BLACKWOOD'S EDINBURGH MAGAZINE
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No. CCCXXX. APRIL, 1843. VOL. LIII.
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THE PRACTISE OF AGRICULTURE, POEMS AND BALLADS OF SCHILLER.—NO. VII., THE LAST OF THE SHEPHERDS, THE FOUNDING OF THE BELL. BY CHARLES MACKAY, AMMALAT BEK. A TRUE TALE OF THE CAUCASUS FROM THE RUSSIAN OF MARLINSKY.—CHAPTER III., OCCUPATION OF ADEN, SONNET, CALEB STUKLEY. PART XIII., IMAGINARY CONVERSATION, BETWEEN MR. WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR AND THE EDITOR OF BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE, THE BURIAL MARCH OF DUNDEE, LORD ELLENBOROUGH AND THE WHIGS,
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EDINBURGH: WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS, 45, GEORGE STREET; AND 22, PALL-MALL, LONDON.
To whom Communications (post-paid) may be addressed.
SOLD ALSO BY ALL THE BOOKSELLERS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM.
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PRINTED BY BALLANTYNE AND HUGHES, EDINBURGH.
BLACKWOOD'S EDINBURGH MAGAZINE.
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No. CCCXXX. APRIL, 1843. VOL. LIII.
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THE PRACTICE OF AGRICULTURE
Skilful practice is applied science. This fact is illustrated in every chapter of the excellent and comprehensive work now before us .
In a previous article, (see the number for June 1842,) we illustrated at some length the connexion which now exists, and which hereafter must become more intimate, between practical agriculture and modern science. We showed by what secret and silent steps the progress and gradual diffusion of modern scientific discoveries had imperceptibly led to great improvements in the agriculture of the present century—by what other more open and manifest applications of science it had directly, and in the eyes of all, been advanced—to what useful practical discussions the promulgation of scientific opinions had given rise—and to what better practice such discussions had eventually led. Above all, we earnestly solicited the attention of the friends of agriculture to what science seemed not only capable of doing, but anxious also to effect, for the further advance of this important art—what new lessons to give, new suggestions to offer, and new means of fertility to place in the hands of, the skilful experimental farmer.
It is but a comparatively short time since that article was written, and yet the spread of sound opinion, of correct and enlightened views, and of a just appreciation, as well of the aids which science is capable of giving to agriculture, as of the expediency of availing ourselves of all these aids, which within that period has taken place among practical men, has really surprised us. Nor have we been less delighted by the zeal with which the pursuit of scientific knowledge, in its relations to agriculture, has been entered upon in every part of the empire—by the progress which has been made in the acquisition of this knowledge—and by the numerous applications already visible of the important principles and suggestions embodied in the works then before us, (JOHNSTON's Lectures and Elements of Agricultural Chemistry and Geology.) But on this important topic we do not at present dwell. We may have occasion to return to the subject in a future number, and in the mean time we refer our readers to the remarks contained in our previous article.
The truly scientific man—among those, we mean, who devote themselves to such studies as are susceptible of important applications to the affairs and pursuits of daily life—the truly scientific man does not despise the practice of any art, in which he sees the principles he investigates embodied and made useful in promoting the welfare of his fellow-men. He does not even undervalue it—he rather upholds and magnifies its importance, as the agent or means by which his greatest and best discoveries can be made to subserve their greatest and most beneficent end. In him this may possibly arise from no unusual liberality of mind; it may spring from a selfish desire to see the principles he has established or made his own carried out to their legitimate extent, and their value established and acknowledged—for it is the application of a principle that imparts to it its highest value.
[Footnote 1: THE BOOK OF THE FARM. By Henry Stephens.]
Science is to practical skill in the arts of life as the soul is to the body. They are united as faith and works are in concerns of higher moment. As both, though separately good, must yet be united in the finished Christian, so the perfection of husbandry implies the union of all the lights of existing theoretical knowledge with all the skill of the most improved agricultural practice.
Though such is the belief of those scientific men who are able and willing to do the most for practical agriculture, who see most clearly what can be done for it, and the true line along which agricultural improvement may now most hopefully direct her course—yet with this opinion the greater part of practical men are still far from sympathizing. Some voices even—becoming every day more feeble, however, and recurring at more distant intervals—continue to be raised against the utility and the applications of science; as if practice with stationary knowledge were omnipotent in developing the resources of nature; as if a man, in a rugged and partially explored country, could have too much light to guide his steps.
In the history of maritime intercourse there was a time when the timid seaman crept from port to port, feeling his cautious and wary way from headland to headland, and daring no distant voyage where seas, and winds, and rocks, unknown to him, increased the dangers of his uncertain life. Then a bolder race sprung up—tall ships danced proudly upon the waves, and many brave hearts manned and guided them; yet still they rarely ventured from sight of land. Men became bewildered still, perplexed, and full of fear, when sea and sky alone presented themselves. But a third period arose—and in the same circumstances, men not more brave appeared collected, fearless, and full of hope. Faith in a trembling needle gave confidence to the most timorous, and neither the rough Atlantic nor the wide Pacific could deter the bold adventurer, or the curious investigator of nature.
And yet it was not till this comparatively advanced stage of the nautical art—when man had obtained a faithful guide in his most devious and trackless wanderings—when he was apparently set free from the unsteady dominion of the seas and of the fickle winds—and amid his labyrinthine course could ever and at once turn his face towards his happy and expectant home;—it was not till this period that science began to lend her most useful and most extensive aids, and that her value in the advancement of the sailor's art began to be justly appreciated. The astronomer forthwith taught him more accurately to observe the heavens, and compiled laborious tables for his daily use. Geography and hydrography obtained higher estimation, and harbour-engineering and ship-building were elevated into more important separate arts, chiefly from their applications to his use. Nautical schools and nautical surveys, and lighthouse boards, with all their attendant scientific researches, and magnetic observations, and voyages of discovery all sprung up—at once the causes and the consequences of the advancement of his art towards perfection; and latest, though yet far from being the last, all the new knowledge that belongs to steam-navigation has been incorporated in the vast body of nautical science. The further an art advances, the more necessary does science become to it.
Thus it is with agriculture. It cannot be denied that the tillage of the soil, with almost every other branch of husbandry, has made large strides among us—that we have more productive and better cultivated provinces, and more skilful farmers, than are to be found in any other part of the world in which equal disadvantages of climate prevail. Any one will readily satisfy himself of this, who, with an agricultural eye, shall visit the other parts of Europe to which the same northern sky is common with ourselves. And it is because we have reached this pitch of improvement—at which many think we ought to be content to stop—because we have dismissed our frail and diminutive boats, and sail now in majestic and decorated ships, provided with such abundant stores that we need not, night by night, to seek the harbour for new supplies—that we begin to feel the want of some directing principle—to look about for some favouring star to guide our wanderings upon the deep. To the tremblirg needle of science we must now turn to point our way. Feeble and uncertain it may itself appear—wavering as it directs us—and therefore by many may be depreciated and despised—yet it will surely lead us right if we have faith in its indications. Let the practical man then build his ships skilfully and well after the best models, and of the soundest oak—let their timbers be Kyanized, their cables of iron, their cordage and sails of the most approved make and material—let their sailors be true men and fearless, and let stores be providently laid in for the voyage; but let not the trembling needle of science be forgotten; for though the distant harbour he would gain be well known to him—without the aid of the needle he may never be able to reach it.
In thus rigging out his ship—in other words, in fitting up his farm and doing all for it, and upon it, which experience and skilful practice can suggest—he cannot have a better guide than the book now before us.
THE BOOK OF THE FARM is not a mere didactic treatise on practical agriculture, of which we already possess several of deserved reputation; nor yet a laborious compilation, systematically arranged, of every thing which, in the opinion of the author, it should interest the farmer to know. Of such Cyclopaedias, that of Loudon will not soon find a rival. But, as its name implies, The Book of the Farm contains a detail of all the operations, the more minute as well as the greater, which the husbandman will be called upon to undertake upon his farm—in the exact order in point of time in which they will successively demand his attention. Beginning at the close of the agricultural year, when the crops are reaped and housed, and the long winter invites to new and peculiar, and, as they may be called, preparatory labours, the reader is taught what work in each succeeding month and season should be undertaken—why at that season for what purpose it is to be done-in what way it can best be performed—how at the least cost of money and the smallest waste of time—and how the master may at all times ascertain if his work has been efficiently performed.
We confess that we have been much struck with the wide range of practical subjects on which the author gives, in such a way a to show that he is himself familiar with them, the most minute directions for the guidance at once of the master farmer himself, and for the direction of those who are under his orders. We have satisfied ourselves that by carefully examining the contents of this one book, we should be prepared not merely to pass an examination, but actually to undertake the office of public examiner in any or all of the several crafts and mysteries of the farm-builder, the weather-seer, the hedge-planter, the ditcher, the drainer, the ploughman, the cattle-feeder, the stock-buyer, the drover, the pig-killer, the fat cattle seller, the butcher, the miller, and the grieve or general overseer of the farm. We know not what other gentle crafts the still unpublished parts of the work may hereafter teach us; but so faithfully and so minutely, in general so clearly, and with so much apparent enjoyment, does the author enter into the details of all the above lines of life, that we have been deceived (we suppose) into the persuasion that Mr. Stephens must, in his lifetime, have "played many parts"—that he has himself, as occasion offered, or as work fell in his way, engaged in every one of these as well as of the other varied occupations it falls in his way to describe.
How, otherwise, for instance, should he so well understand the duties and habits, and sympathize with the privations and simple enjoyments of the humble and way-worn drover?—
"A drover of sheep should always be provided with a dog, as the numbers and nimbleness of sheep render it impossible for one man to guide a capricious flock along a road subject to many casualties; not a young dog, who is apt to work and bark a great deal more than necessary, much to the annoyance of the sheep—but a knowing cautious tyke. The drover should have a walking stick, a useful instrument at times in turning a sheep disposed to break off from the rest. A shepherd's plaid he will find to afford comfortable protection to his body from cold and wet, while the mode in which it is worn leaves his limbs free for motion. He should carry provision with him, such as bread, meat, cheese or butter, that he may take luncheon or dinner quietly beside his flock, while resting in a sequestered part of the road; and he may slake his thirst in the first brook or spring he finds, or purchase a bottle of ale at a roadside ale-house. Though exposed all day to the air, and even though he feel cold, he should avoid drinking spirits, which only produce temporary warmth, and for a long time after induce chilliess and languor. Much rather let him reserve the allowance of spirits he gives himself until the evening, when he can enjoy it in warm toddy beside a comfortable fire, before retiring to rest for the night." —Vol. ii. p. 89.
Then how knowingly he treats of the fat upon the sheep:—
"The formation of fat in a sheep commences in the inside, the net of fat which envelopes the intestines being first formed. After that, fat is seen on the outside, and first upon the end of the rump at the tail head, which continues to move on along the back, on both sides of the spine to the bend of the ribs, to the neck. Then it is deposited between the muscles, parallel with the cellular tissue. Meanwhile it is covering the lower round of the ribs, descending to the flanks until the two sides meet under the belly, from whence it proceeds to the brisket or breast in front and the shaw behind, filling up the inside of the arm-pits and thighs. The spaces around the fibres of the muscles are the last to receive a deposition of fat, but after this has begun, every other part simultaneously receives its due share, the back and kidneys receiving the most—so much so that the former literally becomes nicked, as it is termed; that is, the fat is felt through the skin to be divided into two portions. When all this has been accomplished, the sheep is said to be fat or ripe."—Vol. ii. p. 93.
But the enjoyment of tracing the accumulating fat is not enough for our author—as soon as his sheep is ripe, he forthwith proceeds to slaughter it; and though he describes every part of this process accurately, and with true professional relish, coolly telling us, that "the operation is unattended with cruelty;" yet we must be content to refer our readers to the passage (vol. ii. p. 96) as an illustration of his skill in this interesting branch of farm-surgery. He is really an amiable sheep-operator, our author—what placid benevolence and hatred of quackery appear in his instructions— "Learn to slaughter gently, dress the carcass neatly and cleanly, in as plain a manner as possible, and without flourishes."—p. 167.
But whisky-toddy and fat mutton are not the only things our author relishes. He must have been a farm-servant, living in a bothy, at least as long as he drove on the road or practised surgery in the slaughter-house. After describing the farm-servant's wages and mode of living, he thus expands upon the subject of Scottish brose:—
"The oatmeal is usually cooked in one way, as brose. A pot of water is put on the fire to boil—a task which the men (in the bothy) take in turns; a handful or two of oatmeal is taken out of the small chest with which each man provides himself, and put into a wooden bowl, which also is the ploughman's property; and, on a hollow being made in the meal, and sprinkled with salt, the boiling-water is poured over the meal, and the mixture receiving a little stirring with a horn-spoon, and the allowance of milk poured over it, the brose is ready to be eaten; and, as every man makes his own brose, and knows his own appetite, he makes just as much as he can consume." 
[Footnote 2: "The fare is simple, and is as simply made, but it must be wholesome, and capable of supplying the loss of substance occasioned by hard labour; for I believe that no class of men can endure more bodily fatigue for ten hours every day, than those ploughmen of Scotland who subsist on this brose three times a-day."—Vol. ii. p. 384.]
But if the life of the ploughman is familiar to our author, the work he has to do, and the mode of doing it well, and the reason why it should be done one way here, and another way there, are no less so. The uninitiated have no idea of the complicated patterns which the ploughman works, according to the nature of the soil and the season of the year in which he labours. He may be "gathering up—crown-and-furrow ploughing—casting, or yoking, or coupling ridges—casting ridges with gore furrows—cleaving down ridges with or without gore furrows—ploughing two-out-and-two-in—ploughing in breaks—cross-furrowing—angle-ploughing, ribbing, and drilling—or he may be preparing the land by feering or striking the ridges."— (Vol. i. p. 464.) All these methods of turning up the land are described and illustrated by wood-cuts, and we are sure quite as effectually done upon paper as if the author had been explaining them upon his own farm, guiding one of his own best ploughs, and strengthened by a basin of good brose made from his own meal-chest.
But the practical skill of Mr. Stephens is not confined to the lower walks of the agricultural life. The ploughman sometimes qualifies himself to become a steward, that he may rid himself of the drudgery of working horses. He has then new duties to perform, which are thus generally described.
"The duty of the steward or grieve, as he is called in some parts of Scotland, and bailiff in England, consists in receiving general instructions from his master, the farmer, which he sees executed by the people under his charge. He exercises a direct control over the ploughmen and field-workers.... It is his duty to enforce the commands of his master, and to check every deviation from rectitude he may observe in the servants against his interests. It is not generally understood that he has control over the shepherd, the hedger, or the cattleman, who are stewards, in one sense, over their respective departments of labour.... He should always deliver the daily allowance of corn to the horses. He should be the first person out of bed in the morning, and the last in it at night. On most farms, he sows the seed in spring, superintends the field-workers in summer, tends the harvest-field and builds the stacks in autumn, and thrashes the corn with the mill, and cleans it with the winnowing-machine in winter. He keeps an account of the workpeople's time, and of the quantity of grain thrashed, consumed on the farm, and delivered to purchasers."—Vol. i. p. 221.
The practical man who reads the above detail of the steward's duties, will see at once that it must have been written by "one of themselves;" and, by its correctness, will be able to judge of the full faith which may be placed in the numerous other details upon every branch of practical farming with which the work now before us is so full.
We have brought prominently forward the above extracts in relation to the minutiae of the farmer's life—to the detailed practical knowledge which is so valuable to him, as being those upon which it appeared to us that a writer who was capable of getting up a book at all, much more such a book as this professes to be, in reference to the higher branches of the farmers' art, was most likely to fail. But these parts of the work are written not only knowingly and well, but with an evident relish for the subject. Let us turn, therefore, to the more intellectual part of the book, and see how far this part of the task has been satisfactorily accomplished.
The Book of the Farm is mainly intended as a manual for the master-farmer, accompanying him every where, and at every season of the year, counselling, guiding, and directing him in all his operations. But it has a higher and more useful aim than merely to remind the practical agriculturist of what he already knows. It is fitted, without other aid, to teach the beginner nearly every thing which it is necessary for him to know in order to take his place among the most intelligent practical men; and to teach it precisely at the time, and in the order, in which it is most easy, most useful, and most interesting for him to learn it.
The beginner is supposed by Mr. Stephens to have undergone a previous course of instruction under a practical man, and to enter upon a farm of his own in the beginning of winter. This farm is a more or less naked and unimproved piece of land, without a farm-stead or farm-house, with few hedge-rows, and wholly undrained. On entering the farm, also, he has servants to engage, stock to buy, and implements to select. In all these difflculties, The Book of the Farm comes to his aid. The most useful, approved, and economical form of a farm-steading is pointed out. The structure of barns, stables, cow-houses, piggeries, liquid-manure tanks, poultry-yards, and every other appendage of the farm-house, and, finally, the most fitting construction of the farm-house itself, according to the size and situation of the farm, are discussed, described, and explained. Plans and estimates of every expense are added, and woodcuts illustrative of every less known suggestion. These are not only sufficient to guide the intelligent young farmer in all the preliminary arrangements for his future comfort and success, but will, we are sure, supply hints to many older heads for the reconstruction or improvement of farm-steadings, heretofore deemed convenient and complete. The following chapter aids him in the choice of his servants, and describes distinctly the duties and province of each.
And now, having concluded his domestic arrangements,  he must learn to know something of the weather which prevails in the district in which he has settled, before he can properly plan out or direct the execution of the various labours which are to be undertaken upon his farm during the winter. A chapter of some length, therefore, is devoted to the "weather in winter," in which the principles by which the weather is regulated in the different parts of our islands, and the methods of foreseeing or predicting changes, are described and illustrated as far as they are known. This is the first of those chapters of The Book of the Farm which illustrates in a way not to be mistaken, the truth announced at the head of this article, that skilful practice is applied science.
[Footnote 3: Hesiod considered one other appendage to the homestead indispensable, to which Mr. Stephens does not allude, perhaps from feeling himself incompetent to advise.]
To some it may appear at first sight that our author has indulged in too much detail upon this subject; but he is not a true practical farmer who says so. The weather has always been a most interesting subject to the agriculturist—he is every day, in nearly all his movements, dependant upon it. A week of rain, or of extraordinary drought, or of nipping frost, may disappoint his most sanguine and best founded expectations. His daily comfort, his yearly profit, and the general welfare of his family, all depend upon the weather, or upon his skill in foreseeing its changes, and availing himself of every moment which is favourable to his purposes. Hence, with agricultural writers, from the most early times, the varied appearances of the clouds, the nature of the winds, and the changing aspects of the sun and moon, and their several significations, have formed a favourite subject of description and discussion. Thus of the sun Virgil says—
"Sol quoque, et exoriens et quum se condet in undas, Signa dabit; solem certissima signa sequuntir. Et quae mane refert, et quae surgentibus astris."
And then he gives the following prognostics, as unerring guides to the Latian farmer:—
"Ille ubi nascentem maculis variaverit ortum, Conditus in nubem, medioque refugerit orbe; Suspecti tibi sint imbres.... Caeruleus pluviam denuntiat, igneus Euros. At si quum referetque diem condit que relatum Lucidus orbis erit: frustra terrebere nimbis Et claro silvas cernes aquilone moveri."
Mr. Stephens recognises similar solar indications in the following rhymes:—
"If the sun in red should set, The next day surely will be wet; If the sun should set in grey, The next will be a rainy day."
"An evening red, or a morning grey, Doth betoken a bonnie day; In an evening grey and a morning red, Put on your hat, or ye'll weet your head."
In his next edition we recommend to Mr. Stephens's notice the Border version of the latter:—
"An evening red and a morning grey, Send the shepherd on his way; An evening grey and a morning red Send the shepherd wet to bed."
The most learned meteorologists of the present day believe the moon to influence the weather—the practical farmer is sure of it—and we have known the result of the hay crop, in adjoining farms, to be strikingly different, when upon the one the supposed influence of the time of change was taken into account and acted upon, while in the other it was neglected. Mr. Stephens gives as true proverbs—
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"In the wane of the moon, A cloudy morning bodes a fair afternoon."
"New moon's mist Never dies of thirst."
But Virgil is more specific—
"Ipsa dies alios alio dedit ordine Luna Felices operum; quintam fuge.... Septuma post decumam felix et ponere vitem, Et prensos domitare boves."
And in these warnings he only imitates Hesiod—
[Greek: Pempias de hexaleasthai, hepei chalepai te chai ainai.]
[Greek: Maenos de isamenou trischaidecha taen haleasthai, Spezmatos azxasthai phuta de henthzepsasthai arisa.]
But the vague prognostics of old times are not sufficient for the guidance of the skilful and provident farmer of our day. The barometer, the thermometer, and even the hygrometer, should be his companions and guides, or occasional counsellors. To the description and useful indications of these instruments, therefore, a sufficient space is devoted in the book before us. We do not know any other source from which the practical farmer can draw so much meteorological matter specially adapted to his own walk of life, as from this chapter upon the weather.
All this our young farmer is not supposed to sit down and master before he proceeds with the proper business of his new farm; it will be a subject of study with him in many future months, and winters too. But after a most judicious recommendation, to observe and record whatever occurs either new or interesting in his field of labour—without which record he will not be able to contribute, as he may hereafter do, to the extension of agricultural knowledge—he is taught next, in an able chapter "upon soils and sub-soils," to study the nature of his farm more thoroughly; to ascertain its natural capabilities—the improvements of which it is susceptible—the simplest, most efficacious, and most economical means by which this improvement may be effected—and the kind of implements which it will be most prudent in him to purchase for tilling the kind of land of which his farm consists, or for bringing it into a more fertile condition. This chapter also draws largely, especially upon geological and chemical science, and affords another illustration of what, I trust, Mr. Stephens's book will more and more impress upon our working farmers, that skilful practice is applied science. We have not room for any extracts, but when we mention that in the chemical part of it the author has been assisted by Dr. Madden, readers of the Quarterly Journal of Agriculture will be able to form an estimate of the way in which this chapter has been got up.
Having now satisfied himself of the nature of his farm as to soil and capabilities, he sees that new enclosures and shelter will be necessary—that some fields must be subdivided, others laid out anew—that old hedge-rows must be rooted out or straightened, and new ones planted in their room. Of what all this may be made to accomplish for his farm, and of how the work itself may be done, even to the minutest details, the chapters on "enclosures and shelter," and on "planting of farm hedges," will fully inform him. The benefits of shelter on our elevated lands, are not half understood. Thousands upon thousands of acres are lying in comparative barrenness, which, by adequate shelter, might be converted into productive fields. The increase of mean temperature which results from skilful enclosures, is estimated at 5 deg. to 8 deg. Fahrenheit; while in regard to the increased money value, Mr. Thomas Bishop gives the following testimony:—
"Previous to the division of the common moor of Methven in Perthshire, in 1793, the venerable Lord Lynedoch and Lord Methven had each secured their lower slopes of land adjoining the moor with belts of plantation. The year following I entered Lord Methven's service, and in 1798 planted about sixty acres of the higher moor ground, valued at 2s. per acre, for shelter to eighty or ninety acres set apart for cultivation, and let in three divisions to six individuals. The progress made in improving the land was very slow for the first fifteen years, but thereafter went on rapidly, being aided by the shelter derived from the growth of the plantations; and the whole has now become fair land, bearing annually crops of oats, barley, peas, potatoes, and turnips. In spring 1838, exactly forty years from the time of putting down the plantation, I sold four acres of larch and fir (average growth) standing therein, for L.220, which, with the value of reserved trees and average amount per acre of thinnings sold previously, gave a return of L.67 per acre."—Vol. i, p. 367.
We are satisfied that in localities with which we are ourselves acquainted, there are tens of thousand of acres which, by the simple protection of sheltering plantations, would soon be made to exhibit an equal improvement with either the moor of Methven, or the lands upon Shotley Fell, which are also referred to in the work before us. At a time when such strenuous endeavours are making to introduce and extend a more efficient drainage among our clay lands, the more simple amelioration of our cold uplands by judicious plantations, ought neither to be lost sight of, nor by those who address themselves to the landlords and cultivators, be passed by without especial and frequent notice.
Did space permit, we could have wished to extract a paragraph or two upon the mode of planting hedges, and forming ditches, for the purpose of proving to our readers that Mr. Stephens is as complete a hedger and ditcher, as we have seen him to be cunning as a drover and a cattle surgeon. But we must refer the reader to the passages in pp. 376 and 379. Even in the planting of thorn hedges he will find that science is not unavailing, for both mathematics and botany are made by Mr. Stephens to yield their several contributions to the chapters we are now considering.
But the fields being divided and the hedges planted, or while those operations are going on, a portion of the land must be subjected to the plough. Next in order, therefore, follows a chapter upon this important instrument, in which the merits and uses of the several best known—especially of the Scotch swing-ploughs—are explained and discussed. Here our young farmer is taught which variety of plough he ought to select for his land, why it is to be preferred, and how it is to be used, and its movable parts (plough-irons) tempered and adjusted, according to the effect which the workman is desirous of producing. We are quite sure that the writer of such parts of this chapter as refer to the practical use of the plough, must himself have handled it for many a day in the field.
The part of this chapter, again, which relates to the theoretical construction—to the history of the successive improvements, and to the discussion of the relative merits of the numerous varieties of ploughs which have lately been recommended to notice—is drawn up by Mr. James Slight, curator of the museum of the Highland Society, a gentleman whose authority on such subjects stands deservedly high. To this monograph, as we may call it, upon the plough, we may again refer as another illustration of the union between agriculture and science. Mechanism perfects the construction of instruments, chemistry explains the effects which they are the means of producing in the soil—says also to the mechanic, if you could make them act in such and such a way, these effects would be more constantly and more fully brought about, and returns them to the workshop for further improvement. Thus each branch of knowledge aids the other, and suggests to it means of still further benefitting practical agriculture.
One of the most interesting, and not the least important, of those practical discussions which have arisen since the establishment of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, has been in regard to the relative merits and lightness of draught of the Scottish swing-ploughs, and of certain of the wheel-ploughs made and extensively used, especially in the southern counties. It is admitted, we believe, on all hands, that a less skilful workman will execute as presentable a piece of work with a wheel-plough, as a more skilful ploughman with a Scotch swing-plough. This is insisted upon by one party as a great advantage, while the other attaches no weight to it at all, saying, that they find no difficulty in getting good ploughmen to work with the swing-plough, and therefore it would be no advantage to them to change. Still this greater facility in using it is a true economical advantage, nevertheless; since that which is difficult to acquire will always be purchased at a dearer rate; and in an improving district, it is some gain, that it is neither necessary to import very skilful ploughmen, nor to wait till they are produced at home.
But it is also conceded, we believe, that the swing-plough, in skilful hands, is more easily or quickly managed than a wheel-plough; that it turns more readily, and when doing the same kind of work, will go over the ground quicker, and consequently do more work in a day. Theoretically, this seems undeniable, though it does not appear to be as yet clearly established in what precise proportion this theoretical acceleration ought to increase the extent of ground gone over by a diligent ploughman in the ten hours of his daily labour. It is said that, with the wheel-plough, three-fourths of an acre is an average day's work, while with a swing-plough, an acre is the ordinary and easy work of an active man on soil of average tenacity. The pace, however, must depend considerably both upon the horses and their driver; and to whatever extent such a difference may really exist—and opinions differ upon the subject—it is clearly an argument in favour of the swing-plough.
But a third and equally important element in the discussion, is the relative draught of the swing and wheel-ploughs. This element has been lately brought more prominently forward, in consequence of some interesting experiments, made first, we believe, by Mr. Pusey, and since repeated by others, as to the relative draught of different ploughs in the same circumstances, as measured by the dynamometer. This, as well as the other parts of this question, is taken up, and ably discussed, by Mr. Slight; and he has, we think, satisfactorily shown, that no wheel-plough (or plough with a foot) can be lighter in draught, merely because it is wheeled—that, on the contrary, its draught must be in some small degree increased, other things being equal, (vol. i. p. 463.) This, we think, is probable, on other grounds besides those stated by Mr. Slight; yet there appears satisfactory reason for believing, that some of the wheel-ploughs which have been made the subject of experiment, have actually been lighter in draught, when doing the same work, than any of the swing-ploughs that have been opposed to them. But this does not show that, in principle, the swing-plough is not superior to the wheel-plough—it only shows that, in construction, it is still capable of great emendations, and that, in this respect, some of the wheel-ploughs have got the start of it. But the Scotch makers, who first so greatly improved the plough, are capable still of competing with their southern rivals; and from their conjoined exertions, future ploughmen are destined to receive still further aid.
When the ploughs are brought home, and while the winter ploughing is going on, an opportunity presents itself for laying out, and probably, as the weather permits, of cutting a portion of the intended drains. Upon this important subject, Mr. Stephens treats with more even than his usual skill. How true is the following passage:—
"Land, however, though it does not contain such a superabundance of water as to obstruct arable culture, may nevertheless, by its inherent wetness, prevent or retard the luxuriant growth of useful plants, as much as decidedly wet land. The truth is, that deficiency of crops on apparently dry land is frequently attributed to unskilful husbandry, when it really arises from the baleful influence of concealed stagnant water; and the want of skill is shown, not so much in the management of the arable culture of the land, as in neglecting to remove the true cause of the deficiency of the crop, namely, the concealed stagnant water. Indeed, my opinion is, and its conviction has been forced upon me by long and extensive observation of the state of the soil over a large part of the country—that this is the true cause of most of the bad farming to be seen, and that not one farm is to be found throughout the kingdom that would not be much the better for draining." —Vol. i. p. 483.
Draining is now truly regarded as a great national work, involving considerations of the highest moment, and bearing upon some of the most vital questions of our national policy. It is a subject, therefore, the practical discussion of which is of the greatest importance, especially in reference to the mode in which it can be most efficiently and most cheaply done. Into these points, Mr. Stephens enters minutely, and the course he prescribes is, we think, full of judgment. He explains the Elkington mode of draining, and he gives due praise to the more recent improvements of Mr. Smith of Deanston.
Every one knows how difficult it is to persuade our practical men to adopt any new method; but even after you have satisfied them that the adoption of it will really do good to their farms, it is almost as difficult to persuade them, that a partial adoption of the method, or some alteration of it—as they fancy some improvement of it—will not best suit their land, or the circumstances in which they are placed. Thus, one thinks, that a drain in each alternate furrow is enough for his soil—that his drains need not be above twelve(!) or eighteen inches deep—or that on his clay, the use of soles is a needless expense. On all these points, the book before us gives confident opinions, with which we entirely coincide.
In regard to the depth of drains, it is shown, that in order that they may draw, they should never be shallower than thirty inches, and should always leave a depth of eighteen inches clear of the draining materials, in order that the subsoil and trench plough may have full freedom of action, without risk of injury to the drain; while of the use of soles he says—
"I am a strenuous advocate for drainsoles in all cases; and even when they may really prove of little use, I would rather use too many, than too few precautions in draining; because, even in the most favourable circumstances, we cannot tell what change may take place beyond our view, in the interior of a drain, which we are never again permitted, and which we have no desire to see."
This passage expresses the true principle of safety, by which, in the outlay of large sums of money for improvements, the landowner, and the holder of an improving lease, ought to be actuated. Though great losses have already been incurred by shallow drains, and by the rejection of soles, the practice, especially in the more backward districts, still goes on, and thousands of pounds are still expended upon the principles of a false economy, in repetition of the same faulty practice. We know of drainings now going on to a great extent, which will never permit the use of the subsoil plough; and of the neglect of soles, upon soils generally of clay, but here and there with patches of sand, into which the tiles must inevitably sink. When a person drains his own land, of course reason is the only constraint by which he can be withheld from doing as he likes with his own; or where a yearly tenant drains part of his farm at his own expense, the risk is exclusively his, and his landlord, who perhaps refuses to give any effectual aid, can have no right to dictate as to the mode in which the draining is to be performed; but when the landlord contributes either directly or indirectly to the expense, he, or his agent—if he has one who is skilful enough—should insist upon every thing being done according to the most improved, which, in reality, are also ultimately the most economical principles.
While the draining thus proceeds on the best and most economical principles, the ploughing is supposed to be still in progress. Indeed the arrangements for the two operations, the selection and purchase of the implements for both, may go on simultaneously. The plough, indeed, is sometimes used as a draining implement for making a deep furrow, in which, with more or less emendation from the spade, the tiles or other draining materials may subsequently be laid. But in this case, the draught is excessive, and many horses must often be yoked into the same plough, in order to drag it through the ground. Here, therefore, the young farmer must learn a new art—the art of harnessing and yoking his horses, in such a way as to obtain the greatest possible effect, at the least expense, or with the smallest waste of animal strength. This is a very important subject for consideration, and it is one which the author who is best acquainted with the practice, and with the state of knowledge regarding it, over a great part of our island, will feel himself most imperatively called upon to treat of in detail. This is done, accordingly, in the chapter upon the "Yoking and Harnessing of the Plough," in which, by the able assistance of Mr. Slight, the principles upon which these processes should be conducted, as well as the simplest, strongest, and most economical methods, in actual practice among the most skilful farmers, are illustrated and explained.
To this follows a chapter upon "Ploughing stubble and lea ground," in which, with the aid of his two coadjutors, the practical and scientific questions involved in the general process of ploughing such land, are discussed with equal skill and judgment. We have been particularly pleased with the remarks of Mr. Slight upon ploughing-matches, (Vol. i. p. 651,) in reference especially to the general disregard among judges, of the nature of the underground work, on which so much of the good effects of ploughing in reality depends. They will, we doubt not, have their due weight, at future ploughing-matches, among those—and we hope they will be many—into whose hands the work before us may come.
Second in importance to draining only, are the subjects of "subsoil and trench ploughing," operations which are also to be performed at this season of the year—and a chapter upon which concludes the first volume of Mr. Stephens's work. Those who are acquainted with the writings of Mr. Smith of Deanston, and with the operations of the Marquis of Tweeddale at Yester, will duly estimate the importance, not merely to the young farmer himself, but to the nation at large, of proper instruction in regard to these two important operations—in the mode of economically conducting them—in the principles upon which their beneficial action depends—and in the circumstances by which the practical man ought to be regulated in putting the one or the other, or the one rather than the other, in operation upon his own land. Our limits do not permit us to discuss the relative merits of subsoil and trench ploughing, which by some writers have unwisely been pitted against each other—as if they were in reality methods of improving the land, either of which a man may equally adopt in any soil and under all circumstances. But they, in reality, agree universally only in this one thing—that neither process will produce a permanently good effect unless the land be previously thorough-drained. But being drained, the farmer must then exercise a sound discretion, and Mr. Stephens's book will aid his judgment much in determining which of the two subsequent methods he ought to adopt. The safer plan for the young farmer would be to try one or two acres in each way, and in his after procedure upon the same kind of land to be regulated by the result of this trial. Mr. Stephens expresses a decided opinion in favour of trench-ploughing in the following passages:—
"I have no hesitation in expressing my preference of trench to subsoil ploughing: and I cannot see a single instance, with the sole exception of turning up a very bad subsoil in large quantity, in which there is any advantage attending subsoil, that cannot be enjoyed by trench ploughing: and for this single drawback of a very bad subsoil, trenching has the advantage of being performed in perfect safety, where subsoil ploughing could not be, without previous drainage.
"But whilst giving a preference to trench ploughing over subsoil, I am of opinion that it should not be generally attempted under any circumstances, however favourable, without previous thorough-draining, any more than subsoil ploughing; but when so drained, there is no mode of management, in my opinion, that will render land so soon amenable to the means of putting it in a high degree of fertility as trench ploughing."—Vol. i. p. 664.
We confess that, in the first of the above passages, Mr. Stephens appears to us to assume something of the tone of a partizan, which has always the effect of lessening the weight of an author's opinion with the intelligent reader who is in search of the truth only. What is advanced as the main advantage of trench-ploughing in the first passage—that it can be safely done without previous draining, is in the second wholly discarded by the advice, never to trench-plough without previous draining. At the same time it is confessed, that in the case of a bad subsoil, trench-ploughing may do much harm. Every practical man in fact knows that bringing up the subsoil in any quantity, he would in some districts render his fields in a great measure unproductive for years to come. On the other hand, we believe that the use of the subsoil-plough can never do harm upon drained land. We speak, of course, of soils upon which it is already conceded that either the one method or the other ought to be adopted. The utmost evil that can follow in any such case from the use of the subsoil-plough, is that the expense will be thrown away—the land cannot be rendered more unfruitful by it. Subsoiling, therefore, is the safer practice.
But in reality, there ought, as we have already stated, to be no opposition between the two methods. Each has its own special uses for which it can be best employed, and the skill of the farmer must be exercised in determining whether the circumstances in which he is placed are such as to call specially for the one or for the other instrument. If the subsoil be a rich black mould, or a continuation of the same alluvial or other fertile soil which forms the surface—it may be turned up at once by the trench-plough without hesitation. Or, if the subsoil be more or less full of lime, which has sunk from above, trenching may with equal safety be adopted. But, if the subsoil be more or less ferruginous—if it be of that yellow unproductive clay which in some cases extends over nearly whole counties—or of that hard, blue, stony till which requires the aid of the mattock to work out of the drains—or if it consist of a hard and stony, more or less impervious bed—in all these cases the use of the subsoil-plough is clearly indicated. In short, the young farmer can scarcely have a safer rule than this—to subsoil his land first, whenever there is a doubt of the soundness of the subsoil, or a fear that by bringing it to the surface, the fertility of the upper soil will be diminished. It is no reply to this safer practice to say that even Mr. Smith recommends turning up the subsoil afterwards, and that we have therefore a double expense to incur. For it is known, that after a time any subsoil so treated may be turned up with safety, and consequently there is no risk of loss by delaying this deeper ploughing for a few years; and in regard to the question of expense, it appears that the cost of both draining and subsoiling are generally repayed by the first two or three crops which succeed each improvement. What more, then, can be required? The expense is repaid—the land is, to a certain extent, permanently improved—no risk of loss has been incurred, and there still remains to the improving farmer—improving his own circumstances, as well as the quality of his land, by his prudent and skilful measures—there still remains the deeper ploughing, by which he can gradually bring new soil to the surface, as he sees it mellow, and become wholesome, under the joint influences which the drain and the subsoil-plough have brought to bear upon it.
There can, therefore, it is clear, be no universal rule for the use of the two valuable instruments in question, as each has its own defined sphere of action. This, we think, is the common-sense view of the case. But if any one insists upon having a universal rule which shall save him from thinking or observing for himself in all cases, then we should say—in all cases subsoil, because it is the safer.
With this subject the first volume of The Book of the Farm is brought to a close; but winter still continues, and in other winter-work of scarcely less importance the young farmer has still to be instructed. We have hitherto said nothing of the more expensive and beautiful embellishments of the book, because the most interesting of them are portraits of celebrated short-horns, working horses, sheep, and pigs—a subject of which the author begins to treat only at the commencement of the second volume. The feeding of stock is one of those parts of the winter's labours, in improving husbandry, upon which not only the immediate profit of the farmer, but the ultimate fertility of his land, in a great measure depends. The choice of his stock, and the best mode of treating and tending them, therefore, are subjects of the greatest consequence to the young farmer. In the choice of his stock he will be aided at once by the clear descriptions, and by the portraits so beautifully executed by Landseer and Sheriff, by which the letterpress is accompanied. In the subsequent treatment of them, and in the mode by which they may be most profitably, most quickly, or most economically fed in the winter season, he will be fully instructed in the succeeding chapters of the book.
Turnips and other roots are the principal food of cattle in the winter: a preliminary chapter, therefore, is devoted to the "drawing and storing of turnips and other roots." Had we our article to begin again, we could devote several pages, agreeably to ourselves, and not without interest, we believe, or without instruction, to our reader, in discussing a few of those points connected with the feeding of cattle, upon which, though the means of information are within their reach, practical men have hitherto permitted themselves to remain wholly ignorant. Of these points Mr. Stephens adverts to several, and suggests the advantage of additional experiments; but the whole subject requires revision, and, under the guidance of persons able to direct, who are acquainted with all that is yet known, or has as yet been done either in our own or in foreign countries, experiments will hereafter, no doubt, be made, by which many new truths, both theoretically and practically valuable, are sure to be elucidated.
We may advert, as an illustration, to the feeding properties of the turnip. It is usual to reckon the value of a crop of turnips by the number of tons per acre which it is found to yield when so many square yards of the produce are weighed. But this may be very fallacious in many ways. If they are white turnips, for instance, nine tons of small will contain as much nourishment as ten tons of large—or twenty-seven tons an acre of small turnips will feed as many sheep as thirty tons per acre of large turnips. Or if the crop be Swedes, the reverse will be the case, twenty-seven tons of large will feed as much stock as thirty tons of small.—(Vol. ii., p. 20.) Mr. Stephens points out other fallacies also, to which we cannot advert. One, however, he has passed over, of equal, we believe of greater, consequence than any other—we allude to the variable quantity of water which the turnip grown on different soils in different seasons is found to contain.
It is obvious, that in so far as the roots of the turnip, the carrot, and the potatoe, consist of water, they can serve the purposes of drink only—they cannot feed the animals to which they are given. Now, the quantity of water in the turnip is so great, that 100 tons sometimes contain only nine tons of dry feeding matter—more than nine-tenths of their weight consisting of water. But again, their constitution is so variable, that 100 tons sometimes contain more than twenty tons of dry food—or less than four-fifths of their weight of water. It is possible, therefore, that one acre of turnips, on which only twenty tons are growing, may feed as many sheep as another on which forty tons are produced. What, therefore, can be more uncertain than the feeding value of an acre of turnips as estimated by the weight? How much in the dark are buyers and sellers of this root? What wonder is there, that different writers should estimate so very differently the weight of turnips which ought to be given for the purpose of sustaining the condition, or of increasing the weight, of the several varieties of stock? Other roots exhibit similar differences; and even the potatoe, while it sometimes contains thirty tons of food in every hundred of raw roots, at others, contains no more than twenty—the same weight, namely, which exists at times in the turnip. 
[Footnote 4: For our authority on this subject, we refer to Johnston's Suggestion for Experiments in Practical Agriculture, No. 111. pp. 62 and 64, of which we have been favoured with an early copy by the author.]
This latter fact, shows the very slippery ground on which the assertion rests, that has lately astonished the weak minds of our Southern cattle-feeding brethren, from the mouth of one of their talented but hasty lecturers—that the potatoe contains two or three times the weight of nourishment which exists in the turnip. It is true that some varieties of potatoes contain three times as much as some varieties of turnip—but, on the other hand, some turnips contain as much nourishment as an equal weight of potatoes. But no man can tell, by bare inspection, as yet, to which class of turnips, the more or less watery, his own may belong—whether that which is apparently the most prolific may not in reality be the least so—whether that mode of manuring his land which gives him the greatest weight of raw roots may not give him the smallest weight of real substantial food for his stock. What a wide field, therefore, for experiment? To what useful results might they not be expected to lead? If any of our readers wish to undertake such experiments, or to learn how they are to be performed, we refer them to the pamphlet mentioned in the note.
In connexion with the chapter "on the feeding of sheep," we could have wished to advert to the advantages of shelter, in producing the largest weight of meat from a given weight of turnips, or other food—as illustrated by the experiments of Mr. Childers, Lord Western, and others; but we must refer our readers to the passage itself, (vol. ii. p. 51,) as we must also to the no less important comparative view of the advantages of feeding cattle in close byres and in open hammels, (vol. ii. p. 129,) and to the interesting details regarding the use of raw and steamed food, contained in the chapter upon the feeding of cattle, (vol. ii. p. 120 to 148.)
But our author is so cunning in the qualities of mutton—which, as we have already seen, he can "kill so gently," performing the operation without pain—that we think our readers will enjoy the following passage:—
"The gigot is the handsomest and most valuable part of the carcass, and on that account fetches the highest price. It is either a roasting or a boiling piece. Of black-faced mutton it makes a fine roast, and the piece of fat in it called the pope's eye, is considered a delicate morceau by epicures. A gigot of Leicester, Cheviot, or Southdown mutton makes a beautiful 'boiled leg of mutton,' which is prized the more the fatter it is, as this part of the carcass is never overloaded with fat. The loin is almost always roasted, the flap of the flank being skewered up, and it is a juicy piece. For a small family, the black-faced mutton is preferable; for a large, the Southdown and Cheviot. Many consider this piece of Leicester mutton roasted as too rich, and when warm, this is probably the case; but a cold roast loin is an excellent summer dish. The back-ribs are divided into two, and used for very different purposes. The fore-part, the neck, is boiled and makes sweet barley-broth, and the meat, when well boiled, or rather the whole pottage simmered for a considerable time beside the fire, eats tenderly. The back-ribs make an excellent roast; indeed, there is not a sweeter or more varied one in the carcass, having both ribs and shoulder. The shoulder-blade eats best cold, and the ribs warm. The ribs make excellent chops. The Leicester and Southdowns afford the best mutton-chops. The breast is mostly a roasting-piece, consisting of rib and shoulder, and is particularly good when cold. When the piece is large, as of Southdown or Cheviot, the gristly part of the ribs may be divided from the true ribs, and helped separately. The breast is an excellent piece in black-faced mutton, and suitable to small families, the shoulder being eaten cold, while the ribs and brisket are sweet and juicy when warm. This piece also boils well; or, when corned for eight days, and served with onion sauce, with mashed turnip in it, there are few more savoury dishes at a farmer's table. The shoulder is separated before being dressed, and makes an excellent roast for family use, and may be eaten warm or cold, or corned and dressed as the breast mentioned above. The shoulder is best from a large carcass of Southdown, Cheviot, or Leicester, the black-faced being too thin for the purpose; and it was probably because English mutton is usually large that the practice of removing it originated. The neckpiece is partly laid bare by the removal of the shoulder, the fore-part being fitted for boiling and making into broth, and the best end for roasting or broiling into chops. On this account this is a good family piece, and in such request among the tradesmen of London that they prefer it to any part of the hind-quarter."—(Vol. ii. p. 98.)
Nor is he less skilful in the humble food and cooking of the farm-labourer; indeed, he seems never satisfied until he fairly exhausts all the useful matter contained in every subject upon which he touches. He not only breeds, and feeds, and kills, and cooks, but he does the latter with such relish, that we have several times fancied that we could actually see him eating his own mutton, beef, and pork. And, whether he luxuriates over a roast of the back-ribs of mutton, "so sweet and so varied," or complains that "the hotel-keepers have a trick of seasoning brown-soup, or rather beef-tea, with a few joints of tail, and passing it off for genuine ox-tail soup,"—(vol. ii. p. 169,) or describes the "famous fat brose, for which Scotland has long been celebrated," as formed by skimming off the fat when boiling the hough, pouring it upon oatmeal, and seasoning with pepper and salt; or indulges in the humbler brose of the ploughman in his bothy, he evidently enjoys every thing set before him so much, that we are sure he must lay on the fat kindly. We should not wonder if he is himself already nicked; and we cannot more warmly testify our good wishes, than by expressing a hope, that, when he is fully ripe, the grim surgeon will operate upon him without pain, and kill him gently.
One of Mr. Stephens's humbler dishes is the following:—
"The only time Scotch farm-servants indulge in butcher-meat is when a sheep falls, as it is termed; that is, when it is killed before being affected with an unwholesome disease, and the mutton is sold at a reduced price. Shred down the suet small, removing any flesh or cellular membrane adhering to it; then mix amongst it intimately 1/2 oz. of salt and a tea-spoonful of pepper to every pound of suet; put the mixture into an earthen jar, and tie up tightly with bladder. One table spoonful of seasoned suet will, at any time, make good barley-broth or potato-soup for two persons. The lean of the mutton may be shred down small, and seasoned in a similar manner, and used when required; or it may be corned with salt, and used as a joint." —Vol. ii. p. 105.
How much of the natural habits and manners of a country, and of the circumstances and inner life of the various classes of its inhabitants, is to be learned from a study of their cookery!
Reader, what a mystery hangs over the handling of a fat beast! A feeder approaches a well filled short-horn—he touches it here—he pinches it there—he declares it to have many good points about it; but pronounces the existence of defects, where the uninitiated see only beauties. The points of a fat ox, how mysterious they are, how difficult to make out! The five points of Arminianism, our old vicar used to say, were nothing to them. But here, too, Mr. Stephens is at home. Listen to his simple explanation of the whole:
"The first point usually handled is the end of the rump at the tail-head, although any fat here is very obvious, and sometimes attains to an enormous size, amounting even to deformity. The hook-bone gets a touch, and when well covered, is right.... To the hand, or rather to the points of the fingers of the right hand, when laid upon the ribs, the flesh should feel soft and thick and the form be round when all is right, but if the ribs are flat the flesh will feel hard and thin from want of fat. The skin, too, on a rounded rib, will feel soft and mobile, the hair deep and mossy, both indicative of a kindly disposition to lay on flesh. The hand then grasps the flank, and finds it thick, when the existence of internal tallow is indicated.... The palm of the hand laid along the line of the back will point out any objectionable hard piece on it, but if all is soft and pleasant, then the shoulder-top is good. A hollowness behind the shoulder is a very common occurrence; but when it is filled up with a layer of fat, the flesh of all the fore-quarter is thereby rendered very much more valuable. You would scarcely believe that such a difference could exist in the flesh between a lean and a fat shoulder. A high narrow shoulder is frequently attended with a ridged back-bone, and lowset narrow hooks, a form which gets the appropriate name of razor-back, with which will always be found a deficiency of flesh in all the upper part of the animal, where the best flesh always is. If the shoulder-point is covered, and feels soft like the point of the hook-bone, it is good, and indicates a well filled neck-vein, which runs from that point to the side of the head. The shoulder-point, however, is often bare and prominent. When the neck-vein is so firmly filled up as not to permit the points of the fingers inside of the shoulder-point, this indicates a well tallowed animal; as also does the filling up between the brisket and inside of the fore legs, as well as a full, projecting, well covered brisket in front. When the flesh comes down heavy upon the thighs, making a sort of double thigh, it is called lyary, and indicates a tendency of the flesh to grow on the lower instead of the upper part of the body. These are all the points that require touching when the hand is used; and in a high-conditioned ox, they may be gone over very rapidly."—Vol. ii. p. 165.
The treatment of horses follows that of cattle, and this chapter is fitted to be of extensive use among our practical farmers. There are few subjects to which the attention of our small farmers requires more to be drawn than to the treatment of their horses—few in which want of skill causes a more general and constant waste. The economy of prepared food is ably treated of, and we select the following passage as containing at once sound theoretical and important practical truths:
"It appears at first sight somewhat surprising that the idea of preparing food for farm-horses should only have been recently acted on; but I have no doubt that the practice of the turf and of the road, of maintaining horses on large quantities of oats and dry ryegrass hay, has had a powerful influence in retaining it on farms. But now that a more natural treatment has been adopted by the owners of horses on fast work, farmers, having now the example of post-horses standing their work well on prepared food, should easily be persuaded that, on slow work, the same sort of food should have even a more salutary effect on their horses. How prevalent was the notion, at one time, that horses could not be expected to do work at all, unless there was hard meat in them! 'This is a very silly and erroneous idea, if we inquire into it,' as Professor Dick truly observes, 'for whatever may be the consistency of the food when taken into the stomach, it must, before the body can possibly derive any substantial support or benefit from it, be converted into chyme—a pultacious mass; and this, as it passes onward from the stomach into the intestinal canal, is rendered still more fluid by the admixture of the secretions from the stomach, the liver, and the pancreas, when it becomes of a milky appearance, and is called chyle. It is then taken into the system by the lacteals, and in this fluid, this soft state—and in this state only—mixes with the blood, and passes through the circulating vessels for the nourishment of the system.' Actuated by these rational principles, Mr. John Croall, a large coach-proprietor in Edinburgh, now supports his coach horses on 8 lb. of chopped hay and 16 lb. of bruised oats; so does Mr. Isaac Scott, a postmaster, who gives 10 lb. or 12 lb. of chopped hay and 16 lb. of bruised oats, to large horses: and to carry the principle still further into practice, Captain Cheyne found his post-horses work well on the following mixture, the proportions of which are given for each horse every day; and this constitutes the second of the formulae alluded to above."
In the day, 8 lb. of bruised oats. 3 lb. of bruised beans. 4 lb. of chopped straw. ——— 15 lb.
At night 22 lb. of steamed potatoes. 1-1/2 lb. of fine barley dust. 2 lb. of chopped straw. 2 oz. of salt. ————— 25-1/2 lb.
"Estimating the barley-dust at 10d. per stone; chopped straw, 6d. per stone, potatoes, steamed, at 7s. 6d. per cwt.; and the oats and beans at ordinary prices, the cost of supper was 6d., and for daily food, 1s. with cooking, in all 1s. 6d. a horse each day."—Vol. ii. p. 194.
The reader will also peruse with interest the following paragraph, illustrative at once of the habits of the horse, and of our author's familiarity with the race:—
"The horse is an intelligent animal, and seems to delight in the society of man. It is remarked by those who have much to do with blood-horses, that, when at liberty, and seeing two or more people standing conversing together, they will approach, and seem, as it were, to wish to listen to the conversation. The farm-horse will not do this; but he is quite obedient to call, and distinguishes his name readily from that of his companion, and will not stir when desired to stand until his own name is pronounced. He distinguishes the various sorts of work he is put to, and will apply his strength and skill in the best way to effect his purpose, whether in the thrashing-mill, the cart, or the plough. He soon acquires a perfect sense of his work. I have seen a horse walk very steadily towards a feering pole, and halt when his head had reached it. He seems also to have a sense of time. I have heard another neigh almost daily about ten minutes before the time of loosening in the evening, whether in summer or winter. He is capable of distinguishing the tones of the voice, whether spoken in anger or otherwise; and can even distinguish between musical notes. There was a work-horse of my own, when even at his corn, would desist eating, and listen attentively, with pricked and moving ears and steady eyes, the instant he heard the note of low G sounded, and would continue to listen as long as it was sustained; and another, that was similarly affected by a particular high note. The recognition of the sound of the bugle by a trooper, and the excitement occasioned in the hunter when the pack give tongue, are familiar instances of the extraordinary effects of particular sounds on horses."—Vol. ii. p. 216.
We recollect in our younger days, when we used to drive home from Penrith market, our friend would say, "come, let us give the horse a song—he will go home so briskly with us." And it really was so, or seemed so at least, be the principle what it may.
Pigs and poultry succeed to cattle and horses, and the author is equally at home in regard to the management of these as of the more valued varieties of stock—as learned in their various breeds, and as skilful in the methods of fattening, killing, and cutting up. How much truth is contained in the following remarks, and how easily and usefully might the evil be amended:—
"Of all the animals reared on a farm, there are none so much neglected by the farmer, both in regard to the selection of their kind, and their qualifications to fatten, as all the sorts of domesticated fowls found in the farm-yard. Indeed, the very supposition that he would devote any of his time to the consideration of poultry, is regarded as a positive affront on his manhood. Women, in his estimation, may be fit enough for such a charge, and doubtless they would do it well, provided they were not begrudged every particle of food bestowed upon those useful creatures. The consequence is what might be expected in the circumstances, that go to most farm-steads, and the surprise will be to meet a single fowl of any description in good condition, that is to say, in such condition that it may be killed at the instant in a fit state for the table, which it might be if it had been treated as a fattening animal from its birth."—Vol. ii. p. 246.
The methods of fattening them are afterwards described; and for a mode of securing a new-laid egg to breakfast every winter morning, a luxury which our author "enjoyed for as many years as he lived in the country," we refer the reader to page 256 of the second volume.
Besides the feeding of stock, one other in-door labour demands the attention of the farmer, when the severity of winter weather has put a stop to the ploughing and the draining of his land. His grain crops are to be thrashed out, and sent to the market or the mill. In this part of his work Mr. Stephens has again availed himself of the valuable assistance of Mr. Slight, who, in upwards of 100 pages of closely printed matter, has figured and described nearly all the more useful instruments employed in the preparation of the food of cattle, and in separating the grain of the corn crops. The thrashing machine, so valuable an addition to the working establishment of a modern farm-steading, is minutely explained—the varieties in its construction illustrated by wood-cuts—and the respective merits of the different forms of the machine examined and discussed. With the following, among his other conclusions, we cordially concur.
"I cannot view these two machines without feeling impressed with a conviction that both countries would soon feel the advantage of an amalgamation between the two forms of the machine. The drum of the Scotch thrashing-machine would most certainly be improved by a transfusion from the principles of the English machine; and the latter might be equally improved by the adoption of the manufacturing-like arrangements and general economy of the Scotch system of thrashing. That such interchange will ere long take place, I am thoroughly convinced; and as I am alike satisfied that the advantages would be mutual, it is to be hoped that these views will not stand alone. It has not been lost sight of, that each machine may be said to be suited to the system to which it belongs, and that here, where the corn is cut by the sickle, the machine is adapted to that; while the same may be said of the other, where cutting by the scythe is so much practised. Notwithstanding all this, there appears to be good properties in both that either seems to stand in need of." —Vol. ii. p. 329.
Other scientific, especially chemical information, connected with the different varieties of grain, and the kind and quantity of food they respectively yield, is incorporated in the chapters upon "wheat, flour, and oat and bean meal," to which we can only advert, as further illustrations of the intimate manner in which science and skilful or enlightened practice are invariably, necessarily, and every where interwoven.
* * * * *
And now the dreary months of winter are ended—and the labours of the farmer take a new direction.
"Salvitur acris hiems grata vice veris et Favoni,"
* * * * *
"Ac neque jam stabulis gaudet pecus, aut arator igni."
But we cannot follow Mr. Stephens through the cheerful labours of the coming year. Our task is so far ended, and from the way in which the whole of the long weeks of winter are described, the reader must judge of Mr. Stephens's ability to lead him safely and surely through the rest of the year.
A closing observation or two, however, we beg to offer. We look upon a good book on agriculture as something more than a lucky speculation for the publisher, or a profitable occupation of his time for the author. It is a gain to the community at large,—a new instrument of national wealth. The first honour or praise in reference to every such instrument, is, no doubt, due to the maker or inventor—but he who brings is into general use, merits also no little approbation. Such is our case with respect to the book before us. We shall be glad to learn that our analysis of it contributes to a wider circulation among the practical farmers of the empire, of the manifold information which the book contains, not so much for the sake of the author, as with a view to the common good of the country at large. It is to the more general diffusion of sound agricultural literature among our farmers, that we look for that more rapid development of the resources of our varied soils which the times so imperatively demand. To gain this end no legitimate means ought to be passed by, and we have detained our readers so long upon the book before us, in the hope that they may be induced to lend us their aid also in attaining so desirable an object.
We do not consider The Book of the Farm a perfect work: the author indulges now and then in loose and careless writing; and this incorrectness has more frequently struck us in the later portions of the work, no doubt from the greater haste of composition. He sets out by slighting the aids of science to agriculture; and yet, in an early part of his book, tells the young farmer that he "must become acquainted with the agency of electricity before he can understand the variations of the weather," and ends by making his book, as we have said, a running commentary upon the truth we have already several times repeated, that SKILFUL PRACTICE IS APPLIED SCIENCE.
These, and no doubt other faults the book has—as what book is without them?—but as a practical manual for those who wish to be good farmers, it is the best book we know. It contains more of the practical applications of modern science, and adverts to more of those interesting questions from which past improvements have sprung, and from the discussion of which future ameliorations are likely to flow, than any other of the newer works which have come under our eye. Where so many excellences exist, we are not ill-natured enough to magnify a few defects.
The excellence of Scottish agriculture may be said by some to give rise to the excellent agricultural books which Scotland, time after time, has produced. But it may with equal truth be said, that the existence of good books, and their diffusion among a reading population, are the sources of the agricultural distinction possessed by the northern parts of the island. It is beyond our power, as individuals, to convert the entire agricultural population of our islands into a reading body, but we can avail ourselves of the tendency wherever it exists; and by writing, or diffusing, or aiding to diffuse, good books, we can supply ready instruction to such as now wish for it, and can put it in the way of those in whom other men, by other means, are labouring to awaken the dormant desire for knowledge. Reader, do you wish to improve agriculture? —then buy you a good book, and place it in the hands of your tenant or your neighbouring farmer; if he be a reading man, he will thank you, and his children may live to bless you; if he be not a reader, you may have the gratification of wakening a dormant spirit; and though you may appear to be casting your bread upon the waters, yet you shall find it again after many days.
* * * * *
POEMS AND BALLADS OF SCHILLER.
(The two following poems, "The Ideal," and, "The Ideal and Life," are essentially distinct in their mode of treatment. The first is simple and tender, and expresses feelings in which all can sympathize. As a recent and able critic, in the Foreign Quarterly Review, has observed, this poem, "still little known, contains a regret for the period of youthful faith," and may take its place among the most charming and pathetic of all those numberless effusions of genius in which individual feeling is but the echo of the universal heart. But the poem on "The Ideal and Life" is highly mystical and obscure;— "it is a specimen," says the critic we have just quoted, "of those poems which were the immediate results of Schiller's metaphysical studies. Here the subject is purely supersensual, and does not descend to the earth at all. The very tendency of the poem is to recommend a life not in the actual world, but in the world of appearances —that is, in the aesthetical world."
It requires considerable concentration of mind to follow its meaning through the cloud of its dark and gigantic images. Schiller desired his friend Humboldt to read it in perfect stillness, 'and put away from him all that was profane.' Humboldt, of course, admired it prodigiously; and it is unquestionably full of thought expressed with the power of the highest genius. But, on the other hand, its philosophy, even for a Poet or Idealist, is more than disputable, and it incurs the very worst fault which a Poet can commit, viz. obscurity of idea as well as expression. When the Poet sets himself up for the teacher, he must not forget that the teacher's duty is to be clear; and the higher the mystery he would expound, the more pains he should bestow on the simplicity of the elucidation. For the true Poet does not address philosophical coteries, but an eternal and universal public. Happily this fault is rare in Schiller, and more happily still, his great mind did not long remain a groper amidst the 'Realm of Shadow.' The true Ideal is quite as liable to be lost amidst the maze of metaphysics, as in the actual thoroughfares of work-day life. A plunge into Kant may do more harm to a Poet than a walk through Fleet Street. Goethe, than whom no man had ever more studied the elements of the diviner art, was right as an artist in his dislike to the over-cultivation of the aesthetical. The domain of the Ideal is the heart, and through the heart it operates on the soul. It grows feebler and dimmer in proportion as it seeks to rise above human emotion.... Longinus does not err, when he asserts that Passion (often erroneously translated Pathos) is the best part of the Sublime.)
[Footnote 5: Rather, according to Aesthetical Philosophy, is the actual world to be called the world of appearances, and the Ideal the world of substance.]
TO THE IDEAL.
Then wilt thou, with thy fancies holy— Wilt thou, faithless, fly from me? With thy joy, thy melancholy, Wilt thou thus relentless flee? O Golden Time, O Human May, Can nothing, Fleet One, thee restrain? Must thy sweet river glide away Into the eternal Ocean-Main?
The suns serene are lost and vanish'd That wont the path of youth to gild, And all the fair Ideals banish'd From that wild heart they whilome fill'd. Gone the divine and sweet believing In dreams which Heaven itself unfurl'd! What godlike shapes have years bereaving Swept from this real work-day world!
As once, with tearful passion fired, The Cyprian Sculptor clasp'd the stone, Till the cold cheeks, delight-inspired, Blush'd—to sweet life the marble grown; So Youth's desire for Nature!—round The Statue, so my arms I wreathed, Till warmth and life in mine it found And breath that poets breathe—it breathed.
With my own burning thoughts it burn'd;— Its silence stirr'd to speech divine;— Its lips my glowing kiss return'd;— Its heart in beating answer'd mine! How fair was then the flower—the tree!— How silver-sweet the fountain's fall! The soulless had a soul to me! My life its own life lent to all!
The Universe of Things seem'd swelling The panting heart to burst its bound, And wandering Fancy found a dwelling In every shape—thought—deed, and sound. Germ'd in the mystic buds, reposing, A whole creation slumber'd mute, Alas, when from the buds unclosing, How scant and blighted sprung the fruit!
How happy in his dreaming error, His own gay valour for his wing, Of not one care as yet in terror, Did Youth upon his journey spring; Till floods of balm, through air's dominion, Bore upward to the faintest star— For never aught to that bright pinion Could dwell too high, or spread too far.
Though laden with delight, how lightly The wanderer heavenward still could soar, And aye the ways of life how brightly The airy Pageant danced before!— Love, showering gifts (life's sweetest) down, Fortune, with golden garlands gay, And Fame, with starbeams for a crown, And Truth, whose dwelling is the Day.
Ah! midway soon, lost evermore, Afar the blithe companions stray; In vain their faithless steps explore, As, one by one, they glide away. Fleet Fortune was the first escaper— The thirst for wisdom linger'd yet; But doubts with many a gloomy vapour The sun-shape of the Truth beset!
The holy crown which Fame was wreathing, Behold! the mean man's temples wore! And but for one short spring-day breathing, Bloom'd Love—the Beautiful—no more! And ever stiller yet, and ever The barren path more lonely lay, Till waning Hope could scarcely quiver Along the darkly widening way.
Who, loving, linger'd yet to guide me, When all her boon companions fled? Who stands consoling still beside me, And follows to the House of Dread? Thine, Friendship! thine, the hand so tender— Thine the balm dropping on the wound— Thy task—the load more light to render, O, earliest sought and soonest found!
And thou, so pleased with her uniting To charm the soul-storm into peace, Sweet Toil! in toil itself delighting, That more it labor'd, less could cease: Though but by grains, thou aid'st the pile The vast Eternity uprears— At least thou strik'st from Time, the while, Life's debt—the minutes, days, and years!
[Footnote 6: That is to say—the Poet's occupation—The Ideal.]
[Footnote 7: Though the Ideal images of youth forsake us—the Ideal still remains to the Poet.—Nay, it is his task and his companion; unlike the worldly fantasies of fortune—fame, and love—the fantasies the Ideal creates are imperishable. While, as the occupation of his life, it pays off the debt of time; as the exalter of life, it contributes to the building of eternity.]
* * * * *
THE IDEAL AND THE ACTUAL LIFE.
The first title of this Poem was "The Realm of Shadow." Perhaps in the whole range of German poetry there exists no poem which presents greater difficulties to the English translator. The chief object of the present inadequate version has been to render the sense intelligible as well as the words. The attempt stands in need of all the indulgence which the German scholar will readily allow that a much abler translator might reasonably require.
For ever fair, for ever calm and bright, Life flies on plumage, zephyr-light, For those who on the Olympian hill rejoice— Moons wane, and races wither to the tomb, And 'mid the universal ruin, bloom The rosy days of Gods— With Man, the choice, Timid and anxious, hesitates between The sense's pleasure and the soul's content; While on celestial brows, aloft and sheen, The beams of both are blent.
Seek'st thou on earth the life of Gods to share, Safe in the Realm of Death?—beware To pluck the fruits that glitter to thine eye; Content thyself with gazing on their glow— Short are the joys Possession can bestow, And in Possession sweet Desire will die. 'Twas not the ninefold chain of waves that bound Thy daughter, Ceres, to the Stygian river— She pluck'd the fruit of the unholy ground, And so—was Hell's for ever!
The weavers of the web—the Fates—but sway The matter and the things of clay; Safe from each change that Time to matter gives, Nature's blest playmate, free at will to stray With Gods a god, amidst the fields of Day, The FORM, the ARCHETYPE, serenely lives. Would'st thou soar heavenward on its joyous wing? Cast from thee, Earth, the bitter and the real, High from this cramp'd and dungeon being, spring Into the Realm of the Ideal!
[Footnote 8: "Die Gestalt"—Form, the Platonic Archetype.]
Here, bathed, Perfection, in thy purest ray, Free from the clogs and taints of clay, Hovers divine the Archetypal Man! Like those dim phantom ghosts of life that gleam And wander voiceless by the Stygian stream, While yet they stand in fields Elysian, Ere to the flesh the Immortal ones descend— If doubtful ever in the Actual life, Each contest—here a victory crowns the end Of every nobler strife.
Not from the strife itself to set thee free, But more to nerve—doth Victory Wave her rich garland from the Ideal clime. Whate'er thy wish, the Earth has no repose— Life still must drag thee onward as it flows, Whirling thee down the dancing surge of Time. But when the courage sinks beneath the dull Sense of its narrow limits—on the soul, Bright from the hill-tops of the Beautiful, Bursts the attained goal!
If worth thy while the glory and the strife Which fire the lists of Actual Life— The ardent rush to fortune or to fame, In the hot field where Strength and Valour are, And rolls the whirling, thunder of the car, And the world, breathless, eyes the glorious game— Then dare and strive—the prize can but belong To him whose valour o'er his tribe prevails; In life the victory only crowns the strong— He who is feeble fails.
But as some stream, when from its source it gushes, O'er rocks in storm and tumult rushes, And smooths its after course to bright repose, So, through the Shadow-Land of Beauty glides The Life Ideal—on sweet silver tides Glassing the day and night star as it flows— Here, contest is the interchange of Love, Here, rule is but the empire of the Grace; Gone every foe, Peace folds her wings above The holy, haunted place.
When through dead stone to breathe a soul of light, With the dull matter to unite The kindling genius, some great sculptor glows; Behold him straining every nerve intent— Behold how, o'er the subject element, The stately THOUGHT its march laborious goes. For never, save to Toil untiring, spoke The unwilling Truth from her mysterious well— The statute only to the chisel's stroke Wakes from its marble cell.
But onward to the Sphere of Beauty—go Onward, O Child of Art! and, lo, Out of the matter which thy pains control The Statue springs!—not as with labour wrung From the hard block, but as from Nothing sprung— Airy and light—the offspring of the soul! The pangs, the cares, the weary toils it cost Leave not a trace when once the work is done— The artist's human frailty merged and lost In art's great victory won!
If human Sin confronts the rigid law Of perfect Truth and Virtue, awe Seizes and saddens thee to see how far Beyond thy reach, Perfection;—if we test By the Ideal of the Good, the best, How mean our efforts and our actions are! This space between the Ideal of man's soul And man's achievement, who hath ever past? An ocean spreads between us and that goal, Where anchor ne'er was cast!
But fly the boundary of the Senses—live the Ideal life free Thought can give; And, lo, the gulf shall vanish, and the chill Of the soul's impotent despair be gone! And with divinity thou sharest the throne, Let but divinity become thy will! Scorn not the Law—permit its iron band The sense (it cannot chain the soul) to thrall. Let man no more the will of Jove withstand, And Jove the bolt lets fall!
If, in the woes of Actual Human Life— If thou could'st see the serpent strife Which the Greek Art has made divine in stone— Could'st see the writhing limbs, the livid cheek, Note every pang, and hearken every shriek Of some despairing lost Laocoon, The human nature would thyself subdue To share the human woe before thine eye— Thy cheek would pale, and all thy soul be true To Man's great Sympathy.
But in the Ideal realm, aloof and far, Where the calm Art's pure dwellers are, Lo, the Laocoon writhes, but does not groan. Here, no sharp grief the high emotion knows— Here, suffering's self is made divine, and shows The brave resolve of the firm soul alone: Here, lovely as the rainbow on the dew Of the spent thunder-cloud, to Art is given, Gleaming through Grief's dark veil, the peaceful blue Of the sweet Moral Heaven.
[Footnote 9: The Law, i.e. the Kantian ideal of Truth and Virtue. This stanza and the next embody, perhaps with some exaggeration, the Kantian doctrine of morality.]
So, in the glorious parable, behold How, bow'd to mortal bonds, of old Life's dreary path divine Alcides trode: The hydra and the lion were his prey, And to restore the friend he loved to day, He went undaunted to the black-brow'd God; And all the torments and the labours sore Wroth Juno sent—meek majestic One, With patient spirit and unquailing, bore, Until the course was run—
Until the God cast down his garb of clay, And rent in hallowing flame away The mortal part from the divine—to soar To the empyreal air! Behold him spring Blithe in the pride of the unwonted wing, And the dull matter that confined before Sinks downward, downward, downward as a dream! Olympian hymns receive the escaping soul, And smiling Hebe, from the ambrosial stream, Fills for a God the bowl!