Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chapter VIII.: FAMILY SECRETS. - 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 VIII.: FAMILY SECRETS. - 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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Mr. Arruther’s evil bodings had had some effect in depressing Owen’s spirits before he opened the following letter from his mother, which he found on the table of his little apartment when he reached his lodgings. Nurse’s share of the correspondence with her son usually consisted of cheerful and loving messages, sent by some friendly mediator who might be likely to see Owen, or was about to drop him a line on business. She had never before sent a letter, but once; and that was when the clergyman had stopped her in the churchyard, not only to ask after all her children, but to praise them according to their respective deserts. On that occasion, nurse had gone straight to the schoolmaster, and asked him to give her a seat beside his desk, while she told him what she wished to express to Owen. Then, how had her maternal modesty raised the blush on her cheek while she made the effort to repeat the clergyman’s words! and how, while she looked round on the blazing fire, the superior lamp, the sanded floor, and neat shelf of books, did she assure herself that her old narrow cottage, with its brick floor, was just as happy a place to so favoured a mother as herself! She now wrote under different circumstances, as her letter will show.
“My dear Son,
“This letter does not come out of the schoolroom you know so well, as the last did; though your old teacher is so good as to be still the writer. I have asked him to come home with me, though mine is but a poor place compared with his. One reason is, that I did not wish anybody to overhear what I am going to tell you; and there is no fear of being overheard at home, as I am mostly alone of an evening. And now I feel the disadvantage of not being able to write myself,—that I am obliged to get another to write what I have to say against my own children. Yet not against them, neither: for that seems a hard word to say: but I mean I should have been loth anybody should know that we are not altogether so happy as we once were, if I could have let you know it in any other way than this. The short of the matter is, Owen, that Ambrose is in such a way that I cannot tell what to say to him next. He and Mr. Waugh have been quarrelling sadly. It is not for me to say which is right; and, to be sure, many of Mr. Waugh’s other workpeople have been doing the same thing: but all I know is that there were no such troubles before Ambrose joined the Lodge, as they call it; and Mr. Waugh gives the same wages as before, and living is cheaper. I can only say now that Ambrose is tramping about, here and there, when work is over, and at times when he used to be at home; and that he is grown fond of show; attending a brother’s funeral, as he called it, yesterday, and thinking more of the blue ribbons and the procession, I am afraid, than that a fellow-mortal was gone to his account. Indeed, he said in the middle of it that there is nothing like ceremony after all; which is not just what the Lord would have us think when he calls a brother away. I lay it all to the newspaper that Mr. Ryan brought; and the more that Mr. Ryan was taken up for selling it, and is now in prison on that account. I little thought that a child of mine would ever have to do with what was unlawful; and I never would have looked at the pictures in this paper if I had guessed what the justices would think: but Ambrose was pleased with what Ryan did when he was taken up; though folks suppose he will not be let out the sooner for it. He made a great flourish in the street, and cried out, ‘Englishmen, will you suffer this?’ It made my heart turn within me to think that one that I have known as an honest man for so many years should carry his grey hairs into a prison; and I never would have believed that Ryan would do any thing wrong. Ambrose says he has not, and is getting up a rejoicing against he comes out of prison: but the justices say he has; and so what is one to think? But I wish your brother would be persuaded to give up thinking of making a triumph against the justices, when Ryan comes out. I tell him that it is no triumph, after all, considering that Ryan will then have been in prison all the time that it was thought fit he should be there. But the time is past when anything is minded that I say; though I ought not to complain, and do not; being aware, as I always was, that I say little that is worth minding. Yet I never had to say this of you; and I am much mistaken if Ambrose be wiser than you. You will be asking whether I comfort myself with Mildred. My dear, I can only say now that Mildred is no comfort to me; and if you ask me why, I can no more tell you what has come over her than if I lived at L—. Sometimes I think, God help me! that the poor girl hates me,—for never a word does she speak to me now, when she can manage to hold her tongue; and, as sure as ever any neighbour goes out and leaves us together, she is off like a shot, and I see no more of her till some third person is here again, even if that does not happen till morning. I should be truly thankful if any one would find out the reason of such a change, for it is more than I can well bear, if it is not a sin to say so. I try to comfort myself, my dear boy, with thinking of you who are nothing but a blessing to me. I try to be thankful, as in duty bound: but it so happens, while you are so far away, and the others just before my eyes, or expected home every moment and not coming, I cannot be comforted as it is my duty to be. It is another trouble to find the neighbours not what they were to me. Farmer Mason would not let me go and nurse his wife yesterday, ill as she is, and with nobody to watch her properly of a night. He said his cattle had pined of late, and he had lost all his fowls; looking at me, just as if I could have helped his losses, when there is nobody more sorry than I am that such mishaps should have followed the fire that well nigh ruined him, so long ago. And so it seems with others who do not look friendly upon me as they did. Everything appears to be going wrong with everybody; and we do not seem able to comfort one another as we used to do. This is a sad saying to end with; so I just add that Kate Jeffery is the same good girl, whatever changes come over others; and I depend on her going on in her own right way. You will be glad to hear this; and I hope you will not make yourself too uneasy about the rest: but I could not help opening my mind to you, having always done so before, and never with so much occasion. And now I shall wish to know if you have anything to say upon this. He that holds the pen promises to read me whatever you may write, very exactly, and to keep all a secret, we so desiring. So no more now, except that Mrs. Dowley has got another boy, and poor widow Wilks’s eldest has had the measles very bad, but is now better,” &c. &c.
Owen had not the least doubt of his old teacher’s accuracy in reading the letter now requested, or of his discretion about its contents; but Owen had no intention of committing to paper what he had to say. He must go down to Arneside, without delay, and see whether anything could be done to make the people there happier than they seemed to be at present. He obtained leave to go down, the next afternoon; and, in the meantime, got no sleep for thinking of his mother’s sorrows, and of the hours that must pass before he could do anything to relieve them.