The Way We Live Now HTML version

Roger Carbury And Paul Montague
Roger Carbury, of Carbury Hall, the owner of a small property in Suffolk, was the head
of the Carbury family. The Carburys had been in Suffolk a great many years certainly
from the time of the War of the Roses and had always held up their heads. But they had
never held them very high. It was not known that any had risen ever to the honour of
knighthood before Sir Patrick, going higher than that, had been made a baronet. They
had, however, been true to their acres and their acres true to them through the perils of
civil wars, Reformation, Commonwealth, and Revolution, and the head Carbury of the
day had always owned, and had always lived at, Carbury Hall. At the beginning of the
present century the squire of Carbury had been a considerable man, if not in his county, at
any rate in his part of the county. The income of the estate had sufficed to enable him to
live plenteously and hospitably, to drink port wine, to ride a stout hunter, and to keep an
old lumbering coach for his wife's use when she went avisiting. He had an old butler who
had never lived anywhere else, and a boy from the village who was in a way apprenticed
to the butler. There was a cook, not too proud to wash up her own dishes, and a couple of
young women while the house was kept by Mrs Carbury herself, who marked and gave
out her own linen, made her own preserves, and looked to the curing of her own hams. In
the year 1800 the Carbury property was sufficient for the Carbury house. Since that time
the Carbury property has considerably increased in value, and the rents have been raised.
Even the acreage has been extended by the enclosure of commons. But the income is no
longer comfortably adequate to the wants of an English gentleman's household. If a
moderate estate in land be left to a man now, there arises the question whether he is not
damaged unless an income also be left to him wherewith to keep up the estate. Land is a
luxury, and of all luxuries is the most costly. Now the Carburys never had anything but
land. Suffolk has not been made rich and great either by coal or iron. No great town had
sprung up on the confines of the Carbury property. No eldest son had gone into trade or
risen high in a profession so as to add to the Carbury wealth. No great heiress had been
married. There had been no ruin no misfortune. But in the days of which we write the
Squire of Carbury Hall had become a poor man simply through the wealth of others. His
estate was supposed to bring him in L2,000 a year. Had he been content to let the Manor
House, to live abroad, and to have an agent at home to deal with the tenants, he would
undoubtedly have had enough to live luxuriously. But he lived on his own land among his
own people, as all the Carburys before him had done, and was poor because he was
surrounded by rich neighbours. The Longestaffes of Caversham of which family Dolly
Longestaffe was the eldest son and hope had the name of great wealth, but the founder of
the family had been a Lord Mayor of London and a chandler as lately as in the reign of
Queen Anne. The Hepworths, who could boast good blood enough on their own side, had
married into new money. The Primeros though the goodnature of the country folk had
accorded to the head of them the title of Squire Primero had been trading Spaniards fifty
years ago, and had bought the Bundlesham property from a great duke. The estates of
those three gentlemen, with the domain of the Bishop of Elmham, lay all around the
Carbury property, and in regard to wealth enabled their owners altogether to overshadow
our squire. The superior wealth of a bishop was nothing to him. He desired that bishops
should be rich, and was among those who thought that the country had been injured when