Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chapter V.: AN ECONOMICAL PROJECT. - 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 V.: AN ECONOMICAL PROJECT. - 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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AN ECONOMICAL PROJECT.
Anna spoke from strong feeling when she reported ill of men’s tempers. In her own family the maternal despotism had been very quietly borne; and the paternal rule, however strict, could not materially interfere with the objects and pleasures of the young women in a retired farm-house. But Aaron had never been quiet in the yoke; and Malet sometimes forgot the policy of the lover in resenting the dictation of the father of his beloved. Since the removal of the family to London, there had been frequent contests between Le Brocq and Aaron, each of which was more bitter and more useless than the last. It was as absurd in Le Brocq to treat his son as a child, as it was in Aaron to conclude that every order given him by his father must be more or less wrong. The effect of the mutual folly was to throw Aaron into league with Studley,—a league which began when Studley smiled at Le Brocq’s instructions to his son on matters which neither of them understood; and which was strengthened in proportion as Le Brocq became discontented with Studley’s assumption of authority in the establishment where he was only foreman, after all. The proprietor was now frequently heard to say that he had no power over his own workmen, and that his foreman and his son carried every thing their own way; while Aaron had so far advanced in his progress to independence as to refuse to answer every question because it was a question, and to consult Studley before he acted on any suggestion whatever. There was, in consequence, so much constraint in every meeting of the household, such grave silence or painful bickerings at every meal, that it began to be a doubt in the mind of each member of the family, whether it would not be better for the father and son to separate at once than to go on in the high-road to an irreconcilable quarrel.
On returning home, Anna walked straight through the yard into the manufactory, hoping that the emergency of the occasion would be a sufficient excuse with her father for the intrusion. She gave unintentional notice of her approach by jingling a pile of ware as she passed.
“Here they come,” said one and another within hearing, as she advanced to the kiln where some knocking was going on, and three or four persons seemed to be busy. A man, who was holding a candle stuck in a lump of clay, observed hoarsely, “Here they come.” “Here they come,” repeated the treble voice of the boy who was receiving the blocks of baked clay which had filled up the arch. “Are they coming?” asked the mounted man who was removing the blocks, and letting out the hot air of the kiln. “Let them come, if they can’t let us alone for once,” growled Le Brocq, who was satisfying his sight with the piles of spirit casks ranged one above another in the kiln, with each its four rims of brown ochre, while jars and bottles were nicely packed in the spaces between, no one touching another, but with scarcely room for a hand to pass.
“Back! back! Go in!” exclaimed Le Brocq, when he saw Anna’s timid face, instead of meeting the bright brown eye of Durell. “This is no place for you. You know I desired—”
“But, father, I have something very particular to say. I have seen Stephen.—No, I have not got back our linen. I am afraid we shall never get it back. Perhaps if you spoke to Mr. Durell —”
“I will—I will: when he comes this afternoon. Go in, child. Go!”
“But I rather think Mr. Durell is not coming this afternoon. He says he has not seen Aaron, nor heard from him.”
“Not seen Aaron! Not had the notice! Bless my soul! what are we ever to do at this rate? No more of him!” suspecting that Anna was going to say something for her absent brother. “He shall know my mind when I see him. Booth, do you think we may go on?”
Booth considered that it would be a vexatious thing to be informed against for such a trifle. It was an ugly thing, too, to run the risk of the penalty. He stood with the bar in his hand, ringing it against the bricks.
“You can bear witness that I did all I could, by sending my son with a notice,” observed Le Brocq. “I dare say we shall find it is some mistake of Anna’s. It is too late now to defer the drawing.”
“As you please, sir: not that I can exactly say I witnessed Mr. Aaron’s being sent with the notice; but I dare say it will be all safe enough, sir. Shall I go on?”
“You could not draw all the large, and leave the duty-paid, could you? No, no; I see that would not do. You may go on.”
Studley came up while the hot ware was being quickly handed from man to boy, and from boy to the ground where it must stand to cool.
“So! No spies to-day! We are in luck. I thought Durell would oblige me so far as to consider you, as I made a point of requesting that he would. I congratulate you on having your premises to yourself, sir, for once. I shall take care and thank Durell.”
“Speak for yourself, if you please, sir, but not for me. I am quite capable of thanking any person that I feel obliged to.”
Studley made a ceremonious bow; and immediately asked Booth whether, in his old master’s time, it had ever been allowed to place the ware for cooling in such a manner as he now beheld.
“Why, no,” replied Booth; “but such are my orders.”
“Do you mean to talk to my men about their old master before my face?” asked Le Brocq.
“A rather superfluous question, sir, if you heard what I said.”
“O, father!” interposed Anna, breathlessly. “How I wish you would take us back to Jersey, and let Malet and Louise come here. My mother is always talking about the cows, and—”
“And you want to be milking them again, child? Go away. Go to your mother. Nobody can leave me to my own business, I think.”
“If you think so, sir,” said Studley, “perhaps we had better part.”
“With all my heart, Mr. Studley. I should not have made the proposal first, as you are an old servant of my uncle’s; but since you offer it, I am quite willing; and the sooner the better, if I may declare my opinion.”
The work-people within hearing had all suspended their business to listen to this amiable dialogue; and the having an audience determined Studley to finish with dignity. He thought it a pity that Mr. Le Brocq had not been more explicit. He would have conferred an obligation by being so; for an office of high honour and profit had been within reach of his humble servant for some little time past, which he should certainly have accepted but for the promise he had given his old master not to refuse his best services to the new proprietor,—with a sort of understanding, moreover, that some acknowledgment in the form of some kind of partnership would follow.
Out of the question entirely, Le Brocq declared. While he had a son and a son-in-law—
Beside the question entirely, Studley averred. The son-in-law being in charge of the Jersey farm (unlike all other farms, if the family report were true), and the son being in course of establishing himself in a distinct line of business, there could be no competitor;—not that he now desired a partnership. He would not accept the largest share that the nature of his services could be supposed to authorise; the office he spoke of being, to a man of ambition like himself, so far preferable. He would take leave to commence his canvas immediately; explaining to all his friends (meaning no offence) the reasons of his appearing so tardily in the field.
A pang shot through the heart of Le Brocq at the intimation that his son was about to leave him. He made no inquiry, and had the resolution to avoid showing that the intelligence was new to him. While he commanded every man to resume his employment, Studley stalked out of the manufactory by one door, while Anna stole back by the way she had come.
In the yard she met Aaron. Her immediate object was to prevent his meeting his father at present. She wanted to know whether he had delivered the notice a sufficient number of hours before. No: he had had something else to do first. He meant to go presently. When told that it was too late, he supposed that it would not signify, but did not see why there should have been such a prodigious hurry about drawing the kiln. He was sure Studley could not have authorised it.
Anna had so much to ask and to tell that she wished Aaron would now go with her, as he had promised, on an expedition which must not be much longer delayed. It was time to be thinking about a washing of clothes; there having been none since the unfortunate one which Stephen had turned into an occasion of disaster. Anna and her mother knew nothing yet of English society which could lead them to suppose that there was anything peculiar in their methods touching the purification of their apparel; but as their stock had been somewhat circumscribed since the trespass of the thief, Anna began to think of arranging the circumstances of time and place; and in a few minutes, when she had accounted to her mother for her proceedings, her brother and she were on their way in search of a clear stream where the operation might be conducted after the only method she had yet heard or conceived of.
It seemed a pity to wander so far from home, when a prodigious river was running near the back door: but Anna had watched the Thames, through all its moods, for a fortnight, and had never found it sufficiently pure for her purpose. Besides, there were so many people always about that she should not have courage to sing at the pitch which was necessary to insure good washing. Her having seen no washing in the river since she came was a strong presumption that the Thames did not afford the proper bath. It must be some pure brook between two green hills, with alder bushes on which to hang the linen to dry, and some quiet nook where it might be deposited for a night or two in safety. Such a brook were the brother and sister now in search of, on a hot day in June, when alders and green banks would be peculiarly refreshing. They were prepared for having some way to go, which was very well. They were in no hurry, and promised each other not to return till they had accomplished their object. They little knew what they promised; for, though they were cured of the fancy of myrtles before the house and an orchard behind, they had no doubt whatever that “country” meant hill and dale, wood and stream. When they arrived at Kennington Common, they stood and laughed at the entire absence of trees, quite as much as from the pleasure of seeing an expanse of green once more. While panting with heat, they wondered that the Kennington people did not prefer high banks with overhanging hedges to white palings which fatigued the eye under a summer sun. The stream which flanks the Brixton road was the first thing they saw which could at all answer their purpose; and this was decided to be too public. On they wandered, tempted by the sight of rising ground, to some lanes near Herne Hill and Dulwich; and in these lanes, and the fields which bordered them, Anna found something at last which nearly satisfied her heart. There was a carpet of daisies under foot; and wild roses, some blushing and unfolding, others flaring and bleached in the sun, bloomed in the hedges. There were no sleek Jersey cows, with their delicate taper horns and countenances more refined than ever cows had before; and Anna was disappointed as often as she unconsciously looked for the blue sea through a gap in the hedge: but the smell of hay came from some place near, and a thorn which stood in a damp nook had still blossom enough to remind her of an apple tree. This thorn suggested a happy thought; and Anna was glad to perceive, on looking round her, that thorns were abundant in the neighbouring field. She had heard something of thorn leaves being dried to mix with tea. The most terrifying of the many fearful household expenses of the Le Brocqs was tea; and it would be a great relief to lessen it one-half by mixing a large proportion of English tea with the foreign.
“And there is the kiln to dry it in,” suggested Aaron. “The frying-pan full can be dried in no time; and I will look to the shaking the pan, if my father does not like that you should have anything to do with the kiln.”
“And if we find it really good tea, I may perhaps mix some for sale, and get enough profit to find us in tea. I am sure that would please my father; and my mother might drink as much as she likes.”
Anna lost no time in spreading her shawl on the ground, and plucking leaves from the lower boughs, while her brother climbed somewhat higher, and chose the most juicy sprouts from the youngest shoots. They agreed that some good might arise out of the extravagantly high prices which prevailed in England. In Jersey, where they paid for tea only one-third what was charged in London, they should never have thought of making use of the leaves of the thorn; and they supposed that, as they had been made inventive in this one particular, the people of England might be generally ingenious in a similar manner.
Several persons passed through the field before the green heap on the shawl had grown very large. A woman with a basket on her arm and a little boy at her heels looked back again and again, all the way to the stile, and then had to return to fetch away her child, who stood staring, as if longing to help.
“You have a basket, I see,” said Anna, smiling. “If you like to carry away any leaves, pray help yourself.”
“What may they be for?”
“To mix with tea. Tea is so very dear now! I suppose you drink tea?”
“O, yes, ma’am, we take tea,” said the woman: but, instead of filling her basket, she shook a handful of leaves from her child’s grasp, and, disregarding his roaring, took him up on one arm, and her basket on the other, and carried him till he was fairly past the stile.
Presently came two men, bustling along, as if it had been the coldest day in January. They halted, however, near the bush.
“I say,” cried one of them, after a whisper from his companion; “what are ye arter there?”
From out of the bush, Aaron made the same answer that his sister had before given.
“Smash me! if that baint a good ’un!” cried he, looking at his companion; and all the way as they proceeded, they were evidently talking of what they had seen.
Next approached a stooping old labourer, in a smock-frock, and with a scythe over his shoulder. He walked painfully, and stopped near the thorn to wipe his brows.
He kindly warned the young people to take care what they were about. He considered them very bold to do what they were doing by broad daylight, in a field which was a thoroughfare.
“We have just done,” replied Anna, colouring. “We are going away directly.” And she drew close to Aaron, to call him away, and tell him her fears that the owner of the thornbush would not like their gathering the leaves, if he knew of it. They had better go somewhere else for as many more as they wanted. As they tied up the shawl by the corners, and sauntered away, the old labourer shook his head at them several times; but was silent as an unquestioned oracle. There was no disturbance of the kind when they had transferred their exertions to a more private inclosure; and they obtained as large a supply as the shawl could possibly hold before they stopped to rest.
“Now, let us sit down, and I will tell you something,” said Anna.—Aaron stretched himself out at length on the grass, using his bundle for a pillow.
“You must not go to sleep,” continued Anna. “I have been to Mrs. Durell this morning,—(what an odd thing that she did not put me in mind of this way of getting tea, when I was conplaining of the price!)—and there I saw somebody else, besides Mrs. Durell and her husband. I saw Stephen.”
“Stephen!” cried Aaron, starting up, now in no danger of going to sleep. “You silly girl, why did not you tell me that before?”
“Because I was afraid you would go and be in a passion with Mr. Durell,—as I am afraid you will be when I have told you all he said,—though, I’m sure, I am very willing to excuse him. But, Aaron,—do sit down, Aaron. It will do just as well when we get home again.”
As if a man who had escaped once could not escape again! Aaron said. If Stephen was above ground, he would get hold of him,—not only because he had betrayed hospitality, and stolen the linen, but because he had told lies about the ways of going on in England,—with all his talk of nobody paying taxes in England, or merely such a trifle that they never found it out.
“But indeed he will not get away,” declared Anna. “Mr. Durell said he should keep him, and was so angry with me for being sure that it was our Stephen, that I quite expect Stephen will stay and brave it out. We will go together, and try what we can do to get back the linen, if—O, Aaron! if you will but try to keep your temper. But, indeed, Aaron, I had rather lose all the clothes I have left,—everything I have in the world,—than see you lose your temper as you do sometimes.”
“What is it to you?” asked Aaron.
“You have asked me that very often before, and I have always told you—”
“Yes; I know—I know. But I am not half so likely to be surly even to Stephen as to—I tell you, Anna, you have no idea what it is to be under my father, every hour of the day.”
“Have not I? I think I have; for, though I do not want more freedom myself, I know what it must be to you to want it. It makes me turn sometimes hot and sometimes cold when I hear him answer for you to strangers, as if you were a child, or settling all your little matters at home, without so much as ever looking in your face to see how you like what he is doing.”
“Really! Do you always see that? If I had known that—”
“You might have known it. You did know it; for I have told you so a hundred times.”
“But one can never be sure of it at the moment; and you always keep your head down so, when my father and I have any words.”
“Because I am always thinking what a pity it is that neither of you is ready with a soft answer; and I must say, you ought to be the readiest, from your being the son. But is it really true that you are going to leave my father?”
“Who said such a thing?”
“Mr. Studley told my father so, before several of the men, and they must have seen that he did not know it before.”
“My father must have put him into a passion, or he would not have let it out till next week. How much more did he tell you?”
“Nothing; but you must let me know all now; and my father as soon as we go home.”
“There is no reason for its being a secret, further than that the plans are not all settled yet. Studley happened to know of a glass-bottle work, where they will be glad to take in an active young partner, with the prospect of his joining the stone-bottle making with it, by and bye. Now, you need not look so shocked, as if anybody was thinking of making away with my father. The thing is this;—that Studley is sure my father will soon be tired of carrying on his pottery business by himself, and will be off for Jersey again; and then the business will come to me: and no two businesses can be more fit to go on together than the black-glass and the stone-ware. Studley says I shall be one of the first men in London, some day.”
“But where is it? Who taught you to make glass? What can you know about it?” asked the alarmed sister.
“If I told you I was going to break stones for the roads, I believe you would ask who had taught me. Why, it is not so difficult to make bottle-glass as our fish-soup. Put river sand and soapers’ waste into the furnace, and there you have it;—or, if you like it better, common sand and lime, with a little clay or sea salt. What can be easier than that? And where is the risk, with materials that you may pick up from under your feet almost wherever you go?”
“If that were all;—but there are so many things besides the making and selling that have to be attended to in this country!”
“Why, that is true; or I fancy we should see twice as much glass in people’s houses as we do. Everybody thinks glass beautiful, and everybody who has tried it finds it convenient; and yet, I hear, though there are nearly twice as many people to use it, and twice as much money to buy it with, there is less glass used in this country than there was fifty years ago.”
“Then I am sure I would have nothing to do with it.”
“I would not, unless I saw the reason, and was pretty sure that the state of things would change. ’Tis this meddling of the excise that plagues the glass-makers, and makes them charge the article high,—far higher in proportion than we have to charge our stone bottles.”
“That is what I meant when you laughed at me for being afraid. I did not doubt that you might melt sand and the other stuff properly; but I thought you might not understand all about the taxes.”
“Why not as well as another man? to say nothing of a particular good reason I shall have for knowing. O, I shall only have to give notice of drawing out bottles; taking care that the notice is given between six in the morning and eight in the evening; and that the pots are charged with fresh materials while the officers are by; and that the material is worked within sixteen hours after the time mentioned; and that I put down the right number of bottles when I write the declaration, for fear of being taken in for a fine of 100l.; and—”
“Why, this is worse than what my father has to attend to!”
“But not so bad as if I were going to make other kinds of glass besides the common black article. There are thirty-two clauses in the Act that the glass-makers have to work by; and several of them will not concern me.”
“I should think that is very lucky; for, you see, you don’t always remember to give notice, when you are sent on purpose.”
“I declare I did not forget it. I had something else to do first, that was all; and my father was in one of his hurries. However, if any mischief comes of it, I will bear the blame and the cost; and no man can do more.”
“I doubt that: I mean that you might be careful not to ruffle another mind as well as your own. I am sure, Aaron, if you were standing on our poquelaye, as you used to do, and could with a breath bring up or blow away thunder-clouds that were ready to blacken the old castle, and set the seafowl screaming, and throw a gloom over the wide sea and the green land, it would be your pleasure to keep all bright, and send the ugly shade down the sky; and yet, if my father and you find each other ever so calm—”
“What does it signify? The blackest clouds are soon gone, one way or another.”
“But it is not with our minds and our passions as it is with the sky and the sea. It is God’s pleasure that when the sky is cleared, the face of the earth should be brighter than ever: but when a quarrel has overshadowed kindness, the brightest of the sunshine is gone for ever.”
Aaron found it convenient to look up into the actual sky for something to say; and he declared that it was well he did, for some such clouds as his sister had described were making their appearance above the tree-tops which were beginning to rustle in the rising wind. They lost no time in returning, resolving neither to look for more streams, nor to turn aside to call at the Durells’.—Before they reached home, the streets were as plashy as any lane in Jersey, (which is saying a great deal,) and the wind roared among the houses like the fiercest furnace which was to be under Aaron’s charge. The wet was dripping from all the corners of the bundle they carried; and Aaron undertook to spread out its contents in the manufactory to dry, while his sister hastened into the house.