Friday, August 16, 2013


To Do for Himself as Far as Possible

George Bourne, pseudonym of George Sturt (1863-1927), A Farmer's Life (London: Jonathan Cape, 1922), p. 37:
He loved, nay, he needed, to do for himself as far as possible—to mend his own fences, clear out his own ditches, cut firing for himself, be his own horse-doctor, cow-doctor; for so he received in his own hands, eyes, skin, brain, the messages that come from wood, from water, from animal life. He wanted no one between him and necessity: no shield; no screen; no servant.
George Bourne, pseudonym of George Sturt (1863-1927) Change in the Village (New York: George H. Doran Company, 1912), pp. 28-29:
Unlike the rest of us, labouring people are unable to shirk any of life's discomforts by "getting a man" or "a woman," as we say, to do the disagreeable or risky jobs which continually need to be done. If a cottager in this village wants his chimney swept, or his pigstye cleaned out, or his firewood chopped, the only "man" he can get to do it for him is himself. Similarly with his wife. She may not call in "a woman" to scrub her floor, or to wash and mend, or to skin a rabbit for dinner, or to make up the fire for cooking it. It is necessary for her to be ready to turn from one task to another without squeamishness, and without pausing to think how she shall do it. In short, she and her husband alike must practise, in their daily doings, a sort of intrepidity which grows customary with them; and this habit is the parent of much of that fine conduct which they exhibit so carelessly in moments of emergency.
Id., pp. 117-118:
It was of the essence of the old system that those living under it subsisted in the main upon what their own industry could produce out of the soil and materials of their own countryside. A few things, certainly, they might get from other neighbourhoods, such as iron for making their tools, and salt for curing their bacon; and some small interchange of commodities there was, accordingly, say between the various districts that yielded cheese, and wool, and hops, and charcoal; but as a general thing the parish where the peasant people lived was the source of the materials they used, and their well-being depended on their knowledge of its resources. Amongst themselves they would number a few special craftsmen—a smith, a carpenter or wheelwright, a shoemaker, a pair of sawyers, and so on; yet the trades of these specialists were only ancillary to the general handiness of the people, who with their own hands raised and harvested their crops, made their clothes, did much of the building of their homes, attended to their cattle, thatched their ricks, cut their firing, made their bread and wine or cider, pruned their fruit-trees and vines, looked after their bees, all for themselves.

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