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“ It will take a power of money, my Lord,” said the careful steward, and at a vast risk, for you cannot be certain of the success of your project.”
“ I know my lands are capable of improvement," said the earl, .“ I am assured I can establish a manufactory upon my own account; and as for the money, Sullivan, I shall not feel it, for I will dedicate to the purpose my good aunt's legacy of twenty thousand pounds, which I am to receive next week; and if that is insufficient for the expences, some of these old oaks shall defray, the rest. You tell me some acres of them should be feļled.”
“ They ought indeed, my Lord,” replied the steward, “ for every year now diminishes their yalue. They will furnish your Lordship with an immense
What then should we fear?” said the earl. “ I have already as much money as I know what to do with, and surely may be allowed to make ducks and drakes with the rest. What if the odd whim seizes me of raising corn upon barren heaths, building houses, and peopling a desolate country, is it not as rational an expenditure of my fortune as on race-horses, or any other fashionable amusement?”
“ May Heaven bless and prosper the noble whim!” said the steward, with tears in his eyes, « it would do honour to a prince;, and proves you, my Lord, to be the true offspring of the best and most benevolent of men, your revered father, whose likeness in this age of folly and dissipation I never expected the blessing of seeing. I shall be most happy in giving my advice and assistance in forwarding so glorious a work.”
Warmed with his half-formed scheme, the earl, hoping to receive some hints for its improvement, made it the topic of his conversation at dinner with the gentlemen who composed his sporting party. But the pretenders to wit ridiculed it as an absurd Quixotism ; the pretenders to reason dissuaded him from it, as the gulph of that fortune, and the occupier of that time, which would be more profitably, as well as pleasurably employed, in the circle of fashionable expences, with fashionable people. But the earl, uninfluenced by either, when he retired for the evening, sat two whole hours in his chair digesting plan into some regularity, and the leading ideas of the day pursued him in his sleep: for his dreams presented him with a flourishing town ; a rich and fertile country; and a multitude of human beings crouding round him, and with happy countenances hailing him as their protector and benefactor.
Eager to realize these pleasing visions, the earl, after an hasty breakfast, sprang upon his horse, and attended by the good old steward, took his way to the village. He found it delightfully seated on a gently rising ground, and on the banks of a stream which poured its little urn, at some miles distance, into a navigable river.
“ In this spot, Sullivan,” cried the earl, in trans
port, “ I perceive every requisite. I will convert this village into a town, and this stream into a river.”
“ What a pity it is, my Lord,” answered Sullivan, his eyes glistening with pleasure,
so that the season is so far advanced.”
“ It is the season of preparation, man, if not of action," replied his lordship. “There is plenty of proper earth upon the estate, and we will immediately begin burning brick and tile. We will cut down timber, and secure workmen against the spring; and in the spring, my old friend, we will open our separate campaigns : you shall wage war with the barren soil, I with the depopulated wasie; and by the time you are victorious, and have rebe dered the earth fertile, I hope to procure a competent number of mouths to consume the productions."
Animated with a portion of his noble master's enthusiasm, Sullivan was nearly as active as the earl, who spent the whole winter in the country, hastening the preparations, and marking the fall of his oaks. The castle, deeply environed by them, and equally debarred from seeing and being seen, was disclosed to the world, and the world to it; the woods which intercepted the front view being all taken down except frequent noble groups of the most majestic and venerable of those ancient trees, which now enrich and diversify the prospect. Even the necessary thinning of those extensive forests afforded a vast supply of timber; aš did the cutting of many delightful avenues through them.
Thus the earl, in this preliminary work, united what are generally deemed incompatible, beauty, utility, and profit; for the environs of the castle were rendered infinitely more charming by these judicious openings; timber was obtained for the projected buildings; and the sale of the overplus added a very considerable sum to that before appropriated to the purpose.
During the winter the earl had leisure to digest his plan, and in the spring he began, and unremittingly continued, the execution of it. The two first years he employed in building two regular streets ; in deepening the channel of the stream, and pouring into it every rivulet in its vicinity; in directing to it the drainings of his morasses, and swampy vallies; in erecting upon its upper part a mill; and in constructing on its banks, wharfs and warehouses.
With these works the agricultural improvements kept pace. The drained marshes
grew turage; the manured heaths waved thick with corn. The improved soil parcelled out into small farms, upon wbich proper houses, barns, &c. were erected, had sober industrious peasants placed in them, supported and directed by the earl; and firm and safe roads were made from each farm to the town.
At the end of the second year the town was peopled; for the earl established in it, at his own expence and hazard, a linen und woollen manufac
rich in pastory, from the preparation of the raw materials, to the weaving them into those cloths, stuffs, and linens, which are worn by the lower ranks; and his lordship found it requisite to become also miller and coal-merchant, that his new colony might be supplied with every thing necessary for their subsistence and comfort.
In his mercantile character, the earl' played a very losing game; but, like a skilful gamester, he was content to sacrifice smaller matters that he might with greater certainty secure his grand point, and in that he was in a short time abundantly successful; for where employment to the industrious, and ease and comfort to all, were so liberally administered, multitudes crouded, and he was soon obliged to add new streets to his town.
Petty merchants and manufacturers, who had been unsuccessful in other places, soon offered themselves, and by the earl's assistance were, after a short time, enabled to fill their several departments, and take the most disagreeable part of the burthen off his shoulders. He gradually built on both sides the river, over which he threw a bridge, and erected a new church in a more commodious situation than the old one.
The population of this town, the chaplain informs me, every year increases; its river affords it the means of no despicable commerce; and supplies it, by a communication with Solway Frith, with sea as well as fresh-water fish. The merchants, manufacturers, and tradesmen flourish; the lower ranks