Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

culation, grounded on the real cost of his expenses of conveyance, on an average of 5 years.

The estate in question is distant 5 German, or 24 English miles, from the market-place to which its surplus corn must be carried.

The regular load on this estate for a waggon with 4 horses is 2,4001b. weight, or 40 Rostock sheffels of rye, being nearly equal to 45 imperial bushels, of 53lb. weight; but for the subsistence of the cattle backwards and forwards, 180lb., or about 3 bushels and a half, of the corn must be carried, and deducted from the quantity to be sold, which will then be 411 bushels.

The expenses in money, on each journey, on an average of the last five years, for the keep and wages of the men, and various small incidents, is found to amount to 4s. 8d.; and the value of the corn carried for the horses, at the price of the place where, if not consumed, it would have been delivered for sale, taken at 3s. the bushel, amounts to 108. 6d., thus making a deduction of 158. 2d. on 41} bushels.

d. The amount, then, of the 411 bushels, at 3s., is 124 6 Cost of conveyance, in money and corn

15 2

Net produce

- 1094 The expenses of conveyance thus amount to somewhat more than 13 per cent. on the sum which the cultivator receives for his rye.

No addittional charge is made in the statement for the wear and tear of carriages, harness, or cattle, nor any for the loss of the manure made by the horses, for the interest on the capital which is invested in caitle and implements, and gradually diminished in value; nor is any notice taken of the expense of maintaining the horses and men for those portions of their time, when by inclement weather, or other circumstances, they are doomed to remain in a state of inactivity.

For a journey of 10 German or 48 English miles, as it would occupy twice the time, the food to be carried for the horses would be 360lb. weight, and the quantity of corn to be actually sold would be only 2,040lb. or 38 bushels. The expense of the men would be doubled ; thus the sale would be

d. 38 bushels, at 38.

114 0 Cost of conveyance

30 4 And the net produce 83 8 If the distance to the market be still further extended, it will appear, by calculation, that the net produce is gradually diminished with the distance, till it finally disappears, and the transport of grain must consequently cease.

10

Supposing 500 bushels of corn be worth 38. per bushel at the market, or 1,5008.,

The net produce would then be thus, after the conveyance to the following distances : 5 German, or 24 English miles, 1,313 net produce. 48

1,136
15
72

968
20
96

809
25
- 120

656
30
144

512
35
- 168

374
40
. 192

242
45
· 216

116
48
- 240

0 This calculation would lead to the same conclusion, if, for a journey of 24 English miles, it were assumed, that 15 waggons, each carrying 2,400lb. of corn, were attended by a sixteenth, carrying likewise 2,400lb. for the subsistence of the cattle, instead of each waggon carrying the provender for its own team.

This digression respecting the rate of expense on the conveyance of corn, founded as it is on the practical experience of a very accurate person during a series of years, though it may be tiresome can scarcely be deemed improper, because the countries which afford the largest surplus of grain are as ill accommodated with roads as those of East Friesland, Mecklenburg, Sleswick, and Holstein. It serves also to show the cause of the vast difference in price observable between some districts and others of the extended empire of Russia. It may assist us to account for the famines which in past periods have desolated some parts of the interior of India, and other portions of the world; and it affords a practical reason for the people of Andalusia, in Spain, drawing their supplies of wheat and four from the United States of America, when wheat was there at 4s. 6d. per bushel, whilst on the plains of Castile it was not worth more than 1s. 6d. the bushel.

Although it may be most advantageous to take a view of the agricultural state of the kingdom of the Netherlands in a mass, in a later portion of this report, yet some notices of a local nature may here be introduced.

Utrecht is both a rich and fertile province, contains numerous manufacturing and mercantile establishments, and a population, according to the recent returns, of one person to two 4-10ths acres. There are, however, in this portion of the kingdom, considerable tracts of land that could only be cultivated from their being distributed among small occupiers, who subsist, in the condition of daylaborers, by performing the whole of the requisite work with their own bands. Between the cities of Utrecht and Amersfort there is a considerable extent of such land, which, I was informed on the spot, had been recently let at four stivers the morgen, or little more than two

pence the English acre. Near to Appeldoorn, and around the royal domain of Loo, widely extended beaths are bringing gradually under cultivation; and numerous small dwellings, with trees, gardens, and enclosures around them, in various degrees of progress, show clearly that the population is rapidly increasing, and is driven for subsistence to the laborious toil of bringing into cultivation portions of the soil, which for some years will be unable to do more than yield, in return for the labor that is bestowed on them, scanty crops of potatoes, buck-wheat, and oats; scarcely equal to supply the urgent demands of those who cultivate them.

I heard of various and extensive operations and projects for bringing into cultivation the inferior soils, with scarcely any expectation of profit, and with no prospect of extracting from thein surplus produce, but merely with the view of providing some employment for the poor, which may lessen the weight of expense which now arises from their increasing numbers. With this object, rural depôts of mendicity and orphanism have been established in several parts of the kingdom, on barren heaths, especially a very extensive one on the spot called Frederick's Oord, where the four northern provinces of Overyssel, Drenthe, Friesland, and Gröningen, approach each other.

Although these establishments are highly interesting to the philanthropist and the statesman, as well from the benevolence of the design, as from the economy and humanity with which they are administered, as they are not likely in many years to produce any surplus of corn, it would lead too far from the especial object of my journey to do more than merely to notice them in this report.

It would have been difficult, had time been allowed for the investigation, to have generalized the value of land, or the average rent that is paid for it, in a district where its quality varies so excessively as in Utrecht. The low rent of the worst land has been noticed; and some judgment may be formed of the best, by an account communicated by the proprietor of one estate. It is in a rich district, between Utrecht and Rotterdam, consisting of about 160 English acres, one half of good meadow, and one half arable, capable of bearing, on an average of years, from six to seven quarters of oats to the acre, and a proportionate quantity of wheat or rye, when those crops are cultivated. It had cost, two or three years ago, 42,000 guilders, or 3,5001. It was let on lease for six years, with strict covenants as to the rotation and cultivation, for 1,200 guilders, or 1001., the proprietor paying the land taxes, amounting to 160 guilders, or about 131. 58.

The proprietor had reserved for his own use a house, with garden and orchard, the right to the fishery and chase, and the cuttings of the willows that border lhe enclosures. These he estimated at one fourth of the value of the whole purchase, thus leaving for the capital invested on the land alone 2,6501. From this capital he draws an income of 861. 158., or about three and one quarter per cent. per annum, In cold climates the necessary buildings for carrying on agriculture bear a much greater proportion to the value of the land than they do with us, and the estate in question must have been let to an occupier who had the requisite buildings on an adjoining estate, as no other would have taken it without house, garden, and especially orchard.

The agricultural laborers are in general paid in money, without food, house, or fuel, at the rate of about 16d. a day in summer, and from 10d. to 12d. in winter. As in winter they require warm clothing and much fuel, they are chiefly subsisted on potatoes and a kind of gruel (brey) made of oats or rye, and seldom more than a small portion of salted meat once a week. The bailiff of one estate, of about 200 acres, was boarded and lodged by the proprietor, and paid 20d. a day in summer, and 10d. in winter.

The other three provinces which I passed through are much less thinly peopled than either Utrecht or the southern parts of this kingdom. The degree of density of population is in the following order, according to the last official accounts, and consequently comprehends the great increase which has taken place between the years 1815 and 1825: Gröningen has one person to three and one-sixth English acre; Overyssel, one person to five and one-tenth; and Drenthe, one to nine and two-tenths. The productiveness is nearly in the same degree as the density of population. Gröningen exports much butter and cheese, but very rarely any corn, except a few oats and some buck-wheat. It also furnishes considerable quantities of rape seed and rape oil and cake. Overyssel does not grow more corn than it consumes; the chief produce is buck-wheat and rye. Butter and an inferior kind of cheese is made beyond the demand of the inhabitants, and is exported. Drenthe, though it consumes but little corn, yet rarely grows sufficient to supply its own wants. The great mass of the people in these provinces subsist almost exclusively on potatoes, which are abundantly cultivated on the extensive heaths which intervene between those marshy borders of the rivers, where the cows, which afford butter and cheese, are pastured. The chief labor of the people is that of furnishing the turf, with which these provinces supply the more wealthy and populous districts of the kingdom. This employment is maintained by the numerous canals cut to the turf lands; and the number of boats passing to and fro with that fuel, display almost the only observable kind of activity. The cultivation is chiefly carried on by small proprietors or renters, who live in the most parsimonious manner on their scanty crops of buck-wheat, rye, and potatoes, with some assistance from the dairy, either in cheese or bacon. The value of land in districts, comprehending small tracts of good water meadow, and large extents of sandy heath, with all the gradations between the two, must vary much. That part which is under the plough is rented at all prices, from 15 to 36 guilders the Dutch morgen ; or, taking the guilder at 20d. sterling, and the morgen at two nd three-twentieths of an acre from Ils. 6d. to 26s. the acre. There is, however, but a small extent

of land coming within this description. The chief part of the inhabitants, exclusive of the two cities, seem to be seated in the heaths near the canals, and to cultivate their small portions of the soil by human labor alone. I was told that the rents for these small alloimenis, before cottages were built on them, and when in a state of nature, was as low as from 3d. to 6d. per acre.

Near the cities of Gröningen and Zwolle, the best meadow land is sometimes let as high as 150 guilders the morgen, or about from 6l. to 6 guineas the acre.

The wages of day-laborers in agriculture in these provinces I found to be commonly, when they were neither supplied with dwellings, fuel, nor food, from 14d. to 16d. per day in summer, and from 8d. to 10d. in winter.

During the periods of hay and corn harvest, great numbers of Germans, chiefly from Westphalia, come into this country to work. Without such assistance those occupiers of land who are above the condition of mere laborers, would find a difficulty in securing their crops. In fact, as may be presumed in a country of small occupiers, the number of mere laborers skilful in husbandry is very inconsiderable. Such laborers are as much bargemen and sailors as agricultural husbandmen. This is even apparent in their dress, for the ploughmen, waggoners, and others, are most universally equipped with blue jackets and trowsers, instead of round frocks.

As it was manifest, both from observation and the opinions universally given, that these northern provinces afford no surplus of corn, they had too little connexion with the chief objects of my journey to allow of much time being allotted to their examination. I remarked that every where near the towns, the cultivation of culinary vegetables and of fruit was carefully attended to ; that near the villages, the extent of land growing potatoes was very great, and that appropriated to turnips inconsiderable; whilst no carrots were to be seen growing in the fields, as they are in the southern divisions of the kingdom.

The demand for oats in England had exhausted the stocks in the southern provinces of the Netherlands, and their supplies had been drawn from the northern districts. They too had become exhausted, and it was with difficulty, and by paying an enormous price for each small quantity, that the postmasters and other persons keeping horses in high condition could obtain the necessary supply.

One postmaster, who kept 24 horses, and allowed to each about a bushel and three pecks of oats weekly, complaining of the low rate of posting at present, stated, that he had with much difficulty been able to collect a quantity equal to ten quarters, for which he paid 238., being more than double the current price of the former years, when the rate of posting had been fixed.

At another town, Winsbotten, near the frontier of Germany, I was told the price had risen still higher, and that it was with difficulty any could be procured. The same scarcity was observable in beans.

« AnteriorContinuar »