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envy our forefathers the “nut-brown-ale," of which our ancient ballads tell.
I suppose I scarcely need say, that this is a winding, climbing plant, rising from a root that continues many years in the ground, although the plant itself perishes at the close of every season.
A hop-plantation requires several summers' growth, before it is in good order for produce. The plants begin to appear about the month of April. When they are a few inches above ground, poles, about twenty feet high, are driven in for them to twist themselves upon.
The season for the hop harvest is about the middle of September; and a busy, bustling time it is in the great hop countries. Men, women, and children now find plenty to do for some weeks. The method is this : long and large boxes, or baskets, are prepared. The plants are cut off close to the earth, and the poles, being pulled out, are laid across those baskets with the bines
upon them; the hops are then picked off. The next process is collecting and drying them in a kiln ; after which, they are housed for some days in the stowage rooms; and, at last, forced into bags by the foot and leaden weights. The persons who perform this operation are called packers.
The best hops are put into finer bags, which are called pockets; the inferior sort only are called bags. When the picking is accomplished, the bines, or stalks, are cleared from the poles, which are stacked, or piled together, for future occasions. The halm, or straw, of the plant supplies much fuel, and is sometimes burnt on the soil for manure.
Hops are a very uncertain crop, and therefore a most anxious speculation to the growers.
A heavy duty is laid upon them ; consequently the excise-officers watch the whole process, lest frauds on the revenue should be committed. Of the woody part of the stalk, after it has been soaked in water, a coarse kind of paper may be made.
This brings us to notice plants, which are especially cultivated as materials for manufacture; I mean HEMP, Flax, and TEASELS.