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For AUGUST, 1787.
Art. I. The Rural Oecertemj os Norfilk; comprising the Management of Landed Estates, and the present Practice of Husbandry in that County. By Mr. Marshall (Author of Minutes of Agriculture, &c), resident upwards of two Years in Norfolk. 2 Vols. 8vo. 12s. Boards. Cadell. 17S7.
SENSIBLE men, who have applied to the study of agriculture, have often regretted that the knowledge which individuals have acquired by long and attentive practice, is suffered to die with them. They yet more regret that the knowledge of certain useful modes of practice, which have been long adopted in a particular district, should remain, even for ages, entirely unknown in other districts, where they could have been adopted with great success, had they been known. Several plans have been devised for remedying this inconvenience, none of which have hitherto proved entirely successful. The ingenious Author cf the treatise now before us, who, at his first outset in his agricultural career, severely felt the want of that knowledge fthich might have been drawn from such sources, could they have been accessible to him, devised, with his usual' ingenuity, a plan that bids fair for proving more effectual for these purposes (especially the last) than any other that has come to our knowledge; and we are now well pleased to find that he has been enabled, in a certain degree, to carry his plan into practice,—of which the present volumes will afford a very advantageous specimen.
Mr. Marshall, eager to acquire knowledge, not in that superficial way which satisfies theoretical speculators, but in that accurate manner, which alone can answer the purpose of those who are to depend on actual practice in agriculture, for the means of subsistence, very soon perceived, that no man, were he possessed of the brightest talents, could possibly acquire a knowledge of all the particulars necessary to direct the practical farmer, by the course of a hasty visit to the different districts where the best modes of practice were adopted; and that if his apprehension was slow, his imagination lively, or his judgment imperfect,
Rev. Aug. 1787. H "" error, error, instead of truth, might thus be widely propagated, and well-meaning individuals greatly misled.
To guard against these evils, our Author, in the year 1780, submitted to the London Society of Arts, &c. a plan for obtaining a very accurate knowledge of provincial practice in agriculture, and offered himself to carry it into execution. His proposal &fm*~^ was, first, to fixa district that was known to possess some peculiar and valuable mode of practice—to place himself in some centrical farmer's house in that district, where he should remain for the space of two years at least, attentively observing the practice during all that time, conversing with the most intelligent farmers, and exercising himself in the actual performance of the different operations; at the fame time minuting every thing that ieemed worthy attention. In this way, he hoped to be able, at length, to delineate the peculiar practices in that district, with such accuracy as that it might be relied upon by others who had not the fame means of information, without fear of being misted. This done in one place, he proposed to move to another—and so on, till he had thus made the round of the whole island. These are the outlines of his plan: and an excellent plan it doubtless was, in the hands of such an acute and attentive observer. But tnough it was approved of by the respectable society above named, no measures were adopted by them for facilitating the execution of this great national enterprize; and we feared the proposal would be no farther attended to: but we are now happy to be informed, that private circumstances have so far fortunately concurred with our Author's public-spirited views, as to enable him to carry his plan into practice, with regard to the county of Norfolk; and this has given rife to the present work; which, we are satisfied, will long occupy a distinguished place in the annals of English agriculture.
The work is divided into two parts, each of which forms a separate volume. The first volume contains a satisfactory account of the Norfolk practice of husbandry, which, for the sake of distinctness, he has arranged under the following heads; viz.
A general Description, with particular Observations on
1. The Districts. 6. Farmers.
2. Estates. 7. Workmen.
3. Farms. 8. Horses.
4. Soils. 9. Implements.
5. Manures. 10. Taxes.
11. General Management of Estates.
12. Buildings. 14. Hedges.
13. Gates. 15. Inclosures.
16. Planting and general Management of Timber.
17. Ge17. General Management of Farms. addition to the lexicography of our language considered In a general view. Were such a Glossary of the provincialisms of all the districts of Britain compiled, it would be the means, in future times, of elucidating many points which must otherwise ever remain doubtful and oblcure; and would prevent much error at present. i
18. Laying out. 23. Vegetating process.
19. Succession. 24. Harvest process.
20. Soil process. 25. Farm-yard management.
21. Manure process *. 26. Markets.
22. Seed process.
27. Wheat. 35. Natural Grasses.
28. Barley. 36. Cattle.
29. Oats. 37. Sheep.
30. Pease. 38. Rabbits.
31. Vetches. 39. Swine.
32. Buck. 40. Poultry.
33. Turnips. 41. Decoys.
34. Culture of Grasses. 42. Bees.
The second volume consists of minutes made by the Author, containing particular remarks on facts and circumstances as they occurred. These, in general, tend to illustrate particulars mentioned in the first volume; and they form a body of important observations, relative to a vast variety of subjects, which have a tendency not only to correct such defects in practice as our Author thinks imperfect, but to suggest new views to the experimental farmer, leading to important improvements: and as the characteristic peculiarity of this writer, is a laudable desire to attain accuracy in practice, and to guard against be'ng misled himself, or misleading others, by unguarded speculations, these minutes form a most useful, as well as highly entertaining part of the present publication. Ever attentive also to the reader, and considering that this work is to be occasionally consulted for information on particular points, care has been taken, in the printing, so to number the minutes and distinguish the particulars, in the margin, as to admit of being consulted with the greatest ease. Such minutes as have a particular relation to the subjects of the different divisions of the first volume, are always referred to at the end of each article, so that an attentive reader can find all that occurs relative to each subject-without trouble; and by turning to the places referred to, may fee the whole at one view, if he so inclines. To the whole is added an Index, and a Glossary of Norfolk provincial words, which we think a most useful appendage, not only for the student of agriculture, who could not without it understand a great many terms that occur in treating that subject, but we also think it a valuable
• By foil process, Mr. Marshall means the operations performed on the foil, for fitting it to produce the different crops to be reared on it; in other words, the management of the soil. Manure process is, in like manner, the mode of managing manures. Seed process, the various modes of sowing and preparing the seed. Vegetating process, the general management of the crop while growing j and so of others.
H 2 addition
In a work, every page of which contains original matter, of importance to the rational student of agriculture, we cannot pretend to give our readers an adequate idea of every part. We must, therefore, content ourselves with selecting only a few particulars; referring, for farther satisfaction, to the work, which, weimagine, will soon be in the hands of almost every person who is keenly engaged in the improvement of agriculture.
The^ foil in East Norfolk (the district where our Author refided) consists, we are told, of a sandy loam, varying a little in point of fertility, and some other peculiarities. This foil lies above a sandy, absorbing substratum, from which it is separated by a thin crust, called in Norfolk the Pan, which, if broken, tends infallibly to render the foil less fertile than before.—The district is all arable (a few small meadows, and fenny patches, excepted) and inclosed. The crops reared to the greatest perfection, in this district, are turnips and barley; and with regard to the rotation, Mr. Marshall observes, * It is highly probable that a principal part of the lands in this district have been kept invariably, for at least a century past, under the following coutic ef cultivation:
Wheat [with manure}.
Turnips [with dung, consumed by fattening bullocks}.
Clover [with some ryegrass].
Ryegrals, broken up about Midsummer, and followed by wheat in rotation/ By which it appears, that one third part of the land is annually in barley—one third in grafs—and the remaining third part divided equally between turnips and wheat. This may be considered as the true Norfolk system of husbandry; but we cannot suppose it to be adhered to invariably. Other crops are occasionally introduced, such as oats, pease, vetches, and buck,— usually called buck wheat [FagopyrumJ, which are the only crops mentioned by our Author as ever cultivated in this district.
'The whole system of the Norfolk management,' Mr. Marshall remarks, 'hinges on the turnip crop ;. and this depends in a great measure on the quantity of dung that can be spared to it.— No dung—no turnips—no bullocks—no barley—no clover, nor teathe upon the second year's lay for wheat.'—Turnips, therefore, are in this district invariably dunged; and the remark of
Mr. Marshall, on the importance of this article, is extremely judicious: but he himself does not seem to be sufficiently aware how much of the success of that crop depends upon the manure here employed being dung properly so called, or what the Norfolk farmers call muck; nor do even the Norfolk farmers themselves seem as yet to have adverted to the very great consequence of having that muck fresh, and as little rotted as possible, for this particular crop. From experience we know, that this circumstance is of much greater consequence in the culture of turnips than is in general apprehended, and therefore recommend it to the attention of our Author, and others, who are anxious about the culture of this valuable crop. By dung, properly so called, we must be understood to mean animal excrementitious matter, mixed with litter, or dead vegetable substances, of any kind.
As Norfolk farmers peculiarly excel in the culture of turnips and barley, we shall endeavour to give our Readers a tolerably distinct idea of their practice in cultivating these two crops.
For turnips—First plowing about Christmas*,—Second plowing usually in April,—Third plowing in May. After the last plowing, it is well harrowed, and the root-weeds, if there are any, are picked off; the ground is then dunged,—the dung spread as evenly upon it as possible; and then it is immediately plowed a fourth time, and harrowed thoroughly. In this state it remains till the season seems favourable for sowing, when it gets a fifth plowing, usually about Midsummer. This is instantly followed by the barrow, and the seed sown directly, broad cast (quantity about two pints per acre), and covered with a pair of light harrows usually drawn backwards. Turnips are in this district invariably twice hoed. The price in Norfolk for both hoeings about six (hillings per acre—consumed by bullocks—in the management of wmich kind of stock, the Norfolk farmers are well known to have attained an uncommon degree of skill. But, for particulars, we must refer the curious reader to Mr. Marshall's work.
The above, we are told, is the general practice in this district, though circumstances and seasons sometimes oblige even the best farmers to deviate from it. The most usual deviation, is, to omic the fourth plowing; though this is seldom done but in very unfavourable seasons. Our Readers will easily perceive that with a culture so excellent as this is, on a light soil, like that of Norfolk, the land must be remarkably clean and fine at sowing; and that, if a proper quantity of fresh dung be in the soil, it must make the plants push forward with vigour, so as to produce abundance, and leave the land in fine condition for a barley crop. .1 —^^——■— »
• This preparatory operation, they call scaling in.— It goes but a little depth: and is chiefly intended to bury the ltubble, &c. Edit.