A Walk from London to John O'Groat's eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 348 pages of information about A Walk from London to John O'Groat's.
necessities of seven days.  I doubt if one in a thousand of the farm laborers of Great Britain lays out more than the sum we have allotted for one week’s food, rent, and fuel and clothes.  We then reach this result of the balance-sheet of the two men.  Their weekly savings hardly differ by a penny; each amounting to about 5d., or 10 cents.  At first sight, it might seem, from this result, that the English farm laborer earns half as much, lives half as well, and saves as much as the American.  But he has a resource for increasing his weekly savings which his American competitor would work his fingers to the bone before he would employ.  His wife is able and willing to go with him into the field and earn from three to five shillings a week.  Then, if he commutes with his employer, he will receive from him 4d. daily, or 2s. a week, for beer-money.  Thus, if he and his wife are willing to live, as such families do now, on bread, bacon and cheese, and such vegetables as they can grow in their garden, they may lay up, from their joint earnings, a dollar, or four shillings a week, provided a sufficiently stimulating object be set before them.  To me it is surprising that they sustain so much human life on such small means.  They are often reproached for their want of wise economy; but never was more keen ingenuity, more close balancing of pennies against provisions than a great many of them practice and teach.  Let the most astute or utilitarian of social economists try the experiment of housing, feeding and clothing himself, wife and six children too young to earn anything, on ten or twelve shillings a week; and he will learn something that his philosophy never dreamed of.

Even while bending under the weight of the beer-barrel, thousands of agricultural laborers in England have accomplished wonders by their indefatigable industry, integrity and economy.  Put a future before them with a sun in it—­some object they may reach that is worth a life’s effort, and as large a proportion of them will work for it as you will find in any other country.  A servant girl told me recently that her father was a Devonshire laborer, who worked the best years of his life for seven shillings a week, and her mother for three, when they had half a dozen children to feed and clothe.  Yet, by that unflagging industry and ingenious economy with which thousands wrestle with the necessities of such a life and throw them, too, they put saving to saving, until they were able to rent an acre of orcharding, a large garden for vegetables, then buy a donkey and cart, then a pony and cart, and load and drive them both to market with their own and their neighbors’ produce, starting from home at two in the morning.  In a few years they were able to open a little grocery and provision shop, and are now taking their rank among the tradespeople of the village.  But if the farm servants of England could only be induced to give up beer and lay by the money paid them as a substitute,

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A Walk from London to John O'Groat's from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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