Page images
PDF
EPUB

of the land, and of failors and soldiers for the defence of the state. Policy, as well as humanity, calls loudly on the landlord to attend more to the cottager *

Too high rents are on many estates the principal obstacle to improvement. Landlords consider high rents as a spur to improvement; and some have applied it so freely as to make the galled sufferer first exert all his strength, and then link in despair under the burden. When the horse falls, the rider is apt to suffer. Landlords should be at pains to know the real value of their lands, and they will always find it safer to keep below than to exceed it. If the tenant is distressed, he can have neither the spirit nor the power to improve.

The common mode of letting lands to the highest bidder, by private offer, is also adverse to improvement. The most honest, able, and skilful, are unwilling to supplant a neighbour, and cautious of risking what they have already got, by cafting their lot into this dark mysterious urn: whereas, the unprincipled, the indigent, and the ignorant, who have neither character nor substance to lose, are always found to be the moft forward. Some landlords however say, perhaps justly, that they have no other way of judging of the value of their property. But they take too much for granted, if they think the persons who offer are always better judges than themselves.

The want of skill, and of a proper system of husbandry, and particularly the neglect of green crops, operate against the improvement of the country, as also the general poverty of the smaller tenants, where they hold their possessions in run-rig, as skill and capital are no less necessary to improvement than industry. But skill, it is hoped, will foon be obtained by means of the general attention now paid every where to agricultural inquiries, and skill, with industry, will soon increase the capital of the farmer, if the landlord will give due encouragement.

Şce Chap. IV. Sect. I.

The little attention hitherto paid to manufactures is much against the improvement of the country. Should we manufacture our own wool, and raise hemp and flax, and work them into fail-cloth, cordage, and linen, riches would find their way to us, and improve the country ; which is the usual consequence of manufactures.

The letting of farms to persons who do not reside upon them is much against the improvement of the country. A tenant who resides will always be doing something towards the improvement of the farm; but he who plants it only with a herd or cottager will do nothing. A farm under this management is entirely left to nature, and must therefore remain in the state in which it is. · But it is still a greater evil to let farms to such as take them for no other purpose but to subset them to others. These intermediate tenants are like the drones in a hive; they live upon the labour of others, and often beggar those beneath them, as well as intercept the advantage due to those above them. If the profits which are enjoyed by these people for doing nothing were divided, as they ought, between the labouring tenant and the proprietor, the first might be at his ease, and the last have a considerable accession to his income. A humane landlord should not put it in the power of any man to distress the poor upon his lands, and a wise landlord fhould not allow another to reap the advantage which is justly due to himself. And yet it is no uncommon thing for one proprietor to let some of his lands to another, while that other will neither occupy thefe, perhaps, nor much of his own. Both these systems are adverse to the improvement of the country. A fubtenant paying a racked rent, and having seldom any lease, has neither strength nor spirit to improve ; and if a proprietor makes any improvement, it will be on his own lands, and not on those which he rents. The falt laws, with the many oppreffive regulations con

PP

nected with them, are in the highest degree adverse to the industry and prosperity of a great proportion of the inhabitants of this county, and of course to the improvement of the country. It is impossible that, under so good a government, this shall continue long to be the case.

Scarcity of timber, the want of more commodious and comfortable houses, and better implements of husbandry, are all of them circumstances unfavourable to improvements; but the tendency to better things which already begins to appear, gives every reason to hope we shall make rapid progress..

A prejudice in favour of a coarse-woolled breed of sheep is in many respects unfavourable to the country : the wool brings less money, and the more valuable native breed is neglected, and in danger of being loft. Nothing could be of more importance to the county than to preserve and improve its native breed of horses, cows, and sheep, all which are capable of being brought to great perfection, and better adapted to the county than any other that have been, or perhaps can be tried.

Of all the obstacles to improvement none can be greater than the non-residence of many of the heritors, which deprives the ground of almost any part of the rent being spent on the premises. If a farmer should sell all the straw or dung which should manure his farm, it could not be more hurtful to improvement than the landlord's spending all his rents elsewhere. Two thirds, at least, of the rent are spent out of the county.

The intolerable number of dram-houses, which destroy the time, the morals, the means, and the health of the inhabitants, is also adverse in the extreme to industry and improvement. Landlords are in no respect more blind to their own interest than in tolerating so many of these baneful nuisances. They think that the farmer, by means of them, gets a better price for his bear; but it were better the bear were cast into the

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

sea, than to have it thus converted into a deadly poison to the industry, morals, means, and health of the people. If the publican is thus enabled to pay a trifle of rent, it is at the expence of 50 or 100 of his neighbours, and ultimately at the expence of the landlord. The tenant might raise oats instead of bear, and the meal would always find a market; or he might raise green crops, and add to the number of his cattle. By this change, the tenant, the landlord, and the country, could be gainers.

Among the great obstacles to the prosperity and improvement of this county, though not peculiar to it, may be mentioned the unhappy frequency of our wars. It may be computed that, between soldiers and failors, every war drains this county of between 3000 and 4000 of its most active and able hands, the support of thousands more. In comparison of this, how trifling are all our other lofses by emigration ! Happy would it be for the natives of Europe, if some general court could be established, in which all the quarrels of its ruling powers could be adjusted by delegates, who should fit as judges, and finally determine every contest by their decisions, without the dreadful and shocking appeal to the cannon, the bayonet, and the sword. How must future ages be astonished at our madness, when the happy time shall come, in which there shall be war no more! In the mean time, while we are attacked, it is necessary to defend.

Рpij

CHAPTER XVII.

MISCELLANEOUS OBSERVATIONS.

Sect. I.- Agricultural Societies. One has been lately instituted in Kintyre, and favoured by the President of the Board of Agriculture with a parcel of agricultural reports, which are read with avidity, and may be a means of diisusing knowledge of useful facts, and exciting attention and a spirit of inquiry.

It might be of service to have fuch a fociety in every parish, every member paying a small annual subscription, to be applied folely to the purchase of useful books on agricultural subjects : And as the minister of the parish is often (what perhaps he ought not to be) a farmer, it might be of service, if at a slack season of the year, he would give a few weekly lectures on agricultural subjects, arranging and digesting the most useful hints and improvements that come to light from time to time, so far as they suit the place and people of his charge. Those who cannot read themselves, nor perhaps afford the expence of a subscription, might thus be benefited, and a general spirit of improvement be diffused.

In every county there might be some person connected with the Board of Agriculture, who might receive, digest, and communicate, any important facts or useful discoveries that might occur in the county, and note down, from time to time, in tables, the measurement of any lands that may be surveyed, the rise or fall in their price, rent, or produce; the changes in the mode of living, price of labour, management of land or cattle, change or improvement of breed, with any

« PreviousContinue »