Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chapter I.: PRIDE OF PATRIMONY. - Illustrations of Taxation (1. The Park and the Paddock, 2. The Haycock, 3. The Jerseymen Meeting, 4. The Jerseymen Parting, 5. The Scholars of Arneside)
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Chapter I.: PRIDE OF PATRIMONY. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Taxation (1. The Park and the Paddock, 2. The Haycock, 3. The Jerseymen Meeting, 4. The Jerseymen Parting, 5. The Scholars of Arneside) 
Illustrations of Taxation (1. The Park and the Paddock, 2. The Haycock, 3. The Jerseymen Meeting, 4. The Jerseymen Parting, 5. The Scholars of Arneside) (London: Charles Fox, 1834).
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PRIDE OF PATRIMONY.
The inhabitants of the town of A— were divided in opinion as to whether they ought to be thankful or not for the new road having been brought within a quarter of a mile of their market-place. There were traditions, in the memories of the old people, of their town having once been a place of considerable importance; and a few vestiges of such importance remained to gratify the pride, and fill up the spare hours of two or three antiquarians within its bounds. The old people and these antiquarians agreed in trembling for the fate of their beloved carved gateways and projecting fronts of houses, amidst the brick edifices which were springing up in the neighbourhood, and the new incentives to improvement which had arisen; but they granted that every townsman ought to wish for the increase of his native place in consequence and wealth. There were some who already began to look contemptuously on the streets of low, rambling houses, amidst which their days had been passed, and to expend all their love and admiration on the new inn which flared upon the scarce-finished road, and the sets of red “lodges,” “villas,” and “cottages,” which stood in patches on the western outskirts of the town. The builders of the place, of course, spoke much in praise of improvement, and those whose house-property stood in the half empty streets on the eastern side of A— had no less to say against innovation. There was little dispute, meanwhile, on one point: that the town had always suffered from its being in the centre of a fine sporting country. The dwellings of the gentry were, almost without exception, situated at some distance among the moors or the fells. Even the physicians’ and lawyers’ houses stood by themselves—in gardens or surrounded by walls—in emulation of the mansions and shooting-boxes which might be seen from the church tower; so that this church tower, and the blue slates of a few meeting-houses rose from amidst a congregation of tradesmen’s dwellings. The large old inn, the Turk’s Head, was almost the only handsome house of any respectable age. The town was thought to suffer much in the estimation of strangers from this deficiency; and the inhabitants became the more sensible of it, the more strangers were brought to cast a passing glance upon the place from the new road, or to make a note of what they saw from the balcony of the modern inn, the Navarino, while waiting for horses.
A party of strangers arrived one day, whose opinion of the town was of some consequence, as it might determine or prevent their residence in the neighbourhood. They did not stop either at the Turk’s Head or at the Navarino, but only for two minutes to inquire for the steward of Fellbrow Park, who was found to have preceded the party to their destination. News had circulated for some days past of the arrival of a letter from young Mr. Cranston, declaring his intention of coming to throw open the house, and to examine the estate which had been deserted by his father for many years before his death. The steward was desired not to draw a nail from the gates; and to make no further preparation for the arrival of the heir than having workmen ready to open a way for him into his own court-yard.
Mr. Cranston, the elder, had taken a disgust to this abode, and quitted it on the death of his lady, sixteen years ago. Before he drove away, carrying with him his three little boys and his infant daughter, he superintended the extraordinary ceremony of nailing iron plates over the gates of the court-yard, and took effectual care that no part of the old-fashioned wall which surrounded the house should be left in a state to tempt foot to climb, or eye to look over it. His last charge to his steward had been to see that not a tree was planted or felled,—not so much as a weed pulled up, till further orders. The fish were to be undisturbed in their ponds, and the game in their covers. All the servants left behind were to be sinecurists till a change of policy or of administration should arrive. Till the news of Mr. Cranston’s death, all these directions had been complied with, except in as far as certain instances of connivance might be regarded as breach of orders. If a few aged neighbours were seen now and then helping themselves with firewood from the thickets, and a youth might be descried from afar stealing towards the ponds, or the gamekeeper occasionally found certain of his charge fluttering in springes, no notice was taken, and no remorse followed, as it was decided that both ponds and covers remained as much overstocked as the owner could possibly desire. The first change of management took place when the approach of young Mr. Cranston was announced. The steward was grieved at the thought that the heir should see his estate in so desolate a condition, and took the liberty,—not to fell trees,—but to clear away underwood, and weed and new-gravel the walks which led from the entrance of the park to the house. A little mowing of the grass, and trimming of some patches near the house which were once flower-beds, further improved the aspect of the place, so as to destroy all anticipation of what the family was likely to see within doors.
When the carriages stopped at the park entrance, the steward appeared to pay his respects, and suggest that immediate orders should be sent to one or other of the inns, to provide that accommodation which it was impossible the house should afford. He must venture also to say that the young lady would not find the place fit for her to enter. It would really be better that she should not proceed this afternoon.
Mr. Cranston had been,—not stretched out at length, for no carriage could thus accommodate his length of limb,—but leaning back, reading, till the last moment. He seemed sorry to be roused, even by his arrival at his own estate, and to be greeted by his own steward.
“What do you think, Fanny?” said he to his sister, who was just emerging from a reverie beside him. “Perhaps you had better go back to the inn with Mrs. Day and Maynard till to-morrow.”
Mrs. Day, the respectable elderly personage who had never been exactly Fanny’s nurse, and was now far from being her governess, ventured to say from her corner of the carriage that she really could not think of Fanny’s proceeding to the house till she knew that it had been properly aired. She had been asking, for a week past, what measures had been taken for this end; and could learn nothing that satisfied her that Fanny could go anywhere to-night but to the inn.
Fanny, meanwhile, had given orders to drive on; and before Mrs. Day had done speaking, the carriage was rolling on the gravel within the gates. If Richard had put away his book, and sat upright in preparation for what was approaching, it was not to be expected that she should turn back, she declared.
The phaeton which her brother James was driving had passed the carriage during the consultation with the steward; and Wallace, the youngest of the three brothers, might now be seen pointing out certain things that he perceived in the grass, and in the neighbouring coppice. James flourished his whip, and quickened the pace of his steeds. Their mirth communicated itself to Fanny, and she sprang forward with an exclamation of joy when the next turn of the road disclosed a splendid view, bathed in the sunshine of a bright autumnal afternoon. Mrs. Day had never been more out of love with these wild young people, (as she sometimes called them,) than at the present moment. She did not expect that they should remember the place, or her whose death had occasioned their quitting it; but she really thought that they might show themselves more sensible of what had happened there. Some thought of their parents might be suggested by the scene, which should sober their spirits a little. But she never saw anything like the spirits of these young people. So far from their father having subdued them, it seemed as if he had left them his wildness without his fits of melancholy. Perhaps it was hardly fair to expect that the children of such a parent should be like other people.
The steward, on his grey pony, had trotted past the carriage; and he was now collecting the workmen and their tools in preparation for Mr. Cranston’s order to throw open the gates.
“Come, Richard, you must get out,” cried Wallace, who had alighted from the phaeton. “We are only waiting for you.”
The knocking began. Mrs. Day could not bear it. Every blow went to her heart. She wandered away, thick and damp as was the grass, till she turned an angle of the wall where the noise was deadened, and she was out of sight of the rest of the party. There was a strange mingling of sounds. The high wall of rock which rose on the other side of the stream, to which the lawn sloped down before her, sent back an echo of the workmen’s blows. The rooks were disturbed, and rose from the high trees in a cloud, to add their hoarse music to the din. Daws came fluttering out of the nest of chimneys which was visible above the wall, and pigeons appeared upon the roof, rustling and flapping their wings in prodigious perturbation. Laughter (it was Wallace’s laugh) mingled strangely with the other sounds; and Mrs. Day decided in her own mind that Mr. Cranston, who was never wanting in proper feeling, ought to check such unseasonable mirth. She presently saw that Mr. Cranston was not at hand to interpose such a check. While she had wandered round one way, Fanny and her eldest brother had taken the other, and they might now be seen,—Richard standing in his usual lazy attitude, and Fanny exploring the beds where all the flowers of the garden seemed to have grown into a tangled thicket. Mrs. Day found her pronouncing that such a beautiful spot for a garden was never so wasted before, and that this unaccountable wall round the house must be immediately thrown down, that the coppice, the stream, and the opposite rocks might be seen. Richard listened with an air of resignation, and hoped that James would think his living near enough to allow of his remaining at Fellbrow till all the alterations were completed. Richard would heartily thank anybody who would take the trouble off his hands.
“O, yes; and let you sleep till noon; till the sun is warm enough to let you sit down there by the waterside, reading till dinner; and then let you lounge on the sofa till tea, and then read or listen to us all the evening. That is the life you would like to lead this autumn,” said Fanny.
“Just so,” Richard agreed, looking round to see if there was no seat at hand. The rotten remains of one were just distinguishable among the rank grass, under a moss-grown tree; but there was no hope that it would support Richard’s lazy length.
A shout, and then a screech, with a final clang, now told that the gates would open and shut, and that Richard was wanted. His brothers were in the yard when he joined them, both breast-high in thistles. They would not hear of their sister being kept back by this cause. They carried her through,—or rather over, this wilderness of weeds, and placed her on the steps of the door. They offered to perform the same service for Mrs. Day, but she once more turned away, almost without answering. Fanny thought this the most curious-looking old house she had ever seen, and, in spite of the desolation of its present aspect, she could not help enjoying the romantic prospect which began to open upon her of the kind of life she might lead here. These lattice windows,—so many and so small,—were made to be gently opened, in greeting to the rising moon. That carved wooden seat beside the door should be restored for the sake of the wandering merchant who might wish to open his pack before the eyes of the lady of the house. Those broad eaves were made for the swallows to build under.—When she entered the hall, what a sight was there!
“O, Wallace, stop! Do stand still a minute,” cried she, as Wallace strode before her, dealing destruction right and left among the cobwebs. Never were such cobwebs seen; and it was difficult to imagine what the spiders could be that wove them. They hung like flimsy curtains from the ceiling to the floor, and, as the newly-admitted air waved them in the yellow sunshine which burst in at the door (the windows being wholly obscured by dust) they exhibited a texture of such beauty as it indeed required some resolution to destroy. Wallace would not, however, submit to a long detention. Parting at the stroke of his switch, the delicate fabrics fell, forming a dusty tapestry for the walls.
“Do but look!” cried Wallace, when he had made his way first into the library. “Grass grown to seed on the mantel-piece! Where the deuce did the seed and the soil come from?”
As one and another entered the room, new wonders became apparent. Fanny was surprised to see the shelves full of books. She looked close to see what they were, and was startled by meeting a pair of bright eyes where a space was left between the volumes.
“It is—yes, it is a stuffed owl,” said she to Richard. “But what an odd place to hide it in!”
“A stuffed owl!” cried Wallace, coming up: “we will soon see that;” and he touched the creature with the end of his switch; in answer to which salutation it ruffled its speckled plumage, pecked angrily, and then burst away in the direction of a window which was now perceived to be broken. James decreed that this room should be appropriated to Fanny, and that she should never more be known by any other name than Minerva. Seated here, with her owl and her books, she could never say a foolish thing again.
The young lady was not long in doing something which, in most young ladies, would be called foolish. She kneeled on the stained carpet to draw out a volume or two of the row of mouldy folios next the floor. She was fortunate in finding another curiosity.
“Look, look, Richard! Leave those globes alone, and come here. Here is a skeleton of something. What is it, Wallace? A rabbit? It looks like a rabbit; but there can be no rabbits in this place. That is right; take away the next volume, and the next.” Wallace was doing this, under pretence of wanting more light; for he was vexed at not being able to pronounce in a moment what animal this was the skeleton of.
“How curious! how very pretty!” continued Fanny; “spun all over with cobwebs, and fastened to the wall with cobwebs! But what animal can it be? Something that crouches.”
“Ah, ha!” cried Wallace; “now I see. It is a cat. Here is the skeleton of a rat a little way before it. Plainly a rat, you see, which could get no farther between the books and the wall: this great Josephus stopped it.”
“And it dared not go back for fear of the cat; and the cat could not quite reach it. But what prevented the cat’s going back? Oh, it had forced its way in too far; and the more it crouched, the broader its back would be. How it must have longed to get at the rat! If the rat had had any generosity, it would have gone back and given itself up. It was not jammed, but only barred in behind and before; and when it was certain not to escape, it might as well have been eaten as starved.”
“Perhaps it hoped to be released,” observed James.
“I am sure that cat did, if, as I believe, it is the same that I used to take care of and torment,” said Richard. “I plagued the poor thing terribly, I have no doubt; but she never mewed but I answered her. How she must have wondered what had become of me! How piteously she must have cried for me, while she was starving to death here! One touch of mine to those books would have given her her prey and her liberty. Bring her out, Wallace, and the rat too; I shall have them taken care off.”
“I think James had better make a sermon about them,” Fanny observed; “something about malice, or greediness, and what comes of them.”
“There is matter for many sermons in this room,” observed Richard gravely. The steward touched his hat at this remark, and was uncovered from that moment.
The apartments in which no windows were broken were in better condition, though it was at first difficult to breathe in them, and the green stains on the wall forbade Fanny to hope to be immediately established there. Three westerly rooms,—one of which was the drawing-room,—were in better condition than any others, and it was decided that upon these should the science and art of the tradespeople of A— be first employed.
“Come, come, Fanny, you have been here long enough for to-day,” said Richard. “Do go down before you are quite chilled or suffocated.” Fanny declared herself in no danger of either the one or the other calamity. She was at the moment looking abroad upon the park at her feet, and the mountainous range behind, and feared nothing so much as this being pronounced an unfit residence for her, and her return to London insisted upon. She waited anxiously for the reply to the steward’s question,—
“What do you think of the place, sir? Have you any idea of living in it, now you see what it is?”
“O yes, if you have people at hand who can set it to rights, and if—”
His brothers understood the contortion of his long form, and laughed.
“And if,” said they, “anybody will be master instead of you. Leave it to us.”
Wallace would enjoy nothing so much as such an excuse for making the most of a fine sporting season; and James had no objection to go backwards and forwards between Fellbrow and his new living,—taking what sport he could get at the one place, and perhaps amusing himself with building a house at the other.
“As for the quality of the tradespeople, sir,” said the steward, “you will be better off than if you had happened to come a while ago. Among other things that the new road has brought us, sir, is a number of better workmen than we had before. Some of the old folks, who cannot give up their custom of doing their work as slow as they please, and charging what they like, are apt to stand grumbling at their doors, with their hands in their pockets. But what you have to do with, sir, is the new-comers, in the new part of the town, who will be glad of the opportunity of keeping a-head in the competition, and doing your work out of hand.”
“I had rather employ the old ones who used to work for my father, if they will bestir themselves to serve me properly.”
“I doubt they won’t, sir; and I would not have you think yourself under obligation to employ them. They have made, and are making, provision enough for themselves out of your property already.”
What could this mean? The gentlemen must ask Morse. Morse, the gamekeeper? Then it was meant that the tradesmen and work-people of A— were poachers. But which? It could not surely be meant that glaziers and carpenters, shoemakers and chimney-sweepers, made any hand of poaching. The steward supposed time would show what sort of men the gangs were composed of. This much he knew; that the people he alluded to spoke of the falling off of their business for the sake of new-comers, and of the weight of their taxation, as if they thought it justified their laying hands on a property which they did not consider as a property; which was the case with game all over the world.
Wallace threatened to rectify the notions of the people of A— as to property very speedily, if they ventured to interfere with the present or future sport of himself and his brothers. James, meanwhile, was hoping that the poachers had not, at any time, found the way to the cellars. If the carpets were left on the floors to rot, and the books on the shelves to grow mouldy, it would be very hard that there should be no wine in the cellars to ripen. He proposed that a descent should be effected for purposes of search, and that a supply of any which might be found should be sent to the inn, as it was scarcely likely that wine of a good quality could be met with there. The steward had a word to say in favour of the wine at the Turk’s Head; but added, that he knew the cellars under their feet to be well-stocked, both with ale and wines, which must now be in fine order.
Mrs. Day had more thoughts about the levity of young people when she saw how the family issued from the old mansion, after their first greeting of it. The clergyman seemed to be taking equal care about the conveyance of his sister and some crusted port; and Wallace was vociferating for glasses, as he was bent on trying the ale upon the spot. The steward was nearly as grave as herself; but for him there was the comfort of having employment, and the countenance and encouragement of a master once more. He was relieved from the misery of seeing the property going to ruin; and, after all, as he comforted himself with saying, let these young men be as wild as they will, they can never be so eccentric as their poor father,—at least, not if they had the least touch of their mother in them.