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.

My Woodhurst friend makes his allotment system a source of much social enjoyment to himself and the poor villagers.  He lets forty-seven patches, each containing twenty poles.  Every tenant pays 10s., or $2 40c., annual rent for his little holding, Mr. E. drawing the manure for each, which is always one good load a year.  Here, too, these little spade-farmers are put under the same regime as the great tenant agriculturists of the country.  Each must farm his allotment according to the terms of the yearly lease.  He must dig up his land with spade or pick, not plough it; and he is not allowed to work on it upon the Sabbath.  But encouragements greatly predominate over restrictions, and stimulate and reward a high cultivation. Eight prizes are offered to this end, of the following amounts:—­10s., 7s. 6d., 5s., 4s., 3s., 2s. 6d., 2s. and 1s.  Every one who competes must not have more than half his allotment in potatoes.  The greater the variety of vegetables the other half contains, the better is his chance for the first prize.  The appraiser is some disinterested person of good judgment, perhaps from an adjoining town, who knows none of the competitors.  To prevent any possible favoritism, the allotments are all numbered, and he awards prizes to numbers only, not knowing to whom they belong.  Another feature, illustrating the generous disposition of the proprietor, characterises this good work.  On the evening appointed for paying the rents, he gets up a regular, old-fashioned English supper of roast beef and plum-pudding for them, giving each fourpence instead of beer, so that they may all go home sober as well as cheerful.  To see him preside at that table, with his large, round, rosy face beaming upon them with the quiet benevolence of a good heart, and to hear the fatherly and neighborly talks he makes to them, would be a picture and preaching which might be commended to the farmers of all countries.

I saw also a curious phenomenon in the natural world on this farm, which perhaps will be regarded as a fiction of fancy by many a reader.  It was a large field of barley grown from oats!  We have recently dwelt upon some of the co-workings of Nature and Art in the development of flowers and of several useful plants.  But here is something stranger still, that seems to diverge from the line of any law hitherto known in the vegetable world.  Still, for aught one can know at this stage of its action, it may be the same general law of development which we have noticed, only carried forward to a more advanced point of progress.  I would commend it to the deep and serious study of naturalists, botanists, or to those philosophers who should preside over the department of investigation to which the subject legitimately belongs.  I will only say what I saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears.  Here, I repeat, was a large field of heavy grain, ready for harvest.  The head and berry were barley,

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