the soil in sight of the towers of the church,
near which reposed the ashes of their ancestors for almost a thousand years. The whole island was mapped out into territorial parishes, as well as into counties, and the affairs of local interest, the assessment of rates, the care of the poor and of the roads, were settled by elected vestries or magistrates, with little interference from the central government.
The resident magistrates were unpaid, being taken from among the landed gentry; and the local affairs of the county, and all criminal affairs of no uncommon importance, were settled by them in a body at their quarterly sessions, where a kind-hearted landlord often presided, to appal the convicted offender by the solemn earnestness of his rebuke, and then to show him mercy by a lenient sentence.
Thus the local institutions of England
shared the common character; they were at once the evidence of aristocracy and the badges of liberty.
The climate, so inviting to rural life, was benign also to industry of all sorts.
Nowhere could labor apply itself so steadily, or in the same time achieve so much; and it might seem that the population engaged in manufactures would have constituted a separate element not included within the aristocratic system; but the great manufacture of the material not produced at home was still in its infancy.
The weaver toiled in his own cottage, and the thread which he used was with difficulty supplied to him sufficiently by the spinners at the wheel of his own family and among his neighbors.
Men had not as yet learned by machinery to produce, continuously and uniformly, from the down of cotton, the porous cords of parallel filaments;