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232. e. 149.



Most of the matter contained in these chapters appeared last

year occasionally in the leading articles of a weekly newspaper

having circulation among the labouring classes. It has been

revised, added to, altered and published in its present form in

the hope that it may tend in some degree to improve the con

dition of the agricultural labourers; to show them that much

of such wished-for improvement must be brought about by

their own efforts ; and to incite all classes, landlords, tenants,

and labourers, to co-operate for their mutual interest and




IN 'N March of the year 1869 a most influential meeting was

held at the Society of Arts, to consider what could be done to improve the condition of agricultural labourers, and especially whether it was advisable to form a society for that purpose. After a deal of discussion and argument pro and con., in which Lord Lichfield, Lord Ducie, Mr. Read, Mr. Bailey Denton, and Canon Girdlestone took an active part, it was decided most wisely and judiciously that a society should not be formed. Another society was not at all wanted : societies swarm—their name is legion. Societies, as a rule, effect practically a minimum of good at a maximum of expense; and to a great extentmuch greater extent than is allowed or supposed—they prevent and thwart individual operation. People say or think, “There is a grand benevolent society for the protection and sustentation of decayed donkeys; therefore we need not trouble ourselves individually as to decrepid jackasses—the Philomokical Society will look after all these in their declining days.” Men give their guineas to the society for the maintenance of washed-out washerwomen, and wash their hands of them for ever after. No individual washerwoman can, after this annual guinea composition, have any claim upon their sympathies or pockets. They have done their duty in this respect at all events. So, if employers of labour and landlords generally saw that a grandlysounding society, supported by lords and the magnates of the

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