Pearson’s Magazine (UK), August 1905
(The real way back to the land has been discovered by a London journalist. He resolved to leave off devising means of getting other people back to the land, and to go back himself. It is a happy life that he has to tell of.—Daily Paper.)
Monday: Arrived Little Bindlebury-on-Mud. Charmed with everything. Picturesque little cottage with thatched roof, nice garden, lovely sunset. Great improvement on Fleet Street. Seems curious to think that I have abandoned that sort of life for ever. Hardly realise it at first. Mem: Might begin planting potatoes to-morrow. Query: How does one start about it?
Tuesday: Just about to plant potatoes when I received a visit from the curate. Had heard that I had been a journalist, and came to ask if I would mind just knocking off a few trifles for the parish magazine. How it happened I cannot explain, but I suddenly found him thanking me profusely, and I understand that I have promised to turn out a series of improving stories, some verses, and a batch of paragraphs before Thursday. Awkward. Hardly like to disappoint him, but this will seriously interfere with my farming operations. Spent rest of afternoon writing story with moral purpose. Too late to plant potatoes to-day. Might try to-morrow. Wish I knew how deep to put them in. Mem.: Thoughtful essay first thing to-morrow morning on Farming Problems.
Wednesday: Within an ace of planting potatoes when squire arrived. Sorry to trouble me—perfect stranger, and so on—but fact was, was in dooce of a fix. Had to make speech at Tenants’ Dinner that night, and couldn’t think what to say, ’pon his word he couldn’t. Taking a great liberty, of course, but could I, did I think, write suitable speech for him? Had heard from curate that I was a literary man. Otherwise wouldn’t have dreamed of troubling me. Not a long speech, of course. Didn’t want to be on his feet for more than, say, three-quarters of an hour. Could scarcely refuse, so spent rest of day squeezing out platitudes for benefit of tenants. Wrote last page with special messenger from squire waiting in the passage for copy. Quite like old times. Mem.: Gossipy article on Philanthropic Journalism and its drawbacks. Wish I had had time to plant those potatoes.
Thursday: Raining hard. Spent day indoors. Luckily I have plenty of paper. Turned out some really good stuff, including long article for monthly magazine on “Back to the Land.” Took slightly pessimistic view of subject. Roof leaks.
Friday: Still raining. Dull. No ideas. Spent day watching rain. Got letter from Editor of Little Bindlebury Clarion. Has heard from squire that I am great author, and would be obliged if I would let him have by return of post four thousand words on my impressions of Little Bindlebury. Regrets to say that finances of paper do not admit of remuneration in cash, but contributors receive twelve copies for distribution amongst their friends. Mem.: Essay (in style of Junius) on “Phases of Rural Cheek.” Further mem.: Get out of this place at once, at any cost. Roof still leaking.
Saturday: Back in London. Rapture. Nice little dinner with Brown, afterwards going on to Empire. Fleet Street looks splendid. Effect of lights shining on wet pavements very picturesque. Mem.: In future shall advise other people to go back to the land, and shall feel hurt if they refuse to do so, but as for myself, never again.
P. G. W.