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Calling in the aid of chemistry to quicken the powers
* “The agricultural mind is now becoming alive to the fact that, task the powers of cultivation and of the soil as we may, we are likely to be wholly unable to keep up with the demands made upon them by our rapidly increasing population; a population, too, whose powers of consumption are increasing even in a greater ratio than its numbers, so that it exhibits day by day an increasing desire to revel in beef and mutton,” &c. &c.—Agricultural Gazette for the week ending December 2, 1854, No. 48.
we are in course of being driven. M. Lavergne seizes the value of this provocative, describing the system with care and exactness in the chapter “High Farming.” As to the stall-feeding practice, the author again expresses himself thus:–“One cannot suppress a disagreeable emotion on beholding these poor creatures, whose relations still stray over the immense pasture grounds of Britain, here deprived of liberty and exercise, and on thinking that possibly a day may come when the numerous herds which yet roam at large amid green fields, frisking with gaiety, shall all be clapped up within these dismal walls, which they will quit only to be driven to the slaughter-house. These workhouses for the production of meat, milk, and manure, where the animal figures as a mere machine,
offer something which is unpleasant to the imagina
tion; after a peep into one of these, one's stomach has little relish for meat for days after. But the loud clamours of necessity impel you to produce food, at all cost, and no matter by what means: with never slackening pace your population strides onward, whilst its wants even outstrip its numbers. Farewell, then, to the pastoral scenes and features of which England has ever boasted the charm, and which poets and painters have striven with emulous rivalry to depict and illustrate.” (p. 215.) He suggests indeed two chances—viz., that the quality of the meat thus managed may at last grow too bad to be endured, or, that the unnatural regimen itself may give rise to diseases unknown in our flocks and herds under the old healthy plan of grazing. All of us, at least all persons above forty years of age, re
cognise the difference between the old down-fed mutton
“In all this we may perceive much more than an agricultural question; nay, it concerns perhaps the whole structure of English society. No one ought to affirm that revolutions find no field in England; on the contrary, revolutions go forward there as elsewhere, only that they proceed silently and in a leisurely way.” And he adds that he believes in the possibility of adapting the new to the old forms of society, in such a manner as that we shall all come out gainers; though this seems to us a persuasion requiring vast faith in the agents of the compromise.
After a brief glance over the English counties, their most striking external features, soil, productions,
and varying relations between owner and cultivator,
we come to the chapter on Scotland.
perfectly familiar with the creations of Sir Walter Scott, and delights to find a locality for his favourite
fictions as he wanders over ground hallowed by
those marvellous romances. Shaking off this seductive mood, however, he conducts us through the “Lowlands,” lecturing as he goes along upon the culture pursued, and the races of domestic animals prevalent, in that section of North Britain; touching, by way of conclusion, upon the superior prudence and self-control displayed by the Lowlanders in regard to marriage; their numbers never exceeding the limits of comfortable subsistence. Whilst in England, he says, the population has tripled its numbers, and that of Ireland quadrupled, Scotland has, during an equal interval, only doubled hers; in the Lowlands, that is to say, for in the Northern counties a vastly different state of society has always subsisted. “The Highlands” forms a chapter apart, and will be found to contain much that is not generally known to Southern readers. The author “commences with the Deluge,” it must be premised, but, having started, runs so rapidly over the historical antecedents of “Bonnie Scotland” that the reader is safely landed, at the end of about fourand-twenty pages, enriched with so much information respecting the extraordinary mutation that Scottish industry, social institutions, and manners have undergone, as will surprise him, when he can take breath and reflect upon the space he has travelled over. To sketch an outline even of the domestic revolution effected in the sister kingdom, is what few foreigners would have had the hardihood to attempt. D