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I hope I may say, harsh or inconsiderate with regard to the ancient privilege and important hopes of the poor, at this season. Gleaners, although they have not actual law to authorise their practice, have immemorial usage on their side, in this country, as in most others; and we know that, under the Jewish dispensation, they had a statute right, which the owner of the field dared not infringe. It is evident, however, that, as persons are not always to be trusted within arm's length of the rights of others, the farmer is obliged to take care that the labourers, in the first place, do not purposely drop and leave a great deal of corn; and to see, in the next place, that their wives and children do not steal up to the sheaves and help themselves at leisure. A family has been known, by mere gleaning, to gather up a quarter of corn, that is, eight threshed and

HARVEST HOME.

141

mers of

dressed bushels, in a season- worth, we may say, three pounds or guineas.

The times are so far altered now, that there is much less of the free merry-hearted hospitality, for which England was long famous, than there used to be: but, I think, as much remains amongst the farming classes, notwithstanding their distresses, as elsewhere. The harvest dinner, refused, I believe, by few far

any

consideration, to their labourers, when the crops are fairly in, still reminds us of the “olden time.” The kitchen of our memorable mansion, being of ample size, accommodates our thirty or forty guests with “elbowroom a plenty.” Boards laid on trestles, and covered with cloths of texture rough, but wholesome white, having been arranged by the accustomed hands, boughs are brought in to garnish the walls and windows, for the long-wish

ed for “ Harvest Home.” On this occasion, it is customary to invite those old servants of the farm, of good character, who reside in the neighbourhood; and many a sunken eye glistens beneath the silvery locks, at the sight of those approved materials of enjoyment-roast beef, plum-pudding, and ale. It has always been the custom at Peak Hall for the master to sit down at this table with the men. Philip and I cannot see any benefit to the better feelings of the heart in that modern refinement, which thrusts the peasant at such times to feed in a lower place, without the welcome which the master's presence seems to give. We do not, indeed, tax ourselves to remain during the latter period of the entertainment, when beer gets above brains sometimes, and the company think little of an empty chair. We, however, generally manage to leave all in

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