From Chrishall Grange I went on to Royston, where I found very quiet and comfortable quarters in a small inn called "The Catherine Wheel," for what reason it is not yet clear to my mind, and the landlady could not enlighten me on the subject.  I have noticed two inns in London of the same name, and have seen it mounted on several other public houses in England.  Why that ancient saint and the machinery of her torture should be alone selected from the history and host of Christian martyrs, and thus associated with houses of entertainment for man and beast, is a mystery which I will not undertake to explore.  To be sure, the head of a puncheon of rum is round like a wheel, and if the liquor were not too much diluted with water, it might make a revolving illumination quite interesting, if set on fire and rolled into the gutter.  It may possibly suggest that lambent ignition of the brain which the fiery drinks of the establishment produce, and which so many infatuated victims think delightful.  Both these inferences, and all others I could fancy, are so dubious that I will not venture further into the meaning of this singular appellation given to a tavern.

Royston is a goodly and comfortable town, just inside the eastern boundary of Hertfordshire.  It has its full share of half-legible and interesting antiquities, including the ruins of a royal palace, a cave, and several other broken monuments of the olden time, all festooned with the web-work of hereditary fancies, legends, and shreds of unravelled history dyed to the vivid colors of variegated imagination.  It also boasts and enjoys a great, breezy common, large enough to hold such another town, and which few in the kingdom can show.  Then, if it cannot cope with Glastonbury in showing, to the envious and credulous world, a thorn-tree planted by Joseph of Arimathæa, and blossoming always at Christmas, it can fly a bird of greater antiquity, which never flapped its wings elsewhere, so far as I can learn.  It may be the lineal descendant of Noah's raven that has come down to this particular community without a cross with any other branch of the family.  It is called "The Royston Crow," and is a variety of the genus which you will find in no other country.  It is a great, heavy bird, larger than his colored American cousin, and is distinguished by a white back.  Indeed, seen walking at a distance, he looks like our Bobolink expanded to the size of a large hen-hawk.  To have such a wild bird all to themselves, and of its own free will, notwithstanding the length and power of its wings, and the force of centrifugal attractions, is a distinction which the good people of this favored town have good reason to appreciate at its proper value.  Nor are they insensible to the honor.  The town printer put into my hands a monthly publication called "THE ROYSTON CROW," containing much interesting and valuable information.  It might properly have embraced a chapter on entomology; but, perhaps, it would have been impolitic for the personal interests of the bird to have given wide publicity to facts in this department of knowledge.  For, after all, there may exist in the neighborhood certain special kinds of bugs and other insects which lie at the foundation of his preference for the locality.

The next day I again faced northward, and walked as far as Caxton, a small, rambling village, which looked as if it had not shaved and washed its face, and put on a clean shirt for a shocking length of time.  It was dark when I reached it; having walked twelve miles after three p.m.  There was only one inn, properly speaking, in the town, and since the old coaching time, it had contracted itself into the fag-end of a large, dark, seedy-looking building, where it lived by selling beer and other sharp and cheap drinks to the villagers; nineteen-twentieths of whom appeared to be agricultural laborers.  The entertainment proffered on the sign-board over the door was evidently limited to the tap-room.  Indeed, this and the great, low-jointed and brick-floored kitchen opening into to it, seemed to constitute all the living or inhabited space in the building.  I saw, at a glance, that the chance for a bed was faint and small; and I asked Landlord Rufus for one doubtingly, as one would ask for a ready-made pulpit or piano at a common cabinet-maker's shop.  He answered me clearly enough before he spoke, and he spoke as if answering a strange and half-impertinent question, looking at me searchingly, as if he suspected I was quizzing him.  His "No!" was short and decided; but, seeing I was honest and earnest in the inquiry, he softened his negative with the explanation that their beds were all full.  It seemed strange to me that this should be so in a building large enough for twenty, and I hesitated hopefully, thinking he might remember some small room in which he might put me for the night.  To awaken a generous thought in him in this direction, I intimated how contented I would be with the most moderate accommodation.  But it was in vain.  The house was full, and I must seek for lodging elsewhere.  There were two or three other public houses in the village that might take me in.  I went to them one by one.  They all kept plenty of beer, but no bed.  They, too, looked at me with surprise for asking for such a thing.  Apparently, there had been no demand for such entertainment by any traveller since the stage-coach ceased to run through the village.  I went up and down, trying to negotiate with the occupants of some of the best-looking cottages for a cot or bunk; but they had none to spare, as the number of wondering children that stared at me kindly, at once suggested before I put the question.

It was now quite dark, and I was hungry and tired; and the prospect of an additional six miles walk was not very animating.  What next?  I will go back to Landlord Rufus and try a new influence on his sensibilities.  Who knows but it will succeed?  I will touch him on his true character as a Briton.  So I went back, with my last chance hanging on the experiment.  I told him I was an American traveller, weary, hungry, and infirm of health, and would pay an extra price for an extra effort to give me a bed for the night.  I did not say all this in a Romanus-civus-sum sort of tone.  No! dear, honest Old Abe, you would have done the same in my place.  I made the great American Eagle coo like a dove in the request; and it touched the best instincts of the British Lion within the man.  It was evident in a moment that I had put my case in a new aspect to him.  He would talk with the " missus;" he withdrew into the back kitchen, a short conference ensued, and both came out together and informed me that they had found a bed, unexpectedly vacant, for my accommodation.  And they would get up some tea and bread and butter for me, too.  Capital!  A sentiment of national pride stole in between every two feelings of common satisfaction at this result.  The thought would come in and whisper, not for your importunity as a common fellow mortal were this bed and this loaf unlocked to you, but because you were an American citizen.

So I followed "the missus" into that great kitchen, and sat down in one corner of the huge fire-place while she made the tea.  It was a capacious museum of culinary curiosities of the olden time, all arranged in picturesque groups, yet without any aim at effect.  Pots, kettles, pans, spits, covers, hooks and trammels of the Elizabethan period, apparently the heirlooms of several intersecting generations, showed in the fire-light like a work of artistry; the sharp, silvery brightness of the tin and the florid flush of burnished copper making distinct disks in the darkness.  It was with a rare sentiment of comfort that I sat by that fire of crackling faggots, looked up at the stars that dropped in their light as they passed over the top of the great chimney, and glanced around at the sides of that old English kitchen, panelled with plates and platters and dishes of all sizes and uses.  And this fire was kindled and this tea-kettle was singing for me really because I was an American!  I could not forget that - so I deemed it my duty to keep up the character.  Therefore, I told the missus and her bright-eyed niece a great many stories about America; some of which excited their admiration and wonder.  Thus I sat at the little, round, three-legged table, inside the out-spreading chimney, for an hour or more, and made as cozy and pleasant a meal of it as ever I ate.  Besides all this, I had the best bed in the house, and several "Good nights!" on retiring to it, uttered with hearty good-will by voices softened to an accent of kindness.  Next morning I was introduced into the best parlor, and had a capital breakfast, and then resumed my walk with a pleasant memory of my entertainment in that village inn.

I passed through a fertile and interesting section to St. Ives, in Huntingdonshire.  Here I remained with some friends for a week, visiting neighboring villages by day and returning at night.  St. Ives is a pleasant, well-favored town, just large enough to constitute a coherent, neighborly, and well-regulated community.  It is the centre-piece of a rich, rural picture, which, without any strikingly salient features, pleases the eye with lineaments of quiet beauty symmetrically developed by the artistry of Nature.  The river Ouse meanders through a wide, fertile flat, or what the Scotch would call a strath, which gently rises on each side into pleasantly undulating uplands.  Parks, groves, copses, and hedge-row trees are interspersed very happily, and meadow, pasture, and grain-fields seen through them, with villages, hamlets, farm-houses, and isolated cottages, make up a landscape that grows more and more interesting as you contemplate it.  And this placid locality, with its peaceful river seemingly sleeping in the bosom of its long and level meadows, was the scene of Oliver Cromwell's young, fiery manhood.  Here, where Nature invites to tranquil occupations and even exercises of the mind, he trained the latent energies of his will for action in the great drama that overturned a throne and transformed a nation.  Here, till very lately, stood his "barn," and here he drilled the first squadron of his "Ironsides."

My friend and host drove me one day to see a fen-farm a few miles beyond Ramsey, at which we remained over night and enjoyed the old-fashioned English hospitality of the establishment with lively relish.  It was called "The Four-Hundred-Acre-Farm," to distinguish it from a hundred others, laid out on the same dead level, with lines and angles as straight and sharp as those of a brick.  You will meet scores of persons in England who speak admiringly of the great prairies of our Western States - but I never saw one in Illinois as extensive as the vast level expanse you may see in Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire.  In fact, the space of a large county has been fished up out of a shallow sea of salt water by human labor and capital.  I will not dwell here upon the expense, process, and result of this gigantic operation.  It would require a whole chapter to convey an approximate idea of the character and dimensions of the enterprise.  The feat of Cyrus in turning the current of the Euphrates was the mere making of a short mill-race compared with the labor of lifting up these millions of acres bodily out of the flood that had covered and held them in quiescent solution since the world began.

This Great Prairie of England, generally called here the Fens, or Fenland, would be an interesting and instructive section for the agriculturists of our Western States to visit.  They would see how such a region can be made quite picturesque, as well as luxuriantly productive.  Let them look off upon the green sea from one of the upland waves, and it will be instructive to them to see and know, that all the hedge-trees, groves, and copses that intersect and internect the vast expanse of green and gold were planted by man's hands.  Such a landscape would convince them that the prairies of Illinois and Iowa may be recovered from their almost depressing monotony by the same means.  The soil of this district is apparently the same as that around Chicago - black and deep, on a layer of clay.  It pulverises as easily in dry weather, and makes the same inky and sticky composition in wet.  To give it more body, or to cross it with a necessary and supplementary element, a whole field is often trenched by the spade as clean as one could be furrowed by the plough.  By this process the substratum of clay is thrown up, to a considerable thickness, upon the light, black, almost volatile soil, and mixed with it when dry; thus giving it a new character and capacity of production.

Everything seems to grow on a Californian scale in this fen district.  Although the soil thus rescued from the waters that had flooded and half dissolved it, was at first as deep, black, and naturally fertile as that of our prairies, those who commenced its cultivation did not make the same mistake as did our Western farmers.  They did not throw their manure into the broad draining canals to get rid of it, trusting to the inexhaustible fertility of the alluvial earth, as did the wheat growers of Indiana and Illinois to their cost; but they husbanded and well applied all the resources of their barn-yards.  In consequence of this economy, there is no deterioration of annual averages of their crops to be recorded, as in some of our prairie States, which have been boasting of the natural and inexhaustible fertility of their soil even with the record of retrograde statistics before their eyes.  The grain and root crops are very heavy; and a large business is done in growing turnip seed for the world in some sections of this fen country.  A large proportion of the quantity we import comes from these low lands.

Our host of the Four-Hundred-Acre Farm took us over his productive occupation, which was in a very high state of cultivation.  The wheat was yellowing to harvest, and promised a yield of forty-two bushels to the acre.  The oats were very heavy, and the root crops looked well, especially a field of mangel-wurzel.  He apportions his land to different crops after this ratio: - Wheat, 120 acres; oats, 80; rye-grass and clover, 50; roots, 60.  His live stock consisted of 300 sheep, 50 to 60 head of cattle, and 70 to 80 hogs.  His working force was from 10 to 12 men, 14 farm horses, and 4 nags.  It may interest some of my American readers to know the number, character, and cost of the implements employed by this substantial English farmer in cultivating an estate of 400 acres.  I noted down the following list, when he was showing us his tool-house: -

                            £        $     £     $
6 Ploughs              at  4 each = 20    24 = 120
6 Horse-carts,          at 14 each = 70    84 = 420
1 Large Iron Roller and Gearing,          13 =  65
1 Cambridge Roller                        14 =  70
1 Twelve-Coulter Drill                    46 = 230
3 Harrows              at  3 each = 15    9 =  45
2 Great Harrows        at  3 each = 15    6 =  30
                                            - -  - -
Total cost of these Implements          £196  $980

These figures will represent the working forces and implemental machinery of a well-tilled farm of 400 acres in England.  They will also indicate the amount of capital required to cultivate an estate of this extent here.  Let us compare it with the amount generally invested in New England for a farm of equal size.  Thousands that have been under cultivation for a hundred years, may be bought for £5, or $25, per acre, including house, barn, and other buildings and appurtenances.  It is a very rare thing for a man with us to buy 400 acres at once; but if he did, it would probably be on these conditions: - He would pay £400, or $2,000, down at the time of purchase, giving his notes for the remaining £1,600, or $8,000, at 6 per cent. interest payable annually, together with the yearly instalment of principal specified in each note.  He would perhaps have £200, or $1,000, left of his capital for working power and agricultural implements.  He would probably divide it after the following manner: -

                                            £    £     $
2 Yokes of Oxen, at                        25 = 50 = 250
1 Horse                                          20 = 100
2 Ox-carts, at                              15 = 30 = 150
1 Waggon                                        20 = 100
2 Ox-sleds, at                              1 =  2 =  10
2 Ox-ploughs, at                            2 =  4 =  20
1 Single Horse-plough                            1 =  5
2 Harrows                                    2 =  4 =  20
Cradles, scythes, hoes, rakes, flails, etc.      4 =  20
Fanning-mill, hay-cutter, and corn-sheller.      4 =  20
15 Cows, steers, and heifers                    45 = 225
6 Shoats, or pigs, six months old                10 =  50

These figures would indicate a large operation for a practical New England farmer, who should undertake to purchase and cultivate an estate of 400 acres.  Indeed, not one in a hundred buying such a large tract of land would think of purchasing all the implements on this list at once, or entirely new.  One of his carts, sleds, and harrows would very probably be "second-handed," and bought at half the price of a new one.  Thus, a substantial farmer with us would think he was beginning on a very satisfactory and liberal footing, if he had £200, or $1,000, in ready money for stocking a holding of 400 acres with working cattle and implemental machinery, cows, pigs, etc.  Now, compare this outlay with that of our host of the Four-Hundred-Acre Farm in Lincolnshire.  We will begin with his -

                                                £           £      $
 14 Farm horses, at the low figure of          20 each =  280 = 1,400
  4 Nags, or saddle and carriage horses        2O each =  8O =  400
300 Stock sheep                                  1 each =  300 = 1,500
 7O Pigs, of different ages                      2 each =  140 =  900
 5O Head of cattle (cows, bullocks, etc.)      12 each =  600 = 3,000
Carts, drills, rollers, ploughs and other implements    1,000 = 5,000
                                                          - - -  - - -
                                                        £2,400 $12,200

The average rent of such land in England must be at least £1 10s. per acre, and the tenant farmer must pay half of this out of the capital he begins with; which, on 400 acres, would amount to £300.  Then, if he buys a quantity of artificial manures equal to the value of 10s. per acre, he will need to expend in this department £200.  Next, if he purchases corn and oil-cake at the same ratio for his cattle and sheep as that adopted by Mr. Jonas, of Chrishall Grange, he will want £1,000 for his 60 head of cattle and 300 sheep.  In addition to these items of expenditure, he must pay his men weekly; and the wages of ten, at 10s. per week, for six months, amount to £130.  Add an economical allowance for family expenses for the same length of time, and for incidental outgoes, and you make up the aggregate of £4,000, which is £10 to the acre, which an English farmer needs to have and invest on entering upon the cultivation of a farm, great or small.  This amount, as has been stated elsewhere, is the rule for successful agriculture in this country.

These facts will measure the difference between the amounts of capital invested in equal spaces of land in England and America.  It is as ten to one, assuming a moderate average.  Here, a man would need £1,500, or more than $7,000, to begin with on renting a farm of 150 acres, in order to cultivate it successfully.  In New England, a man would think he began under favorable auspices if he were able to enter upon the occupancy of equal extent with £100, or about $500.

On returning from the Fens, I passed the night and most of the following day at Woodhurst, a village a few miles north of St. Ives, on the upland rising gently from the valley of the Ouse.  My host here was a farmer, owning the land he tilled, cultivating it and the moral character and happiness of the little community, in which he moved as a father, with an equally generous heart and hand, and reaping a liberal reward from both departments of his labor.  He took me over his fields, and showed me his crops and live stock, which were in excellent condition.  Harvesting had already commenced, and the reapers were at work, men and women, cutting wheat and barley.  Few of them used sickles, but a curved knife, wider than the sickle, of nearly the same shape, minus the teeth.  A man generally uses two of them.  With the one in his left hand he gathers in a good sweep of grain, bends it downward, and with the other strikes it close to the ground, as we cut Indian corn.  With the left-hand hook and arm, he carries on the grain from the inside to the outside of the swath or "work," making three or four strokes with the cutting knife; then, at the end, gathers it all up and lays it down in a heap for binding.  This operation is called "bagging."  It does not do the work so neatly as the sickle, and is apt to pull up many stalks by the roots with the earth attaching to them, especially at the last, outside stroke.

I was struck with the economy adopted by my host in loading, carting and stacking or ricking his grain.  The operation was really performed like clock-work.  Two or three men were stationed at the rick to unload the carts, two in the fields to load them, and several boys to lead them back and forth to the two parties.  They were all one-horse carts, and so timed that a loaded one was always at the rick and an empty one always in the field; thus keeping the men at both ends fully employed from morning until night, pitching on and pitching off; while boys, at 6d. or 8d. a day, led the horses.

On passing through the stables and housings for stock, I noticed a simple, yet ingenious contrivance for watering cattle, which I am not sure I can describe accurately enough, without a drawing, to convey a tangible idea of it to my agricultural neighbors in America.  It may be called the buoy-cock.  In the first place, the water is brought into a cistern placed at one end of the stable or shed at a sufficient elevation to give it the necessary fall in all the directions in which it is to be conducted.  The pipe used for each cow-box or manger connects each with the cistern, and the distributing end of it rests upon, or is suspended over, the trough assigned to each animal.  About one-third of this trough, which was here a cast-iron box, about twelve inches deep and wide, protrudes through the boarding of the stable.  In this outside compartment is placed a hollow copper ball attached to a lever, which turns the axle or pivot of the cock.  Now, this little buoy, of course, rises and falls with the water in the trough.  When the trough is full, the buoy rises and raises the lever so as to shut off the water entirely.  At every sip the animal takes, the buoy descends and lets on again, to a drop, a quantity equal to that abstracted from the inside compartment.  Thus the trough is always kept full of pure water, without losing a drop of it through a waste-pipe or overflow.  Where a great herd of cattle and a drove of horses have to be supplied from a deep well, as in the case of Mr. Jonas, at Chrishall Grange, this buoy-cock must save a great amount of labor.

I saw also here in perfection that garden allotment system which is now coming widely into vogue in England, not only adjoining large towns like Birmingham, but around small villages in the rural districts.  It is well worthy of being introduced in New England and other states, where it would work equally well in various lines of influence.  A landowner divides up a field into allotments, each generally containing a rood, and lets them to the mechanics, tradespeople and agricultural laborers of the town or village, who have no gardens of their own for the growth of vegetables.  Each of these is better than a savings-bank to the occupant.  He not only deposits his odd pennies but his odd hours in it; keeping both away from the public-house or from places and habits of idleness and dissipation.  The days of Spring and Summer here are very long, and a man can see to work in the field as early as three o'clock in the morning, and as late as nine at night.  So every journeyman blacksmith, baker or shoemaker may easily find four or five hours in the twenty-four for work on his allotment, after having completed the task or time due to his employer.  He generally keeps a pig, and is on the qui vive to make and collect all the manure he can for his little farm.  A field of several acres, thus divided and cultivated in allotments, presents as striking a combination of colors as an Axminster carpet.  As every rood is subdivided into a great variety of vegetables, and as forty or fifty of such patches, lying side by side, present, in one coup d'il, all the alternations of which these crops and colors are susceptible, the effect is very picturesque.

My Woodhurst friend makes his allotment system a source of much social enjoyment to himself and the poor villagers.  He lets forty-seven patches, each containing twenty poles.  Every tenant pays 10s., or $2 40c., annual rent for his little holding, Mr. E. drawing the manure for each, which is always one good load a year.  Here, too, these little spade-farmers are put under the same regime as the great tenant agriculturists of the country.  Each must farm his allotment according to the terms of the yearly lease.  He must dig up his land with spade or pick, not plough it; and he is not allowed to work on it upon the Sabbath.  But encouragements greatly predominate over restrictions, and stimulate and reward a high cultivation.  Eight prizes are offered to this end, of the following amounts: - 10s., 7s. 6d., 5s., 4s., 3s., 2s. 6d., 2s. and 1s.  Every one who competes must not have more than half his allotment in potatoes.  The greater the variety of vegetables the other half contains, the better is his chance for the first prize.  The appraiser is some disinterested person of good judgment, perhaps from an adjoining town, who knows none of the competitors.  To prevent any possible favoritism, the allotments are all numbered, and he awards prizes to numbers only, not knowing to whom they belong.  Another feature, illustrating the generous disposition of the proprietor, characterises this good work.  On the evening appointed for paying the rents, he gets up a regular, old-fashioned English supper of roast beef and plum-pudding for them, giving each fourpence instead of beer, so that they may all go home sober as well as cheerful.  To see him preside at that table, with his large, round, rosy face beaming upon them with the quiet benevolence of a good heart, and to hear the fatherly and neighborly talks he makes to them, would be a picture and preaching which might be commended to the farmers of all countries.

I saw also a curious phenomenon in the natural world on this farm, which perhaps will be regarded as a fiction of fancy by many a reader.  It was a large field of barley grown from oats!  We have recently dwelt upon some of the co-workings of Nature and Art in the development of flowers and of several useful plants.  But here is something stranger still, that seems to diverge from the line of any law hitherto known in the vegetable world.  Still, for aught one can know at this stage of its action, it may be the same general law of development which we have noticed, only carried forward to a more advanced point of progress.  I would commend it to the deep and serious study of naturalists, botanists, or to those philosophers who should preside over the department of investigation to which the subject legitimately belongs.  I will only say what I saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears.  Here, I repeat, was a large field of heavy grain, ready for harvest.  The head and berry were barley, and the stalk and leaves wereoat!  Here, certainly, is a mystery.  The barley sown on this field was the first-born offspring of oats.  And the whole process by which this wonderful transformation is wrought, is simply this, and nothing more: - The oats are sown about the last week in June; and, before coming into ear, they are cut down within one inch and a half of the ground.  This operation is repeated a second time.  They are then allowed to stand through the winter, and the following season the produce is barley.  This is the plain statement of the case in the very words of the originator of this process, and of this strange transmutation.  The only practical result of it which he claims is this: that the straw of the barley thus produced is stouter, and stands more erect, and, therefore, less liable to be beaten down by heavy wind or rain.  Then, perhaps, it may be added, this oat straw headed with barley is more valuable as fodder for live stock than the natural barley straw.  But the value of this result is nothing compared with the issue of the experiment as proving the existence of a principle or law hitherto undiscovered, which may be applied to all kinds of plants for the use of man and beast.  If any English reader of these notes is disposed to inquire more fully into this subject, I am sure he may apply without hesitation to Mr. John Ekins, of Bruntisham, near St. Ives, who will supply any additional information needed.  He presented me with a little sample bag of this oat-born barley, which I hope to show my agricultural neighbors on returning to America.