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RURAL (ECONOMY OF ENGLAND.




Ancient Trees, at the south border of " Burnham Beeches.



L



COLLECTED PAPERS,



(ORIGINAL AND KEPRINTED,)



|ii Uros^ antr Uerst,



1842-1862.



By MRS. GROTE.



LONDON :

JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.

1862.

[y/je rlyhl of iraiisLaiioii ia reserved.^



BY THE SAME AUTHOR.



MEMOIR

OF

THE LIFE OF THE LATE ARY SCHEFFER.

Second Edition, with Portrait, Post 8vo, 8s. 6d.






INTRODUCTION,



The desire of preserving from oblivion some literary
productions, which may possibly interest, if not
instruct, a certain class of thoughtful readers, has sup-
plied the motive for the present publication. Among
the number, some few relate to political events of
which the public have ceased to take account. Never-
theless, it is no unprofitable task to recal attention
to a bygone condition of things, wherein the germ of
actual results may be discerned. To compare the
past with the present, and to trace the inexorable
connexion of cause and effect, is always an occupation
becoming a reflecting mind. And I will venture to
observe that, vain as may be the attempt to fore-
shadow the course of political events in these days
of surprises, I am confirmed in my vicAvs of the
probable prospective changes in the position of the
" Eastern question," by all that is now going for-
ward in countries more or less subject to Ottoman
rule.

As to the opinions, political, economic, and social.



370



iv INTRODUCTION.

comprised in these my " Essays and Reviews," I can
only say that they are the product of many years of
attentive study, pursued with an honest desire to
arrive at sound and solid convictions on various
subjects of vital interest to my country.

H. G.

London, October, 1862.



CONTENTS.



REVIEW OF M. LAVERGNES ESSAY ON THE RURAL CECONOJIY

OF ENGLAND . 1

CASE OF THE POOR AGAINST THE RICH FAIRLY STATED . 43

REVIEW OF THOMAS MOORE's LIFE AND WORKS (REPRINTED

FROM NO. CII. OP THE "EDINBURGH REVIEW") . . 81

HISTORY OF EAST BURNHAM . . . . . .133

ON ART, ANCIENT AND MODERN . . . . . .189

VARIOUS PAPERS CONTRIBUTED TO THE " SPECTATOR" WEEKLY

NEWSPAPER. 1845 — 1852 : —

POMMERSFELDEN ....... 205

CHARACTER OF THE REV. SYDNEY MITH , . .210

FRENCH POLITICS ....... 215

THE CITIZEN PEER . 224

A GLANCE AT MODERN EUROPE .... 227

THE " situation" ....... 235

A RURAL EXCURSION IN FRANCE .... 240

THE WAR FROM AN UNPOPULAR POINT OF VIEW . 246

AN ENGLISH RAMBLE .....



259
271



POETICAL pieces:

JOHN HAMPDEN ......

TO LADY THERESA LEWIS . . . . .277

FELIX MENDELSSOHN ...... 278

STANZAS ON FELIX MENDELSSOHN .... 279

LINES TO JENNY LIND GOLDSCHMIDT . . . 280

LINES SUGGESTED BY MORE THAN ONE RECENT
DOMESTIC HISTORY .....

THE LAW OF MARRIAGE .....



281
284



RURAL (ECONOMY OF ENGLAND.



1. Essai sur I'Economie rurale de VAngleterre. Par M. Leonce

de Lavergne, de I'lnstitut. 1854.

2. Gishornes JSssaj/s on Agriculture. 1843.

3. Coleman s Visit to England. 1850.

4. Un Voyage a Londres. 1851.

Foreign travellers, in shoals, have printed and pub-
lished their impressions of the British Isles ; we have
had our portraits painted in all conceivable styles,
whilst our national vanity has certainly been
ministered to by admiring strangers in a way to
satisfy the most exigent John Bull amongst us. At
the same time, it is as well to admit that some of the
Continental ramblers who have visited our shores,
pretend to have discovered many imperfections in the
social arrangements of England which justly dis-
pleased them and offended their taste : with one or
two of these dissentients we intend one day to have a
passing word, but our chief purpose in approaching
the subject of foreign criticism upon the British people
and their domestic economy, is to present, in some-
what of a prominent manner, the remarkable work
which stands at the head of this article, by M. Leonce
de Lavergne, Ex-Prof, at Coll. Agron. of Versailles.
The book would seem to have been written, in great
part, with a design to convey information and instruc-
tion to his own countrymen, especially those engaged

B



2 EUIJAL aCCONOMY

in agriculture. Long inclined to a belief in the
superior science and advancing progress of English
husbandry, the author resolved to examine into it
personally, and having devoted some time to the
work of inquiry and observation — constantly taking
notes of what he saw and learned — he has digested
his views at leisure into a comprehensive form ;
drawing parallels or contrasts, according as the case
suggested, between the rural economy of France and
that of England. It is hardly necessary to add that
the comparisons run a good deal in our favour ; their
backward science, and the incomplete methods pursued
by a large proportion of French cultivators, being
repeatedly adverted to, with obvious regret, not to
say humiliation. To incite our neighbours to
improved efforts being, as has been stated, one of
the leading aims of the author, he never hesitates to
place in the broad light of contrast, sometimes of
ridicule, the shortcomings of those amidst whom it
is his fortune to dwell. And if lucid exposition,
practical appeals to their interest, and counsels
inspired by a thorough comprehension of the subject,
could awaken the emulation or quicken the appre-
hension of the French " paysan," this book ought to
make a sensible impression upon that numerous body.
Indeed, we have reason to believe that it has already
done so, and that it is obtaining considerable circula-
tion. Meanwhile, our own people will do well to
study in the pages before us, the history as well as
the theory and practice of modern improvements in
husbandry. In a picture traced by the hand of a
stranger, curiosity blends itself with the simple
appetite for knoAvledge, and we become as interested



OF ENGLAND. 3

in his account of " short-horns," " new Leicesters,"
and " improved South Downs," as though it were
untrodden ground.

In setting forth the principal features which
distinguish the agriculture of England from that of
his own nation, M. Lavergne naturally attaches the
highest importance to the introduction of the Norfolk
husbandry, with its wide-spread system of root cul-
ture, and its green crops : enabling the cultivator to
dispense in a great measure with fallows, to rear a
much larger number of animals, and to hasten their
arrival at maturity.

The author estimates the number of sheep
maintained in the British islands and in France as
double in amount to what it was a century since.
In 1750, the number in each kingdom respectively
was about seventeen to eighteen million head ; whilst
the total now existing he sets at thirty-five millions.
But here the equality stops ; the extent of ground
devoted to the maintenance of our flocks being, he
says, equivalent to thirty-one millions of hectares,
whilst in France it must be set at not less than fifty-
three millions ! And this striking fact becomes yet
more instructive when we learn that " Ensfland
proper" feeds about thirty out of the thirty-five
millions of sheep on fifteen millions of hectares;*
Ireland and Scotland furnishing between them the
remainder, in the proportion of two and four, speak-
ing in round numbers.

From this one element of agricultural progress is
deducible a whole series of results, of which M.



A hectare is nearly equal to two and a-half Englisli acres.

b2



4 KURAL CECONOMY

Laverirne exhibits tlie advanta":es accruinf'' to the
general eommuiiity ; impressing upon his country-
men the necessity of adopting, as far as circumstances
enable them to do so, the cycle of operations pursued
by their energetic neighbours. "It is said of us,"
remarks M. Lavergne, " that we do not care to feed
on animal food, preferring vegetables and farinaceous
substances; that we eat rye rather than wheat, for
the same reason. The fact is, that we eat what our
farmers can manage to grow for our subsistence.
They cannot rear oxen, sheep, or swine in such
numbers as to bring meat within the reach of the
lower class, because they have nothing to give them
during winter; and we eat rye simply because we
cannot grow enough wheat, or even oats, of which to
make bread of a more nourishing quality."

In truth, rye is treated by M. Lavergne as the
most profitless and contemptible of all products.
" It would be most desirable," he says, " to abandon
it, but this is not always possible.* It is one thing
to renounce rye, and another to raise better corn
successfully, for it is not every one who is capable of
forcing nature. The English, in order to achieve
what they have done in the way of wheat culture,
have been obliged to fight against the qualities of
their soil as well as of their climate" (p. 70); and he
goes on to insist further upon the policy of raising
wheat only in situations and on land favourable to
its growth and its ripening, — one of the principles now
steadily adhered to by our best agriculturalists, in pur-



* See also a passage (page 187) in the chapter on " Les Debouches"
(markets), full of sensible and acute observations on this head.



OF ENGLAND.



siiance of which, in combination with improved methods
of cultivation, a smaller surface seems to suffice for
its growth with us, than would formerly have been
supposed possible. M. Lavergne states that whereas,
in France, one-fourth of the ground under cultiva-
tion is required for the growth of cereals destined
for human food, in these islands one-sixteenth of the
soil under plough suffices to yield such an amount of
wheat as it consists with good husbandry to raise.
The annual produce of cereals in France is thus stated
by our author : wheat, seventy millions of hectolitres ;
rye, thirty millions ; maize, seven millions ; buck- wheat,
eight millions. The yield of wheat, upon the 1,800,000
hectares devoted to that grain in the British Isles, is
given as forty-five millions of hectolitres, of which
thirty-eight millions are grown in England at a rate
of produce per acre fully double that of France.

Passing from the all-important feature of root
crops, on which the whole circle of scientific farming
now revolves, M. Lavergne explains in his chapters
on sheep and cattle the circumstances which have led
to the wondrous amelioration of our domestic animals.
In that section which treats of cattle, many instruc-
tive observations abound, mingled with a minute
exposition of the merits of our various breeds.
Indeed, the manner in which the author, up to a
recent period wholly occupied with the highest
functions of a political career, deals with the subject
of cattle management, attests a singular aj^titude for
masterhig new and dissimilar subjects. He seizes,
and expatiates upon what may be termed the
philosophy of " Grazing," with a perspicacity worthy
of one whose life has been absorbed in the calling.



6 RURAL CECONOMY

He, like most modern agriculturists, is an advocate of
"stall feeding" for cattle; or, as we have heard a
friend humorously style it, " the subjecting cattle to
a fixed position, upon bare boards, in a current of
cold air." The fact is that ideas of profit, when once
they have obtained possession of a farming mind,
carry all before them; thus a French traveller,
naturally smitten with the desire of emulating our
practice, and appreciating the merit of skilful adap-
tation of "means to ends," readily falls in with this
universally recognised aim — viz., the making of money
by the shortest process. On other grounds, we
confess ourselves inclined to look with complacency
upon the old system of warm and clean litter, coupled
with the liberty of turning about. But we must not
give way to kindly, antiquated prejudices, in the
face of tabular demonstrations of profitable results,
such as are supplied b}^ the apostles of a later school.

The names of Bakewell, Ellman, and Collins, have
here derived an additional chance of enduring fame
and honour, by the mention of wdiat they have
effected for the improvement of English domestic
animals. Of the former of these, M. Lavergne speaks
as " a man of genius in his way, who has done as
much to augment the wealth of his country as either
Arkwright or Watt." (p. 22.)

The value of Bakewell and his disciples' system,
consisted, he tells us, in persevering " selection."
Individuals combining the properties of rapid growth,
disposition to acquire flesh and to assume rounded,
handsome forms, were alone permitted to reproduce
their kind; and by attentive, unwearied noting of
their experiments for a series of years, these eminent



OF ENGLAND. 7

breeders of stock succeeded in arrivino; at the desired
combination of qualities — the " Dishley," or New
Leicester sheep, the " Short-horned," or Teeswater bull
and cow, and the improved South Down sheep, being
at the present time regarded as realizing the utmost
perfection of which each class of animal is susceptible.
]\I. Lavergne seems not to have been aware of an
opinion entertained by the late Mr. Thos. Gisborne,
which is stated in that gentleman's " Essays," recently
collected and published under the supervision of his
friend, Mr. Joseph Parkes. He believes that " breeds"
are destined to pass away, but that " races" are
eternal. In other words, that a given type of animal
will reproduce itself, in strict conformity with its
original character, through ages ; whilst that " breeds,"
formed by artificially crossing, and selecting the re-
producers, will revert to the pristine type so soon as
they are left to themselves. This is a physiological
question which, though chiefly interesting to the
curious inquirer, is not without value to the stock-
farmer, and we should like to see it taken up by our
scientific class. Another theory, very lately started
respecting the disease called " fingers and toes," pre-
valent among turnips chiefly, happens to proceed upon
a somewhat analogous hypothesis. Assuming our
actual edible bulbous roots to be nothing but improved
forms of an originally wild and far inferior plant,
this theory supposes " fingers and toes" to be neither
more nor less than a struggle on the part of the
genteel modern turnip to get back to his homely
origin; diving down in a tapering, and often bifur-
cate root, as its remote and indigenous progenitors
had always done before him. Tliere is a certain cor-



8 RURAL (ECONOMY

respondence between this plausible suggestion and
the convictions of Mr. Gisborne, and both the one
and the other possess that species of attraction for
speculative thinkers which alwaj^s attends a reference
to universal tendencies in nature.

The hioh condition of our corn cultivation, our
live stock and teams, our buildings, implements, and
effective methods of enriching and renewing the latent
powers of the soil, call forth in turn the cordial
admiration of the French visitor. Supporting his
general statements by careful computations, his pic-
ture presents a body of information on which the
imitators of English systems might safely rely. But
whilst M. LaveVgne contemplates, with something
akin to wonder, the astonishing march of our
modern agricultural movement, he is too wise and
reflecting a teacher not to take account of the inhe-
rent difficulties Avhich stand in the way of its adop-
tion by his own people. It is in this mood that he
writes as follows : —

" The causes which have led to the agricultural
superiority of the English, originate in the history
and organization of our two nations. The rural
economy of a people is not an isolated fact ; it forms
one element of a great whole. It is not upon our
cultivators that the accountability for our backward
condition should be chiefly cast, neither ought we to
rely on them altogether for future progress. And it
is not so much the concentration of their attention
upon the soil itself which will secure progress, as a
careful study of the general laws which govern the
economic development of a community.

" Up to this time," he goes on to say, " these



OF ENGLAND. 9

studies have not been attractive to tliem ; it has been
held that such inquiries are fraught with danger to
the cultivator. I believe this to be an error, and I
trust to show that it is such." (p. 105.)

Beginning with a quotation from Arthur Young
(p. 13), the author of the " Essai" lays down the fact
of the infinite superiority of the soil of France over
that of England; not content with a general asser-
tion, we have a comparison of the most elaborate kind
set before us, proving that, tract for tract, zone for
zone, the French possess the advantage of a better
fundamental element of production. Then their
climate is confessedly preferable; and in descanting
upon this happy difference in their favour, M.
Lavergne obviously finds a secret " dedommagement"
for our superiority on some other points. But although
the French sun can ripen the ear of corn, can mature
all kinds of fruit, and bring to perfection many other
precious products — wine, olives, silk, oil, hemp, flax,
and the like — nevertheless, as has been remarked
already, the one thing needful to " high farming " is
wanting. The French eat but little meat, for want
of more cattle and flocks and swine ; and they lack
manure wherewith to grow thirty and even forty tons
of food to the acre, as we manage to do, in favourable
years, with our swedes and mangolds. This matter
of meat and manure is, in truth, a revolving circle,
wherein the great difficult}^- consists in seizing the
departing point. ^I. Lavergne maintains that if the
farmers occupying cold, moist mountainous tracts in
France (of which he indicates no small number)
would grow artificial grasses, turnips, carrots, man-
golds, and such sort of crops, instead of slaving, as



10 RURAL (ECONOMY

they do, to extract miserably scanty crops of rye and
oats, they could very soon rear animals for food.
Animals would yield " engrais," or " dressing," bring
capital to the farm, invigorate the labourer, and
cause the land to revive under generous treatment.
How to begin is the problem, and of course M.
Lavergne is at no loss to prescribe the means.
Capital must be invited to co-operate more liberally
with labour. He would persuade the owners of
capital to embark in scientific farming, commencing
by degrees, and would engage to justify the enter-
prise by its results if properly conducted. But here
we come upon the discussion concerning " large and
small cultivation," for no change can be thought of
in the rural economy of France without fully exploring
that thorny question. M. Lavergne has, we think,
set it very fairly before his readers, and in a vein of
investigation which strikes us as somewhat original.
And in the first place our author disputes the fact, or at
least denies the extent, of the extravagant subdivision
of land in France. We will give his own words : —

" All the world is familiar with the celebrated
calculation, giving eleven millions and a half as the
number of ' cotes' (taxable properties in houses and
lands) ; but so they are, likewise, with the delusive
nature of this calculation, as demonstrated by the
researches of M. Passy. Not only does it happen
that an individual contributor often pays several
' cotes,' which in itself sufiices to invalidate the
general proposition itself; but, furthermore, town
habitations equally count as 'cotes,' thus diminishing
the actual total of rural proprietors to five, or at most
to six millions." (p. 109.)



OF ENGLAND. 11

" Now," says M. Lavergne, " of the Avliole eleven
millions and a- half alluded to as representing the
numerical amount of properties, town and country
inclusive, half a million, only, possess parcels of the
value of one hundred francs, or four pounds; five
millions and a-half own parcels of the value of five
francs each, two millions at from five to ten francs,
three millions at from ten to fifty francs, six hundred
thousand from fifty to a hundred francs. But the
sum of the land possessed by these eleven millions,
consistino; of lots all rancrino; under the value of one
hundred francs, reaches only one-third of the entire
surface under cultivation." [Pasture and woods
being included, we presume.] "Remains, then, two-
thirds of it in the hands of four hundred thousand
proprietors; deducting one hundred thousand for
such owners as possess town lots, this gives an
average extent of eighty hectares to each, or two
hundred English acres."

M. Lavergne next endeavours to establish a cor-
respondence between this section of the French
people and our middle-class and second-class gentry
taken together. Granting that the aimual value of
land is greater in England, acre for acre, still, he con-
tends, the disproportion is less than is usually sup-
posed. He sets the share of the soil possessed by
our largest proprietors against that of the eleven
millions who own a third of all France ; and main-
tains that two-thirds in each country are possessed
by a class of owners differing from each other far
less widely than it has been the habit to represent
them. In France, he says —

" Estates comprising an extent of 500, 1000, and



12 KURAL (ECONOMY

2000 hectares are far from rare, whilst properties
even of 25,000 francs to 100,000 francs a year value,
and beyond it, are not unknown. A thousand land-
lords in each of our departments might be found, on
a level, as to landed property, with the secondary class
of English country landlords, which is the one most
diffused among them. It is true, we have, propor-
tionably speaking, fewer, and they are planted amidst
small neighbours; whilst the English gentry live
under the shadow of huge aristocratic fiefs. It is
only under this aspect — i. e.^ the proportional amount
— that it can fairly be affirmed that proj^erty is more
concentrated in England than in France." (p. 111.)
After exhibiting this view of the actual distribution
of the surface, M. Lavergne examines the evidence in
favour of large farms, the advantages of which it has
recently become so much the fashion to extol ; we
regret that we must restrict our extracts in reference
to this most vital question, as between " large and
little culture" (to translate it literally). The author
has treated it with a rare imjDartiality, and our readers
will find many valuable facts arranged in a manner
to leave the solution easier than has yet seemed to be
attainable. Solution, in the sense of decided pre-
ference, however, it is not easy to arrive at. But we
can, more distinctly than before we perused this
chapter, appreciate the bearings of particular circum-
stances in determining when large cultivation should
prevail, and the converse. M. Lavergne is clearly a
partizan of neither. His accurate acquaintance with
the whole condition of French husbandry, together
with his practical familiarity with various other forms
of industrial life, enable him to steer clear of dogmatic



OF ENGLAND. 13

generalization, and even inspire him with a certain
dislike of such as indulge in it. We subjoin a few
of his comments on this head.

" In the same degree as people exaggerate the
amount of concentration in England, do they overrate
the eiFect of large estates upon the progress of
agriculture. Large properties do not necessarily
imply large culture. The most considerable of them
are not unfrequently split up into small holdings;*
Avhat matters it, indeed, though one man do possess
10,000 hectares, if they be broken down into 200
farms of 50 hectares each? .... We have seen
that, in the United Kingdom, two categories prevail;
large, and moderate estates. The first class of pro-
perties occupying, then, a third of the soil, and part
of this being distributed into small lots, or tenantcies,
it is obvious that large culture obtains upon no more
than one quarter of the whole land. Now is it true
that this one quarter is farmed in the highest and

most skilful style? I suspect not The richest

districts of England are those of Lancashire, Lincoln-
shire, Leicester, Worcester, and Warwickshire; and
here a mixed proportion as to culture subsists. In
one of the most fertile of these, viz., Lancashire, it is
the mean, or possibly even the small, culture which
preponderates. Taken as a general fact, it may fairly
be affirmed that the best farmed land in the kingdom,
Ireland included, is not that belonging to the largest
occupants." (p. 114.)

" In France, again," continues M. Lavergne^ " two



* See tlie account of the Marquis of Lansdowne's estates in Kerry,


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