Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chapter VIII: THE MORE THE BETTER CHEER. - Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 4
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Chapter VIII: THE MORE THE BETTER CHEER. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 4 
Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1834). Vol. 4.
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THE MORE THE BETTER CHEER.
Frank kept his promise of writing to his friend Mr. Jackson, from time to time, as he had opportunity. One of his letters, written four years after his arrival in the Dairy Plains, contained the most important news he had yet had occasion to send of the state of himself and his family.
“I have often thought and called myself bold in what I have said to you in my letters, but you have always taken it kindly. This kindness makes me more bold than ever, especially as to two things that I am going to write about, when I have a little explained our present condition.
“My employer and I are about to part; which you will be surprised to hear, as there is a full year remaining of the time I bound myself to serve. It is through no quarrel, however; Mr. Stapleton having been a good master to me, unless for wanting more work out of me than mortal arm could do; for which, however, he was always willing to pay me well. The fact is, sir, he is a daring and a bustling man, such as they say are always to be found in new countries, wanting, as soon as they have got all pretty comfortable about them, to go further into the wilds and begin again. I see the good of there being such men, but do not wish to be one; so, when Stapleton offered me any wages I liked to go with him, I said ‘No,’ having only engaged to serve him on this spot; and thus I find myself at liberty a year sooner than I expected. He offered me an introduction that would get me good terms from the gentleman that has taken his pretty place; but not knowing yet what sort of person he is, and there being, thank God! far more work in my way to be done at any price than I can get through, I wish to keep myself free. To finish about myself first,—I am building a sort of double house, in the middle of a very pretty piece of land. One end of the house is for myself, and the other for my father, against his time is up. It would do your heart good, sir, to see how he has everything comfortable about him, though he goes on complaining, to be sure, that this is not the old country. My step-mother too has succeeded finely with her fruit this year, and there is as good cider of hers in every cottage as any in Worcestershire, and such flowers as she grows make the place look like a paradise.
“Allow me now, sir, to go on as if we were talking as we have often done over the churchyard gate, or by your door; and not as if this letter had to travel over the wide sea before it reaches you. I should like to know whether it has ever happened to you to fancy gentlemen like yourself coming over to this place? I am sure, if such would think of it, it would be the best thing for the society here, and might prove so to themselves, in cases where they are not very well off, and have little to leave that they care for. You make no secret, sir, of its being difficult for your family to live on such a curacy as yours, and you have even talked of settling your sons abroad as they grow up. If you would send them,—or (what is better) bring them here,—they shall be made welcome, and watched over and taken care of as they ought to be by those who owe so much to their father. Indeed, sir, this might prove a pleasant settlement in a very few years to you and yours. There are now eleven farms and other dwellings within three miles, and more building every year; and Launceston is within reach. The people about us are mostly very intelligent, and it is a good sign that they are crying out continually for a settled clergyman and a school; and, if we cannot get so much, for a library. You would find a good house, with a stable, and a horse in it; a garden, and two or three fields; a school-room with five-and-twenty scholars, whose parents would pay you well both for your teaching and your Sunday services. We should ask you too, to choose a little library at our expense, and should add to it, under your direction, every year; so that your children as well as those of the settlers should have every advantage. You will find further particulars of what we can offer you in the public letter which accompanies this.
“My fear is, that the consideration of the young ladies will deter you, should yon otherwise be disposed to listen to our plan; and, indeed, England seems at first sight the best place for daughters that have lost their mother. But I have great hopes that these plains may be like an English county before your young ladies have grown up. When once gentlemen, especially clergymen, begin to come, more follow; and this is all we want to make the Dairy Plains' like parts of Sussex or Dorsetshire. We have specimens of each class, up to the thriving farmer and wool-grower. There is also a surveyor, and a surgeon is coming, they say; though he is the last person wanted, except for an accident now and then, for we really have no sickness. If, in addition to these, we could have over a tanner or two, a coal-master, a vine-grower, a store-keeper, and so on, each with his proper labourers, ours would be as flourishing a settlement as any in the world. There is coal in plenty, and a fine market in every direction, if we had but people to work it; and the same may be said of slate, and bark, and hides. Some Portuguese vinedressers are making a fine thing of a vineyard in the south of the island; and why not here, instead of our having to import spirits in such quantities as make drunkards of too many of our labourers? The commoner sorts of wine we might make would soon drive out spirits, to our great benefit in every way. As for clothing, utensils, and other things that are brought to great perfection and cheapness in England, we had better go on buying there; and I have no doubt they will be as glad of our productions as we of heir manufactures. You will be pleased to hear that there are already twenty-six vessels belonging to the island, and that upwards of thirty traded with us from Great Britain last year; and that l,000,000 lbs. of wool were sent there within the twelve months. All these things I mention to show what a rising country this is, and how well worth tide while of many a man above the rank of labourers and artizans to come to. If you should think of doing so, sir, would be the best piece of news that could reach the Dairy Plains from any part of the world. You should have the heartiest welcome from some whom you are pleased to call old friends.
“Perhaps, sir, you may remember saying something to me about the difficulty of getting a wife here. I have never tried, because there was one in England, as you know, that I always hoped might keep herself single till we should hoped that she should follow me out. Through all these long four years we have had this in view, and now I shall have a house ready for her by the time she can come; and this is the other liberty I told you I was about to take. If you shoul'd really come, perhaps, knowing her steadiness so well, you would let her cross with you, waiting on the young ladies during the voyage, for the expense of which I will be answerable. Whether you join us or not, I have little doubt you will kindly put her in the way of coming with the least possible delay; and you may depend on my meeting her before she lands.
“I have said nothing of Ellen, because you will see her letter to grandfather. I have left it to her to send money this time, as I have other use, you see, for my own.
“It is a load off my mind, sir, to have written what has been deep down in it for so long. It is a great while to wait for an answer; and if there should be disappointment both ways, I hardly know how I shall bear it. But I am pretty sure of what is to me the chief thing; and if you come too, I wonder what we can manage to find to wish for next. It pleased God to give Ellen and me our hardships early, and to take us out of them before our hearts and tempers were hurt; like so many at home, better perhaps than ourselves. If He should try us any more, we have good reason now to be patient; and in the meanwhile, we desire to save others from what we had to go through for a short time, and therefore write as we do about coming over.
“P.S. There are fine downs here for the young gentlemen to fly their kites, just behind the house you would have. Ellen will take care that Miss Maria shall have a pretty poultry-yard; and Susan is taming an opossum mouse for the other little lady.”
The many months which necessarily elapsed before an answer to the above could be received did indeed seem long; almost as much so to Frank's family as to himself. Ellen had made a request scarcely less important than Frank's to the happiness of her parents, if not to her own. She had always been convinced that the child which had been sent to the workhouse by the parish surgeon of A——was her stepmother's; and it had ever been her resolution to yield a sister's protection to it. Harry Moore was as willing as herself to have the child over; and as the boy was now only five years old, there was hope that he might prove an exception to the general rule of the corruption of parish-bred children. Frank's betrothed was requested to bring him out with her; and if Mrs. Castle was still disinclined to own him, he was to take his place as the eldest of Harry Moore's children. There was not a man, woman, or child in the neighbourhood that did not see the importance of having a clergyman's family come among them; and by all, therefore, Mr. Jackson's reply was looked for as the oracle which was to decide whether their settlement might immediately rise to that degree of prosperity which is caused by the union of high civilization with universal plenty, or whether it must remain for some time longer in the rude state which is ever the consequence of a scarcity of knowledge and of leisure. The parents began already to teach their children the alphabet and the multiplication table, during the evenings of the week, and as many hymns as they could recollect on Sundays. The little ones already began to play keeping school; and the travelling chaplain was told, week by week, how much pleasanter he would find his occasional visits when there should be a resident pastor on the spot, more worthy to converse with him than any of his flock. A part of the Sunday leisure was spent by many in repairing to the field where Mr. Jackson's house was to be; and then what planning there was about the garden, and the stand of bee-hives, and the paddock, and every other appendage to the parsonage! Some of the lads were training a pony for the young Jacksons, and the rarest and finest plants were destined for their flower-beds.
The answer was expected to arrive in May, and every one hope it would be before the anniversary;—that celebration of the arrival of the emigrants in a land of plenty which has already been spoken of as the best of their festivals. It happened to arrive on that very day.