Imágenes de páginas

• For, as there is such an infinite diverfity of foils, and as these may be so much altered from their original state by the modes of culture they have been formerly subjected to, by the manures that may have been applied to them, and by many other circumstances that have not perhaps been hitherto observed, which may greatly vary the result of any experiment. And as we have no terms capable of expressing that great diversity of soils, differing from one another by such delicate and unobserved peculiarities, it necessarily follows, that it is impoffible to rely with certainty upon any experiment where these particulars are not known or attended to. Nor is it possible to invent terms to express varieties that we ourselves have never at: tended to; nor could we make others understand these terms, if they were invented, until they also were made sensible of the peculiarities these terms were employed to express.

' In these circumliances, an experimenter, while he employs the very best terms his language affords, is by no means certain that any one of these terms will not convey a separate idea to every reader that shall peruse the account of the experiment he records. Thus; in the language of the farmer, there are little more than four grand divisions of soils"; viz. clayey, loamy, sandy, and gravelly. And as each of these classes admits of certain obvious characteristical marks which distinguish it from all the other classes, every farmer has formed in his own mind a particular idea of each of these soils: which always presents itself to his imagination whenever any one of these classes is named. But as the diversity of these foils, for the purpose of the farmer, is inconceivably grear, some of each class being as remarkable for their inexhaustible fertility, as others are for their infuperable fterility, although there are not perhaps diftina guishable by any obvious, or to us definable peculiarity in their ex. ternal appearance; and as other varieties of soil differ as much from one another in respect of other unobserved properties, it follows, that each separate farmer, when he reads of an experiment that has been made, suppose upon a clayey or a loamy soil, naturally imagines that it has been made upon such a clay or such a loam as those are with which he has been from his infancy acquainted; although it may happen that these two kinds of clay or loam differ from each other in some of their most essential qualities. He perhaps repeats the experiment, and finds that the result is extremely different from that of the former experimenter. He records it in the same words

got another complete dressing of dung, and was put into turnips, which were a good crop, as before. 'Next year oats ! produce about three bolls (18 bushels) per acre, With this crop it was laid out for grafs. A part of it was sown with rye grass and clover; another part of it with sweepings of a hay-loft, conGfting chiefly of feathergrass and narrow-leaved plantain, or rib-grass; and a part of it was left to run to grass without lowing at all. A few dwarfish falks of the rye-grass, and of the feather-grass, appeared the first year; but not a stalk of clover either red or white, nor of the rib-grass. In a sew years the small bent grass established itself over the whole field; but the whole produce of it in grass in either state was not worth more than a shilling per acre. Yet this was a loil that skilful farmers esteemed a good one, who would have approved of this mode of managing it : and it is a loil that with a mode of management proper for itself may be made a very good one 1.'

I'See Essays relating to Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Vol. II. Disquisitions 40, 41, and 42, where more examples of a similar nature are produced,' Rev, Aug. 1779.



with the other, excepting in the contradictory result. A third pero fon examines and compares these experiments. What can he conelude? To see which of these is right, he also tries the experiment with all imaginable caution, and finds the result different from either. Whai inference can he draw from all this? Precisely nothing. And the practical farmer receives equal information, as if none of these experiments had ever been made.'

After pointing out some of the disagreeable consequences that naturally result from this circumstance, he thus proceeds :

Till mankind thall turn their attention towards the discovery of those leffcr peculiarities above alluded to, such as record experiments, and describe particular modes of culcure, proceed nearly in the same way with a man who should live in a country whose language was so detective as to bave no specific name appropriated to denote the dif. ferent kinds of grain known among us, but had only a few generic terms that were equally applied to all the kinds that could be included under certain general classes. One we shall suppose for what we call white corn, including wheat, rye, barley, oats, &c, another for black grain, including beans, peale, vetches, &c. and perhaps a third for grafres. And if we were further to suppose that all the 'various kinds of grain above enumerated were cultivated in different distriels of that country, although no two kinds of the same species were known in any one of these districts. In these circumstances, let us suppote that a man, who had long been employed in the cul. ture of wheat, without having ever seen or heard of any of the other kinds of white corn, bad discovered a much furer method of obtain. ing abundant crops of it than any of his neighbours, should be prevaited on to write a plain account of his practice, and publish it through all the provinces of that kingdom. Every farmer, it is plain, who should read the book, would of necessity imagine that the author treated only of that kind of white corn which he himself had been accustomed to rear (as it would be diftinguished by the same name). Thus one would think that the precepts referred to the cul. ture of barley, another to the culture of oats, and a third to that of iye, &c. Every individual in each district but that in which the treatise was written, would loudly criticife the author, and among his own neighbours, equally ignorant as himself, would find no difficulty in pointing out the ablurdities of practice recommended in that book ; which could not fail to afford room for abundance of raillery and abuse. If the treatise had been written by one who lived in the district where oats alone were cultivated, the inhabitants of those districts where wheat only was known, would look upon the whole as a bundle of the most contradictory absurdities, and be dire posed to treat ihe author, not as a visionary only, but as an impostot who pretended to have performed impoflibilities, and who endea. voured to lead the ugwary into the most shocking absurdities of praclice, and to buoy up the inexperienced youth wich' vain hopes that never could be realised, and would therefore be outrageous in their clamours against him. It is thus that ignorance naturally in. spires confidence, and produces unmerited abuse. Need I draw the parallel between this cale and that mentioned immediately before it? We need only to fubtitute the word foil instead of grain, and we


ourselves become the nation described above. Like that nation, we bave only three different terms, sand, clay, and loam, for exprelling in our language all kinds of soils, each of them including under it many smaller varieties, some one of which varieties only is usually known in one district, while some other variery alone is known in another district, which gives rise to those virulent critis cisms of one another, fo common among farmers, and which reflect so much disgrace upon the profession of agriculture. Is it not high time for us to endeavour to correct the abuses that spring from such degrees of ignorance and inaccuracy?

i Nor is it only with regard to foils that one man finds a diffi. culty in communicating his ideas with certainty to another, but on several other subjects we find the fame deficiency of language arising from the imperfectness of our knowledge in agriculture. For we do not find terms adapted to express with sufficient accuracy many of the lefter distinctions that take place both with regard to the animals and vegetables that demand the artention of the farmer. We have, indeed, words to express different kinds of grain, as wheat, barley, oats, pease, beans, &c. but each of these kinds of grain admits of many varieties, which possess qualities extremely different from one another, that makes it much more profitable to cultivate some of these varieties on certain occasions than others, while some of the other varieries would succeed much better in other circumstances. Now, as some of these varieties are generally cultivated in one dira trict, while others of them only are known in another, it must hap. pen that the farmer who shall have cultivated only one sort, and dea scribes the more successful manner of rearing it, may greatly mislead the farmer in another district, who cultivares another variety of grain. that goes under the same denomination ti'


to I find myself so often át a loss for proper illustrations of my meaning, when treating of peculiarities which have been so little attended to as those I have occasion here to mention, that I am obliged on some occasions to take a very wide circuit to convey the necessary information.

• The potatoe is a plant that is now very universally cultivated, the varieties of which are fo numerous, and the peculiar qualities of the several varieties are so extremely different from one another as to furnish a very proper subject for illustrating the pobition affumed in the text : yet, so few are acquainted with the names and peculiarities of the several varieties, as gives great reason to fufpect that what might be written of one of these varieties which happened to be generally cultivated in ons part of the country would not be applicable to another variety in another part of it ; even although both should be distinguished from other varieties by the same name, and come under the same general description. I give an example:

• About twenty years ago, the only white potatoe known or cultivated in ScotJand, was of the viscous kind, of a kidney shape. It was at firft called fimply the wbite potatoe; but as other kinds of white potatoes came to be known, it was dir. tinguished by the additional epithet, kidney: being long known by the name of wbire kidney potatoe. But about five or fix years ago another fort of white kidney potatoe was first introduced into Aberdeenshire, which, although agreeing with the first in thape, in colour, and in name, was extremely different in many of its most essential qualities. The old was a viscous gluey bulb': the new was the driest and most mealy potatoe that ever was known. The old rent its bulbs deep into the ground, which fraggled to a great diftance from the fem, so that it required an uncommonly deep foil for rearing it ; and a complete trenching was necessary before it could be properly taken out of che ground: the bulbs of the new rise to the very surface of the ground, so as to thrive upon a very thin foil, and ramble so little from


Having, at considerable length, illustrated the necessity of inventing some mode of classing the objects that demand the ato tention of the farmer, lo as to prevent ambiguity, our Author finds it necessary to arrange the experiments in agriculture under four diftinct heads, and to point out the best method of conducting the experiment belonging to each class, as follows:

"When we take an extensive survey of the science of agriculture, it appears that all the objects that require to be elucidated by means of experiment might be divided into four grand divisions.

• The first of these may include all those experiments that are made with a view to ascertain the peculiar qualities and compara. tive value of planıs; the effects of each in fattening, or otherwise affecting the health or value of any kind of domestic animals: the molt economical manner of rearing or of feeding any kind of useful animal, so as best to fit it for any particular purpose: the ascertaining the comparative value of different classes of animals for any particular use, and obtaining a certain knowledge of the several excellencies and defects of the different varieties or breeds of any of the different classes of animals ; and other facts of this nature.

"The second class of experiments are those which relate to the culture of particular plants upon a given foil; che ascertaining with certainty the effects of different manures in varying the nature of that soil, and rendering it more or less fitted for producing any given plant, and the effect of different modes of culture as contributing more or less to encourage the luxuriance of any particular crop upon that soil. To which class we would also refer all those modes of practice that tend to improve and render more valuable any particular kind of animal, or the reverse..

The third class should include all those experiments that are intended to ascertain the peculiar qualities of different varieties of foils, so as to diftinguish them with accuracy and precision from one another; and to determine the pature and distinguishing peculiarities of the different varieties of any one class of plants or species of

the ftem as to admit of being taken out of the ground with the utmost case: as a good large spade is capable of lifting up the whole cluster at once. And finally, the old was an exceeding bad bearer, and therefore in general an unprofitable kind; but the new is very fertile, and the most profitable fort that has ever been known in that diftri&t.

• Now let us suppose that the last kind had been known many years ago, and universally cultivated in a distant part of the country, where the first kind (now diftinguished by the name of the Scots white kidney potatoe) had never been heard of: and that an author in that country, contenting bimself with announcing it by its general name of white kidney potatoe, should have given an account of the pro- . duce and profits of it, and described the mode of culture that was found to suit it 'well. Is it not evident, that the inhabitants of Scotland, who knew the firft kind of white kidney potatoe perfcélly well, would have been entirely satisfied that they underftood the author ? and finding that what he said of it did not at all tally with their own experience, they would naturally have concluded, that he was either ignorant, or an impoftor. In a case of this kind, where both parties imagine they un. derstand what is expressed by the general terms, it never comes into their head either to give or to require an accurate circumstantial description that would prevent the poflibility of a mistake ; nor is it perhaps poffible to do this, if they were desirous of it. Who does not perceive that circumitances of this kind may be the source of much embarrafsment, and of great misunderstanding between different persons ?"


animals, so that the farmer may in no case be in danger of confounding these together in practice or experiment. This relates to that fyftem of clałtification, which I have already faid has hardly yet begun to be taken norice of in the science of agriculture.

• The fourth class would consist of a set of experiments not less essentially necessary for the improvement of agriculture as an eco i nomical art than any of the former, although of a secondary order. to its advancement as a frience, viz. those that relate to the facilitating any of the operations in agriculture by improvements in ma. chinery, the proper distribution of time and labour, with other cir. cumstances of a similar nature, to which it highly imports the practical farmer minutely to attend.'

He now takes occasion to point out the peculiar advantages of an experimental farm, as under :

'" By an attentive consideration of these particulars it will appear that an experimental farm, although in some respects defective, would nevertheless be attended with the most effential benefits to the Public; as there are some experiments of the greatest utility which hardly admit of being perfectly ascertained unless it be by a public inftitution of this nature. Of this kind in a particular manner are all the experiments belonging to the first class above enumerated, which require so much attention, accuracy, time, and expence to bring them to a proper conclusion, as gives no room to hope that ever they will be fully ascertained unless it be by the aid of such a poblic inftitution. That che reader may be convinced of this fact, I Thall beg leave to produce one case by way of example,

Let it, then, be required “ to ascertain the peculiar qualities of any one kind of natural grass, considered as a food for each variety of animals that could be fed upon it; the most ceconomical manner of rearing this grass for any particular purpose, whether alone or mixed with other varieties of plants ; the most advantageous method of consuming it, whether green or drys by cutting or by pafturing for every particular purpose to which it could be applied ; and its .comparative value in every point of view in which it can be confidered, when contrafted with every other kind of plant that could be reared by the farmer;"

" When we contemplate the full import of this query, the field it open's appears to be so immense, that the wearied mind, like a be. wildered traveller in a boundless waste, wanders over it without feeing any end of its labour, or knowing where it shall find repose. It would be in vain for me here to attempt to delineare all the cir. comitances that would require to be elucidated ; but it is necessary that I should condescend upon * [enumerate] a few.

"The time that is required for obtaining abundance of seeds for the necessary experiments is the firft circumstance that would probably baffle the efforts of a private individual. Let us suppose ihat he obtains as many feeds the first year as are sufficient io sow one fall of ground. A second year elapses before he can reap any feeds from that. The third year he reaps the seeds. He fows them the fourth; which we will suppose are sufficient for five falls of ground. The fifth be sows other five falls with the produce of the first. The

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »