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ing to their daily farm duties, clad airily in a single garment of calico.
The most incomprehensible part of the business is, that the Devon authorities, who have effected a partial reform, are not strong enough entirely to wipe the disgrace from their county. If the horrors proved, and the dreadful suspicions whispered, came to civilised ears concerning some benighted tribe at the Gaboon or Tierra del Fuego, every community of Christians, with missionary power at its disposal, would be roused to immediate action, and the whole religious world thrown into a state of commotion, until the happy day when it was announced that the barbarians had been brought to acknowledge the iniquity of their ways, and had given substantial security against longer continuance in them. But Nymet Rowland is not in a savage land. It is in the heart of fruitful Devon. You may take a railway ticket at Waterloo Station at noon, and arrive at Nymet Rowland in time to see grandmamma savage slinging the iron pot over the fire-hole to brew tea for the evening meal.
Whoever sets about the task of converting the savages of North Devon should, however, be thoroughly apprised of the attending difficulties. He should be a man accustomed to barbarians in grain, to their manners and customs—a Moffat, a Livingston, or a Williams. Savagery is in the blood of the Cheritons. It is a fact that a brother of the present old Christopher Cheriton, Elias by name, was even more strongly tainted than the latter with the family malady; but by some merciful dispensation of Providence, he lived and died a bachelor. Elias Cheriton resided at Whitsone, which is not very many miles from Nymet Rowland. Like Christopher, Elias was a freeholder of land to some extent; but unlike him, he had not a house or a hut to live in. He lived in a cask, with a few rags and some straw, just like a make-shift mastiff-kennel. The cask was placed under a hedge that skirted one of his own broad meadows; and it was his serious declaration that there was nothing on earth so handy as a tub to live in, because one could shift it about according to the quarter from which the wind blew.
Elias, however, though he neglected his land, was famous for rearing poultry—making caves and breedingplaces for them in the earth all round about the spot where his gipsy kettle was slung, and where he sometimes cooked the meat he ate; and when he died, which is no more than two years back, he was able to leave to his dear brother Christopher between three and four hundred pounds. Of the five-and-thirty or forty acres owned by the Cheriton savages, not a fifth part is under cultivation; it being their practice to grow no more than suffices for their personal consumption, and that only in the way of potatoes and cabbages, and a little wheat which they dry and grind for themselves. They breed a few sheep-a mere dozen or so. They hire no labourers, the whole family engaging in the necessary field-work; the females helping at the plough, assisted by one old horse and a bull.
The animal I have just mentioned was out of work when I saw him, and taking his ease in a field; but, as though determined that all their belongings should be in keeping with their savage selves—the horned brute has the reputation of being the most vicious and dangerous bull in the county. The only way of getting him to work yoked with the old horse is to envelop his head and shoulders in a sack; and even then he needs to be pretty sharply watched, lest in his blind malice he should wickedly prod his equine comrade through his sackcloth hood. They are proud of their bull, those wild Devonians. He has never slept under cover summer or winter since his calfhood, one of the damsels informed me; and she showed me out in the open the tree to which the creature was tethered at nights, all withered and barren in consequence of the bull's fierce assaults on its bark, which was gored and torn all away. “They'll be home with him presently,” said old grandmother savage, who sat rocking the awful baby, that was squeaking like a snared rabbit. “Who will be home with him?" I asked. “My old man and Willie,” she replied.
Willie was the young fellow who had nearly smashed the unoffending farmer; so, inwardly thanking her for the timely hint, I bade the interesting family good morning, made for the five-barred gate that grew out of the black mud, and sought the sweet highway.
BONNETS IN LIMBO.
IN a recent conversation with the Rev. George Hough, chaplain at the Westminster House of Correction, he took occasion to remark, in terms emphatic and forcible, on the growing evil arising out of the unwholesome craving after “finery” indulged by the humbler of the ornamental sex. It would appear that the pernicious maxim, “One may as well be out of the world as out of the fashion,” is taken so earnestly to heart by hundreds of maid-servants and workers in factories and City warehouses, that they act up to it literally, and stake honesty, honour, and liberty on the chance of winning and wearing a style of attire, as unfitted to their station, as was the plumage of the peacock with which the vain and ambitious jay in the fable attempted to adorn itself.
The Rev. George Hough is a gentleman whose voice, on a matter of such importance, should command respectful attention, since there are few in England who, on account of experience, position, and shrewd sense, could be better entitled to speak. Mr Hough is chaplain in one of our largest prisons—a prison that is occupied solely by women and he has held that position for a number of years. It is part of his duty to see, and converse with, every prisoner on her admittance, with a view to gaining a knowledge of her antecedents, and to ascertain if her disposition may warrant his intercession to reclaim her from ways of sin, and
to place her, on discharge, in some home or reformatory. At present there are shut up, in the twenty-one blocks of grim brickwork and iron grating that the walls of the Westminster House of Correction enclose, over eight hundred female prisoners; and since the term for which they may be committed is as little as three days, it may be easily understood that the inflow and outflow must be tolerably constant.
On the day when I visited the prison there were forty “new” cases; and there they were, looking the very perfection of penitent thieves, in their sable serge gowns and their plain white calico caps tied under the chin, all in a row in a lobby outside the chaplain's office, in the custody of two female warders with clanking keys at their waists. The majority of the new comers were young-twenty or twenty-five. It was not easy to realise that they were gaol-birds but newly trapped ; that only yesterday or the day before, many of them were gailybedizened creatures, with freedom to flutter about wherever they chose — light-hearted roysterers, on whose giddy heads was built a fashionable pyramid of horsehair and padding, on which to perch the modern monstrosity humorously called a bonnet. There are no chignons here—no crimping, waiving, and plaiting. I am not sure, but I was led to infer from the awfully plain manner in which the hair under every calico cap. was worn, that not so much as a hair-pin is permitted. Straight and flat on the temples, with a crisp knot behind, is the stern fashion for female coiffure at Westminster. Truly it has always seemed to me one of the most faulty features of the criminal law, that only those who feel it can form any idea what is the weight of the law's chastising hand, and what a terrible purge for pride and vanity awaits those that ride in the black