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Chapter VII.: FAREWELL TO BUDGE-ROW. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 9 
Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1834). Vol. 9.
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FAREWELL TO BUDGE-ROW.
Michael was quietly buried when the verdict of “accidental death” had been duly agreed upon; and there was ample employment for Henry during the month of M. Verblane's imprisonment in settling the affairs. There was no will; and he therefore felt that the children, and she whom he considered as the widow, though the law did not so recognize her, had the first claim upon his justice. He was resolved that an ample provision should be made for them; and that it should be done without encroaching on Mrs. Peek's share. Jane ought to have given the largest proportion, not only because she had no claims upon her, but because her survivorship enriched her by means of this very death. She did contribute; but Henry's portion was much larger; and it soon appeared that Jane would not be at hand in future, if further assistance should be required.
Henry had, in his investigation of the affairs, learned that which prevented his being surprised on hearing from Morgan that Jane meant to go abroad. She had known so much of the smuggling transactions of the firm, that she had probably a good understanding with certain persons out at sea, who could aid her in getting away from the country she no longer loved, and in placing her where she might invest her money so as to avoid either an income or a property tax.
“It is a strange freak of my mistress's, sir, is not it?” said Morgan. “She must feel it so herself, or she would not have left me to tell you the story.”
“It would be strange in most people, Morgan. I know it is said bv some that an income or a property tax must drive individuals to invest their money abroad; but I am sure that except in a few rare cases, it would not be so. A man has so much more confidence in the stability of the institutions of his own country than in those of any other,—there are so many inducements to keep his treasure where his heart is,—near his kindred and his father's house,—his obligations are so much more calculable at home than abroad,— and, above all, it is so clear that the substitution of a direct for an indirect tax must set free the exercise of his capital and his industry,—that a man must be burdened indeed before he would think, for this reason alone, of placing his capital elsewhere. Jane's case is different.”
“Ah! Mr. Henry, she has left off loving her kindred and her father's house.”
“Not so, I hope: but she is no longer happy among them, for reasons which we can understand.”
“She owned as much to me, sir, as that she could not bear to think of yon poor young woman and her children having what had been so hardly earned; or to see the waste and dawdling going on in Mrs. Peek's family; or to pay her taxes in a heavy lump when the government chose to call for it, instead of buying a little of this and a little of that, when she liked, without having to remember that she was paying taxes.”
“Ah! that is the reason why people like those indirect taxes. But I should have thought that Jane had seen enough of the waste that there is in the collecting them, to think very ill of them.”
“The taking stock of my master's tea, sir, once a-month—what a farce it was! How many officers were paid for little more than not seeing cheats! and when one thinks of the permits, and the entry books, and the army of spies,—for so they are,—that have to he paid out of the duties collected, one wonders that Miss Jane, or anybody else, should be found to speak up for such an extravagant plan.”
“Those will be most ready to do so who are unwilling to pay in proportion for the protection which is of most importance to those who have the most property. But they forget the plain rule that when the people's money is raised to be spent for the good of the people, as little as possible ought to be wasted by the way. It is a shame that the cost of collection should be seven pound ten in every hundred pounds, when the odd shillings would be enough under good management.”
“But is that true, sir?”
“Quite true; and the less this particular matter is looked to, the wider will the difference be between what is and what ought to be. My wife will tell you that there was a time in France when the nation paid five times as much in taxes as ever arrived at the treasury. Under a wiser management, the same people afterwards paid no more than a tenth part of their taxes to the collectors, though there were above two hundred thousand persons employed in the collection. O, yes, these were far too many; but you may see what a difference it makes to the people whether this point be managed well or ill; and it is very clear that it must be a great advantage to have a plan of taxation which would employ a few persons, at regular times; so that people would know what they had to pay and when, and that as little as possible would be lost by the way.”
“They say that an immensity of money will be raised by this income tax.”
“A great deal; and so there ought to be. Something great ought to come out of so disagreeable a process. It is very disagreeable to be examined, and have one's concerns pryed into in the way that these commissioners must do. I am sure I do not wonder at my sister's dislike of it.”
“O, sir, I never saw such a conflict as she had to go through with herself. I determined never to be present again when the gentlemen came. When she did bring herself to give an account, I know what a struggle she had to tell the truth. I would not for the world that any one else had been there; but, sir, the commissioners laughed, and winked, and threatened her with the oath.”
“One is exposed to the impertinence of tax-gatherers under any system; and I do not know that it need be worse under this tax than any other. But it is provoking that this must be added to what we had to bear before. Prices are just as high as ever. There has been no reduction of the old taxes yet. Our producers of food and clothing, and all that we want, go on paying their taxes in commodities, and not only charging these on the articles when sold, but the interest on their advance of money for the tax. And so does the consumer's money run out in many a channel.”
“All this helps my mistress abroad. But, sir, is it true that she cannot go safely?”
“Yes, and she must know it.”
“She does. She hinted as much to me. Do you suppose anybody will stop her?”
''if they can get hold of her; but her friends are those who will convey her safely, if anybody can. She knows that at present it is high treason to invest money in an enemy's country, particularly in land—”
“O dear; and I believe it is your French gentleman's lands that she has in view.”
“We cannot prevent her going, if she chooses to run the risk; but a great risk it is. The sate of their lands is supposed to be the principal means that our enemies have for carrying on the war; and no English person is allowed, under the penalty of death, to purchase land or to buy into the French funds. But what will be done about Jane's annuity?”
“She says she has laid a plan for getting it,—whether by coming over once a-year in the same way that she goes, or by some other device, I do not know. Surely, sir. those tontine annuities are very bad things! Worse than lotteries, since they make people jealous of their neighbours' lives, and rejoiced to hear of their deaths.”
“Very bad! No gaming is much worse. The advantage to the annuitants is, in its nature, most unequal; and it is so disadvantageous to the government, that none of its money is set free till the last of the lot is dead, that I wonder the system is persevered in.”
“I am sure I wish the government had had the Mr. Hills', and my master's; for Miss Jane has never been like the same person since. Do you know, sir, I believe there is one who will be particularly disappointed at her going away?”
“You mean Dr. Say. Do you think he has ever had any chance with her?”
“Sometimes I have thought he had; and I should not wonder, after all, if she thinks to take him on—”
“No, no, Morgan. She never can mean to marry that man.”
“Why, sir, when people of her spirit have been cruelly disappointed once, as I know her to have been, they are apt to find too late the want of a friend to join themselves to; and yet they do not like to give up their sway. Now, Dr. Say is so yielding—l”
“Ay, at present.”
“True, sir; but he is very yielding indeed, to judge from the coldness he has put up with from my mistress, and his hanging to her still. But she will not have him yet; not till she has gained her particular end in going abroad; and then, perhaps—”
“This is the way human creatures do when they are perverted and injured like my poor sister. They must finish some trifling thing, rgain some petty point, and then begin to think of the realities of life. Poor Jane! what can a few more thousands be to her? Morgan, have you ever thought of going with her?”
“It would have been my desire, if it had not been my promise, to stay with her as long as we both lived; but from her saying nothing to me about it, and her talking of things that I believe are to be left for me to do after she is gone, I suppose that she does not wish for me.”
“Then where will you go? What do you think of doing?”
“Just what Providence may prepare to my hand. I have scarcely cast my mind that way yet.”
Nor did Morgan settle her thoughts on her own concerns till compelled to do so. There was much to be thought of and accomplished; and it was the way of everybody to look to Morgan in all cases of bustle and difficulty. The business, shop, and house thereto belonging, were immediately disposed of; and they had to be prepared for the new tenant, and vacated in a short time. Jane would not sell the furniture; she could not find in her heart to let it go for so little as it would now bring; still less to give it to Patience. Her green stuff curtains, and threadbare carpets, and battered tables, and shabby fire-irons, were all valuable in her eyes, because of some of these she had known no others, and of some she still thought as new. How many recurrences of mind had she to these articles,— now reddening at the idea of the insulting price that was offered for them, and then sighing at the thought of the extravagance of hiring a room expressly for their reception! This last was the plan finally decided upon, however; and, by dint of such close packing as nobody else would have formed an idea of, the greater part of the lumber was stowed, while there was still space left to turn round.
Everything was gone from the kitchen but one chair and a few cooking utensils when Morgan sat before the fire, knitting worsted stockings, and rocking herself to the time of the old Welsh air she was singing low to herself. The clock that ticked was gone; and the monotonous singing of the kettle was the only sound besides her own voice. She was thinking about Wales, as she always did when she sang,—of the farmhouse in the valley where she was born; and of how lightly she tripped to the spring the morning she was told that there were thoughts of sending her with her uncle, the carrier, to London to win her bread; and then of the evening when she emerged from among the last hills, and saw the plain, with its clusters of trees, and its innumerable hedge-rows, and its few hamlets, and a church steeple or two, all glowing in the sunset; and how she admired a flat country, and fancied how happy people must be who lived in a flat country; and then how little she imagined that, after having become familiar with London life, she should ever be sitting alone, seeing the comfort of the abode demolished, day by day, and waiting to know what should become of her when the last of the family she had served so long was about to wander away from the old house. The clatter without went on just as if all was as formerly within. The cries, the bustle, and the loud laughs in the street seemed very like a mockery; and Morgan, who had never, all these years, complained of the noise of Budge-Row, was very nearly being put out of temper about it this evening. In the midst of it, she thought she heard her mistress's hand-bell ring, and stopped her chanting to answer the summons. She released from its place under her gown the canvass bag, which must have proved a great burden to her right side, and carried the kettle in the other hand, supposing, with the allowable freedom of an old servant, that Mliss Farrer might be wishing for her tea a little earlier tban usual, and that there could be no harm in saving her turns along the passage.
“Ma'am, I'm afraid your rheumatism troubles you,” said she, seeing that Jane had drawn her shawl over her head. “I thought it would be so when you took the curtains down in such bitter weather”
“Never mind that, Morgan: I must meet more cold at sea.”
“But you had better get well first, ma'am. Wontd you wish that I should step for Dr. Say?” and Morgan put some stiffness into her manner.
Jane looked round upon the disfurnished apartment, and probably thought that it looked too comfortless to be seen by Dr. Say; for she desired that if he called he should be told that she was too tired to see any one.
“I think, Morgan,” she proceeded, “there is nothing left but what you can take care of for me, if I must go in a hurry. It will hardly take you two hours to stow these few things with the rest of the furniture; and an hour or two of your time, now and then, will keep them in good order for me.”
And then followed sundry directions about airing, dusting, brushing, &c., all which implied that Morgan would remain near at hand.
“I have said nothing about your going with me,” continued Jane. “I suppose you never thought of it?”
“I considered myself bound, Miss Jane, after what we once said together, to follow you for life, if you had so pleased. Since you do not——”
“It would be too much for you, Morgan. I would not expose you to the risk, or to the fatigue. You know nothing of the fatigues of such a voyage as I am going upon. In a regular vessel it is very great; but——”
“Ma'am, I have no wish to go otherwise than at your desire. I am old now, and——”
“Yes, it will be much better for you to be with Patience, or with Henry.”
“No, ma'am; if I leave you, it must be to go back to my own place. The same day that you dismiss me I shall place my way home. I do not wish to be turned over from service to service, knowing that I shall never attach myself to any as I did, from the first, to you, my dear.”
“But what will you do with yourself in Wales? Everybody you knew there must be dead, or grown up out of knowledge.”
“Perhaps so; but it will serve my turn to sit and knit by the farmhouse fire; and I should like to be doing something in a dairy again. I have not put my hand to a churn, much less seen a goat, these seventeen years, except once, when your father sent me, in a hurry, to Islington, and there, Miss, I saw a goat; and, for the life of me, I could not help following it down a lane to see where it went to, and to watch its habits. When I saw it browsing and cropping, even though it was in a brick-field, I could not help standing behind it; and the thing led me such a round, I bad much ado to get home to tea. My master found out that something had kept me; but I was ashamed to tell him what it was. However, our Welsh goats——but I am taking up your time. Yes, I shall go back into Wales. But first, ma'am, there is a little thing to be settled. I gave up to you my key of that box, or I would have put the money in without troubling you; but here is the sum you paid me the other day, and I will trouble you for the receipt back again.”
“What can you mean, Morgan, by demanding your wages so strangely, and then bringing them back again?”
“I meant to keep the promise I made to you, Miss Jane,—to cover your faults when I could. You refused to pay the fine for Mr. Henry, and so I paid it in your name; that was what I wanted the money for. I did not think of having it back again; but Mr. Henry seemed so uneasy about not discharging it, that I let him take his own way.”
Jane made some objections, which Morgan would not listen to. She would neither suffer any allusion to the legacy nor to her own circumstances. She briefly declared that she had enough. Her small wants were supplied from the savings of her young days, and she had no further use for money, besides having taken something of a disgust to it lately. She possessed herself of the key from her mistress', side without being opposed, unlocked the box before her face, and deposited the cash, showing, at the same time, that she resumed the receipt. While sire was doing this, Jane drew her shawl farther over her head, as if she suffered from the cold. Morgan saw that it was to conceal her tears.
“Oh, Miss Jane! only say that you wish it, and I will give up Wales and go with you; or if you would hut be content to go back to my home, you might think about money as much as ever, if you must, anti be happv at living in such a cheap country. But you might there forget all such troubtes to the mind, if you would.”
Jane hastily observed that it was too late for this: she had given her word to sail, and she must sail directly; she could hear nothing to the contrary.
Morgan said no more, but brought tea, and prepared everything for her mistress's early going to rest, and then came to take away the tea things.
“You will make it early bed-time to-night, ma'am?” said she.
“Then I have a strong belief that this is the last speech I shall have of you, Miss Jane; and I would not part from you without a farewell, as I fear others, nearer and dearer, must do.”
“None are nearer and dearer,” exclaimed Jane, in a tone which upset Morgan's fortitude. She then checked herself, and coldly added, “I mean to call on my brother and Patience before I go.”
“What I am least sorry about,” said Morgan, “is, that you are going out upon the great and wide sea. I am glad that you will see a million of dashing waves, and feel the sweeping winds, both of which I used to know something of from the top of our mountain. We have both seen too much of brick walls, and heard too much of the noise of a city. Your spirits have failed you sadly of late, my dear; and I myself have been less lightsome than I have always held that a trusting creature should be. Ah! your tears will dry up when you are among the deeps; and you will find, as tim waters heave up and about you, how little worth is in all worldly care, take my word for it, my dear. You on the sea by starlight, and I in the valley when the early buds come out—oh! we shall grow into a more wholesome mind than all the changes here have left us in. Meantime, we must part; and if we should never meet again——”
“Oh, but there is no fear: it is a very safe voyage, indeed, they tell me. I cannot have any fancies put into my head about not coming back, Morgan.”
“Well, let it he so then,—let it he that you will certainly come back; still I am old,—ay, not what you will allow to be old, if you reach my years, but what I like to think so. You cannot, in your heart, say that you would be taken by surprise any day to hear that old Morgan was gone. Well, then, God bless you! and give you a better relish of this life before he calls you t another!”
“Indeed I am not happy,” was the feeling expressed by Jane's manner, and by her tears, as much as by her words. She could neither control her feelings nor endure to expose their intensity, and she therefore hastened to bed, seemingly acquiescing in Morgan's advice not to be in a burry to rise in the morning.
Morgan's sleep was not very sound; partly from the sense of discomfort in the naked house, and more from busy and anxious thoughts—such as she had never known among the green hills of Wales, and such as were likely, she therefore supposed, to be laid to rest when she should be at home again. She fancied several times that she heard Jane stirring, and then dropped into a doze again, when she dreamed that her mistress was sleeping very quietly. At last she started up, uneasy at finding that it was broad daylight, and sorry that the alarum had not been one of the last things to be taken away, as she feared that her mistress might be kept waiting for her breakfast. She bustled about, made a particularly good fire, ventured to take in, of her own accord, a tempting hot roll, and, as her mistress was still not down stairs, made a basin of tea, and carried up the tray to the chamber.
“I hope you find your head better this morning, ma'am?” said she, drawing up the blind which kept the room in darkness.
No answer. Morgan saw no traces of clothes, and hastily pulled aside the bed-curtain: no one was there. A little farther search convinced her that Jane was gone.
The people in the shop testified to two stout porters having arrived early, and asked permission to go in and out through the shop. They had each carried a heavy box. and been accompanied by the lady in deep black, whose veil was over her face when she went out. She had not gone without another word, as Morgan at first, in the bitterness of her heart, reproached her for doing. She had left a note, with an affectionate assurance of remembering her old friend, not only in her will. but during every day of her life. Morgan would also find that a sum of money had been left in Henry's hands for her, as some acknowledgment of her long services. There was also advice about purchasing an annuity with it, which Morgan did not read to-day.
The shop-boy had the benefit of the hot roll. Morgan set off to discover how much Mr. Henry knew of Jane's proceedings. Marie could tell no more than that she had missed the bird on coming down into the cheerful breakfast-room of their new lodgings. Their maid had admitted a lady in black to write a note there this morning, as the family were not down. The bird had not been seen since; and it could only be supposed that it was carried away in its cage under the lady's long black cloak.
Jane acknowledged this in her note to Henry. She could not resist carrying away this living relic of old times. It must be more precious to her than to them; and she should send Marie from abroad some pet to be cherished for her sake, if Marie cared enough tbr her to do so. They had better not enqnire where she was gone, or how; but trust to bearing of her through M. Verblanc (when he should be again abroad) or his agents.
Patience seemed to be the only one who had seen her sister, while thus scattering her ghostly adicus. Patience related that the house was in such confusion when Jane came in, (so unreasonably early!) that she had no very clear recollection of what had passed, further than that Jane cried very much, so that the elder children did not know what to make of it; and that her black veil frightened the little ones when she was kissing them all round. She hoped Jane did not really mean that. she was going away for any length of time. She somehow had not half believed that; but as Morgan did believe it, Patience began at last to be very sorry indeed.
Morgan could not quit London these two or three days, if she was to leave her mistress's little concerns in the exact order in which she desired them to remain. She would not be persuaded to pass her few days any where but in the old kitchen, or to leave unvisited for a single night the chamber where her master died. This evening was cold and stormy. She thought first of her mistress's rheumatism; and, as the wind rose, and whistled under the doors, and roared in the chimney, she wandered to the window to see how things looked in the Row. The flame of the lamps flickered and flared within the glass; women held on their bonnets, and the aprons of workmen and the pinafores of children fluttered about. Morgan was but too sure that it must be a bad night on the river, or at sea. She wished she knew whether Mr. Henry thought so. This would have settled the matter with Morgan, for she believed Mr. Henry knew every thing; but it was too late to intrude upon him to-night. She would go in the morning.
In the morning, when she got up early, to observe the heavy clouds still drifting rapidly over the narrow slip of sky which was all that could be seen from even the back of the house, she found a little bird cowering down on the window-sill, as if drowsy through fatigue and cold. There was no mistaking the bird, and in another moment it was warming itself against Morgan's cheek and in her bosom, while the hand which was not employed in guarding it was preparing its holiday mess of crumbs, milk and sugar.
“O, my bird!” exclaimed Marie, the moment Morgan produced it from beneath her red cloak.
“Did not my mistress say something to you, ma'am, of sending you some living thing for a remembrance? Do you think it likely she should send you this bird?”
No: nobody thought it likely. But how the creature could have escaped from such guardianship as Jane's was very unaccountable. There was no connecting it with the gales of last night; yet Morgan could not forget her own words about the wide and rough waters, and what Jane would feel when she saw them in their might.
While Marie was yet weeping over the departure of her father, on the expiration of his month of imprisonment, and listening to her husband's cheering assurances that peace must come, and with it, liberty for all to go to and fro, she said,
“Meanwhile, there may be comfort for you in hearing through him of Jane. Will she not Bend us tidings, as she said?”
No such intelligence came; and in M. Yerblanc's frequent letters was always contained the assurance that no tidings of the estimable lady, the sister of his son-in-law, had reached his agent or himself.
Henry had been long settled down to his duties and enjoyments as a country clergyman, when he received a letter from Peek containing the following intelligence, which was immediately forwarded to Morgan.
“I had been applied to several times,” Peek wrote, “about Jane Farrer, spinster, the surviving claimant of the tontine annuity last year, on whose behalf no claim has been made this year. You will see presently that government has had a lucky bargain of that annuity, which is more than can often be said of that sort of transaction. The whole thing has come to light; and Patience was in great distress about it, all yesterday. We have had a rare catch of smugglers; and one of them let out, when he began to be chop-fallen, that it was very odd he had escaped such a many risks, to be trapped at last. Among the rest, he told us of one surprising get off when he thought he was sent for to the bottom where all the rest went. After a windy day, which had blown their boat out of the river at a fine rate, till they were almost within sight of their smuggling vessel, their cockle-shell could not stand the gale. He swears that they should have done very well but for the heavy chests that they were carrying for a gentlewoman who wanted to be smuggled abroad. She was almost desperate when they heaved both chests overboard, though she had been quiet enough while the gale was rising. She went down quietly enough too, when the boat filled, and sunk from under them all, leaving such as could to save themselves on any thing they could find to float on; by which means he and one other only got to shore. All he remembers about the gentlewoman is that she wore a black cloak, and noticed nobody, more or less, but a siskin that she had with her in a cage. One of the last things she did,—and he remembers it by a joke that went round, of her caring about a brute creature's life when her own was not worth a farthing,—the last thing she did was letting fly the bird, and she looked after it, to see how it fared in the wind, when the water was up to her own knees. From the oddness of this, and the black cloak, we feel convinced it must have been sister Jane, besides the date being the same. Patience fretted a good deal about it yesterday, as I mentioned. We suppose that we shall now see you in town about the affairs, and you know where you may alwaya find a pipe and a bit of chat.”
“Do not go, Henry,” said Marie. “Let Peek have all the wealth. Do not let us touch that which has poisoned the lives of three of your family.”
“It poisoned the peaee of their lives, Marie, and it caused their deaths. We will not die of such solicitude, nor, if any of our children must die by violence or accident, shall it be for such a cause. They must be taught the uses of wealth; and fearfully has Providence qualified us for teaching this lesson.”
“That wealth is but an instrument, and that they are responsible for the use of it?”
“Responsible, not only to use who maketh rich and maketh poor, onlybut to society,—to the state. We will teach our children that to evade or repine at their due contribution to the state is to be ungrateful to their best earthly protector, and to be the oppressors of those who should and be spared in proportion as their means are less. If to lay on burdens too heavy to be borne be one crime, it is another to refuse a just burden.”
Henry checked himself on perceiving that he was reproaching the memory of his deceased brother and sister. He regarded them, however, as victims rather than aggressors,—victims to their father's false views, and to the policy of the time, which, by making the state a spendthrift, rendered too many of its members sordid.
“This is the favourite that Jane sent me to be cherished for her sake,” said Marie, approaching the bird. “It shall be cherished.”
“I failed in my trust,” thought Morgan, as she went out to call home the kids from the mountain,—“I failed in my trust when I doubted about Miss Jane's old age. What did I know about whether she would ever be old; or, if she should be, whether there would not by that time be peace, and a less heavy burdening of the people, so that they might be free to see more clearly whether or not they were made to struggle with low things all their lives, like a sick person in a dream who is always trying to fly, and is for ever baffled?—I don't know whether one ought to be sorrv that Miss Jane has been wakened up untimely from such a dream; but I mourn that she did not come here to see what a fearful mistaking of Providence it is to dream on in that restless bed when here are such wide fields of sweet thyme tbr one's eyes and one's heart to rest upon. Let men live in cities, if they will; but why should they think that the field and the brooks are for those only who live among them? These brooks must run over silver sands, and yonder harvest fields must bear ears of real gold before men may fancy that gold is in favour with God, and that it should therefore be sought as a main thing by men. I wish it had pleased God that Miss Jane had but once come here.”