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ART. XI. Letters and Papers on Agriculture, Planting, &c. se
lected from the Correspondence of the Bath and West of England Society, for the Encouragement of Agriculture, Arts, Manufac. tures, and Commerce. Vol. X.
8vo. PP. 394
8s. Boards. Wilkie and Robinson. Some years have clapsed since this Society has presented any
fresh fruits of its labours to the world, the last preceding volume having been published in 1799, as appears by our account of it in Vol. xxxi. N. S. p. 388. For a circumstance so unpromising, as indicative of declining zeal, an apology is attempted by the editor ; who hints at the occurrence of impediments of a particular nature,' and at the tardiness of niembers in transmitting the arrears of their subscription, by which the Society is prevented from securing a regular fund for the various objects which it has in view. While he laments the loss of old correspondents by infirmity, distant removal, and death, Mr. Matthews requests gentlemen who are engaged in useful experiments, whether members of the Society or not, to communicate their experience, or their observations, on topics of improvement in agriculture, manufactures, and the most useful of the rural arts, in order that so long an interval between the usual publications may not again occur. We trust that this application to experimentalists will not be made in vain ; and that the members of this society will feel themselves especially called to give a fresh stimulus to this institution, not only by forwarding their annual guinen, but by furnishing papers which shall reflect credit on their printed transactions.
This volume is introduced by an energetic eulogy on the late President of the Society, Francis Duke of Bedford ; in which the editor endeavours to express their feelings of poignant regret at the unexpected death of this truly illustrious nobleman, and to portray his superior genius and striking character for the information of posterity. His agricultural exertions for the improveinent of soils and live stock, and for the accommodation of the peasantry by building cottages, are here particularly recorded; and the summary of his virtues concludes with a reference to the singular fortitude which he disa played in his concluding moments. Mr. M. indirectly replies to certain fanatical strictures which were offered at the time, on the manner in which this nobleman met his end :
• Such was the exemplary ardour in all the varieties of rural dignity, which shone forth in the great character of our revered and lamented President: nor had those various occupations of his mind the least tendency to dim the lustre of his academical education, or the graceful accomplishments which were attached to it: for as - no-, thing is more shining than genuine benevolence, so the amiable politeness and suavity of his manners were native, conspicuous, and universal. With equal justice may it be said, that his pursuits had no tendency to lessen his regard for moral maxims, or the higher obligations of a rational, dependent, and accountable nature. On the contrary, they most undoubtedly added much to a contemplative re. verence towards the Author of his being, the Divine Source of all his powers, and of all the blessings which he wished to promote by the use of them. Of this last habitual attainment, which indeed is the perfecting feature of every valuable excellence, the mild serenity and even moral majesty of his countenance was a fair and expressive indication. It will not be deemed beside the province of a Society writer on the present occasion, to notice with pleasure so remarkable a part of an elevated and great character ; although, perhaps, those topics with which we have chiefly to do might not be expected to lead to it. His end was remarkably instructive, by the suddenness of transition from high health to fanguishing weakness, and from that to the silence of mortality! But as he had lived a life of sobriety, temperance, and useful activity, so his closing scene was marked by correspondent composure, patience, and resignation to his lot! a state of mind commonly attendant on the last hours of a serious meditative man ; and we trust happily superseding the necessity of any human intercession for final acceptance with his Maker!!
Among the articles here published, we meet with a paper by John Billingsley, Esq., intitled "Remarks on the Utility of the “ Bath and West of England Society," with an Account of the Progress of Improvements in the County of Somerset;' which ought, from the nature of its contents, to have been placed at the head of the volume.. It is stated that, since the establishment of the Society in the year 1777, such improvements have been effected on the Mendip hills, on marsh lands, and by means of inclo. sures, that the rental of the county of Somerset has been ade vanced at least 60,000l.; and these ameliorations are attributed in a considerable degree to the knowlege and spirit of enterprise diffused by this institution. In as much as it has given to country genilemen a taste for experiment, it may claim merit; and it is certainly fortunate for those who are forced to take their land into their own hands, in order to increase their income so as to oppose the pressure of the times, that they have been induced, by the fashion of the day, to study farming as a science. That common farmers should speak with affected contempt of agricultural societies and publications, by means of which landlords are assisted in appreciating the true value of their estates, is no matcer of surprise ; and it is better to reply to these gentry with a joke than with argu. gument, after the manner here recorded A member of this Society was accosted by a farmer, who sarcastically remarked, that « He had been thinking whether the Bath Society had Why?"
done harm or good ?” .“ Have you," said our friend ; " why iben, you may rest assured that it has done good.” rejoined the farmer. “ Because it has led you to thitik, who seldom thought before !”
The letter of Mr. Billingsley being unfinished, the editor has supplied the omissions; in doing which he bears testimony to the spirited and extensive improvements made by this their Vice-President in the county of Somerset. Such an example merits imitation.
We shall notice the other papers in their order.
On the Food of Plants. By the Rey. Joseph Townsend. From a variety of experiments with plants inserted in pots
of different soils and composts, Mr. Townsend was induced to consider carbon as the chief pabulum of plants; and that the principal source from which they derive their nutriment is to be sought in the vegetable earth, the produce of animal and vegetable substances decayed. He notices, also, the utility of admitting air to the roots of plants, and in this view recommends frequent hoeing.
· On reclaiming Waste Lants. By Mr. Wagstaffe.- This gentleman here records his success in bringing into profitable cultivation an acclivity consisting of gravelly and moory soil, broken into hollow spaces, in which water rested and aquatic
On Drag Harrows, newly constructed. By Mr. Lewin Tugwell.--Mr. T.'s drag-harrows appear to possess an advantage over those in common use from the construction of their tines, as scuffles to clean and pulverize land, and they are well re. presented in the accompanying plate : but the letter, in which the inventor endeavours to explain their operation, is not most happily written.
Answers to a List of Queries inculcated by the Society, relativé to the State of Crops, Farms, &c. in the latter Part of the Year 1800. with additional Observations. By Thomas Davis, Esq.We are informed by the editor that this paper has been distinguished from other returns made to the queries proposed at the above-mentioned period, on account of the amplitude of its reflections and the importance of its reasoning.' It is on the whole a proof of Mr. Davis's accurate observation and sound judgment. He controverts the opinion that this kingdom is not able even in favourable years to feed itself;' and he calls on the country to seek her resource from herself in point of agricultural produce. An extended cultivation is recommended : but Mr. D. thinks that tillage culture will not
bę carried to the extent of the demand, till a minimum can be fixed on the price of wheat, or till it shall bear a regular, teady, and fair price. This want, however, of a fixed minimum is not the only obstacle in the way.
On the Advantages of the Use of Oxen and Neat Cattle in Hus. bandry. By Lord Somerville.
Practical Statement on the foregoing Subject, with Claim of • Premium. By John Billingsley, Esq.—Though Lord Somerville waives the claim of premium in favour of Mr. Billingsley, he says, after having stated the amount of the work which he has performed by oxen,
In twenty years labour I have not lost one ox or steer, or ever broke a yoke or pair, by sickness, death, or accident. And I may further add, that so far from incurring any loss of value from working cattle after their full growth, as is supposed to be the case with horses, amounting to 25 per cent. or more ; my own experience, and the concurring opinion of the Committee sent to examine our stock in the month of June last, warrant me in declaring, that workingcattle, from three to six years of age, do actually gain at the rate of 20 per cent. yearly; the loss in my own case in twenty years, being nothing !'
Mr.B. states that on a farm of 800 acres, with a team of six oxen and a double furrowed plough, 385 acres have been ploughed, and 291 acres harrowed, in the space of eleven months; and he gives it as his opinion that, though oxen will not answer in every situation, yet on all level soils, unincumbered with stones, and where good pasture may be found for summer and good hay for winter keeping, oxen, with the double-plough, are preferable to horses.
An Account of the Produce of Ten Fleeces of Merino Wool, made into Broad Cloth, from the Flock of Lord Somerville, with Remarks by Manufacturers, &c. From Lord Somerville. Of these ten fleeces, were made 141 yards of broad cloth (the usual superfine breadth): but, according to Mr. Billingsley's report, this sample was, in respect to fineness of wool, somewhat inferior to the best superfine cloth. The editor adds that Dr. Parry and others have been more successful than Lord S. The Merino race are represented to surpass other sheep in carcase as mucha as in fleece. • In regard to profit, therefore, this species must increase in public estimation; and those who saw and ate any part of the carcases sold by the butcher, Brooks, must acknow. ledge the quality of flesh and flavour far superior to any other sort.
Report of a Committee appointed by the Bath and West of Eng. land Society to investigate the Claim of the Right Hon. Lord S
merville to a Premium " for the greatest Number and most profitable Sort of Sheep." -The sheep-stock here noticed (consisting of the Merino breed, crossed with the Ryeland) amounted to 302 lambs, and 783 store sheep, total ic85. The produce of them were, wool 12 packs, I score, worth 4461.-216 store-sheep, sold for 40yl. 35.-132 fat sheep ditto and used, 2381. 16s. 2d. Letting rams 5241. 105. These sheep were depastured on i88 acres, with the run of 33 acres of turnips; and the whole receipt, deducting 261. for extra feed, amounted to 15921. gs. 2d.
Two Addresses to the Society, on the Subjects of improved Sheep by the Spanish Mixture, their Wool, and its Value in Superfine Cloth, &c. By C. H. Parry, M.D. F.R.S.-The first of these ad. dresses contains some judicious strictures on the foregoing re. port, for which we must refer to the volume; only remark. ing that Dr. Parry, according to his estimate, makes the profit of Lord S.'s flock to amount to gl. 15. 3d. per acre. In the second address, hs communicates the result of his own experi, ence with Merinos crossed with Ryelands, in the compressed form of propositions :
"I That the wool of the fourth cross of this breed is fully equal in fineness to that of the male parent stock in England.
. II. By breeding from select Merino Ryeland rams and ewes of this stock, sheep may be obtained, the fleeces of which are superior both to those of the cross-bred parents, and of course to those of the original progenitors of the pure Merino blood in England.
III. From mixed rams of this breed, sheep may be obtained having wool at least equal in fineness to the best which can be procured from Spain
• IV. Wool from sheep of a proper modification of Merino and Rytland, will make cloth equal to that from the Spanish wool imported into this country.
• V. The proportion of fine wool in the fleeces of this cross-breed is equal, if not superior, to that of the best Spanish piles.
• VI. This wool is more profitable in the manufacture than the best Spanish.
« VII. The lamb's wool of the Merino-Ryeland breed will make, fiper cloth than the best of that of the purè Merino breed.
• VIII. Should long wool of this degree of fineness be wanted for shawls, or any manufactures which cannot be perfected with our common coarse long wools; this can be effected by allowing the ram's fleece to remain on the animal unshorn for two years.
• IX. That though 'I have never selected a breeding ram 'or ewe on account of any other quality than tlre fineness of the fleece, this stock is already much improved as to the form of its carcase, com: paratively with the Merinos originally imported."
These remarks merit the attention of the breeders of sheep.
Essay on Manures (to which was assigned the reward of the first Bedfordian Medal, voted by the Society 1804). By Ar