From Tiptree I had a pleasant walk to Coggeshall, a unique and antique town, marked by the quaint and picturesque architecture of the Elizabethan regime.  On the way I met an old man, eighty-three years of age, busily at work with his wheel-barrow, shovel, and bush-broom, gathering up the droppings of manure on the road.  I stopped and had a long talk with him, and learned much of those ingenious and minute industries by which thousands of poor men house, feed, and clothe themselves and their families in a country super-abounding with labor.  He had nearly filled his barrow, after trundling it for four miles.  He could sell his little load for 4d. to a neighboring farmer; but he intended to keep it for a small garden patch allotted to him by his son, with whom he lived.  These few square yards of land constituted the microscopic point of his attachment to that great globe still holding in reserve unmeasured territories of productive soil, on which nor plough, nor spade, nor human foot, nor life has ever left a lasting mark.  These made his little farm, as large to him and to his octogenarian sinews and ambitions as was the Tiptree Estate to Alderman Mechi.  It filled his mind with as busy occupation and as healthy a stimulus.  That rude barrow, with its clumsy wheel, thinly rimmed with an iron hoop, was to him what the steam engine, and two miles of iron tubing, and all its hose-power were to that eminent agriculturist, of whom he spoke in terms of high esteem as a neighbor, and even as a competitor.  Proportionately they were on the same footing; the one with his 170 square acres, the other with his 170 square feet.  It was pleasant and instructive to hear him speak with such sunny and cheery hope of his earthly lot and doings.  His son was kind and good to him.  He could read, and get many good books.  He ate and slept well.  He was poor but comfortable.  He went to church on Sunday, and thought much of heaven on week days.  His cabbages were a wonder; some with heads as large as a half-bushel measure.  He did something very respectable in the potato and turnip line.  He had grown beans and beets which would show well in any market.  He always left a strip or corner for flowers.  He loved to grow them; they did him good, and stirred up young-man feelings in him.  He went on in this way with increased animation, following the lead of a few questions I put in occasionally to give direction to the narrative of his experience.  How much I wished I could have photographed him as he stood leaning on his shovel, his wrinkled face and gray, thin hair, moistened with perspiration, while his coat lay inside out on one of the handles of his barrow!  The July sun, that warmed him at his work, would have made an interesting picture of him, if some one could have held a camera to its eye at the moment.  I added a few pennies to his stock-in-trade, and continued my walk, thinking much of that wonderful arrangement of Providence by which the infinite alternations and gradations of human life and condition are adjusted; fitting a separate being, experience, and attachment to every individual heart; training its tendrils to cling all its life long to one slightly individualised locality, which another could never call home; giving itself and all its earthly hopes to an occupation which another would esteem a prison discipline; sucking the honey of contentment out of a condition which would be wormwood to another person on the same social level.

On reaching Coggeshall, I became again the guest of a Friend, who gave me the same old welcome and hospitality which I have so often received from the members of that society.  After tea, he took me about the town, and showed me those buildings so interesting to an American - low, one-story houses, with thatched roofs, clay-colored, wavy walls, rudely-carved lintels, and iron-sash windows opening outward on hinges like doors, with squares of glass 3 inches by 4; - houses which were built before the keel of the Mayflower was laid, which conveyed the Pilgrims to Plymouth Rock.  Here, now! see that one on the other side of the street, looking out upon a modern and strange generation through two ivy-browed eyes just lighted up to visible speculation by a single candle on the mantel-piece!  A very animated and respectable baby was carried out of that door in its mother's arms, and baptised in the parish church, before William Shakespeare was weaned.  There is a younger house near by, which was a century old when Washington was born.  These unique, old dwellings of town, village, and hamlet in England, must ever possess an interest to the American traveller which the grand and majestic cathedrals, that fill him with so much admiration, cannot inspire.  We link the life of our nation more directly to these humbler buildings.  Our forefathers went out of these houses to the New World.  The log huts they first erected served them and their families as homes for a few years; then were given to their horses and cattle for stabling; then were swept away, as too poor for either man or beast.  The second generation of houses made greater pretensions to comfort, and had their day, then passed away.  They were nearly all one-story, wooden buildings, with a small apartment on each side of a great chimney, and a little bed-roomage in the garret for children.  Then followed the large, red, New England mansion, broadside to the road, two stories high in front, with nearly a rood of back roof declining to within five or six feet of the ground, and covering a great, dark kitchen, flanked on one side by a bed-room, and on the other by the buttery.  A ponderous chimney arose out of the middle of the building, giving a fire-place of eight feet back to the kitchen, and one of half the dimensions to each of the other two large rooms - the north and south.  For, like the republic they founded, its forefathers and ours divided their dwellings by a kind of Mason and Dixon's Line, into two parts, giving them these sectional appellations which have represented such antagonisms and made us such trouble.  Every one of these old-fashioned houses had its "North" and "South" rooms on the ground-floor, and duplicates, of the same size and name, above, divided by the massive, hollow tower, called a chimney.  A double front door, with panels, scrolled with rude carving, opened right and left into the portly building, which, in the tout ensemble, looked like a New England gentleman of the olden time, in his cocked hat, and hair done up in a queue.  These were the houses built "when George the Third was King."  In these were born the men of the American Revolution.  They are the oldest left in the land; and, like the Revolutionary pensioners, they are fast disappearing.  In a few years, it will be said the last of them has been levelled to the ground, just as the paragraph will circulate through the newspapers that the last soldier of the War of Independence is dead.

Thus, the young generation in America, now reciting in our schools the rudimental facts of the common history of the English-speaking race, will come to the meridian of manhood at a time when the three first generations of American houses shall have been swept away.  But, travelling over a space of three centuries' breadth, they will see, in these old English dwellings, where the New World broke off from the Old - the houses in which the first settlers of New England were born; the churches and chapels in which they were baptised, and the school-houses in which they learned the alphabet of the great language that is to fill the earth with the speech of man's rights and God's glory.  One hundred millions, speaking the tongue of Shakespeare and Milton on the American continent, and as many millions more on continents more recently settled by the same race, across the ocean, and across century-seas of time, shall moor their memories to these humble dwellings of England's hamlets, and feel how many taut and twisted liens attach them to the motherland of mighty nations.

On reckoning up the log of my first day's walk, I found I had made full twelve miles by road and field; and was more than satisfied with such a trial of country air and exercise, and with the enjoyment of its scenery and occupations.  The next day I made a longer distance still, from Coggeshall to Great Bardfield, or about eighteen miles; and felt at the end that I had established a reasonable claim to convalescence.  The country on the way was marked by the quiet and happy features of diversified plenty.  The green and gold of pastures, meadows, and wheat-fields; the picturesque interspersion of cottages, gardens, stately mansions, parks and lawns, all enlivened by a well-proportioned number of mottled cows feeding or lying along the brook-banks, and sheep grazing on the uplands, - all these elements of rural life and scenery were blended with that fortuitous felicity which makes the charm of Nature's country pictures.

At Bardfield I was again homed for the night by a Friend; and after tea made an evening walk with him about the farm of a member of the same society, living in the outskirts of the town, who cultivates about 400 acres of excellent land, and is considered one of the most practical and successful agriculturists of Essex.  His fields were larger and fewer than I had noticed on my walk in a farm of equal size.  This feature indicates the modern improvements in English farming more prominently to the cursory observer than any other that attracts his eye.  It is a rigidly utilitarian innovation on the old system, that does not at all promise to improve the picturesque aspect of the country.  To "reconstruct the map" of a county, by wire-fencing it into squares of 100 acres each, after grubbing up all the hedges and hedge-trees, would doubtless add seven and a quarter per cent. to the agricultural production of the shire, and gratify many a Gradgrind of materialistic economy; but who would know England after such a transformation?  One would be prone to reiterate Patrick's exclamation of surprise, when he first shouldered a gun and tested the freedom of the forest in America.  Seeing a small bird in the top of a tree, he pointed the fowling-piece in that direction, turned away his face, and fired.  A tree-toad fell to the ground from an agitated branch.  The exulting Irishman ran and picked it up in triumph, and held it out at arm's length by one of its hind legs, exclaiming, "And how it alters a bird to shoot its feathers off, to be sure!"  It would alter England nearly as much in aspect, if the unsparing despotism of £ s. d. should root out the hedge-row trees, and substitute invisible lines of wire for the flowering hawthorn as a fencing for those fields which now look so much like framed portraits of Nature's best painting.

The tendency of these utilitarian times may well occasion an unpleasant concern in the lovers of English rural scenery.  What changes may come in the wake of the farmer's steam-engine, steam-plough, or under the smoke-shadows from his factory-like chimney, these recent "improvements" may suggest and induce.  One can see in any direction he may travel these changes going on silently.  Those little, unique fields, defined by lines and shapes unknown to geometry, are going out of the rural landscape.  And when they are gone, they will be missed more than the amateurs of agricultural artistry imagine at the present moment.  What some one has said of the peasantry, may be said, with almost equal deprecation, of these picturesque tit-bits of land, which, -

     "Once destroyed, never can be supplied."

And destroyed they will be, as sure as science.  As large farms are swallowing up the little ones between them, so large fields are swallowing these interesting patches, the broad-bottomed hedging of which sometimes measures as many square yards as the space it encloses.

There is much reason to fear that the hedge-trees will, in the end, meet with a worse fate still.  Practical farmers are beginning to look upon them with an evil eye - an eye sharp and severe with pecuniary speculation; that looks at an oak or elm with no artist's reverence; that darts a hard, dry, timber-estimating glance at the trunk and branches; that looks at the circumference of its cold shadow on the earth beneath, not at the grand contour and glorious leafage of its boughs above.  The farmer who was taking us over his large and highly-cultivated fields, was a man of wide intelligence, of excellent tastes, and the means wherewithal to give them free scope and play.  His library would have satisfied the ambition of a student of history or belles-lettres.  His gardens, lawn, shrubbery, and flowers would grace the mansion of an independent gentleman.  He had an eye to the picturesque as well as practical.  But I could not but notice, as significant of the tendency to which I have referred, that, on passing a large, outbranching oak standing in the boundary of two fields, he remarked that the detriment of its shadow could not have been less than ten shillings a year for half a century.  As we proceeded from field to field, he recurred to the same subject by calling our attention to the circumference of the shadow cast on the best land of the farm by a thrifty, luxuriant ash, not more than a foot in diameter at the butt.  Up to the broad rim of its shade, the wheat on each side of the hedge was thick, heavyheaded and tall, but within the cool and sunless circle the grain and grass were so pale and sickly that the bare earth would have been relief to a farmer's eye.

The three great, distinctive graces of an English landscape are the hawthorn hedges, the hedge-row trees, and the everlasting and unapproachable greenness of the grass-fields they surround and embellish.  In these beautiful features, England surpasses all other countries in the world.  These make the peculiar charm of her rural scenery to a traveller from abroad.  These are the salient lineaments of Motherland's face which the memories of myriads she has sent to people countries beyond the sea cling to with such fondness; memories that are transmitted from generation to generation; which no political revolutions nor severances affect; which are handed down in the unwritten legends of family life in the New World, as well as in the warp and woof of American literature and history.  Will the utilitarian and unsparing science of these latter days, or of the days to come, shear away these beautiful tresses, and leave the brow and temples of the Old Country they have graced bare and brown under the bald and burning sun of material economy?  It is not an idle question, nor too early to ask it.  It is a question which will interest more millions of the English race on the American continent than these home-islands will ever contain.  There are influences at work which tend to this unhappy issue.  Some of these have been already indicated, and others more powerful still may be mentioned.

Agriculture in England has to run the gauntlet of many pressing competitions, and carry a heavy burden of taxation as it runs.  These will be noticed, hereafter, in their proper connection.  Farming, therefore, is being reduced to a rigid science.  Every acre of land must be put up to its last ounce of production.  Every square foot of it must be utilised to the growth of something for man and beast.  Manures for different soils are tested with as much chemical precision as ever was quinine for human constitutions.  Dynameters are applied to prove the power of working machinery.  Labor is scrutinised and economised, and measured closely up to the value of a farthing's-worth of capacity.  A shilling's difference per acre in the cost of ploughing by horse-flesh or steam brings the latter into the field.  The sound of the flail is dying out of the land, and soon will be heard no more.  Even threshing machines worked by horses are being discarded, as too slow and old-fashioned.  Locomotive steam-engines, on broad-rimmed wheels, may be met on the turnpike road, travelling on their own legs from farm to farm to thresh out wheat, barley, oats, and beans, for a few pence per bushel.  They make nothing of ascending a hill without help, or of walking across a ploughed field to a rick-yard.  Iron post and rail fencing, in lengths of twenty feet on wheels, drawn about by a donkey, bids fair to supersede the old wooden hurdles for sheep fed on turnips or clover.  It is an iron age, and wire fencing is creeping into use, especially in the most scientifically cultivated districts of Scotland, where the elements and issues of the farmer's balance-sheet are looked to with the most eager concern.  Iron wire grows faster than hawthorn or buckthorn.  It doubtless costs less.  It needs no yearly trimming, like shrubs with sap and leaves.  It does not occupy a furrow's width as a boundary between two fields.  It may be easily transposed to vary enclosures.  It is not a nesting place for destructive birds or vermin.  These and other arguments, of the same utilitarian genus, are making perceptible headway.  Will they ever carry the day against the green hedges?  I think they would, very soon, if the English farmer owned the land he cultivates.  But such is rarely the case.  Still, this fact may not prevent the final consummation of this policy of material interest.  In a great many instances, the tenant might compromise with the landlord in such a way as to bring about this "modern improvement."  And a comparatively few instances, showing a certain per centage of increased production per acre to the former, and a little additional rentage to the latter, would suffice to give the innovation an impulse that would sweep away half the hedges of the country, and deface that picture which so many generations have loved to such enthusiasm of admiration.

Will the trees of the hedge-row be exposed to the same end?  I think they will.  Though trees are the most sacred things the earth begets in England, as has already been said, the farmer here looks at them with an evil eye, as horse-leeches that bleed to death long stretches of the land he pays £2 per acre for annually to his landlord.  The hedge, however wide-bottomed, is his fence; and fencing he must have.  But these trees, arising at narrow intervals from the hedge, and spreading out their deadening shades upon his wheatfields on either side, are not useful nor ornamental to him.  They may look prettily, and make a nice picture in the eyes of the sentimental tourist or traveller, but he grudges the ground they cover.  He could well afford to pay the landlord an additional rentage per annum more than equal to the money value of the yearly growth of these trees.  Besides, the landlord has, in all probability, a large park of trees around his mansion, and perhaps compact plantations on land unsuited to agriculture.  Thus the high value of these hedge-row trees around the fields of his tenant, which he will realise on the spot, together with some additional pounds in rent annually to himself and heirs, would probably facilitate this levelling arrangement in face of all the restrictions that the law of entail might seem to throw in the way.

If, therefore, the hedges of England disappear before the noiseless and furtive progress of utilitarian science, the trees that rise above them in such picturesque ranks will be almost certain to go with them.  Then, indeed, a change will come over the face of the country, which will make it difficult for one to recognise it who daguerreotyped its most beautiful features upon his memory before they were obliterated by these latter-day "improvements."