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Chapter III.: THE HALEHAM RIOT. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 5 
Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1834). Vol. 5.
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THE HALEHAM RIOT.
Haleham had never been apparently so prosperous as at this time, notwithstanding the war, to which were referred all the grievances of complamers,—and they were few. Prices were certainly very high: much higher since Mr. Berkeley had joined the D———-Bank, and Mr. Cavendish opened the Haleham concern; but money abounded, taxation was less felt than when purses were emptier; and the hope of obtaining high prices stimulated industry, and caused capital to be laid out to the best advantage. At first, the same quantity of coin that there had been before circulated together with Cavendish's notes; and as there was nearly twice the quantity of money in the hands of a certain number of people to exchange for the same quantity of commodities, money was of course very cheap; that is, commodities were very dear. As gold money was prevented by law from becoming cheap, like paper money, people very naturally hoarded it, or changed it away foreign countries, where commodities were not dear, as in England. Even in the little town of Haleham, it was soon discovered that several kinds of foreign goods could be had in greater variety and abundance than formerly; Haleham having its share of the larger quantity of foreign commodities now flowing into England in return for the guineas which left it as fast as they could be smuggled out of the country in their own shape, or as bullion. If the quantity of money had now been let alone, prices would have returned to their former state as soon as the additional quantity of money had been thus drained away: but, as fast as it disappeared, more bankers' notes were issued; so that the whole amount of money went on increasing, though the metal part of it lessened day by day. The great bank of all,—the Bank of England,—had obtained leave, Some years before, to put out notes without being liable to be called upon to exchange them for gold upon the demand of the holder of the note. The Bank was now making use of this permission at a great rate; and for two years past had put out so large a number of notes that some people began to doubt whether it could keep its “promise to pay” in gold, whenever the time should come for parliament to withdraw its permission; which, it was declared, would he soon after the war should be ended. No other banks had the same liberty. They were not allowed to make their purchases with promises to pay, and then authorized to refuse to pay till parliament should oblige them to do so at the conclusion of the war. But the more paper money the Bank of England issued, the more were the proprietors of other banks tempted to put out as many notes as they dared,” and thus to extend their business as much as possible; and many were rather careless as to whether they should be able to keep their “promise to pay;” and some cheats and swindlers set up banks, knowing that they should never be able to pay, and that their business must break in a very short time; but hoping to make something by the concern meanwhile, and to run off at last with some of the deposits placed in their hands by credulous people. So many kinds of bankers being eager at the same time to issue their notes, money of course abounded more and more; and, as commodities did not abound in the same proportion, they became continually dearer. There would have been little harm in this if all buyers bad felt the change alike. But as they (did not, there was discontent.—and very reasonable discontent,—in various quarters; while in others, certain persons were unexpectedly and undeservedly enriched at the expense of the li— contented.] If it had been universally agreed throughout the whole kingdom that everybody should receive twice as much money as he did before, and that, at the same time, whatever had cost a guinea should now cost two pound notes and two shilling's, and that whatever had cost sixpence should now cost a shilling, and so on, nobody would have had to complain of anything but the inconvenience of changing; the prices of all things. But such an agreement was not, and could not be, made; and that the quantity of money should be doubled and not equally shared, while pries were doubled to everybody, was sure to be called, what it really was, very unfair. The government complained that the taxes were paid in the same number of pounds, shillings, and pence as before, while government had to pay the new prices for whatever it bought. There was, in fact, a reduction of taxation: but, before the people had die satisfaction of perceiving and acknowledging this, the government was obliged to lay on new taxes to make up for the reduction of the old ones, and to enable it to carry on the war. This set the people complaining again;'so that the government and nation weie actually complaining at the same time, the one of a reduction, the other of an increase of taxation; and both had reason for their murmurs.
None had so much reason for discontent as those classes which suffered in both ways,—those who received fixed incomes. To pay the new prices with the old amount of yearly money, and to he at the same time heavily taxed, was indeed a great hardship; and the inferior clergy, fund-holders, salaried clerks, annuitants and others, were as melancholy as farmers were cheerful in regarding their prospects. Servants and labourers contrived by degrees to have their wages, and professional men their fees, raised: but these were evil days for those whose incomes were not the reward of immediate labour, and could not therefore rise and fall with the comparative expense of subsistence. In proportion as these classes suffered, the productive classes enjoyed; and the farmers under long leases had as much more than their due share; as the landlord, the public servant, and creditor, had less.
This inequality led to some curious modes of management, whereby some endeavoured to recover their rights, and others to make the most of their present advantages; and in Haleham, as in more important places where the state of the currency had been affected by the establishment of a bank, or by some other inlet of a flood of paper money, instances were witnessed of a struggle between those who were benefited and those who were injured by the new state of money affairs.
“You complain of my never having time to ride with you, Melea,” said Mr. Berkeley to his younger daughter, one fine October morning.
“I am not point; to D———-to-day, and we will ride to Merton Downs, if you can prevail upon yourself to lay aside your German Dictionary for three hours.”
Melea joy fully closed her book.
“Nay. I give you another hour. I must go down to the workhouse, and see the paupers paid but that Will not take long.”
“Then, suppose you meet us at Martin's farm,” said Fanny. “it is on your way, and will save you the trouble of coming home again. Melea and I have not been at the Martins this long while; and we want to know how Rhoda likes her place.”
“Not for a long while indeed,” observed their mother, as the girls left the room to prepare for their ride. “It is so far a bad thing for the Martins that Mr. Craig lodges there, that we cannot go and see them so often as we should like. It is only when he is absent for days together, as he is now, that the girls can look in at the farm as they used to do.”
“The Martins do not want anything that we can do for them, my dear. They are very flourishing; and, I am afraid, will soon grow too proud to have a daughter out at service. Did not I hear somebody say that Rhoda is growing discontented already?”
“Yes; but there may be reason for it.”
“All pride, depend upon it, my dear. Her father holds a long lease, and he may gather a pretty dower for his daughter out of his profits, before prices fall. I wish Craig would take a fancy to the daughter and dower together, if it would prevent his running after my girls in the way he does.] shall forbid him the house soon, I find he puts any fancies into their heads, as I am it he does, to judge by tins prodigious passion for German.”
“Mr. Craig and Rhoda Martin!” exclaimed Mrs. Berkeley, laughing. “That is a new idea to me. However, Rhoda is engaged to Chap-man, You know.”
“True; I forgot. Well: we must mate Craig elsewhere: for it Would be intolerable for him to think of one of my daughters. Miss Egg might do. Mrs. Cavendish speaks very highly of her. Cannot you put it into his head. You remember how well the Cavendishes speak of her.”
“No danger of my forgetting;—nor of Mr, Craig's forgetting it, either. You should see him take off the two ladies in an ecstacy of friendship. Nay, it is fair; very fair, if anybody is to he laughed at; and you will hardly pretend to any extra morality on that point.”
“Well; only let Craig keep out of Fanny's way, that's all: but I am afraid Mr. Longe is too open,—too precipitate——”
“Fanny!” exclaimed Mrs. Berkeley, “I do not think Henry has any thoughts of her.”
“Henry!” repeated Mr. Berkeley, impatiently. “The young man grows familiar at a great rate, I think. So you think it is Melea. Well; that is not quite so had, as it leaves more time,—more chance of preferment before him. But I wish he had it to-morrow, so that it might prevent our seeing any more of him.”
“I am very sorry——” Mrs. Berkeley began, when her daughters appeared, and it was necessary to change the subject. After leaving orders that the horses should be brought down to Martin's farm in an hour, the young ladies accompanied their father as far as Sloe Lane, down which they turned to go to the farm, while he pursued his way to the workhouse.
A shrill voice within doors was silenced by Fanny's second tap at the door. The first had not been heard. After a hasty peep through the window, Rhoda appeared on the threshold to invite the young ladies in. Her colour was raised, and her eyes sparkled; which it gave Fanny great concern to see; for no one was present, but Mr. and Mrs. Martin and Mrs. Cavendish's baby, which the latter was dandling; and Rhoda had never been the kind of girl who could be suspected of quarrelling with her parents. Mrs. Martin seemed to guess what was in Fanny's mind, for she restored the baby to the young nursemaid's arms, bade her go and call the other children in from the garden, as it was time they should be going home, and then pointed to some curious matters which lay upon the table. These were fragments of very dark brown bread, whose hue was extensively variegated with green mould. Melea turned away in disgust, after a single glance.
“Miss Melea has no particular appetite for such bread,” observed Mrs. Martin. “Ladies, this is the food Mrs. Cavendish provides for her servants.—e. and for the children too, as long-as they will eat it. The grand Mrs. Cavendish, ladies: the great banker's lady.”
“There must be some mistake,” said Fanny, quietly. “It may happen——'
“There lies the bread, Miss Berkeley: and my husband and I saw Rhoda take it out of her pocket. Where else she could get such bread, perhaps you can tell us, ma'am.”
“I do not mean to tax Rhoda with falsehood.] mean that it is very possible that, by bad management, a loaf or two may have been kept too long——”
“But just look at the original quality, ma'am.” And the farmer and his wife spoke alternately.
“You should see the red herrings they dine off five days in the week.”
“And the bone pies the other two.”
“Sacks of bad potatoes are bought for the servants.”
“The nursemaid and baby sleep underground, with a brick flour.”
“The maids are to have no fire after the dinner is cooked in winter, any more than in summer.”
“The errand-boy that was, found lying sick in the street, and flogged for being drunk, ma'am, had had not so much as half a pint of warm beer, that his mother herself gave him to cheer him; but his stomach was weak, poor fellow, from having had only a hard dumpling all day, and the beer got into his head. Rhoda can testify to it all.”
Fanny was repeatedly going to urge that it was very common to hear such things, and find them exaggerated; that Rhoda was high-spirited, and had been used to the good living of a farmhouse; and, as an only daughter, might be a little fanciful: but proof followed upon proof, story upon story, till she found it better to endeavour to change the subject.
“If it was such a common instance of a bad place as one hears of every day,” observed Martin, “I, for one, should say less about it. But here is a man who comes and gets every body's money into his hands, and puts out his own notes instead, in such a quantity as to raise the price of everything; and then he makes a pretence of these high prices, caused by himself, to starve his dependents; the very children of those whose money he holds.”
“He cannot hold it for a day after they choose to call for it.”
“Certainly, ma'am. But a bank is an advantage people do not like to give up. Just look, now, at the round of Cavendish's dealings. He buys corn—of me, we will say—paying me in his own notes. After keeping it in his granaries till more of his notes are out, and prices have risen yet higher, he changes it away for an estate, which he settles on his wife. Meantime, while the good wheat is actually before Rhoda's eyes, he says, ' bread is getting so dear, we can only afford what we give you. We do not buy white bread for servants.' And Rhoda must take out of his hands some of the wages she lodged there to buy white bread, if she must have it.”
Fanny had some few things to object to this statement; for instance, that Cavendish could not float paper money altogether at random; and that there must be security existing before he could obtain the estate to bestow upon his wife: but the Martins were too full of their own ideas to allow her time to speak.
“they are all alike,—the whole clan of them,” cried Mrs. Martin: “the clergyman no better than the banker. One might know Mr. Longe for a cousin; and I will say it, though he is our rector.”
Fanny could not conceal from herself that she had no objection to hear Mr. Longe found fault with; and she only wished for her father's presence at such times.
“It has always been the custom, as long as I can remember, and my father before me,” observed Martin, “for the rector to take his tithes in money. The agreement with the clergyman has been made from year to year as regularly as the rent was paid to the landlord. But now, here is Mr. Longe insisting on having his tithe in kind.”
“In kind! and what will he do with it?”
“It will take him half the year to dispose of his fruits,” observed Melea, laughing. “fancy him, in the spring, with half a calf, and three dozen cabbages, and four goslings, and a sucking pig. And then will come a cock of hay: and afterwards so much barley, and so much wheat and oats; and then a sack of apples, and three score of turnips, and pork, double as much as his household can eat. I hope he will increase his housekeeper's wages out of his own profits; for it seems to me that the trouble must fall on her. Yes, yes; the housekeeper and the errand-man should share the new profits between them.”
“It is for no such purpose. Miss Melea, that he takes up this new fancy, he has no thought of letting any body but himself profit by the change of prices. As tor the trouble you speak of, he likes the fiddle-faddle of going about selling his commodities. His cousin, Mrs. Cavendish, will take his pigs, and some of his veal and pork, and cabbages and apples: and he will make his servants live off potatoes and cruel, if there should be more oats and potatoes than he knows what to do with.”
“Let him have as much as he may, he will never send so much as an apple to our lodger,” observed Mrs. Martin. “He never considers Mr. Craig in any way. If you were to propose raising Mr. Craig's salary, or, what comes to the same thing;, paying it in something; else than money, he would defy you to prove that he was bound to pay it in any other way than as it was paid four years ago.”
“And it could not be proved, I suppose,” said Melea. “Neither can you prove that he may not take his tithe in kind.”
“I with we could,” observed Martin', and I would thwart him, you may depend upon it. Nothing shall he have from me but what the letter of the law obliges me to give him. But what an unfair state of things it is, ladies, when your rector may have double the tithe property one year that he had the year before, while he pays his curate, in fact, just half what lie agreed to pay at the beginning of the contract!”
While Melea looked even more indignant than Martin himself, her sister observed that the farmer was not the person to complain of the increased val;ue of rec, since he profited by precisely the same augmentation of the value of produce. The case of the curate she thought a very hard one; and that equity required an increase of his nominal salary, in proportion as its value became depreciated. She wished to know, however, whether it had ever entered the farmer's head to offer his landlord more rent in consequence of the rise 'of, prices. If it was unfair that the curate should suffer by the depreciation in the value of money, it was equally unfair in the landlord's case.
Martin looked somewhat at a loss for an answer, till his wife supplied him with one. Besides that it would be time enough, she observed, to pay more rent when it was asked for, at the expiration of the lease, it ought to be considered that money was in better hands when the farmer had it to lay out in improving the land and raising more produce, than when the landlord had it to spend fruitlessly. Martin caught at the idea, and went on with eagerness to show how great a benefit it was to society that more beeves should be bred, and more wheat grown in consequence of fewer liveried servants being kept, and fewer journeys to the lakes being made by the landlord.
Fanny shook her head, and said that this had nothing to do with the original contract between landlord and tenant. Leases were not drawn out with any view to the mode in which the respective parties should spend their money. The point now in question was, whether an agreement should be kept to the letter when new circumstances had caused a violation of its spirit; or whether the party profiting by these new circumstances should not in equity surrender a part of the advantage which the law would permit him to hold. The farmer was not at all pleased to rind himself placed on the same side of the question with Mr. Longe, and his favourite Mr. Craig, whose rights he had been so fond of pleading, holding the same ground with Martin's own landlord.
The argument ended in an agreement that any change like that which had taken place within two years,—any action on the currency,—was a very injurious thing;—not only because it robs some while enriching others, but because it impairs the security of property,—the first bond of the social state.
Just then, Rhoda and the children burst in from the garden, saying that there must be something the matter in the town; for they had heard two or three shouts, and a scream; and, on looking over the hedge, had seen several men hurrying past, who had evidently left their work in the fields on some alarm. Martin snatched his hat and ran out, leaving the young ladies in a state of considerable anxiety. As the farmer had not said when he should come back, and his wife was sure he would stay to see the last of any disaster before he would think of returning home, the girls resolved to walk a little way down the road, and gather such tidings as they could. They had not proceeded more than a furlong; from the farm gate before they met their father's groom, with their own two horses and a message from his master. Mr. Berkeley begged his daughters to proceed on their ride without him, as he was detained by a riot at the workhouse. He begged the young ladies not to be at all uneasy, as the disturbance was already put down, and it was only his duty as a magistrate which detained him. The groom could tell nothing of the matter, further than that the outdoor paupers had begun the mischief, which presently spread within the workhouse. Some windows had been broken, he believed, but he had not heard of any one being hurt.
“You have no particular wish to ride, Melea, have you?” inquired her sister.
“Not at all. I had much rather see these children home. They look so frightened, I hardly know how Rhoda can manage to take care of them all.”
“The horses can he left at the farm for half an hour while George goes with us all to Mr. Cavendish's,” observed Fanny: and so it was arranged.
As the party chose a circuitous way, in order to avoid the bustle of the town, the young ladies had an opportunity of improving their acquaintance with five little Miss Cavendishes, including the baby in arms. At first, the girls would walk only two and two, hand in hand, bolt upright, and answering only “these, ma'am,” “No. ma'am,' to whatever was said to them. By dint of perseverance, however, Melea separated them when fairly in the fields, and made them jump from the stiles, and come to her to have (blowers stuck in their bonnets. This latter device first loosened their tongues.
“Mamma says it stains our bonnets to have flowers put into them,” observed Marianna, hesitating'. “She says we shall have artificial flowers when we grow bigger.”
Melea was going to take out the garland, when Emma insisted that mamma did not mean these bonnets, but their best bonnets.
“O, Miss Berkeley!” they all cried at once, “have you seen our best bonnets?“'
”With lilac linings,” added one.
“With muslin rosettes,” said another.
“And Emma's is trimmed round the edge, because she is the oldest,” observed little Julia, repiningly.
“And mamma will not let Julia have ribbon strings till she leaves off sucking them at church,” informed Marianna.
“That is not worse than scraping up the sand to powder the old men's wigs in the aisle,” retorted Julia; “and Marianna was punished for that, last Sunday.”
“We do not wish to hear about that,” said Fanny. “See how we frightened that pheasant on the other side the hedge, just with pulling a hazel bough!”
As soon as the pheasant had been watched out of sight, Emma came and nestled herself close to Melea to whisper,
“Is not it ill-natured of Rhoda? I saw her mother give her a nice large harvest cake, and she will not let us have a bit of it.”
“Are you hungry.’”
“Why,—yes; I think I am beginning to be very hungry.”
“You cannot he hungry,” said Emma. “You had a fine slice of bread and honey just before Miss Berkeley came it). But Rhoda might as well give us some of her cake. I know she will eat it all up herself.”
“I do not think she will; and, if I were you, I would not ask her for any, but leave her to give it to whom she likes; particularly as her mother was so kind as to give you some bread and honey.”
“But we wanted that. Mamma said we need not have any luncheon before we came out, because Mrs. Martin always gives us something to eat. I was so hungry!”
“If you were hungry, what must Marianna have been? Do you know, Miss Berkeley, Marianna would not take her breakfast. She told a fib yesterday, and mamma says she. shall not have any sugar in her tea for three months; and she would not touch a bit this morning. Miss Egg says she will soon grow tired of punishing herself this way; and that it is quite time to break her spirit.”
Marianna overheard this last speech, and added triumphantly.
“Tom is not to have any sugar, any more than I, Miss Berkeley: and he was shut up half yesterday too. He brought in his kite all wet and draggled from the pond; and what did he do but take it to the drawing-room fire to dry, before the company came. It dripped upon our beautiful new fire-irons, and they are all rusted wherever the tail touched them.”
“The best of it was,” interrupted Emma, “the kite caught fire at last, and Tom threw it down into the hearth because it burned his hand; and the smoke made such a figure of the new chimney piece as you never saw, for it was a very large kite”
“So poor Tom lost his kite by his carelessness. Was his hand much burned.?”
“Yes, a good deal: but Rhoda scraped some potato to put upon it.”
“You will help him to make a new kite, I suppose?”
“I don't know how,” replied one, carelessly.
“I shan't,” cried another. “He threw my old doll into the pond.”
“Miss Egg said that was the best place for it,” observed Emma; “but she said so because Tom was a favourite that day.” And the little girl told in a whisper why Tom was a favourite. He had promised to come up to the school-room and tell Miss Egg whenever Mr. Longe was in the parlour, though his mamma had expressly desired him not. But this was a great secret.
“How shall we stop these poor little creatures' tongues?” asked Melea. “There is no interesting them in any thing but what happens at home.”
“I am very sorry we have heard so much of that, indeed,” replied Fanny. “I do not see what you can do but run races with them, which your habit renders rather inconvenient.”
The few poor persons they met on the out-skirts of the town afforded occasion for the display of as much illegible on the part of the little Cavendishes as they and before exhibited of illegible to each other. The Miss Berkeleys had no intention of paying a visit to Mrs. Cavendish, but were discerned from a window while taking leave of” their charge, and receiving Rhoda's thanks outside the gate: and once having brought Mrs. Cavendish out, there was no retreat —They must come in and rest. Mr. Cavendish was gone to learn what was the matter, and they really must stay and hear it. She could not trust them back again unless one of the gentlemen went with them. Terrible disorders indeed, she had heard: the magistrates threatened,—and Mr. Berkeley a magistrate! Had they heard that the magistrates had been threatened?
Melea believed that this was the case once a week at the least. But what else had happened?
O! they must come in and hear. There was a friend within who could tell all) about it. And Mrs. Cavendish tripped before them into the drawing-room, where sat Miss Egg and Mr. Longe.
The one looked mortified, the other delighted. As Mr. Longe's great vexation was that he could never contrive to make himself of consequence with Fanny, it was a fine thing to have the matter of the conversation completely in his own power to-day. Fanny could not help being; anxious about her father, and from Mr. Longe alone could she hear anything about him; and the gentleman made the most of such an opportunity of fixing her attention. He would have gained far more favour by going straight to the point, and telling exactly what she wanted to know, but he amplified, described, commented, and even moralized before he arrived at the proof that Mr. Berkeley was not, and had not been, in any kind of danger.—When this was once out, Mr. Longe's time of privilege was over, and it was evident that he was not listened to on his own account. Then did Miss Egg quit her task of entertaining Melea, and listen to Mr. Longe more earnestly than ever.
“I am so glad to see you two draw together so pleasantly,” said Mrs. Cavendish to Melea. nodding to indicate Miss Egg as the other party of whom she was speaking. “I feel it such a privilege to have a friend like her to confide my children to, and one that I can welcome into my drawing-room on the footing of a friend!”
“I have heard that Miss Egg is devoted to her occupation,” observed Melea.
“O, entirely. There is the greatest difficulty in persuading her to relax, I assure you. Anil all without the smallest occasion for her going out, except her disinterested attachment to me. You should see her way with the children,—how she makes them love her. She hah such sensibility!”
“What is the peculiarity of her method?” inquired Melea. “She gives me to understand that there is some one peculiarity.”
“O yes. It is a peculiar method that has been wonderfully successful abroad, and indeed I see that it is, by my own children, though I seldom go into the school-room Great self-denial, is it not? But I would not interfere for the world.—O.“—seeing Melea waiting for an exposition of the system,—” she uses a black board and white chalk. We had the board made as soon as we came, and fixed up in the school-room,—and white chalk.—But I would not interfere for the world; and I assure you I an quite afraid of practising on her feelings in any way. She has such sensibility!”
Well, but,—the peculiarity of method. And Melea explained that she was particularly anxious to hear all that was going on in the department of education, as a boy was expected to arrive soon at her father's,—a little lad of ten years old, from India, who would be placed partly under her charge, and might remain some years in their house.
Indeed! Well, Miss Egg questioned the children very much. So much, that Mr, Cavendish and herself took particular care not to question them at all, both because they had quite enough of it from Miss Lgg, and because the papa and mamma were afraid of interfering: with the methods of the governess. And then, for what was not taught by questions, there'was the black board and white chalk—But, after all, the great thing was that the teacher should have sensibility, without which she could not gain the hearts of children, or understand their little feelings.
All was now very satisfactory. Melea had obtained the complete recipe of education:— questions, sensibility, and chalk.
Mr. Longe was by this time hoping that the Miss Berkeleys would offer to go away, that he might escort them home before any one else should arrive to usurp the office. Mortifying as it was to him to feel himself eclipsed by his curate, he was compelled to acknowledge in his own mind that he was so as often as Henry Craig was present, and that it was therefore politic to make such advances as he could during Henry's absence. Mr. Longe's non-residence was a great disadvantage to him. Living fifteen miles off, and doing duty in another church, he was out of the way of many little occasions of ingratiating himself, and could never be invested with that interest which Henry Craig inspired in a peculiar degree as a religious teacher and devotional guide. The only thing to be done was to visit Haleham and the Berkeleys as often as possible during Henry's absence, to obtain the favour of Fanny's father, and to show the lady herself that an accomplished clergyman, who could quote the sayings of various friends who moved in “the best society,” who knew the world a thousand times better than Henry Craig, and could appreciate herself as well as her little fortune, was not to be despised. He was at this moment longing to intimate to her what encouragement he had this very day received from her father, when, to his great disappointment, Mr. Berkeley and Mr. Cavendish came in together,—just in tune to save Fanny's call from appearing inordinately long.
“All over? All safe? How relieved we are to see you!” exclaimed the clergyman.
“Sate, my dear Sir? Yes. What would you have had us be afraid of?“said Mr. Berkeley, who, however, carried traces of recent agitation in his countenance and manner.
“Father!” said Melea, “you do not mean to say that nothing more has happened than you meet with from the paupers every week.”
“Only being nearly tossed in a blanket, my dear, that's all. And Pye was all but kicked down stairs. But we have them safe now,— the young ladies and all. Ah! Melea; you have a good deal to learn yet about the spirit of your sex, my dear. The women beat the men hollow this morning.”
Mr. Cavendish observed that the glaziers would be busy for some days, the women within the workhouse having smashed every pane of every window within reach, while the out-door paupers were engaging the attention of magistrates, constables, and governor.
“But what was it all about,” asked Fanny.
“The paupers have been complaining ot two or three things for some weeks past, and they demanded the redress of all in a lump to-day; as if we magistrates could alter the whole state of tumps in a day to please them. In the first place, they one and all asked more pay. because the same allowance buys only two-things what it bought when the scale was fixed. This illegible charged upon Cavendish and me. It is well you were not there Cavendish; you would illegible have got away again.”
“why, what would they have done with me? asked Cavendish, with a illegible simper, and a pull up of the head which was meant to be heroic.
“In addition to the tossing they intended for me, they would have given yon a ducking, depend upon it. Heartily as they hate all bankers, they hate a illegible banker above all. Indeed I heard some of them wish they had you laid neatly under the workhouse pump.”
“Ha! ha! very good, very pleasant, and refreshing on a warm day like this,” said Cavendish, wiping his forehead, while nobody else was aware that the day was particularly warm. Well, Sir: and what did you do to appease these insolent fellows.”
“Appease them! 0, I soon managed that. A cool man can soon get the belter of half a dozen passionate ones, you know.”
The girls looked with wonder at one another; for they knew that coolness in emergencies was one of the last qualities their father had to boast of. Fanny was vexed to sec that Mr. Longe observed and interpreted the look. She divined by his half-smile, that be did not think her father had been very cool.
“I desired them to go about their business,” continued Mr. Berkeley, “and when that would not do, I called the constables.”
“Called indeed,” whispered Mr. Longe to his cousin. “it would have been strange if they had not heard him.”
“But what were the other complaints, Sir?” inquired Fanny, wishing her fattier to leave the rest of his peculiar adventure to be told at home.
“Every man of them refused to take dollars. They say that no more than five shillings' worth of commodities, even at the present prices, is to be had for a dollar, notwithstanding the government order that it shall pass at five and sixpence. Unless, therefore, we would reckon the dollar at five shillings, they would not take it.”
“Silly fellows!” exclaimed Cavendish. “If they would step to London, they would see notices in the shop-windows that dollars are taken at five and ninepence, and even at six shillings.”
“There must be some cheating there, however,” replied Mr. Berkeley; “for you and I know that dollars are not now really worth four and sixpence. Those London shopkeepers must want to sell them for the melting-pot; or they have two prices.”
“Then how can you expect these paupers to be satisfied with dollars?” inquired Melea.
“What can we do, Miss Melea?” said Cavendish. “There is scarcely any change to be had. You cannot conceive the difficulty of carrying on business just now, for want of change.”
“The dollars have begun to disappear since the government order came out, like all the rest of the com,” observed Mr. Berkeley: “but yet they were almost the only silver coin we had: and when these fellows would not take them, for all we could say, we were obliged to pay them chiefly in copper. “While we sent hither and thither, to the grocer's and the draper's——”
“And the bank,” observed Cavendish, consequentially.
“Aye, aye: but we sent to the nearest places first, tor there was no time to lose. While, as I was saying, the messengers were gone, the paupers got round poor Pye, and abused him heartily. I began to think of proposing an adjournment to the court-yard, for i really expected they would kick him down the steps into the street”
“Poor innocent man! What could they abuse him for?” asked Melea.
“Only for not having his till full of coin, as it used to be. As if it was not as great a hardship to him as to his neighbours, to have no change. He is actually obliged, he tells me, to throw together his men's wages so as to make an even sum in pounds, and pay them in a lump, leaving them to settle the odd shillings and pence among themselves.”
“With a bank in the same street!” exclaimed Fanny.
Cavendish declared that his hank issued change as fast as it could be procured, but that it all disappeared immediately, except the halfpence, in which, therefore, they made as large a proportion of their payments as their customers would receive. People began to use canvass bags to carry their change in; and no wonder; since there were few pockets that would bear fifteen shillings' worth of halfpence. The bank daily paid away as much as fifteen shillings' worth to one person.
Mr. Berkeley avouched the partners of the D—— bank to he equally at a loss to guess where all the coin issued by them went to. Mrs. Cavendish complained of the difficulty of shopping and marketing without change. Miss Egg feared Mr. Longe must be at great trouble in collecting his dues of tithes; and the rector took advantage of the hint to represent his requiring them in kind as proceeding from consideration for the convenience of the farmers.
All agreed that the present state of the money system of the country was too strange and inconvenient to last long. Though some people seemed to be growing rich in a very extraordinary way, and there was therefore a party every where to insist that all was going right, the complaints of landlords, stipendiaries, and paupers would make themselves heard and attended to, and the convenience of all who were concerned in exchanges could not he long thwarted, if it was desired to avoid very disagreeable consequences.
So the matter was settled in anticipation by the party in Mr. Cavendish's drawing-room, immediately after which the Berkeleys took their leave, attended by Mr. Longe.