An English Landlord
WAREHAM—TESTIMONIAL TO JOSEPH WELD, ESQ., OF LULWORTH.
The presentation of a splendid piece of plate to Joseph Weld, Esq., of Lulworth Castle, by his tenantry, took place on Monday se'nnight at the Weld's Arms Inn, East Lulworth.
The dinner was an admirable one, and the company large and respectable, Mr. THOMAS RANDALL in the chair. Mr. Weld was represented by his son Edward, having himself been too ill to attend. After the usual loyal toasts, the CHAIRMAN rose and said—
It is with feelings of the deepest possible regret to myself, as I am sure it must be to you all, to witness the absence of our highly respected landlord, who we had hoped this day personally to beg the acceptance of a small tribute of our gratitude and esteem. But being aware that his absence is caused by circumstances over which he has no control, It is gratifying to find his representative present in the person of his son, Edward Weld, Esq., and whom it becomes my duty to address on behalf of those gentlemen who have placed me in this important position.
(Then, addressing Mr. Edward Weld).
Sir, the tenantry on the Lulworth Estates, being desirous of marking their high sense of the esteem and regard in which your venerable father is held amongst them, have assembled together this day, for the purpose of presenting him with a piece of plate, on which is inscribed the heartfelt expression of an attached tenantry.
Now, Sir, as a tenant of many years standing myself on the manor, I must be fully sensible of the various acts of kindness and attention your venerable father has manifested towards us, and the enumeration of them will be as pleasing to me to rehearse as I am sure it will be for you to hear.
First then, Sir, at a time of severe agricultural depression, occurring not many years ago, that circumstance being judiciously pointed out to him, by his excellent steward (our friend Mr. John Hyde), he nobly came forward to the assistance of the tenantry, and enabled them to hold that position in society to which they feel they have a right honourably to aspire.
Next, Sir, permit me to refer to a circumstance on which I speak with peculiar pleasure, I refer to a period when your father permitted all his tenants to expend a certain per centage on the rent, in the shape of artificial manures, the effect of which proved to be a powerful stimulant to further improvement and outlay on the part of the tenantry.
Again, Sir, some three years ago, our friend Mr. Hyde was requested to lay before your father the expressed opinion of the tenantry, that an alteration of the rent days from Christmas to Lady Day, and from Midsummer to Michaelmas, would be highly desirable and of considerable advantage, and to which proposition your father regardless of his own personal considerations, readily consented; and were it necessary, I could point to the state of the markets this season to prove the great advantage of the alteration and which all who are acquainted with the subject will, I am sure, readily concede.
One other act of kindness I must now mention; — your father's attention being drawn by way of memorial to a great excess of game on some of his farms, he with great liberality and kindness of feeling, directed such changes to be made as to give the tenantry entire satisfaction. We consider this to be a great advantage, seeing that we have now all the world to cope with in agricultural matters, and with the removal of all real and practical grievances, we do not fear being able successfully to meet competition, come from what quarter it may. At the same time we would not interfere with the legitimate sport of the country gentlemen. On the contrary, we desire that whenever your father, yourself, or friends should visit the manor, you may find no lack of sport, and we pledge ourselves to use our utmost endeavour to maintain and protect it for you. On this point then, Sir, I trust I have said sufficient.
But I must not omit one other matter, and that is relative to rabbits, an animal I consider an enemy to the landlord, especially where draining is required, for one rabbit burrowing in a drain will throw the water back upon the whole frame of work, and thus leave the ground In a worse state than it originally was. To the tenant all admit they are an enemy, and also to the community at large from their destroying so large a portion of human food, for it is proved that in every three weeks of his existence, a rabbit eats and destroys more than the value of the carcase.
Thus, Sir, I have endeavoured to explain to you briefly, but faithfully, and to the best of my ability my own sentiments and those of my brother tenants on your father's domain.
I now come to the most pleasing part of my evening's duty. The tenants, as I have before observed, being desirous of marking their sense of the obligations enumerated, do most respectfully beg your father's acceptance of this tribute of their respect, and which on their behalf I now present to him through you.
It has emanated from most unquestionable motives of sincerity, and from an united tenantry. Trusting that he and you, and all who are dear to you, may long live in the enjoyment of every privilege your high position necessarily commands, and that you may be blessed with every happiness both temporal and spiritual, is the sincere prayer of every individual subscriber, and doubtless of every person who has assembled to witness our proceedings this day. (Cheers.)
And now, gentlemen, I call upon you to rise and drink "Restored health and happiness to Joseph Weld, Esq." (Drunk with three times three twice over.)
Mr. EDWARD WELD returned thanks in a voice and manner full of feeling. Be concluded with the following words : —
"It is indeed grateful for a landlord to receive such a mark of the esteem he is held in by his tenantry, and I am sure I may say that my father's is a tenantry with whom any man may feel proud to be connected. It is, indeed, cheering in these times, when there are so many trying in different quarters and endeavouring to sow contention between landlord and tenant. It is cheering to see such good feeling as has been exemplified at this meeting. Gentlemen, do not believe those who tell you that the understanding which exists between landlord and tenant is a mere contract; I will point to that beautiful memento and say, this proves a complete contradiction. The contract between landlord and tenant, no doubt, is founded in the first instance on mutual interest and advantage, but I do say that man has no heart who does not feel an attachment growing stronger and stronger every day, when the tenantry unite in a bond of union so complete as that which evidently unites you, as a body, to your landlord. (" Hear," and cheers.)
With respect to the question of game, I can only say that I rejoice to find that these concessions, and that disposition which my father evinced to meet your wishes, were satisfactory to you, and can only say, that they were equally satisfactory to him and to me. And, gentlemen, you have solved a problem which has of late been mooted in different places, and made use of as a handle to sow discord between landlord and tenant, for you have shown, in conjunction with your landlord, that the fair and legitimate enjoyment of the sports of the field are perfectly compatible with the wishes and requirements of the tenantry, and the state of agriculture as it exists at the present day. Gentlemen, I could dwell long on the subject, but I feel that I have trespassed considerably on your time — ("No, no," and " Go on) — but my heart was full, and I have to a certain degree freely given vent to feelings which I shall boast of to the latest day of my life. (Cheers.)
This beautiful piece of plate which you have presented, will be always present to our minds, to cherish and keep alive a warm feeling of attachment to the tenantry here; it will be handed down from generation to generation, and I shall teach my son to venerate, respect, and preserve it as your gift. (Loud applause.) I shall teach him that attachment to his tenantry should be the first and dearest feeling of his heart; for, gentlemen, these feelings I know are founded upon the noblest sentiments of our nature, and I rejoice that my lot is cast among you — that I have had an opportunity of being present at this most interesting occasion, and I can only repeat my best wishes for your health, your happiness, and your prosperity ; and as time rolls round, I sincerely hope that we may often meet the same happy faces here, and that we may all one day enjoy that more perfect happiness, which we can never have on earth." (Loud and continued applause followed this excellent address.)
The tenants all spoke in Mr. Randall's language, or at least with his sentiment.
The following was the steward's (Mr. Hyde) speech. —
"I have had the opportunity of meeting you upon various occasions, for twenty years, and whenever those meetings have taken place, whether on pleasure or business, I am pleased to say I have endeavoured to do all I could for the tenants, at the same time that I did justice to my employer, and I bless myself on being so successful. I always found we were going on in good [t]une, and every year gaining union and strength between landlord and tenant. It is a great satisfaction always to see the landlord and tenant on a favourable and good understanding; and you may rest satisfied, as long as you remain on this property, as long as you do what is right and just to your landlord, as every honest man should do, you need not fear — 'tis in the blood of them and never can come out. (Cheers.) Act fair and honest, and you will always be supported to the end of the chapter. We like to get good tenants and to keep them; I never saw any profit attend shifting tenants; if I saw any mistake I rectified it if possible. To see such a body of men united in such good feeling (and I believe you have all a good feeling towards me) is extremely gratifying. I have used all my endeavours to keep the tenantry together, Nothing is so annoying as to be on unpleasant terms, and I know but of one unpleasant occurrence on the manor, consisting of more than a hundred tenancies, and I must say I felt much on that occasion, for it is not in my nature to feel comfortable while there is one man living whom I cannot meet as a friend." (Cheers.)
The Lawyer who for thirty years had presided at Mr. Weld's audits in Dorsetshire, Mr. Bartlett, was toasted with much regard, and made a speech as unlike that of a stage lawyer as Mr. Hyde's was from the popular idea of a steward.
The health of the Rev. Mr. Bond, a neighbouring Clergyman, was then drank, and Mr. Hyde said he remembered having attended a meeting of that gentleman's tenantry to do honour to their landlord in a manner similar to the celebration of that day, and that on that occasion Mr. Bond had proposed Mr. Weld's health in a very handsome manner. He said that, in reference to the game, Mr. Weld had made great sacrifices in his concessions to his tenants; but, as regarded himself, there was no merit; he never was a sportsman, never carried a gun, and cared little about the sport. As for the Mr. Welds, they were all sportsmen, and the sacrifice on their parts was very different. The country round Lulworth had always been noted as a sporting country; the concession, therefore, was so much the greater, and the tenants were so much the more obliged.
The other speeches were all made in a corresponding spirit, and the happy party retired in measureless content and just before midnight.