Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chapter XII.: PROSPERITY TO BROOKE! - Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 1 (Life in the Wilds, Hill and the Valley, Brooke and Brooke Farm)
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Chapter XII.: PROSPERITY TO BROOKE! - 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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PROSPERITY TO BROOKE!
Education came in the train of other good things to bless the people of Brooke. There was much opposition at first from many who, having got through life so far without having learned to read, could not see why their children should not do the same. Regard to the persons concerned, however, carried the point where the principle was disputed; and when it was found that, in addition to the school being proposed by my mother and sanctioned by the clergyman, it was intended that it should be kept by Joe Harper and his wife, the opposition was in a great measure quieted. In a few months, it was hushed entirely; for the children, from seeming a set of little savages, began to look like civilized beings. They were no longer dirty, noisy, quarrelsome, and generally either crying or laughing. They could sit still without being sulky, and move about without being riotous; they could answer a question freely and respectfully at the same time: they could be industrious and cheerful at once. They could be trusted among the flowers in Joe's garden, and learned to do no harm if admitted into the house.
Everybody was surprised that Joe should expect to raise flowers in his little court by the school-house, when so many rough children were to be at play so near: but Joe said in their hearing that he thought, when they knew how he prized his roses and pinks, they would take care not to spoil his garden. And so it proves. If the children lose a bail there, they ask for it instead of climbing the paling; and no one is ever known to pluck a flower, though a good boy or girl often wears a rose given by the master or mistress as a reward.
Joe's house is the admiration of all who know what comfort is. The parlour has a boarded floor, which is sanded according to the old fashion. A handsome clock ticks behind the door. The best tea-tray and caddy stand on the mahogany table opposite the fire-place, and a footstool which Maria worked when a young girl, is placed under it. Joe has some books, as becomes a schoolmaster; and they are of a kind so much above what any scholar of his own rank in the village has ever seen, that it has long been hinted that Joe is a very learned man. There is a Latin grammar and dictionary, and a book all in Latin besides; or, if not Latin, nobody knows what it is. There are two books about the stars; and a volume full of figures in columns, with a name so odd that nobody catches it easily. There are besides several volumes of voyages and travels, and with them a set which, from its title, was supposed to belong to the same class. It is called the Rambler; but a neighbour, who took it down from the shelf one day, says there is nothing in it about foreign countries. There are works of a serious cast, as all would expect who are acquainted with Joe; and to these Maria has added a few religious books which were left her by her mother.—The greatest ornaments of this parlour, however, are some pictures of cities and other places abroad, which Joe brought home with him. The city of Florence is perhaps the most beautiful; but the most remarkable is a view of the bay of Naples, and mount Vesuvius in the distance. Maria is very proud of this last, as her husband saw with his own eyes the flames shooting up out of the burning mountain.
I never enjoyed a visit to the school-house more than yesterday, when I went to beg a holiday for the children on account of Mr. Malton's harvest-home. It was a pleasure to see the troop of boys and girls pouring out of the play-ground, and laughing and talking as they hastened to the harvest-field, while Maria and I followed to share the gaiety. Joe so seldom has leisure for books, that he remained behind, sure, on such a day, of having his hours and his wits to himself. What a busy scene when we arrived! The reapers stooping to their cheerful toil,—the elderly folks full of the pleasant recollections of many harvests; the lads full of gallantry, and the lasses of mirth! How complacently Mr. Malton surveyed the field, now following the reapers to build up the shocks, now crumbling a fruitful ear of wheat in his hands, now flinging a handful from a rich sheaf to some decrepit gleaner, or to some toddling little one who must have a share in the business of the day! What an apron-full Gray's children had gathered presently, and how kindly their father nodded to them when he stuck his sickle into the sheaf for a moment to wipe his brows! How witty Carey was cracking his jokes within earshot of the Maltons and ourselves, observing that he was not in his right place in a field of wheat,—that as a barber ought to be where there are most beards, he thought he should adjourn to the oat or barley field! How Miss Black evidently admired, as I passed her door, the bunch of wheat-ears the children had stuck into my bonnet while I left it hanging on the hedge, and sat down in the shade! My mother is certain, from Miss Black's satisfactory nod,—as much as to say, “I have it,”—that artificial wheat-ears will wave in all bonnets next winter.
How goodly looked the last waggon, laden with golden grain, as it turned out of the field at sunset, leaving a few ears dangling from the sprays for gleaners as it creaked along the lane! Merry were the sounds from the train that followed. The songs which should have been kept for the harvest-supper began to burst forth already, the deep bass of a manly voice making itself heard above the shrill laughter of the children. This was truly the music of glad hearts.
We saw the long tables set out for the harvest-feast, and went through our annual speculations about how so much good cheer was to be consumed. As we were returning, my mother observed that it would be a fine moonlight night; and that she hoped the sergeant would come and report proceedings to us, as he would have such a lamp to light him home, however late he might be. He left the table with the first sober folks who rose to depart, and looked in on us as he passed.
“Well, sergeant!” said my father, when he entered; “have you had a merry harvest feast?”
“Very much so, sir; but I am so hoarse with singing and talking, that I am afraid I can hardly tell you much about it.”
“We will have a glass of ale,” said my father, ringing the bell; “and then you shall tell me as much as you like, and leave the rest for Carey in the morning. We must drink prosperity to Brooke, and many a merry harvest home”
“There is prosperity in Brooke,” said the sergeant, as he set down his glass. “It any of my neighbours pretend to doubt it, and point out one or two who take parish relief, or two or three who seem to be going down in the world, I shew them the cottages on the common, welt thatched and clean white-washed, with their gardens behind them. I count numbers, and prove that our population has increased one-half. I shew them the school-house and the shops, so much busier than they used to be; and the new carrier's cart to M—, and all the improvements in the place.”
“I am heartily glad to see, sergeant, that you relish these changes; for men at your time of life do not generally like them.”
“It all depends, sir, on what the changes are. I am thankful that I have lived to see so many poor neighbours gathering their comforts about them; and I shall be all the more ready to go to my grave if I see a fine, thriving race of young folks rising up to do more good in the world than I have done. And if they think of me sometimes, I hope they will remember,” he continued, addressing my brothers, “that their old friend looked to them to fulfil his hearty wish of Prosperity to Brooke.”