Page images

there is but one large sheep stock, and that on lands not much adapted for tillage; and this is not given to one, but to several. Sheep on such lands, given in small shares or porsessions, would be a blessing to the country in general, instead of being a benefit only to a few *.

In confequence of this system, of giving small or moderate possessions, the estate mentioned is more improved, and in the way of advancing more in rent, than most others in the county. In consequence of this system too, fo favourable to population, perhaps no subject in Great Britain could, upon any great emergency, gather more men around his ftandard, or stand more secure of their affection, than the Duke of Ar


It must be observed, however, that on some parts of this nobleman's estate, as well as on many others, one essential branch of rural establishment is greatly neglected. The cottagers, in many districts, are extremely few, and much difcouraged. This is more especially the case of late; for even farmers, blind to their own intereft, have caught a portion of the unfeeling and intolerant spirit of those who leffen the population of the country. It is from cottages, that servants, and labourers for improving the ground, are to be looked for; and the present scarcity and high wages of servants must, in a great measure, be ascribed to there being so few cottages in most parts of the county. This circumstance is also adverse to population and industry; for servants, when they have not a prospect of so much as a house to put their head in, are discouraged from marrying, and become less industrious and fru-, gal than those who have such a prospect.. to those of large fortune and great influence in the country: and great, indeed, will be their merit and reward, if they de. vote those talents with which Providence has blessed them, to serve the common cause, and their own, in the most effen. tial manner, by rendering the situation of the labouring poor more comfortable, and promoting population. “ A civic crown was formerly decreed to him who saved the life of a citizen. What adequate recompense shall be adjudged to him who shall be the means of thus adding thousands to the number?”

* His Grace has since broke down this large poffeffion into 4 lots, each consisting of 2 or 3 small farms, and planted with 2 or 3 residing tenants, who can give all their labour and attention to the improvement of the ground, and commit their joint stock of sheep (on each lot) to the managem ment of a common herd. This plan, which unites agriculture with sheepfarming, and encourages population, appears to be well adapted to the na. ture of this county, and promises to promote both the interest of the proprie. tors and of the people. See Chap. XIII. Sect. 2.

If every farm had one or more cottages connected with it, according to its extent, it would be of the highest advantage to the country. Population would rapidly increase ; fervants, and good ones too, would abound; and the improvement of the lands would be greatly promoted. The farmer, in this way, would be better served, than by getting new, and generally ignorant hands, at every half year's end. A cottage fervant would know his master's work, and the nature of his foil; and, with skill and experience, have also more interest in having every thing forwarded and well done, than can reasonably be expected from a stranger, who, like a bird of passage, waits only for the term-day to take his departure, In hay and harvest time, the cottager's family would be a help at hand; and their aid, taken only when needed, might in many cases serve instead of a stated servant, and be cheaper

and more convenient for the farmer, • To make the situation of cottagers comfortable, every cot

tage should have an acre or two of ground (whether improved or improveable) annexed to it; so as to enable the occu. pier to keep a cow, or a small horse. A little poffefsion of this kind would be considered by a labouring man, or tradefman, as a great estate. It would encourage him to marry early, enable him in his frugal way to bring up a decent family, strongly attach him to his country, and give him an interest in its welfare. We should then hear no more the common saying of labourers, when an invasion of the country was lately rumoured : “From those who have nothing to lose, nothing can be taken.”. '

In such cottages, useful and honest servants would be reared for the public,—and hardy, able, and active soldiers and failors for the army and the navy: And the cottager, as he would be qualified, might, by frugality and industry, be

able to better his circumstances, and rise by degrees to the rank of a farmer of a small poffeffion; which is no uncommon case, where cottagers are encouraged as they ought, But here the wretched hut is often grudged them, even on the hardest terms; and a cow's grass they can seldom have for money or for favour..

Would it not chen be wise and patriotic, as well as humane, in 'every land-owner to annex to every farm-house at least one cottage, with a spot of ground cut out with it *, at a reasonable rent, fixed by himself, and not by the farmer? For some such regulation as this, the poor cottagers look up

* " A land-owner in a parish in Worcestershire, observing that the occupiers of cottages which had land annexed to them were remarkable for bringing up their families in a more neat and decent manner than those whose cote tages were without land, laid out from 5 to 12 acres to a number of cottages, added a small building for a horse or cow, and allowed grafting-stocks to raife orchards; and, in some instances, lent a small sum for the purchase of a cow, a mare, or a pig. The consequence was, that, in no one instance, this failed of giving an industrious turn, even to some who were before idle and profligate. Their attention in nursing up the young trees has been so much beyond what a farmer, intent on greater objects, can or will bellow, that the increase of their orchards has doubled the value of the land under them, and the poor rates have fallen to 4d.; while, in the adjoining parishes, there is an assessment of from 2s. 6d. to 5s. in the pound. These cottagers are labourers, and good ones: Their little concerns are managed by their wives and chil. dren, with their own affistance, after the day's work. Their stock consists of a cow, a yearling heifer, or a mare to breed (from which a colt, at half a year old, will fetch from 31. to sl.), a sow, and some geese. This has been the means of bringing a supply of poultry and fruit to the market, of increasing population, and making the land produce double the rent that a farmer can afford to bestow.” Agric. Rep. of Oxford.

Much of the natural advantage of Argyleshire arises from its fishings. To improve this advantage, cottagers hould everywhere be encouraged, and farnished with small pofseffions, to employ them when at honte. The Duke of Argyle has laid out a farm in small lots near Inveraray; the occupiers of which cleared last season (1795) 8ool. by fishing herring ;'which shows of what advantage such establishments might prove to the county, if they were more frequent.

[ocr errors]

Sect. II.- Rent. In this county, there is very little land let by the acre. But such gentlemen as have got their estates surveyed, have also got the different farms and fields valued, for their own private information. The quality of the soil is extremely dif-, ferent; so that such valuations differ, sometimes on the same farm, from 25. to 155. the acre of arable ground. The pafture too, being partly green hill, but mostly heath, differs no less in its quality than the arable land. Some of it is valued below 4d. and some above 4s. the acre. In the neighbourhood of Campbelton, a few spots of arable land let from 21. to 31. the acre. But this price may be said to be put, not altogether upon the land, but partly upon the accommodation *.

* What proportion the rent of a farm should bear to its produce, 'depends so much on foil, climate, situation, and other circumstances, that no general rule can be laid down on the subject. On the rent of sheep-lands, as occupied with us at present, some observations may be seen in Chap. XIII. Sect. 2. In regard to arable lands more particularly, it is a common, though perhaps not a just remark, that 1-3d of the produce should go for rent, 1-3d for expence of management, and 1-3d for the farmer's profit, interest, &c. The oldest observation extant on this subject is in Gen. xlvii. 24.; where 1-5th is allow

There is very little arable land in the county, but what is capable of higher cultivation; besides the great quantity of waste ground that may be improved in almost every farm. The land is therefore capable of being made to yield a much higher rent when better cultivated; though not a great deal of it, as is generally thought, can bear much more, in the present stage of improvement, than what is laid on already, unless it be under a different management *. .

That high rents are a spur to improvement and exertion, is a common, and, to a certain extent, a juft maxim. No doubt there may be some, who, if they had the land for nothing, would be ruined by their indolence. But the more common case is, that, when a tenant fees that all his exertion will not do, he becomes dispirited and desperate, and allows himself to be carried along by the stream which he cannot stem. The land suffers, the tenant fails, the farm gets a bad name, and the rent must be lowered. Thus the landlord, as well as the tenant, suffers, by raising the rent higher or faster than the improvement of the land will bear.

A substantial tenant is generally cautious of engaging to pay a rent that is.exorbitant. He sees the success of those who invest their money in other branches of business; and he follows their example, if he has not the prospect of a farm's yielding him full interest for his money, and an adequate return for his diligence and labour. Whereas he who has least to lose, is often the most forward to offer; and the landlord is often tempted to accept the offer, without confidering that a sufficient capital is necessary for paying the rent, and improving the land. Instances of ruin to the tenant, and

ed for rent, 1-5th for seed, 2-5th for food, 1-5th for servants, and 1-5th to lay by for provision to children.

* Sheep-lands would be more productive, by introducing a better-woolled breed; arable lands, by adopting a better system of husbandry. See Chap. VII. Se&. 3.

« PreviousContinue »