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good-humour with us at last, and then the best object of the day is accomplished.
There is rather more made of the harvest home towards Suffolk and Norfolk, than elsewhere, I believe. A custom prevails there, and in some parts of Essex, amongst the men, of assembling for what is called "a halloo largess." When there is company at the house is the time usually fixed upon for this, for an obvious reason. It seems a remnant, or shred, of some ancient custom; but so small a fragment, that we can scarcely guess at the original practice. At present, a number of the men stand together in a ring; and, bending their heads down, form a sort of bell-shaped appearance. They then utter in each other's note a deep lengthened sound, which has a still nearer resemblance to that of a huge church-bell than their figures bear to the
shape. There is all the trembling undulation of that brazen groaner, as long as they continue. Suddenly, however, each throws his head back, and roars out "Largess!" with all the power of his lungs. I have heard this distinctly, in a still evening, at the distance of four or five miles. For this musical entertainment, such as it is, a gratuity is expected; and it is commonly solicited by one of the rustic performers, who enters the parlour, cap in hand, and presents it round for the expected fee.
We do not put off harvest home, till all the crops are gathered in, such as beans and certain seeding plants, which often remain several weeks longer. Beans are reaped with an instrument made on purpose, called a bean-hook. In some places they are tied in bundles with rope-yarn, and set in traves like wheat; in
others, the sheaves are tied together at the top with straw, and, the ends spreading out in a conical form, they stand firmly until the bean is sufficiently dry and hard to thresh out well.
After harvest, the farmer should go to the great cattle fairs, which then are held, and purchase stock to turn into his stubble and other fields. Clover is frequently sown over wheat, when it is up, so as to form a feed for beasts amongst the stubble, after the corn has been cut. But when this is not done, there is a considerable quantity of corn dropped from the ears, which the industrious habits of pigs and poultry enable them to find, much to their owner's profit.
THRESHING AND DRESSING CORN.
I PASS on now to the business which forms, generally, part of the winter employment of the prosperous farmer, but which immediately follows harvest with the needy and embarrassed class. The process of separating the grain from the ear has been performed in various ways, in different times and countries. The eastern nations placed their corn in the circular track-way of their cattle, who were driven over it, round and round a post. This practice is adverted to in St. Paul's quotation from the Jewish law: "Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox which treadeth out the corn." In Europe, threshing is the common mode: a tedious one it seems, but, neverthe
less, as good perhaps, all things considered, as any other method that has been adopted.
The flail is a smooth, hard, and heavy club of wood, largest at its further end, and about a yard long, fastened by a leathern thong to a handle somewhat longer. The joint is so contrived by means of a part that turns round, that the flail may have a sort of circular motion, as it is wielded by the thresher. Before he begins, he sweeps the barn-floor, and carefully mends and stops any holes that he may see. He then takes sheaves from the bays, or elsewhere, and, untying them, spreads them regularly on each side with the ears towards the middle of the floor. When thus adjusted, he begins or they-for sometimes three or four are employed at once-to beat the ears with the flail, at every stroke of which the grain flies out of the husk.