THE great degree of luxury to which this country has arrived, within a few years, is not only aſtoniſhing but almoſt dreadful to think of. Time was, when thoſe articles of indulgence, which now every mechanic aims at the poſſeſſion of, were enjoyed only by the Lord or Baron of a diſtrict. Men were then happy to be the vaſſals or dependants of that Lord, and prided themſelves in little but their ſubmiſſion and allegiance. This was the ſtate of things during feudal government: but as, on the increaſe of trade, riches increaſed; men began to feel new wants, they became gradually leſs hardy and robuſt, grew effeminate as their property accumulated, and ſighed for indulgences they never dreamed of before.—Methods of conveying theſe indulgencies [Page 4] from one part of the kingdom to another were then ſtudied; roads were made paſſable, and carriages invented.
For many ages coaches were ſo great a luxury, that none but old families were ſeen in them; and if they attempted, once in a dozen years, to travel a few miles in one, perhaps, in the courſe of the journey, a whole village with their teams were called in aid, to drag the heavy vehicle out of the clay, and ſet it on its wheels again:— riding on horſeback being the only means of viſiting a neighbour, beyond the reach of a walk, and that only in the ſummer-time. And it is but a very few years ſince, that ladies went about, from place to place, upon a pillion. Made roads were then unknown, and ſo little deſire had the people to ſtir, beyond the bounds of their pariſh, that even mending them was never thought of.
On the eſtabliſhment of poſts, a general communication was opened between all parts of the kingdom, and people received intelligence of every little improvement that was made: a deſire to inſpect thoſe improvements, gave men an excentric turn; they were eager to ſee what was doing at ſome [Page 5] diſtance from home, and rambled wide for that purpoſe. The inconvenience, and indeed impoſſibility of travelling, but at certain ſeaſons of the year, led the way to the making of roads; making of roads drew thouſands abroad, and a wiſh to be thought opulent by thoſe whom they viſited, led them into luxury of dreſs. The homeſpun garb then gave way to more coſtly attire, and reſpectable plainneſs was ſoon transformed into laughable frippery.
In a few years, refinements took place in manners, and well had it been, were they merely refinements; but the misfortune is, they ſoon ſpread into extravagancies, and from being commendable, became objects of cenſure. In the reign of Charles I. luxuries were every where ſeen, and though the Civil Wars for ſome time ſmothered them, they broke out afreſh in the reign of Charles II. Wealth then poured in upon the nation; gentlemen vied with each in the appearance they made; many by theſe means were ruined, eſtates changed their poſſeſſors, a fluctuation of property began, and every ſucceeding year gave birth to freſh wants and new expences. Luxury however had not then gained its preſent [Page 6] footing: it is true, the profligacy of the capital made ſome inroads upon the country, but the inhabitants of the country looked on it with dread and aſtoniſhment. Some of the nobility and principal gentry, at this time, ſpent part of their winter in London, but the reſt of the year they lived amongſt their tenants with their uſual hoſpitality. The expences of this age were confined to the education of their children, to their houſes, their buildings, their furniture, their attendants and their entertainments; and their tenants and neighbours were conſiderably the better for it: the more they circulated their property within their own eſtates, the richer their eſtates became, and the more powerful and reſpectable they grew. Effeminacy of manners was then ſeen only in cities; balls and aſſemblies were ſcarcely known, and equipages far from being general.
Matters however reſted not here. Things gazed at with aſtoniſhment quickly grew familiar: the infection of the firſt claſs ſoon ſpread among the ſecond, and what they formerly cenſured, they preſently approved. Gentlemen of ſmall eſtates began annually to viſit the capital; they gradually made their viſits [Page 7] longer and longer, till, at laſt, it became the faſhion to reſide only in the country, when the heat made it intolerable in town. Stagecoaches were eſtabliſhed, the communication between London and the country became more and more open, a taſte for elegancies ſpread itſelf through all ranks and degrees of men, and an equipage was conſidered as a neceſſary of life.
What is the caſe now? Are things otherwiſe than they were? No; expences are yet increaſing, and we are ſtill refining upon luxuries. The ſeveral cities and large towns of this iſland catch the manners of the metropolis, and are vicious and extravagant, in proportion to the wealth and number of their inhabitants. Scarce a town now, of any magnitude, but has its Theatre Royal, its concerts, its balls, and its card-parties. The notions of ſplendour and amuſement that prevail in the Capital are eagerly adopted; the various changes of the faſhion exactly copied, and the whole manner of life ſtudiouſly imitated. Flys and machines paſs from city to city; great towns become the winter reſidence of thoſe whom ſlenderneſs of fortune will not carry to London, and the country is every where deſerted.
[Page 8] If I might preſume to dictate to the world, I would venture to ſay, that a man of landed property is never ſo reſpectable as when refident on his eſtate; when improving his lands and enriching his tenants; when his beneficence may be read in the looks of the poor; when his houſe is open, not with the ſtiffneſs of a public day, that tells the neighbourhood he would not be perplexed at another time, but with all the hoſpitality of an ancient Baron.
Gentlemen of very extenſive property may act as they pleaſe; the diſſipation and expences of a capital can no other ways injure them than in the opinion of their neighbours; but as to men of ſmall fortune, the leſs they ſee of London the better. Look round among the families we know, and we can eaſily trace the infection of the metropolis; the more they pay their viſits there, and the longer they continue, the more viſible are their follies, and not only their follies, but their failings and their vices. The honeſt frankneſs of the country gentleman is obliterated by the equivocal politeneſs of the courtier, and the open ſincerity of the good neighbour loſt in the artifice and deceit of the man of faſhion.
[Page 9] For many years a country ſquire has been an object of ridicule: but, why? No other reaſon can be given, but that want of poliſh that too often characterizes the fops of the age. If we diveſt ourſelves of prejudice, he will not appear in ſo contemptible a light: it is true, he may want taſte and politeneſs, but he may poſſeſs qualities infinitely ſuperior. Honeſt unadorned freedom is preferable to ſtudied and faſhionable deceit. The country ſquire lives upon his eſtate, ſpends his patrimony among his tenants and his neighbours, (which form, as it were, but one family around him) and a ſpirit of hoſpitality opens his doors to every comer; while the fine gentleman viſits his domain, perhaps, but once in the ſummer, ſtays there as little as he can help, diſdains any familiarity with his neighbours, neglects his grounds, and leaves his tenants at the mercy of his ſteward, In ſhort, an effeminate life emaſculates the fine gentleman, and renders him unfit for any thing but ſipping of tea, and dealing the cards; whilſt the robuſt and manly exerciſes of the ſquire keep him healthy and hardy, and, inured to hunger, danger and fatigue, enable him, when [Page 10] called upon in the public cauſe, to be of real ſervice to his country.
But it is to be lamented, that the true country gentleman is ſeldom to be found. The luxuries and effeminacies of the age have ſoftened down the hardy roughneſs of former times; and the country, like the capital, is one ſcene of diſſipation. If there be any economy in their expences, it is merely the ſaving of neceſſaries, to waſte on ſuperfluities: the private gentleman with three or four hundred pounds a year muſt have his horſes, his dogs, his pictures, his carriages, his parties of pleaſure, equally with him of five times his fortune: dreſs, ſhow and entertainment engroſs his attention; his lands are unimproved; debts accumulate upon him; he mortgages his eſtate; and, when he has lived to the end of his fortune, he either puts a dreadful period to his exiſtence, or wears out the remainder of his life, a beggar.
However alarming this picture may be, it is nevertheleſs a juſt one. As I take it, the happineſs of life conſiſts in health, eaſe, and competency, which is as much within the reach of a gentleman of three hundred pounds a-year, as one of three thouſand. If the articles [Page 11] of living are dearer than they were ſome few years back, (and they certainly are, a hundred per cent.) it ought to quicken the induſtry of every one, to increaſe his income, if poſſible, or reduce his expence in proportion to his fortune.
It is not in the power of men, who have the income only of a ſmall eſtate to ſupport them, to encreaſe their revenues; but they may decreaſe their expences, or lay out their money to advantage. Frugality and economy have put many upon a footing with men of larger fortunes; and often made them far more reſpectable.—Nothing gives ſuperiority in life, but independency. Whilſt we are at the command of another, we are in a ſtate of ſubordination: it is being maſter of one's ſelf only, that makes a man free; and it is independency that makes him great.
Now, be our fortune as great as it will, we are never independent, whilſt we are in debt; and can a man be ſaid to be free, while it is in the power of his taylor or his ſhoemaker to confine him? A miſtaken notion, that a reduction in our way of living is diſgraceful, has led many a man to his ruin. Retrenching our expences, when we have lived too faſt, [Page 12] is a proof of good ſenſe; it declares an abhorrence of our follies, and a determination to be in future free. It is highly degrading to make a figure at the expence of others. Villains of every denomination have done it; an honeſt man therefore will deſpiſe the thought; and, if his connections have inſenſibly led him on, from one expence to another, till he finds himſelf involved, he will purſue the earlieſt and the readieſt means to diſcharge his debts and ſet himſelf at liberty.
Keep up appearances: there lies the teſt!The world will give thee credit for the reſt.
This idle notion has brought on the deſtruction of thouſands. In this luxurious age, wealth is the only object of admiration; and to wear the appearance of wealth, we become expenſive and extravagant in our manner of living. Thus we go on, 'till we exhauſt the little property we poſſeſs; and, when we can keep ourſelves no longer afloat, on what is called Credit, we ſink into beggary and contempt.
[Page 13] He who lives within his income, may be truly called a rich man. It is this that gives the Hollanders the reputation of being wealthy. They never live to the extent of their fortunes; and, of courſe, are able to do a deal of good. A family eſtate with them is ſeldom put up to ſale; whereas with us, inheritances are ever at market. A Dutchman contributes as largely and as chearfully to the exigencies of the ſtate, or to the erection of a public building, as he would to the repairs of his houſe, or the decoration of his garden.
To be reſpectable, it is not neceſſary to live in a certain line of life.—Every man may be conſidered as the centre of a circle; ſome of a larger, ſome of a ſmaller; and, in this light, he is of greater or of leſs importance, according to the character he bears.—He who has feweſt wants, and is moſt able to live within himſelf, is not only the happieſt, but the richeſt man; and if he does not abound in what the world calls Wealth, he does in independency.—Though he may not be a Peer of his own country, he is a Lord of the creation; may fill his ſtation equal to the firſt of men; and look down with pity and contempt [Page 14] on the tinſelled ſycophant, though covered with an ermined robe, and parading with a ducal coronet.
I will allow, it is rather mortifying to ſee a neighbour of leſs pretenſions than ourſelves, living in a degree of ſplendour which we cannot reach. If his fortune be large enough, to admit of it, it is well; if not, he is an object of contempt. But, be it as it may, whilſt we have ſufficient to command the neceſſaries and indulgencies of life, (wanting the ſuperfluities) and do abſolutely enjoy them, we are in a ſituation equal to any man; and if we keep but a pair of horſes, and pay for that pair, we are far more reſpectable, in the eyes of ſenſible people, than he who is drawn in a coach and ſix, but his gate everlaſtingly crowded with importunate creditors.
Perſons with circumſcribed fortunes, or whoſe family encreaſes upon them, would do well to retrench their expences in time; or retire from towns, and lay out their money with economy. It is wonderful to think what an appearance in life a perſon may make for a little money, who reſides wholly in the country, and makes the moſt of what he poſſeſſes. [Page 15] I ſpeak not to perſons in trade, as the ſcheme may be impracticable with them, but to gentlemen of ſmall fortune, who, in a rural retreat, with a few acres of land, may live as well on three or four hundred pounds a-year, as many do, on three times the ſum. The occupier of a middling farm enjoys all the neceſſaries and conveniencies of life, and many of its ſuperfluities. Where ſhall we meet with better health, than where temperance and exerciſe enliven our minds, invigorate our bodies, and give a conſtant flow of ſpirits? A country life is commonly a chearful one; we there meet few of thoſe rubs that embitter the hours of other men, and are the too conſtant attendants on ambition and vanity. It is there only that true happineſs and independency can be found; where honeſty and the beſt of manners mark the man; and where employment exempts from the ill effects of luxury
The following then is an eſtimate whereby, a gentleman, with a wife, four children, and five ſervants, living in the country, may, with frugality, ſave 2500l. in the courſe of twenty years, keep two of his children at a boardingſchool, [Page 16] drink wine every day at his table, keep a carriage and four horſes, and make an appearance equal to 1000l. a year, for half the money; and may, with the further addition of a ſmall farm, live equally well for conſiderably leſs.
|Bread, from the farm. See No. 2.|
|Butter, ditto. See No. 5:|
|Cheeſe, ditto. See No. 5.|
|Milk and eggs, ditto. See ditto.|
|Flour, accounted for with the bread No. 2.|
|Meat and fiſh. See the eſtimate below, No. 3.||16||5||0|
|Poultry, from the farm|
|Salt, vinegar, muſtard, oil, and ſpices, per week 1s. 7d.||4||2||4|
|Vegetables and fruit from the garden *.|
|Small beer, 2 gallons per day, which, brewed at home, and reckoned at 5d. per gallon, will allow ſufficient ale for the maſter's table, &c. without any|
|additional charge, that is 5s. 10d. per week, or *||15||3||4|
|Tea 2s. 6d. per week, or||6||10||0|
|Sugar for all purpoſes, 2s. 6d. per week, or||6||10||0|
|Candles, 6 lb. per week, at 7s. 8d. per dozen †., 3s. 10d. per week||9||19||4|
|Coals, 8 chaldron per year, laid in at 1l. 14s. per chaldron †.||13||12||0|
|Charcoal, 10 ſacks, at 1s. 6d.||0||15||0|
|Soap, ſtarch, blue, and occaſional aſſiſtance for waſhing five perſons, 7s. per week *||18||4||0|
|Whiting, fullers earth, &c. 2d. per week †, or||0||8||8|
|Wine, punch, &c. †||13||16||0|
|Threads, tapes, and all ſorts of haberdaſhery, 1s. 9d. per week, or||4||11||0|
|Powder, pomatum, blacking, &c. 10 6d.s per week||1||6||0|
|Repair of furniture; earthen ware, &c. 3s. per week, or||7||16||0|
|Wages of a man ſervant, to act in the capacity of coachman, and to manage the farm||9||0||0|
|Livery for ditto, to be worn occaſionally||3||0||0|
|Wages of a man ſervant, to act in the capacity of gardener * and footman||12||0||0|
|Livery for ditto, to be worn occaſionally when waiting at table, or following the carriage||4||0||0|
|Boy; no wages, but cloathed from his maſter's old wardrobe *||5||0||0|
|The wages of two maids, †||14||0||0|
|Two children kept at ſchool, 20l, each||40||0||0|
|Extra expences attending them, as breaking up, being at home in the holidays, pocket money, &c.||6||0||0|
|Cloaths for four children, (the mother's caſt cloaths to be made up occaſionally)||24||0||0|
|Cloaths for the maſter, with pocket expences||35||0||0|
|Ditto for the miſtreſs, with ditto||30||0||0|
|Apothecary engaged by the year, (no bill ſent in)||4||0||0|
|Expences of the farm, ſee No. 2.||38||0||0|
|Duty of a four-wheeled carriage,||5||0||0|
|Wear and tear of ditto, and harneſs * for even money||5||16||4|
|There muſt be laid up one year with another, for 20 years, in order to leave each child and a widow, if there ſhould be one, 500l. each||75||0||0|
It may not be unneceſſary to remark, that 15 or 20 per cent. may be ſaved by paying ready money for what we buy; beſides preventing things being charged the family never had. Buy your grocery and ſuch things, as country ſhop-keepers have from London, always in London; and ſuch things they purchaſe at diſtance from town, endeavour to get at the firſt hand in the country.
|2||Of wheat, producing 40 buſhels, 8 gallon meaſure, will furniſh a family of 9 perſons with flower and bread, at a quartern loaf, each per week, and leave 5 buſhels of grain to recrop the land. The expence attending it will be * as follows:||1||17||6|
|Cutting 1250 faggots of furze for heating the copper, daily *||2||11||0|
|Extra-expences on 4 horſes. See the horſe eſtimate, No. 4. page 30.||7||10||0|
|Decline in value of 3 cows. See the cow-eſtimate, No. 5. page 33.||2||10||0|
|Wear of harneſs annually, about||0||14||0|
|Wear of Implements ditto, about||6||17||0|
|Expence of fences and other ſundries, for even money||5||0||3|
[Page 28] In cultivating theſe 35 acres of land, the horſes will be employed only about 52 days in the year, which, on an average, is only one day in the week: of courſe your farming ſervant will often be at liberty to threſh your corn, and do many other things: this will ſave much of the money I have charged for labour.
I have allowed a fourth horſe in this eſtimate, as, ſhould the gentleman be fond of riding, he may keep one for that purpoſe. The other three I would recommend ſhould match in colour and ſize, and ſhould have nag tails; as, ſhould one fall lame, another is ready to ſupply its place; beſides they may occaſionally be uſed as ſaddle-horſes; or were the whole four to match, with a very little extra-expence in the harneſs, and an additional jacket to lay by, they might all be put to the carriage at times.
|Twelve porkers, at 7 ſtone each, or 56 lb. give of meat||672 lb.|
|Four hogs * for bacon, at 25 ſtone each, or 100 lb. gives||800 lb.|
1472 lb. of meat is about 28lb. weekly, equal to four days proviſion for 9 perſons, † and
|9lb. beef or mutton, at 5d.||0||3||9|
|5lb. fiſh * at 6d.||0||2||6|
|Or per year,||£. 16||5||0|
Horſes may be turned out to graſs from about may 20, to October 20, they then ſhould be taken into the ſtable and ſtraw-fed, with corn, till about February 20; after this they ſhould be fed with hay and corn till May 20 again.
I allow each horſe half a peck of oats a-day, from Oct. 20 to May 20; that is, 3 quarters, 2 buſhels, 1 peck, which, for the four, is about 13 quarters; but it may be neceſſary to give the carriage horſes the ſame quantity all the ſummer, which in the whole conſumes 17 quarters and a half. The other two horſes need no corn in the ſummer, unleſs; very hard worked.
|Horſes ſhould have as much chaff as they will cat. Beſides the chaff of the corn, give each a buſhel of cut chaff daily (hay and ſtraw mixed) which will coſt a half-penny per buſhel cutting, and that for the time he is in the ſtable will be 210 buſhels, &c.||0||8||9|
|Shoeing, once in ſix weeks, at 1s. and 10d. per ſet; the price paid by farmers,||0||14||8|
|Phyſic, per even money *||0||6||7|
|Decline in value of 4 horſes annually||6||0||0|
The ſkimmed milk will go a great way towards keeping the pigs; and three calves annually will ſerve to meet other little expences not thought of. Care muſt be taken to have two of theſe cows always in milk.
IF a gentlemen, by way of amuſement, or leſſening his expences, will add about fifty acres of land more to his thirty-five, he may, with the ſame number of ſervants, excepting a little aſſiſtance at harveſt, reap the following advantages, with this difference only, that it will require a little more of his own attention, [Page 35] and leave his men and horſes leſs at leiſure to wait upon him. He muſt then ſend the produce of his farm to market, and, inſtead of keeping a horſe merely for the ſaddle, he muſt admit him to draw occaſionally: But even here, he may have his horſes for his pleaſure, on an average, two or three days in the week.
|Weeding, 5s. per acre||12||10||0|
|Aſſiſtance to get it in||3||0||0|
|Threſhing 25 loads, at 3s. per quarter, and binding ſheaves||18||15||0|
|Rent, tythes, &c.||62||10||0|
|Wear and tear, and fencing, &c.||8||0||0|
|Fifty acres, at 2½ quarters at 11l. per load||275||0||0|
|One hundred load of ſtraw||100||0||0|
|Fifty Acres producing 4 1/ [...] quarter per acre; two hundred and 25 qrs. at 32s.||360||0||0|
|Ditto the ſecond crop||18||15||0|
|Binding 150 loads, at 1s. 6d. per load||11||5||0|
|Wear and tear, fencing, &c.||8||0||0|
|Rent, tythes, and taxes||62||10||0|
|Ditto the ſecond year||119||5||0|
964l. 10s. left profit in eight years, is at the rate of 120l. 10s. per year. This deducted from 425l. the amount of the family expences, page 22. leaves 305l. 10s. the total expences of keeping the family, &c.
I have ſuppoſed the ground to be tolerably good, and a particular attention to be paid in keeping it clean, well dreſſed, and in good tilth: for this purpoſe no ſtraw is to be ſold off the farm but wheat ſtraw. It is all to be converted into fodder and dung.
If the farming ſervant can be ſpared at times, he may threſh much of the grain himſelf; this will be a ſaving: and there are ſtill many advantages to be reaped, if a man will enter into the ſpirit of farming, from a neighbouring common, in breeding ſheep, bringing up heifers, &c. and keeping geeſe.
It will take about an acre of graſs to fatten five ſheep; but, where graſs is not plentiful, they may be fed on ſtubble till Chriſtmas, then on turneps till May-day; next on rye, and then on clover till ſold. No meadows will do for ſheep in the winter, that are wet enough to let them ſink up to the firſt joint of their legs; it will rot them.
[Page 46] The following eſtimate will ſerve to ſhew into what expences ſome perſons run, for want of produce and economy, expending that on a carriage, which would maintain a family comfortably and elegantly.
|Rent of a ſtable in town, for four horſes||10||0||0|
|Board wages *, at 8s. per week||20||16||0|
|Board wages for ditto, 8s. per week||20||16||0|
|Duty of carriage||5||0||0|
|Oil, greaſe, and wear of combs, &c.||2||12||0|
|Set of wheels uſed in about two years||4||0||0|
|Farrier, on an average, a ſet of ſhoes to each horſe once in about ſix weeks||3||15||0|
|Hay, about 7 ½ truſſes per week, or about 11 loads per year, at 3l. 10s.||38||10||0|
|Oats, a peck a day for each horſe, that is, about 46 quarters, at 18s. per quarter *||26||8||0|
|Straw, about 6 loads, or 4 truſſes per week, at 25s. per load||7||10||0|
|Wear and tear, and new painting once in two years †||36||0||0|
|Decline in value of the horſes †||24||0||0|
|Every additional horſe for the ſaddle will coſt as follows, and indeed there is no coach and four to be kept without five horſes, leſt one ſhould fall lame at any time.|