The Cunning Rustic Revealed
I first read the phrase ‘Cunning Rustics’ in the wonderful collection of John Michell’s essays entitled ‘Confessions of a Radical Traditionalist‘. I immediately set the book closed on my table and reveled in the term. It so perfectly described the finest of people that I had met, both in life and in literature. To me, the Cunning Rustic is both Farmer Oak and Uncle Silas. The kind of man looked down upon by the newly rich, but oft consulted by the true aristocracy. He knows the signs of the coming season, how to find water with a forked stick, how to lay a snare and how to trap a spirit in a wooden post. He drinks good cider and ale, shares the best bread, and sings songs that make children laugh and maidens weep. He cares not for fashion, but will always dress well for market day. He knows the land is more important than the wealth it brings, and is content when surrounded by his people and his animals. He is naturally jolly, but fully prepared to defend his lot by guile and by force, if necessary. He is generous to the needy but not swayed by sob stories, understands the need for a King but never aspired to be one, believes in work but despises drudgery. He is mistrustful of the clergy, because they carry a crook but have never sheared a sheep, and of the politicians who are there for the reaping, but not for the sowing. He trusts that the great oak should not be cut down, that no man can decide his fate (though he may change his odds) and that no good can come from greed.
The Cunning Rustic can be ready to take on, with fierce loyalty, the causes closest to his heart, never forgetting the battles fought by his beloved ancestors for the preservation of his noble rural values.Young men who in eras past honed their martial skills through cattle rustling, spirited physical competition and local village rivalries, joined together when the balance of power needed to be reset. From Hereward the Wake to Wat Tyler, Robin Hood to Robert Kett, the heroes of the English countryman achieved mythical status.
Moderns will say that the Cunning Rustic no longer exists, some Moderns will say that he never existed. They will say that the ideals of ‘Merrie England’ were no more than a myth and should be cast aside to make way for progress. This is nothing but factory smoke and stage mirrors! The Cunning Rustic lives! The spirit exists in each of us that has felt our soul fly when looking over the pasture, hillside or heath! Not just in Albion, but across the oceans, on the continent, in all corners of the globe, wherever the sons and daughters of Europe landed. Many Cunning Rustics were forced from their homes over the years, fleeing wars, puritanism, blight, land enclosures or shipped out as prisoners and indentured servants. They came to new lands, taking their skills to new frontiers and established a new home for themselves, carrying their songs and stories and creating new traditions, each respected and in their own right by their descendants. We can each find true happiness only in the things that gave our elder kin their greatest happiness, not in the ephemera of modernity.
But woe! So many of us have found ourselves as fallen apples, rolled away from the tree, rotting in a pile at the bottom of the hill. How we long to return to when we were blossoms, beautiful and fragrant and connected! We must continue to plant ourselves in the ground, and allow our own growth. As Modernity erodes the values of the Cunning Rustic, the greater the need for staunch vigilance and ancient wisdom. The oldest stories must be told again in their purest forms. The legends of our ancients must be given a higher value, for wisdom surely lies within. Even the smallest step home, is still a step on the right path.
We do not fear the Giant.
FEE FI FO FUM!