Изображения страниц

elements favourable to its establishment; but the Slaavs, without kings, priests or soldiers, and dispersed in small isolated communities, were divided as chattels among the conquerors. Out of such a system not even a hierarchy arose, and the absence of this feature distinguishes Russia from all the other Norman states in Europe.

The greater mass of the Slaavs were thus divided into two empires*, actuated by different, even by hostile principles. The centre of Russian action may be placed upon the course of the Borysthenes and the Dwina, and in the neighbourhood of Nowogorod. The Carpathian chain above the +Vistula may be considered the ideal capital of Poland. But between Russia and Poland there is a vast Slavonic territory, comprised within the Bug, the Niemen, the Borysthenes and the Black Sea. It is inhabited by tribes which bear different names, and which do not universally admit the general appellation of Slaavs. Temporary establishments were formed there by the Lecks and afterwards by the Poles; and there also the Northmen founded a foreign empire; so that the country remained without a name or a political system of its own, sometimes joining the Polish system, sometimes subject to Russian dominion. But at one time (during the ninth century) the whole territory was subjugated by the family of Rurick, and the Poles have since distinguished it by the appellation of Russian, which in truth does not belong to it. This vast district was the scene of all the battles between the Poles and Russians. Here were decided the fiercest struggles between the aristocratical republic and the autocratic system, and here two hostile Catholic churches came in contact with each other.

Such was the situation of the Slavonic countries at the moment when Christianity was introduced among them: we reserve for a future opportunity the consideration of the influence which this great event exerted upon their subsequent development.

In this view Bohemia and Poland are considered as one, on account of their intimate connexion, while the Serbians, modern Illyrians, and other Slavonian populations which are found in Hungary and the southern Danube states, are left out of consideration altogether.



1. Transactions of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, 1839-1843. London: Murray.

2. The Nature and Property of Soils. By JOHN MORTON. London: Ridgway, 1842.

3. Second Report of Whitfield Example Farm, July 1842. By JOHN C. MORTON. Ridgway, 1843.

4. Organic Chemistry, in its application to Agriculture and Physiology. By JUSTUS LIEBIG, Professor of Chemistry in the University of Giessen. Edited by LYON PLAYFAIR, Ph.D. London: Taylor and Walton, 1842. 5. How will Free Trade in Corn affect the Farmer? By RICHARD GRIFFITHS WELFORD, Member of the Royal Agricultural Society of England. London: Ridgway,


ALTHOUGH the art of husbandry is more advanced in this country than in any other part of the world, with perhaps the exception of the Netherlands, there is no other people whose agriculture exhibits such anomalies as our own. In one district, or upon one farm, we find the cultivators following practices fitted only to the earliest stages of agricultural improvement; while perhaps upon adjoining farms the skill of the farmer produces crops of three-fold abundance from soils of even inferior quality. In most of the arts of manufacturing industry great uniformity exists throughout the country, and where the practices of one district are in any respect superior to those of another, local advantages offer a ready solution of the enigma. Not so in farming; and without professing to give a complete explanation of the causes which have rendered the condition of British agriculturists so anomalous, we shall, in reviewing the state and prospects of that important interest, advert to the prominent political and social events which have operated to retard improvements in husbandry.

There are two kinds of improvements upon landed property which mark the advances of a nation in wealth and civilization. The first consists of those extensive and permanent ameliorations which can only be undertaken by those

who possess an enduring interest in the land as owners; often such improvements can only be effected by the combination of many owners, or even by the aid of the government. Such, for example, was the first great operation in the fens of Lincolnshire, by Richard de Rules, Lord of Deeping, Chamberlain to William the Conqueror; and these have since gone on with a tolerably steady progress.

But the second class of improvements, which relate to the actual cultivation of land, have not proceeded with the same regularity or uniformity. They have depended chiefly upon the condition of the occupiers of the soil, whose tenures have been often precarious, and who have been at different times subject to burdens which have rendered their employment one of the least profitable and most dependent of this country. This class of farmers or yeomen has been most affected by social and political circumstances; and though, if we take a long period of time, the productive power of the occupiers has greatly increased, they have not risen in social position in anything like the same proportion as the owners of the soil. The value of land in Great Britain has increased enormously during the last three centuries; the condition of the proprietors of the British soil has improved to an extent almost unparalleled in the history of the world; while perhaps a majority of farmers-especially in England-command the conveniences of life in a degree relatively lower than that of their ancestors of the sixteenth century.

We learn from Harrison the geographer, that a farmer in the time of Elizabeth "thought his gains very small "towards the end of his term if he had not six or seven years' "rent lying by him, therewith to purchase a new lease,” besides an amount of household stuff which in that age represented considerable wealth; and the well-known account given of his father's condition by Bishop Latimer tells the same tale. "My father," says the Bishop, "was a yeoman " and had no land of his own; only he had a farm of three or "four pounds by the year at the utmost; and hereupon he "tilled as much as kept half-a-dozen men. He had a walk "for a hundred sheep, and my mother milked thirty kine. "He kept his son at school till he went to the university, and "maintained him there; he married his daughters with five


"pounds or twenty nobles a piece; he kept hospitality with "his neighbours, and some alms he gave to the poor; and "all this he did out of the said farm." This bespeaks a high degree of prosperity amongst the yeomanry. It is probable however that the Bishop's father was tenant to some ecclesiastical body, and that his condition was somewhat favourable as compared with the yeoman even of his own times; for it is matter of history that not only were the ecclesiastics of the middle ages the chief depositories of agricultural knowledge and the best practical husbandmen of their respective times, but they were also the most indulgent landlords. The monks had derived much of their knowledge from the Greek and Roman writers on husbandry, and it seems certain that until the growth of commercial opulence in this country, which succeeded the period of the reformation, English husbandry had not advanced beyond the state to which the art had been carried by the Romans previously to the fall of the Empire. Perhaps it had scarcely attained so high a degree of perfection as it had reached before the corruption of manners in Rome, and when the generals and dictators of the republic cultivated their own lands.

It is remarkable that some of the practices which are dwelt upon in recent works on agriculture as the results of modern discovery, are distinctly mentioned by the classical authors. Thus Theophrastus enumerates six different species of manures; and adds, " that a mixture of soils produces the same "effects as manure; clay," he says, "should be mixed with "sand, and sand with clay." Cato gives precise directions how to form a kiln for burning lime, which was much used by the Romans as a dressing for vines and olives. And most of the manures which are now so much pressed upon our attention were known and esteemed by that people; night-soil and the dung of cattle were preserved and applied with more care than has hitherto been used towards the same objects in this country; and above all, the dung of birds (the much vaunted modern "guano ") was preferred to all other descriptions of manure. Marl was used as a dressing by the Greeks; and Varro speaks of the "white fossil clay " (either chalk or marl) with which he saw the fields manured in Transalpine Gaul. So Columella very clearly describes a


method of draining wet-bottomed land which, somewhat to the surprize of many intelligent agriculturists, has just become generally known as a practice of long standing in Essex. Except in the construction of his implements, the ordinary farmer even of this country is perhaps little superior in the art of husbandry to the colonist planted in Britain by the Cæsars; and it is in the combination of practices comparatively simple, and especially in making outlays with a view to distant returns, that the advantage of the skilful cultivator of the present day consists. We learn from Fleta, that in the reigns of Edward the First and Second, unless an acre of land could be made to yield more than six bushels of wheat, the farmer would be a loser and the landlord would get no rent; and Sir John Cullum, in the history of Hawkstead, has calculated that nine or ten bushels was, at a much later period, a full average crop for an acre of wheat,—a low rate of produce, for which imperfect cultivation and an amazing excess of tillage will sufficiently account. Yet in Fleta we meet with directions for ploughing and manuring, changing and choosing seed, and generally for performing all operations in husbandry at the best time, and in the best manner, which have been but little improved upon at this day. During the civil wars of the fifteenth century agriculture again retrograded; the depopulation of England became so great, that the landowners enclosed the lands around their castles to form pastures for sheep,-a process rendered profitable by the great demand for wool by the cloth-manufacturers of the Netherlands. The dearths which occurred in this age furnish evidence of the low state of agriculture; for instance, in 1437 and 1438 wheat rose from 48. or 48. 6d. per quarter, which was about the ordinary price, to 17. 6s. 8d., said to be equivalent to 131. 68. 8d. of our present money!

In 1645 clover was introduced by Sir Richard Weston, who had observed its culture in Flanders, and by 1686 the turnip had begun to be commonly cultivated in the fields. These two plants form the basis of all the improvements which have since been made in British husbandry. The prac tical abrogation of feudal tenures during the Commonwealth, followed by their abolition by law on the accession of Charles II., prepared the way for all the progress which agriculture

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »