a nod and a smile from Mrs. Stone, and then they ran away, and left Mary where she wished to be.
“Well, my friends,” said the captain to Hill, and Harrison, and Dunn, who composed the deputation— “take a seat and tell us what is your business with us.”
There had hitherto been very little observance of ranks in the settlement, since the calamity which, befalling all alike, had reduced all to one level. On the present occasion, however, the deputation persisted in remaining standing and uncovered.
Their business was to report that a meeting of the people had been held to consider what were their resources, with a view to providing a permanent establishment for the captain as their chief magistrate, and for Mr. Stone as their chaplain and the schoolmaster of the society. They proposed to build a good house for each, as soon as the necessary tools should arrive; and to set apart for each a specified share of the productions of the place, till the introduction of money should enable them to pay a salary in the usual mode. This offer was accompanied with many grateful acknowledgments of the benefits which the society had derived from the exertions of both gentlemen, and with apologies for the freedom which had prevailed in their intercourse while poverty reduced all to a temporary equality. Now that they were rising above want was the time for each man to take his own station again, and the gentlemen should henceforth be treated with the deference which belonged to their superior rank.
“You are all in the wrong, my good friends,” cried the captain, rising and throwing off his cap. “Upon my word, I don't know what you mean. I am the son of a tradesman, and therefore exactly on a level with yourself, Mr. Dunn; for I have done nothing to gain a higher rank. And I must differ from you so far as to say that such circumstances as we have lately been in are the best test of rank, and that I, for one, would give not a fig for that sort of dignity which disappears just when the dignity of man should show itself. If I was on an equality with you when we were all in danger together———”
“But you were not, sir,” said Hill; “and that was one thing which Dunn was to have said, but I suppose he forgot it. It is because you guided us then, that we want you to govern us now. It was because you showed yourself superior to us then, that we want to honour you now.”
“Indeed!” said the captain. “Well, that is another matter. No man can be more sensible than I am of the advantages of a gradation of ranks in society, provided it be founded on a right principle: and I therefore cheerfully accept the honours you offer me, as well as the office to which it is right they should belong. It is for you and not for me to judge whether I have deserved either the one or the other; and there would be no true humility in questioning your decision. Will you be pleased to make known to those who have sent you my gratification at possessing their good opinion, and my acceptance of the office they propose, and of their plan for maintaining the charges of such an office?”
The deputation bowed low.
“I shall wish,” continued the captain, “to call a meeting of the whole society, in order to explain the principles on which I shall proceed in my government, and to obtain their advice respecting some regulations, and their consent to others which I may wish to adopt for the public good. This meeting, however, cannot be held till the return of our messenger from Cape Town shall enable us to calculate our resources for maintenance and defence.”
The three messengers bowed again, and then turned to Mr. Stone for his reply. He thus spoke:
“I receive with much satisfaction your request that I will continue my exertions as the guide of your religious services, and as the teacher of your children. Such a request implies much that it is gratifying to me to know. It implies that your interest in concerns of the highest importance is not lessened by the anxieties which have pressed upon you of late: and if not lessened, we may hope it is increased; for if adversity does not harden the heart, it softens it: if it does not make us discontented with Providence, it must draw us towards God.—Your request also implies that the immediate pressure of your adversity is past, or you would not be thinking of giving up the labour of your children in order that they might be taught by me, or of sparing some of your earnings for such a purpose.— Again: your request implies that you have that opinion of my services which it has been my endeavour to earn, and which I shall labour no less diligently to retain.—These considerations leave me no inclination to object to your plan, except in one particular.”
Here every body looked eager to know the nature of the objection. Mr. Stone continued,
“The captain is right in accepting a salary for his office;—because the benefit cannot in such a case be apportioned to individuals so that each may afford a recompense for the good he receives. The blessings of a good government are general in the society governed; and all ought to pay their share for those blessings; and none can know what amount of evil he escapes by living under such a government. But the case is different with services like mine; and the reward should therefore be differently given. Let every man who finds himself benefited by my religious services bring me such a portion of his temporal goods as he is inclined to offer. Let every father, whose children are taught by me, set apart whatever he may think an equivalent for the pains I shall bestow. If I find I am possessed of more than I want for present and future purposes, I will return a part. If I have not enough, I will ask for more.”
“If I might venture to speak, sir,” said Hill, —“this is all very well between you and us who understand one another so well; but this is not the rule to go upon with all pastors and schoolmasters, is it?”
“I believe you will always find,” replied Mr. Stone, “that the work of any office is best done where the reward is proportioned to the labour, instead of being given in the form of a fixed salary. In many government and other offices, this cannot be done with any precision; but where it can be, it should be; whether in the case of a pastor or a schoolmaster, or any other labourer for the public. Magistrates, soldiers, domestic servants and others, must be paid by salaries; but in every office where the benefit can be estimated in individual cases, let the payment be made accordingly. This may be depended upon as the best way of making the labourer exert himself, and exciting the benefited to make the most of his exertions. May I trouble you to explain my views to your companions?”
And then, after a few more expressions of mutual good will, the parties separated.
When Mr. Stone turned to speak to his wife, he saw tears upon her cheek. She was still weak-spirited, and the honour paid to her husband had affected her. He calmed her by turning her attention to the improvement which must be taking place in the affairs of the settlement, if its inhabitants could thus meet to deliberate on its judicial interests.
“Yes, indeed,” said the captain, “the appointment of a deputation to bring messages like these is a pretty good proof that we are getting up in the world.”
A BRIGHT SUNSET.
One fine evening, about the beginning of February,—that is, near the end of summer at the Cape,—a very extraordinary sight was seen by our settlers. The boys who were climbing trees for fruit perceived it first, and made such haste down from their perches, and shouted the news so loudly in their way home, that in a few minutes every one was out at the door, and all formed in a body to go and meet the new arrival. This arrival was no other than a loaded waggon, drawn by eight oxen; a scanty team at the Cape, where they sometimes harness twelve or sixteen.
There was a momentary anxiety about what this waggon might be, and to whom it might belong; for it did now and then happen that a new band of settlers, or a travelling party from Cape Town, passed through the village, and requested such hospitality as it would, in the present case, have been inconvenient or impossible to grant. The young eyes of the party, however, presently discovered that the driver of the team was their friend Richard the labourer, their messenger to Cape Town, of whom they spoke every day, but whom they little expected to see back again so soon. It was Richard assuredly. They could tell the crack of his whip from that of any other driver. The captain waved his cap above his head and cheered; every man and boy in the settlement cheered; the mothers held up their babies in the air, and the little ones struggled and crowed for joy. The oxen quickened their pace at the noise, and Richard stood up in front of the waggon, and shaded his eyes with his cap from the setting sun, that he might see who was who in the little crowd, and whether his old mother had come out to meet him. He saw her presently, leaning on the captain's arm, and then he returned the cheer with might and main. A load of anxiety was removed from his mind at that moment. He had left his companions in a destitute state, without shelter, or arms, or provision beyond the present day. He had not received any tidings of them; it was impossible he should; and a hundred times during his journey home, he bad pictured to himself the settlement as he might find it. Sometimes he fancied it deserted by all who had strength to betake themselves to the distant villages: sometimes he imagined it wasted by famine, and desolated by wild beasts or more savage men. At such times he thought how little probable it was that one so infirm as his mother should survive the least of the hardships that all were liable to; and though he confided in the captain's parting promise to take care of her, he scarcely expected to meet her again. Now, he had seen her with his own eyes; and he saw also that the general appearance of the throng before him was healthful and gladsome, and his heart overflowed with joy.
“God bless you, God bless you all!” he cried, as he pushed his way through the crowd which had outstripped his mother and the captain.
“Let him go; do not stop him,” exclaimed several, who saw his eagerness to be at his mother's side: and they turned away and patted the oxen and admired the waggon, till the embrace was received and the blessing given, and Richard at liberty to greet each friend in turn.
“Tell me first,” said he, in a low voice to Mr. Stone, “are all safe? Have all lived through such a time as you must have had of it?”
“All but one. We have lost George Prest. We could ill spare him; but it was God's will.”
Richard looked for George's father, who appeared to be making acquaintance with the oxen, but had only turned away to hide the tears which he could not check. Richard wrung his hand in silence, and was not disposed for some time to go on with his tale or his questions.
The first thing he wanted to know was where and how his friends were living.
“You shall see presently,” said the captain. And, as soon as they turned round the foot of the hill, he did see a scene which astonished him. Part of the slope before him, rich with summer verdure, was inclosed with a rude fence, within which two full grown and three young antelopes were grazing. In another paddock were the grey mare and her foal. Across the sparkling stream at the bottom of the slope lay the trunk of a tree which served as a foot-bridge. On the other side at some little distance was the wood, in its richest beauty. Golden oranges shone among the dark green leaves, and vines were trained from one stem to another. On the outskirts of the wood were the dwellings, overshadowed by the oaks and chestnuts which formed their corner-posts. Plastered with clay, and rudely thatched, they might have been taken for the huts of savages but for their superior size, and for certain appearances round them which are not usual among uncivilized people. A handmill, made of stones, was placed under cover beside one of the dwellings; a sort of work-bench was set up under one of the trees, where lay the implements of various employments which had been going on when the arrival of the waggon had called every one from his work. The materials for straw-platting were scattered in the porch, and fishing-nets lay on the bank of the stream to dry. The whole was canopied over with the bluest of summer skies. Dark mountains rose behind.
“We are just in time to show you our village before sunset,” said the captain, observing how the last level rays were glittering on the stream.
“And is this our home?” said Richard, in quiet astonishment. “Is this the bare ruined place I left five months ago? Who has helped you? Your own hands can never have done all this.”
“Nature,—or He who made nature—has given us the means,” replied the captain; “and our own hands have done the rest. Well-directed labour is all we have had to depend on.”
“Wonderful!” cried Richard. “The fields are tilled——”
“By simple individual labour. There can be little combination in tillage on a small scale where different kinds of work must succeed each other, instead of being carried on at the same time.”
“These houses and so many utensils——”
“Are the produce of a division of labour as extensive as our resources would allow.”
“There must have been wise direction as well as industrious toil.”
“Yes,” said Mr. Stone, smiling, “we have been as fortunate in our unproductive as in our productive labourers.”
“And have you had plenty for all?”
“Abundance; because we have had no more unproductive labourers than we really wanted, and not a single idle person in the society, except infants in arms.”
“I don't see that you want anything,” said Richard, laughing; “I might have spared my journey, I think.”
“You will not say so,” replied the captain, “when you see how behindhand we are in some things from a deficiency of labour.”
“Of labour!” cried Richard; “I can help but little there. I bring but one pair of hands you know.—There are the oxen to be sure.”
“And much besides, full as valuable as either. The waggon will save many a week's or month's work of all our people, if we consider the toil of conveying goods from place to place with the hands only, or with such poor contrivances as ours have been. This waggon would have saved a store of labour if we had had it at harvest time. Many a long day's work did it cost us all to carry our corn in bundles, and on hurdles, or in the few sacks we had. Such a waggon as this would have carried it in a day, and we should have had all the rest of our labour to spare for other things.”
“I hope,” said Mr. Stone, “you have brought the materials for a water-mill. It is a pity such a fall of water as there is yonder should be wasted.”
“I have brought all but such as we may get out of our wood,” replied Richard. “It would have been folly to load the waggon with woodwork when we have so much timber at hand. But I have brought all the necessary tools.”
“We shall make a prodigious saving of labour there,” said the captain. “We are obliged to keep three handmills constantly at work; and even so can scarcely get flour enough for our daily wants. When our mill is up, it will grind our whole stock in a week, and one man will be enough to look after it.”
“As I had not room to bring everything,” said Richard, “I have been more particular about a good supply of tools than about articles of machinery. I thought we might make machinery with tools more easily than we could make tools with machinery.”
“Very right. You brought the simple machinery by which we could make the complicated: for both are machinery and both are tools. Tools are simple machinery; and machinery is a complicated tool. So you have brought the means by which we may get together the parts of a forge; and then the forge will in its turn make and keep in repair our tools. But was the Governor willing to advance these goods for us?”
“Perfectly; when he heard what a variety of things we hoped to send by and by in exchange for them. I told him we were honest people, who hoped to pay for the help we wanted: and when he heard how well we were doing before we were robbed, he said he would trust us for the debt, for he thought, for our own sakes, we should keep a better watch henceforth.”
“We must see to that without delay, Richard.”
“Yes, sir; and I have brought arms and powder; and we have made an arrangement about exchanging. The Governor says it is hard upon our settlement and others to have to send so far as Cape Town; so he is to despatch a ship to an appointed place on the coast, only fifty miles from hence, and there we and all the settlers between this place and the mountains to the south are to send our fruit, and our corn, and our hides, and ostrich feathers, and anything else we may have, to be exchanged for powder, and iron, and any manufactured things that we cannot get for ourselves. The convenience is so great, that among so many settlements we can well afford to defray the expense of the little voyage; and, when I look round me, sir, I have no fear of our not being able to pay off our debt, if we can but keep thieves at a distance.”
When the waggon had crossed the stream (which was easy in its present shallow state) everybody was eager to begin to unpack; but the captain forbade any such proceeding till the morning. It was necessary that Richard should superintend; and Richard was very tired; so, when the oxen were taken out, the curious were obliged to content themselves with peeping and prying under the leather covering. There appeared a tempting store of packages, but so neatly done up, that nothing could be seen of them but here and there the blade of a saw, or the edge of a ploughshare, or the stock of a musket.
Some one asked whether watch should not be kept over their new wealth during the night.— “No doubt,” the captain replied. “There was little fear of another attempt from the Bushmen at present; but there could not be too much care in watching.”
Arnall suggested that the watchers should be furnished with fire-arms, and offered his own services in that case, as he was accustomed to handle a musket. This seemed so reasonable, that Richard undertook to produce two muskets and a small barrel of powder. Arnall was properly thanked, while one said to another that his love of handling fire-arms must be very strong to overcome the dislike of night-air and fatigue in one who was so fond of his ease.
While Richard was busy upon the waggon, Arnall was seen to be talking very earnestly with him, till Richard laughed aloud, when the gentleman marched off with a very haughty step.
“What is the matter, Richard?” said the captain.
“Why, sir, Mr. Arnall came to beg me to transgress your orders so far as just to unpack a razor and soap for him. He says he shall not feel himself again till he is shaved, and I suppose that is the reason he skulked behind so when I would have spoken to him at first.”
“He need not be ashamed of his beard,” said the captain, “for we are all in the same plight. It is just five months since we have had a razor among us.”
“But the best of it is, sir,” said Richard, “that I have got no razors. It was that made Mr. Arnall so angry. I am sure I am sorry; but being shaved myself only once a week, it never came into my mind how much gentlemen think of being shaved every day.”
“We must forgive you an omission here and there,” said the captain, “if we find you have had a good memory on the whole.”
“You will please to remember, sir, that I had no list, for want of paper to make one. All the way as I went, I kept planning and saying over to myself what I should get: and at last it occurred to me that if I could not have pen and ink, I might find a slate: and so I did.”
“You picked one up by the road-side, I suppose.”
“Yes, sir; I found a fiat piece and a sharp piece, and wrote down whatever occurred to me that we should want; but I never once thought of razors. There are scissors enough, however, and Mr. Arnall may clip his chin, if he can persuade the ladies to lend him a pair.”
While Arnall was examining, and priming, and loading his piece, his good-humour returned; and as he held up his head and paced backwards and forwards beside the waggon, he presented a very good example to all who wished to learn how a sentinel should look. It did not make him angry to see the little boys imitating him in the morning, till one of them put his hand to his chin in a way not to be mistaken. It was impossible, however, to find out whether they were laughing at his beard or at his wish to be rid of it.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES.
It was just such a bright morning as every body had hoped for. The children, always ready to make a festival, had been stirring early, and with two or three grown-up playfellows had gone into the wood for green boughs, of which they stuck up some at the doors of the houses, made a sort of canopy of others over the precious vehicle which contained their treasures, and carried a waving grove about the settlement, singing and tossing their hats. They gave three cheers to the captain when he came forth to see what was doing; and they would have bestowed the honour of three times three on Richard, had not his mother appeared, holding up her finger as a signal for silence. Her son, over-wearied with his journey, was still unawakened by the bustle before the door, and she was unwilling that his rest should be disturbed. Eager as these boys and girls were for the pleasure of the unpacking, they were considerate enough to leave their hero to his repose, and marched off in silence, resolved to wait patiently till noon, if need should be, for the commencement of the grand ceremony of the day.
The gentlemen meanwhile were planning how this ceremony might be best conducted. It was well worth consideration; for, as they agreed, the introduction of machinery into a society which had depended on pure labour was a far more rational occasion of public rejoicing than those which, in larger communities than theirs, light up candles in the windows and bonfires in the market-places. In rejoicings for national victories, there is always much to trouble the spirits of many. Some are mourning the death of friends, and others grieving over the woes of the millions who suffer by war; and many feel shame and horror that so barbarous a custom as war should subsist among those who profess a religion of peace. But, on the present occasion, the joy of one was the joy of all; and it was fully justified by the acquisition the society had made. If some one had discovered a gold mine in the midst of their dwellings, he would not have conferred such means of wealth as Richard by his single waggon-load of wood and iron. Labour was that of which there was the greatest deficiency in the community; and the means of shortening and easing labour was therefore the most valuable present which could be conferred. While the gentlemen understood this fully, the children picked it up after their own manner. One had heard his father say that if he could but lay his hand on a plough again, he should feel as much at ease as a prince; for bread itself was hardly worth the slavery of tillage without tools. Another had seen his mother sigh when she looked at the tattered garments of her children and remembered that she had not wherewith to repair the old or make new. Another had observed the captain cast many an anxious look upon the frail walls and slight roofs of their dwellings, and had learned, therefore, to dread a summer tempest or a winter snow. And now the remedies for these evils and fears had arrived. The fathers might drive the plough and rejoice in their manly toil: the mothers might ply the needle and sing over their easy task; and soon the thunder-cloud might burst overhead, or the frosty winds sweep by, without fear that tender infants would be driven forth from a tottering house into the storm. It was truly an occasion of rejoicing; and none were more sensible of this than Richard, as might be seen by the brightness of his countenance when he at length came out, refreshed and full of apologies for having kept every body waiting.
The waggon had been drawn into the shade where there was open space large enough to admit every body to a perfect view of what was going on; for, the contents being common property, the captain desired that there should be an equal knowledge among his people of what their riches consisted of. The old people were seated in a row under the tree; and the others ranged in a circle, with the exception of Richard and two or three more, who were engaged in the centre, and Arnall, who, with a look of prodigious importance, placed himself somewhat in advance of his companions. He folded his arms and looked on in silence while the larger articles were being unpacked, displayed, and carried to the place appointed for them by the captain. But when some smaller packages appeared, containing the carpenter's lesser tools, or drugs, or linens and woollens, or needles and hardware articles, &c., &c., he stepped forward towards the captain, and proposed that, as the society was now restored to a state of civilization, he should resume the employment for which he felt himself most fit, and should take possession of these articles in order to retail them to customers as before.
“By what right do you propose to take such possession?” asked the captain, as much amused as he was astonished.
“By right of purchase, like an honest man,” replied Arnall, pulling out a canvas bag from some corner of his apparel, and displaying a pretty large amount of gold coin. “I did not presume upon this ground of superiority to my companions while we had nothing among us to buy or sell; but now that we are coming out of a state of barbarism, it is time that we should be resuming our several stations.”
“I wonder you do not perceive, sir,” said the captain, “that a new test of rank has been introduced by our late circumstances. Our members rank according to the comparative utility of their labours; and many here possess a better title than the having saved a bag of their own gold from the flames. There are some, sir, who, while you were looking after your gold, snatched infants from destruction, which is a somewhat greater service to the community. Pray, to whom do you propose to pay your gold in exchange for these goods?”
“To yourself, as governor.”
“This property is not mine. I am only the trustee in whose hands it is placed. If you wish to trade with money, it must be in some other society where money is valuable, which it will not be here for some time to come,”
Observing that some of the people looked surprised at hearing that money could be otherwise than valuable, the captain continued,
“Keep your coin, sir, and take care of it, I advise you; for I hope to see the time when gold and silver will pass from hand to hand; but much must be done first. We must have more productions before a regular system of exchange can take place; and that exchange will be of the productions themselves for some time before we find it convenient to pay in coin: and before coin can come into common use among us, there must be more of it than your bag holds, Mr. Arnall.”
“What is to be done then, captain? How am I benefited by the arrival of these goods?”
“Your labour will be made easier, that is all. Labour is still the purchase money of every thing here.”
Arnall had no heart to remain any longer. He walked away by himself, vexed that he had let out the secret of his gold, and sighing for the gentility of keeping a shop in preference to the drudgery of hand-labour. Nobody looked after him, and nobody wished for his money-bag while so many better things were spread before their eyes.
One package, directed to Mr. Stone, drew more tears from the beholders than had been shed since the first day of their misfortune. The governor's chaplain at Cape Town having learned from Richard that every book in the settlement had been destroyed with other possessions, had sent a supply of such as he imagined would be most useful in their circumstances. On the first day of the week the people had assembled regularly for worship, when Mr. Stone, in addition to his addresses, had recited such portions of the Scriptures as he could sufficiently remember to convey the sense. It was not to be expected that his flock in general should know and remember as much of the sacred books as himself; but many an one was surprised and humbled to find how imperfect and how unconnected were his own notions of the sense and design of even the most important parts of the sacred volume. Finding amidst their distresses the need of that which they had not hitherto sufficiently prized, and having in Mr. Stone a friend ever ready to help them to what they wanted, when, with a Bible at hand, they might, perhaps, have put off the inquiry to a future day, it strangely happened that some learned more of what was in the Bible when there was not a copy within many miles, than they had done when there was one in every family. They were much assisted by Richard's old mother, whose memory was better stored with some parts of Scripture than even Mr. Stone's. When she found her sight beginning to fail, she applied herself to learn that which she could never more read; and, by the help of her good son, she accomplished her wish. During his absence, it had been a frequent custom for groups to gather round the aged woman in the porch, when the toils of the day were done, to listen to a psalm, or a parable, or a discourse, which would send them home to their rest full of calm and serious thought. They were thus prepared to value the precious gift which they received from the chaplain; viz. several copies of the whole Bible, many more of the Testament, and some other works of a kind likely to turn to the best account the impressions which late events could not but have made upon them.
This gentleman had been thoughtful enough also to send a file of newspapers, just arrived from England. They were by this time of old date; but never did the most eager politician, the most anxious speculator, open his wet newspaper at a London breakfast-table so impatiently as the dullest and slowest of readers in our settlement devoured every paragraph from the newest and most important to the very advertisements of a year and a half before. Every thing was presently forgotten for these papers; the accustomed labour, the unusual festival, the new riches, all were nothing in comparison of news from England. They even forgot their good manners towards Mr. Stone, peeping over his shoulders and pressing upon him while he glanced over the intelligence of the latest date. He was able to make allowance for their eagerness, and with a good-natured smile gave up the sheet he held, and invited his wife to walk with him, judging that his people might communicate more freely, and enjoy their new pleasure with less restraint, in his absence.
He had seen enough to fill his mind with thoughts of his own land; but in a little while his interest returned to the society in which his lot was cast, and he encouraged in his companion and himself the most cheering hopes of the improvement of the social condition of all. He directed her attention to the particular circumstances on which he founded his hopes.
“See, my dear,” said he. “On that fall of the stream will be our mill; in that nook our saw-pit; behind that inclosure our forge. The stables for the bullocks are to be built yonder. I began to be afraid the sheep and cows would arrive from the mountains before we had produce to give in exchange for them, or a winter fold to secure them in: but there is no saying how rapidly we may get forward now we have so many means of saving our labour.”
“That reminds me,” said Mrs. Stone, “of what I was wishing to ask you. I see clearly, and I suppose the most ignorant person in the settlement sees, how useful machinery is in a case like ours, where the great object is to save labour. But are those in the wrong who dislike the extensive use of machinery in countries, such as England at the present day, where the great object is to find employment for labour?”
“Clearly wrong, in my opinion,” replied her husband: “because, till the human race reaches its highest point of attainment, there must be always something more to do; and the more power is set at liberty to do it, the better. Till all the arts and sciences are exhausted, till Nature has furnished the last of her resources, and man found the limit of his means of making use of them, the greatest possible supply of human labour is wanted, and it is our duty to make the utmost possible saving of it.”
“I remember,” said his wife, “what the captain said about labour being a power of which man is the machine; and I see how it must be for man's advantage to economise this power to the utmost. But I cannot reconcile this with the evils caused by the introduction of machinery where labour is abundant.”
“I do not deny the evil,” replied her husband: “but I see that the distress is temporary and partial, while the advantage is lasting and universal. You have heard of the dismay of those who got their living by copying manuscripts, when the art of printing was introduced?”
“Yes; and that many thousands now are maintained by printing to one who used to copy for bread. The case is the same with cotton-spinning, I know. Where one was employed to spin by hand, hundreds are now maintained by spinning with machinery; and thousands of times as much work is done.”
“Such a result in any one case, my dear, shows that the principle is a good one; and if, in any other case, it appears not to be good, we may be pretty sure of finding that the blame lies, —not with the principle,—but with some check or other which interferes with it. Such checks are imposed by the bad policy of some governments, and by the want of union between the different parts of society. While the race at large has still so many wants and wishes ungratified, it ought to be an easy thing for any quantity of labour which is turned away from one kind of work to find employment in another. That it is not easy, is the fault of the constitution of society, and we should be far from remedying the evil by repressing the principle and restricting the power of labour.”
“So you think that if labour had its free course, all over the world, machinery might be extended to the utmost perfection without doing any thing but good to the whole of the race?”
“I do.—And I see yet further evil in restricting the use of machinery in any one country;— that it invariably increases the amount of distress on the very spot. Since no power on earth can stop the improvement of machinery in the whole world at once, it does nothing but mischief to stop it in any one place. Wherever it is done, that place is thrown back in the race of competition, and will soon suffer under a failure of demand for its productions and manufactures; because, by the aid of machinery, they can be furnished more cheaply elsewhere.”
“Then the only thing to be done is to open as many channels to industry as possible, and to remove all obstructions to its free course?”
“Just so.—Those in power should do this by pursuing the ‘letting-alone’ course of policy; and private individuals like you and me, my dear, can do no more than form right opinions, and when we are sure of them, spread them. We can only influence by forming a fraction of that mighty amount of power,—Public Opinion.”
“It will be long before we shall be wanted as advocates of the use of machinery in this place,” replied Mrs. Stone. “I can scarcely imagine that in our lifetime there will be any complaints of too great an abundance of productive power.”
“When we can afford it, my dear, perhaps we may indulge ourselves with a visit to England, and then we can judge for ourselves whether it has been a good thing or not for our Yorkshire friends and neighbours that improved machinery has been introduced there. If they have any trade at all, it is owing to this cause, for they could never have supported a competition with other manufacturing places by any means but this.”
“Your father seems well enough satisfied with his trade,” said Mrs. Stone. “He and his people have suffered occasionally, as all do, from a temporary glut in the market; but he has witnessed, through a long life, a gradual and steady extension of trade with the gradual introduction and improvement of machinery. I only wish that our settlement may have the same experience on the small scale which will suit our numbers,”
“Perhaps,” said her husband, “if we should live to see our grand-children grow up in this place, we may be able to give them a lesson out of our experience. I can fancy you, a venerable grandmother, sitting at a window of a handsome stone house on yonder slope, and saying to a grandchild,—
“‘I well remember cutting up our meat with stones, and cooking it in a hole in the ground on the very spot where those tanpits are in use, preparing leather enough to maintain a hundred people by its sale. There, where the threshing machines turn out corn on which thousands are to feed, stood our labourers with their flails, toiling to supply our little band with a scanty provision. There, where that range of mills is preparing dye-woods to be sent east and west, were hands which could ill be spared once employed in chopping fuel for our nightly fires: and, beyond, where the straw-platting and basket manufactory employs a hundred and fifty of our population, sat little Betsy on the grass, trying to make a frame-work of twigs. And, on that side, where the brick-grounds and potteries extend over three acres, did our first potter attempt his first basin, unsteady and crooked as it was, for want of the machinery which now enables us to make such ware as we may well be proud of. There is now not a house within a hundred miles that has not some of our blue and white teaware, or a dinner service of our yellow ware, or, at least, some of our brown basins.’”
“Some of our grand-children will surely be potters, if you be a true prophet,” said Mrs. Stone, laughing.
“Very likely. And if they are, I hope they will be always on the watch to introduce every mechanical improvement into their business, as a duty to society and to themselves.”
Just then Kate was seen approaching. With many blushes, she asked permission to speak with Mrs. Stone in private. Mr. Stone immediately walked away, when Kate explained that her lover was gone to consult the captain about his matrimonial plans, and that she wished to know whether Mrs. Stone saw any impropriety in their marrying while the settlement was in its present state. They did not mention it, she said, while every thing was in a precarious condition, and nobody knew whether they should remove or stay; but now that help had arrived, and there was a general disposition to remain, her lover urged her to delay no longer, and assured her that his work would be worth all the more to the society for the help she could give him, as well as for the domestic comfort he should enjoy.
Mrs. Stone was quite of Robertson's opinion. As long as the young people were sure of being able to provide for themselves so as to be no burden to the society, nobody had any right to object to their marrying. In England, at present, this was too often not the case: but in their infant settlement, where there was more than work enough for every body, she could see no possible objection to the parties pleasing themselves. She offered to ask Mr. Stone's opinion, for Kate's further satisfaction, though she knew very well what it would be.—Mr. Stone was within hearing, and when the case was put to him, smiled, and said that he should be happy to marry them on any day they might appoint. It was well for the young people that that rule of the former Dutch government at the Cape was given up, which obliged every body to go to Cape Town to be married. It would have been a wearisome and expensive journey, and have caused a great waste of time and much inconvenience to all concerned.
As it was, the affair was soon settled. The captain not only gave his approbation, but insisted that a cottage should be built for Robertson before the foundations of his own house were laid. Every body showed the same good will, so that the young couple enjoyed the firstfruits of all the mechanical labours of the settlement, taking care to repay them by their own exertions. Harrison's first bricks went to build their walls, and the first pottery that came off his wheel graced their shelves. Links and Richard (who had become a carpenter) furnished Robertson with a complete set of farming tools, and the labourers employed their spare hours in repairing his fences and laying out a pretty garden, which Betsy and her young companions stocked with the gay flowers and rich fruits which abounded in the neighbourhood. Mr. Prest furnished hides, which were tanned by Fulton into a set of chair-bottoms and some articles of bedding. Mr. Arnall and Kate's brother-in-law, Hill, ornamented the best room with some stuffed birds of rich plumage, and a collection of the gay insects of that country. Kate was almost ashamed of possessing ornamental luxuries, whilst so many comforts were wanting to those who, she said, deserved better than herself; but Mr. Stone told her that it ought to be gratifying to all lovers of the public good to witness tokens of pure tastes as well as of good will. His present was a range of beehives; both the stand and the hives being of neat workmanship, and placed just above a bed of sweet-smelling herbs, arranged and stocked by his wife. Kate determined in her own mind that her first bottle of mead should be sent to the parsonage before the return of her wedding-day.
The first week-day holiday in the settlement was on the occasion of Robertson's marriage,—a joyful day for all who were disposed to look round and see what, under the protection of Providence, had been effected, and what more was in prospect for the good of this united little community.
“Let us still be united, let us still be industrious,” said the good captain to one and another; “let us, as one man, discountenance crime, if such a scourge should appear,—let us be tolerant of mere folly, and honour wisdom and reverence virtue, and we shall be sure of enjoying all the happiness a benignant Providence thinks good for us. Let us try whether it be not true of societies as well as of individuals, that Providence places their best happiness within their own reach.”
London: Printed by W. Clowes, Stamford-street.