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prises may have been much beyond his ability, but he may derive much benefit from their success. The various improvements in husbandry, the thorough and complete tillage, the choice and application of manures, the rotation of crops, draining, irrigation, and the various modes of reclaiming land, may serve as useful guides for operations on a much smaller scale.
The British Islands, in round numbers, contain about 120,000 square miles, or about 76,000,000 acres. England and Wales, or South Britain, comprise nearly one half of this ter ritory, and Scotland and Ireland each not far from one fourth, Great Britain being nearly three times as large as the neighbouring Emerald Isle. The territory of the two islands is somewhat larger than the New England states, with New York and New Jersey, or about fifteen times larger that the state of Massachusetts.
According to the most accurate calculations, the population of England and Wales, in the year 1700, amounted to about 5,134,000. That is, from the Roman conquest of Britain, during a term of more than sixteen centuries of what Burke calls civilizing conquests and civilizing settlements, the number of inhabitants had only grown to a little more than five millions. Half a century later, in the year 1750, it had increased, by the same computation, to 6,039,000, or about 900,000 in fifty years. During the next fifty years, or up to the year 1801, the population, according to the census, had risen to 9,187,000, or an increase of considerable more than three millions.
At the last census, in 1841, England and Wales contained 15,907,000 inhabitants, or an increase in forty years of 6,700,000, nearly ten millions more than in 1750, and three times the number at the period when the English, under King William, were able to check the ambitious projects of Louis XIV., and also when, a few years later, the Duke of Marlborough was in the full career of his victories over France.
Thus the increase of population in England and Wales, in fifty years from 1700 to 1750, was nearly 18 per cent.; in fifty years from 1750 to 1800, nearly 52 per cent.; in forty years from 1800 to 1840, or, which is nearly the same, from 1801 to 1841, nearly 73 per cent.
By the next census, in 1851, it will probably be found that the population of England and Wales has doubled, or nearly so, during the last fifty years.
The increase of agricultural produce has not quite kept pace with the progress of population, but comes near the same ratio. There has been, as is well known, a large import of foreign grain into the British Islands during the last two or three years, though small compared with the whole consumption. We believe it will be found that for no five years in succession, even including the late years of famine, has the average import of foreign grain been equal to one tenth, or at most one eighth of the home production. It is supposed, on good authority, that the total growth of all kinds of grain is three times greater now than it was eighty or ninety years ago.
England, in 1688, to encourage her agriculture, gave a bounty on the export of grain, five shillings a quarter for wheat, and half that sum for barley. For about seventy years, from 1695, after the bounty had time to operate, to 1765, England, besides feeding her own population, exported annually to foreign countries on an average five hundred thousand quarters of wheat and other grain.
It is remarkable that, from 1640 to 1690, the average price of wheat was upwards of fifty-four shillings a quarter, and that for the latter period of seventy years, ending in 1765, the average price was but thirty-six shillings, or two thirds of the former price.
Since 1765, it may be said that the English have ceased to export grain; they have become importers. For twenty-five years, up to 1790, the average import was about 300,000 quarters. But if we include the next ten years to 1800, the annual average import was about 700,000 quarters of all kinds of grain.
England, at present, Mr. Colman says, exhibits a more brilliant example than has ever before been witnessed, of the application of mind to agriculture. The practice of agriculture, and the philosophy of it are matters of universal interest. Men of all ranks and conditions are laboring in the great cause. Agricultural improvement is one of the most fashionable occupations with the English nobility and gentry, and the abundant wealth of the great landholders, enables them to make experiments, and prosecute plans of improving and reclaiming land, on a much larger scale than would be thought of elsewhere.
In the steady and increasing demand for agricultural produce at a good price, the farmer of England has had the advantage over all other countries. A far greater portion of
the people are engaged in other pursuits, so that not more than one-fourth of the English people belong to the agricultu ral class. Mr. Colman says one-fifth, but we think this too low an estimate. It may be said that one-fourth of the popu lation of Great Britain (we do not include Ireland) supply nine-tenths of the whole demand for agricultural produce. In all other great nations, the agricultural class includes a ma jority of the whole population.
In general the English farmers have the capital and skill to manage all the business connected with the farm, with economy and despatch, in the regular and systematic method of a trade or manufacture; agriculture is, indeed, as Montesquieu says, the grand manufacture for supplying mankind with food and the materials of clothing. Another cause mentioned by English writers, the security of property, we should hope is common to us with them.
The abundance and low price of labor in England, however it may affect the well-being of the laborers themselves, affords undoubtedly a very great advantage to the farmers and landholders. The price of agricultural labor in England is probably not more than half as much as in the United States; many of the common operations in farming, as well as the great enterprises in improving and reclaiming lands might be performed at half their cost with us. It is very obvious that many of the improvements now going on in England, would be impracticable or ruinous if attempted here.
There seems good reason to suppose that large farms, culti vated as in England, are most favorable to great and rapid improvements. Arthur Young, speaking of Norfolk, now one of the best cultivated counties in the kingdom, and the farms mostly large, from 500 to 1000 acres, says: "great farms have been the soul of Norfolk culture; split them into tenures of £100 a year, and you will find nothing but beggars and weeds in the whole county. No small farmers could effect such things as have been done in Norfolk." And again, "deduct from agriculture all the practices that have made it flourishing in this island, and you have precisely the management of small farms."
It is to be observed that Norfolk, before the reign of George III., was one of the poorest counties in the kingdom. The soil was naturally barren, but the improvement has been greater there than in any other part of the empire, unless of late in Lincolnshire.
We give some extracts from our author's account of the agricultural population of England:
"I have referred to some differences in the condition of society here, and in the United States, and those differences it may be well to understand. The agricultural population in England is divided into three classes- the landlord, the tenant farmer or occupier, and the laborer.
"1st. The Landlords; Rents; and Taxes. - The landlord is the owner of the soil. Most of the landlords are noblemen or gentlemen, and are looked up to with a deference and veneration, on account of their rank, with which those of us who have been educated in a condition of society where titles and ranks are unknown, find it difficult to sympathize. They own the land. Some few of them keep portions of their vast territories in their own occupation, and under their own management; but by most of them, their lands are leased in farms of different sizes, seldom less than three or four hundred acres, and in many cases eight hundred, a thousand, and twelve hundred acres. The rent of land varies in different places; in some being as low as five shillings per acre; in others rising to almost so many pounds. Rents are in general paid in money. Sometimes they are valued in kind; that is, the tenant engaging to pay so many bushels of wheat, or so many bushels of barley, or such amount of other products; but in these cases, also, the landlord usually receives his rent in money according to the current prices of these articles. The rents are paid in semi-annual payments. The fair rent of land is sometimes estimated at a third of its products; by some, a different rule is adopted, which is, after all the expenses of cultivation and the usual assessments are deducted from the gross proceeds, that the balance remaining should be divided equally between the landlord and tenant. In general, however, as far as my observation has extended, the rate of rent is not determined by any particular rule, other than that which prevails in most commercial transactions, that each party makes the best bargain for himself that he is able. It is only just to add that in all the cases, without exception, which have come under my remark, there has seemed to me, on the part of the landlords, the highest measure of liberality; the rents in general bearing a small proportion to the legal interest of the money at which the lands are valued, and for which they could be sold at once; lands costing £60 sterling, or 300 dollars per acre, being frequently let for 30s. or £2 sterling per acre, that is, less than eight or ten dollars per acre. We are not well satisfied in the United States with a return from our land under five or six per cent. on its cost; but the landlords here seldom obtain more than two-and-a-half per cent., or three per cent. on the price which the land would command, if brought into the market."
Lands in England are occupied by tenants under a lease for a term of years, or held at will, or from year to year. When at will, no notice to quit is required; when from year to year, six months notice of an intention to quit must be given. It is remarkable that not more than one third of the land in England is supposed to be held under leases for a term of years. The remainder is held chiefly from year to year, six months notice being required from either party disposed to terminate the tenancy.
"2.- The Farmers. - Next come the farmers, who lease the land of the land-owners. These men are not like farmers in the United States, who themselves labor in the field; they rarely do any personal labor whatever. They are, in general, a substantial and well-informed body of men; and many of them live in a style of elegance and fashion. Many of them are persons of considerable property, as, indeed, they must be in order to manage the farms which they undertake. The capital necessary to manage a stock or an arable farm must be always estimated at double or treble the amount of rent; and, in general, cannot be set down at less than £10 sterling, or fifty dollars, per acre. The stock required for a grazing is, of course, much more than for an arable farm; but in no case can success be looked for without ample means of outlay.
"The farmers in England, as far as I have had the pleasure to meet with them, are a well informed set of men, especially on subjects connected with their particular pursuits. There, of course, is the variety among them which is to be found in other classes; but their manners, without exception, are courteous and agreeable, their hospitality distinguished, and their house-keeping - and I speak with the authority of a connoisseur in these matters - is admirable. Indeed, it has not yet been my misfortune to meet, in England or Scotland, with a single instance of sluttishness in any private house which I have visited; but, on the other hand, the most exemplary neatness. I cannot say as much of all the hotels or taverns in the country, many of which are far inferior in all respects, and none of them superior in any, to our best hotels. There is one circumstance in English manners so much to the credit of their house keeping, that I shall, for the best of reasons, venture to remind my American friends of it, although I fear that any reformation in the case is hopeless. In no private house which I have visited have I been smothered or offended with
*This is stated in the Edinburgh Review, No. 120, in an interesting article on Kennedy and Grainger, “Present State of the Tenancy of land in Great Britain."