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SOBSECT. 2. Of the present State of Agriculture in the Netherlands. 429. The Netherlands and Holland, from the tenth to the fifteenth century, were the great marts of manufactures and commerce in the west of Europe ; and, at the same time, made distinguished progress in other arts. The particular causes which first contributed to the advancement of agriculture are not exactly known at this distance of time ; but it is certain that even in the thirteenth century the art was in an advanced state, and, ever since, the culture of the Low Countries, both agricultural and horticultural, has been looked up to by the rest of Europe.

450. About the beginning of the seventeenth century, according to Harte, the Flemings dealt more in the practice of husbandry, than in publishing books upon the subject : so that, questionless, their intention was to carry on a private lucrative trade without instructing their neighbours; and hence it happened, that whoever wanted to copy their agriculture, was obliged to travel into their country, and make his own remarks; as Plattes, Hartlib, and Sir R. Weston actually did.

431. To make a furm resemble a garden as nearly as possible was their principal idea of husbandry. Such an excellent principle, at first setting out, led them of course to undertake the culture of small estates only, which they kept free from weeds, continually turning the ground, and manuring it plentifully and judiciously. Having thus brought the soil to a just degree of cleanliness, health, and sweetness, they ventured chiefly upon the culture of the more delicate grasses, as the surest means of acquiring wealth in husbandry, upon a small scale, without the expense of keeping

54 many draught horses or servants. After a few years' experience, they soon found that ten acres of the best vegetables for feeding eattle, properly cultivated, would maintain a larger stock of grazing animals, than forty acres of common farm grass: and the vegetables they chiefly cultivated for this purpose were lucerne, saintfoin, trefoils of most denominations, sweet fenu-greek (Trigonélla), buck and cow wheat (Melampyrum pratense) (fig. 54.), field turnips, and spurry (Spergula), by them called

432. The political secret of Flemish husbandry was, the letting farms on improvement. Add to this, they discovered eight or ten new sorts of manures. They were the first among the moderns, who ploughed in living crops for the sake of fertilising the earth, and confined their sheep at night in large sheds built on purpose, whose floor was covered with sand, or earth, &c., which the shepherd carted away every morning to the compost dunghill. Such was the chief mystery of the Flemish husbandry. (Harte.)

433. The present state of agriculture in the Netherlands corresponds entirely with the outline given by Harte, and it has probably been in this state for nearly a thousand years. The country has lately been visited with a view to its rural economy by Sir John Sinclair, and minutely examined and ably depicted by the Rev. Thomas Radcliff. To such British farmers as wish to receive a most valuable lecture on the importance of a proper frugality and economy in farming, as well as judicious modes of culture, we would recommend the latter work; all that we can do here, is to select from it the leading features of Flemish farming.

434. The climate of Flanders may be considered the same as that of Holland, and not materially different from that of the low parts of the opposite coast of England.

435. The surface of the country is every where flat, or very gently elevated, and some extensive tracts have been recovered from the sea. The soil is for the most part poor, generally sandy; but in various parts of a loamy or clayey nature.“ Flanders,” Radcliff observes, “was in general believed to be a soil of extreme natural richness; whereas, with the exception of some few districts, it is precisely the reverse.” He found the strongest and best soil near Ostend; and between Bruges and Ghent some of the worst, being little better than a pure sand.

436. From confounding the Dutch Netherlands with the Flemish Netherlands, a good deal of confusion in ideas has resulted. Radcliff, on arriving in Flanders, was informed that, “ with respect to culture, not only the English, but the French, confounded under the general name of Brabant or Flanders, all the provinces of the Low Countries, however different might be their modes of cultivation ; but that in Flanders itself might best be sten, with what skill the farmer cultivates a bad soil (un sol ingrat), which he forces to return to him, with usury, a produce that the richest and strongest lands of the neighbouring provinces of Holland refuse to yield.” The districts described as East and West Flanders

, are bounded on the east by Brabant and Hainault ; on the west by the German Ocean ; on the north by the Sea of Zealand and the West Scheldt; and on the south by

French Flanders. It is about ninety miles long, and sixty broad, and abounds with towns and villages.

437. The landed property of Flanders is not in large estates : very few amount to 2000 acres. It is generally freehold, or the property of religious or civil corporations. When the proprietor does not cultivate his own lands, which, however, is most frequently the case, he lets it on leases ; generally of seven, fourteen, or twenty-one years' endurance, at a fixed money rent, and sometimes a corn and money rent combined. The occupier is bound to live on the premises, pay taxes, effect repairs, preserve timber, not sublet without a written agreement, and to give the usual accommodations to an incoming tenant at the end of the lease. Leases of fourteen or twenty-one years are most common : there are scarcely any lands held from year to year, or on the metayer system. Estates are every where enclosed with hedges, and the fields are generally small.

438. Farmeries are convenient, and generally more ample in proportion to the extent of the farm than in England. On the larger farms a distillery, oil mill, and sometimes a flour mill, are added to the usual accommodations. The buildings on a farm of 150 acres of strong soil, enumerated by Radcliff, are: - 1. The farm-house, with an arched cellar used as a dairy, an apartment for churning, with an adjoining one for a horse wheel to turn the churning machinery. 2. A small building for the use of extralabourers, with a fire-place for cooking. 3. The grange or great barn, 130 feet long, by 35 feet wide. The ground floor of this structure, besides accommodating by its divisions all the horses and cows of the farm in comfortable stables, and furnishing two threshing floors for the flail, is sufficient also for 4 considerable depot of corn in the sheaf, in two extensive compartments to the height of twelve feet, at which clevation an open floor of joists, supported by wooden pillars, is extended over the entire area of the barn, and is repeated at every five feet in height, to the top. Each floor is braced from the pillars, and not only forms a connection of strength throughout the whole, but separates at the same time, without much loss of space, the different layers of corn, securing them from damage, by taking off the pressure of the great mass. 4. A house for farming implements, with granary over, and piggery behind. In the centre is the dunghill; the bottom of which is rendered impervious to moisture.

439. A plan of a Flemish farmery, is given by Sir John Sinclair, as suited to a farm of 300 acres : it is executed with great solidity and a due attention to salubrity, being vaulted and well aired. Sir John mentions that he saw, in some places, “a mode of making floors by small brick arches, from one beam to the other, instead of using deals, and then making the floor of bricks,” a mode generally adopted in British manufactories, where the beams which serve as abutments are of cast-iron, tied together with transverse wrought-iron rods.

440. The accommodations of this farmery (fig. 55.) are, 1, The vestibule, or entrance of the farm-house.

2, The hall.
3, 4, 5, Clouts.

6, Sheds destined for different purposes, but more especially for elevating or letting down grain from the granaries, by machinery.

7, Kitchen. 8, Washing-house. 9, Chamber for female servants. 10, Hall. 11, 12, Closets. 13, Necessaries. 14, Room for the gardener. 15, Shed for fuel. 16, 16, Kitchen-garden. 17, Hospity. 18, Poultry yard. 19, 20, Stables for cows and calves.

21, Necessaries for the servants, connected with the cisterns.

22, 23, Sheep-folds.

24, 25, Sheds for carts.
26, Barn.
27, Area.
28, Flax barn.
29, 30,
Se for the horses and foals.

- houses
31, 32,
33, 34, 35, 36, Places for the hors.

37 and 38, Cisterns deatined to receive the urine of the cattle.

39, Well.
40, Dung-pit, concave in the middle.

41, Pool serving to receive the superabundant waters of the dung-pit, the weedings of the gardens, &c.

42, 42, Heervoirs to receive the waters of the farm-yard.
43, Entrance gateway with dovecot over.
44, Small trenches, or gutters.

45, 45, Shods destined for clover, cut green in summer, or dry in winter.

46, Cistern for the wash-houses.
47, 47, Situations of the corn stacks, in years of abundance.

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Four elevations (fig. 56.) represent the four internal sides of the quadrangle; the north side (@); the barn, e Fest side (0); the south side (c); and the house, or east side.



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41 Urine cisterns are formed in the fields, to receive purchased liquid manure ; but, for that made in the farme-yard, generally in the yard, or under the stables. In the latter case, the urine is conducted from each stall to a common grating, through which it descends into the vault, whence is taken up by a pump: in the best-regulated farmeries there is a partition in the cistern, with a valve to admit the con. tants of the first space into the second, to be preserved there free from the more recent additions, age radering it considerably more efficacious. This species of manure is relied on beyond any other, upon all the light soils throughout Flanders; and, even upon the strong lands (originally so rich as to preclude the necessity of manure, it is now coming into great esteem, being considered applicable to most crops, and to all the varieties of soil.

442. The arable lands of Flanders include by far the greater part of the surface of the country. The crops raised are the same as those in Britain; but, from local circumstances, fai, bemp, chiccory, rape, spurry, madder, woad, tobacco, and some others, enter more generally into rotations.

* Fallous, according to Sir John Sinclair, are in a great measure abolished, even on strong land ; by means of which, produce is increased, and the expense of cultivation, on the crops raised in the course of a rotativa, necessarily diminished; and by the great profit they derive from their fax and rape, or colsat, they can afford to sell all their crops of grain at a lower rate. The Flemish farmers, however, understand theus interest too well, to abolish naked fallows on strong clayey soils in a humid climate.

444. In regard to soil and culture, Radcliff arranges Flanders into eleven agricultural divisions, and of the principal of these we shall notice the soil and rotations, and some other features of culture.

445. The first division extends along the North Sea, and includes Ostend. This district consists of the strongest and heaviest soil which Flanders possesses, and a similarity of quality prevails generally throughout, with some occasional exceptions. It may be represeated as a clay loam of a greyish colour, and yields the various produce to be expected from a strong soil ; rich pasture, wheat, beans, barley, and rape, considered as primary crops ; and, as secondary (or such as are not so generally cultivated), oats, carrots, potatoes, flax, and tares. In this division, however, though the nature of the soil may be stated under the general description of a clay loam, yet there are of this three degrees of quality, not to be marked by regular limits, but to be found throughout the whole, in distinct situations. It becomes the more necessary to remark this, as the succession of crops depends on the quality of the soil ; and as there are here three different degrees of quality, so are there three different systems of rotation.

446. Upon the first quality of soil, the succession is as follows: first year, barley ; second, beans; third, wheat; fourth, oats; fifth, fallow, For the second quality of soil, the succession is as follows: first year, wheat ; second, beans or tares ; third, wheat or sets ; fourth, fallow. For the third quality of soil, the succession is as follows: first Fear, wheat; second, fallow; third, wheat; fourth, fallow. Besides these three qualities od strong soil, another of still superior fertility prevails in this district in considerable Eitent, known by the denomination of Polders.

447. The polders, or embanked lands of Flanders, are certain areas of land reclaimed from the sea by embankment, whose surface, once secured from the influx of the tide, becomes the most productive soil, without requiring the assistance of any description of manure. They owe their origin partly to the collection of sand, in the small branches of rivers, gradually increasing, so as naturally to embank a portion of land, and convert it into an arable and fertile soil. They also have proceeded from the contraction of the river itself, which, by the effect of the tides, is diminished in one place, whilst an alluvial soil is formed in another by its overflow. Hence it is, that, within a century, entire polders in certain situations have been inundated, whilst, in others, new and fertile land has appeared, as if from the bosom of the water. These operations of nature pointed out facilities many centuries back, which excited the industry of the Low Countries, an industry

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which has been rewarded by the acquisition of their richest soil. These newly-formed lands, before their embankment, are called schorres. They are flooded at every tide by the water of the sea, and are augmented by mire, bits of wood, rushes, sea-weeds, and other marine plants decayed and putrid, also by shells and fishy particles which the ebb always leaves behind in considerable quantity. This growing soil soon produces various plants and grasses, and improves daily. When such lands have acquired a crust or surface of black earth, three or four inches deep, they may be embanked and fallowed. Those are always the most productive which have been deepened in their soil by the augmentations of the sea; and experience proves that in the corners and hollows, where, from an obstructing boundary, the greatest quantity of mire has been deposited, the soil is doubly rich and good, and cannot be impoverished by the crops of many years. In some instances, the embankments are made on the part of government; in others, by companies or individuals, under a grant of a specific tenure (generally twenty-one years), rent free, or, according to circumstances, at some moderate annual payment.

448. The polder of Snaerskirke, near Ostend, contains about 1300 acres. It is of late formation, and was overflowed by a creek with its minor branches every spring tide. By constructing two banks and a flood-gate at the creek, the sea is excluded, and the space subdivided by roads, and laid out in fields of thirteen acres each, surrounded by ditches. The bank is fifteen feet in height, thirty feet in the base, and ten feet across the top: the land which has been reclaimed by it, was let for a sheep pasturage at 600 francs (25l.) per annum, and was thrown up by the farmer as untenable. Upon being dried by this summary improvement, the lots, of which there are one hundred of thirteen acres each, were sold by auction at an average of 7000 francs (2917. 13s. 4d.) a lot, and would now bring nearly double that rate. They are let to the occupying farmers at 36 guilders the mésure, or about 2. 15s. the English acre, and are now producing superior crops of rape, of sucrion (winter barley), and beans, which constitute the usual rotation; this, however, is varied according to circumstances, as follows:- 1. oats, or rape ; 2. winter barley, or rape ; 3. winter barley ; 4. beans, pease, or tares.

449. Other examples of reclaimed lands are given. One called the Great Moor, recovered through the spirited exertions of M. Hyrwein, contains 2400 acres. Attempts had been made to recover it by the Spaniards, in 1610, but without success.

This marsh was seven feet below the level of the surrounding land; therefore, to drain it, the following operations became necessary :

450. To surround the whole with a bank of eight feet in height, above the level of the enclosed ground, formed by the excavation of a fossé, fifteen feet wide and ten feet deep, which serves to conduct the water to the navigable canal. – To construct mills to throw the water over the bank into the fossé. – To intersect the interior by numerous drains from eight to twelve feet wide, with a fall to the respective mills, to which they conduct all the rain water, and all the soakage water which oozes through the banks.

451. The mills in use for raising the water, are of a simple but effectual construction, and are driven by wind. The horizontal shaft above works an upright shaft, at the bottom of which a screw bucket, twenty-four feet in length, is put in motion by a bevil wheel, at such an angle as to give a perpendicular height of eight feet from the level of the interior drain to the point of disgorgement, whence the water is emptied with great force into the exterior canal. With full wind, each mill can discharge 150 tonneaux of water every minute. The height of the building from the foundation is about fifty feet, one half of it above the level of the bank. The whole is executed in brickwork, and the entire cost 36,000 francs, about 15001. British. It is judiciously contrived that the drains, which conduct the water to the mills, constitute the divisions and subdivisions of the land, forming it into regular oblong fields of considerable extent, marked out by the lines of osiers which ornament their banks. Roads of thirty feet wide lead through the whole in parallel directions.

452. The soil of this tract, which has been formed by the alluvial deposit of ages, is a clay loam, strong and rich, but not of the extraordinary fertility of some polders, which are cropped independent of manure for many years. The first course of crops, commencing with rape, is obtained without manure, and the return for six years is abundant; the second commences and proceeds as follows:

1. Fallow, with manure from farm-yard.

2. Sucrion (winter barley).
3. Beans.
4. Whent.

5. Clover.
6. Beans and Peas mixed.
7. Oats.

453. The second division adjoins French Flanders, but does not extend to the sea. The soil may be described as a good loam of a yellowish colour, mixed with some sand; but is not in its nature as strong as that of the former division. Its chief produce is wheat, barley, oats, hops, tobacco, meadow, rape-seed and flax, as primary crops; and, as secondary, buckwheat, beans, turnips, potatoes, carrots, and clover. This division, unlike the former in this respect, is richly wooded.

454. The general course of crops in this division is as follows : 1. Wheat upon manured fallow.

5. Flax, highly manured with urine and rape cake, 2 Fallow, manured. 3: Calmet, top dressed with ashes

Wheat. 4. Turnips, same year, without manure

8. Beans, manured,

6. Wheat,
7. Beans,


1. Poidoes, with anore

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14. Wheat. 10. Ots

15. Hops, with abundant manure. 11. Tips.

This last crop remains generally five years, and the ground 12. Rre.

is afterwards fit for any kind of produce. 13. Töbacte, three times plongted, and richly manured.

455. In another part of this division, where hops are not grown, the following rotation
is observed:

9. Wheat.
11. Durhips, }
10. Oats,

same year.
3. Beens, with manare.
4. RE.

12. Pallow, without manure.
S. Weat, rith manure.

13. Rye. 6. OK, top-dressed with ashes.

14. Tobacco, richly manured.
1. Turnips, Fitb manure.

15. Wheat.
8. Flas, baigtig manured with urine and rape cake.
4:56. In addition to these crops in some parts of the district, particularly in the line
between Woomen and Ypres, magnificent crops of rape are cultivated, and are relied on
as a sure and profitable return. Flax is also a crop upon which their best industry
is bestowed, and their careful preparation of the soil is scarcely to be surpassed by that of
the neatest garden.

457. In the third division the soil is a good sandy loam, of a light colour, and is
in a superior state of cultivation ; it yields a produce similar to that of the foregoing
division, with the same quality of hay ; but plantations are here more numerous. The
succession is as follows:
1. Whet, with dun.

10. Clover, with ashes, seeds sometimes saved.
2. Clo, with bes, wad sometimes saved.

11. Oats, without manure.
1741, with aride and rape cake.

12. Flax, with urine and rape cake.
Whent, will compost of bort dung and various sweepings. 13. Wheat, with dung.
Petices, with farm-fani dung or night soil.

Beans, with dung
6. , ith urine,

14. Beet root, with rape cake, or
1. ka seed, Tith rape cake and urine.

Tobacco, with rape cake in great quantities.
Petare, vith dong.

Turnips are also grown, but are taken as a second crop after
2 Wheat, with manure of divers kinds.

rape, flax, wheat, or rye.
458. Passing over the other divisions to the eighth and ninth, we find the reporter describes
them as of considerable extent, and, in the poverty of their soil and abundance of their
produce, bearing ample testimony to the skill and perseverance of the Flemish farmers.
The soil consists of a poor light sand, in the fifteenth century exhibiting barren gravel and
heaths. The chief produce here consists of rye, flax, potatoes, oats, buckwheat, rape-
seed, and wheat, in a few favourable spots; clover, carrots, and turnips generally.

459. On the western side of these districts, and where the soil is capable of yielding
wheat, there are two modes of rotation : one comprising a nine years' course, in which
wheat is but once introduced; and the other a ten years' course, in which they contrive
to produce that crop a second time; but in neither instance without manure, which,
indeed, is never omitted in these divisions, except for buckwheat, and occasionally for
rye. The first course alluded to above is as follows: -
1. Patates or Carrots, with fair ploughing, and twelve tons 5. Oats with Clover, with two ploughings, and ten tons and a
farms and dang per English acre.

half of farm-vard dung per English acre.
Pasy with two floping, and 105 Winchester bushels 6. Clover, top-dressed, with 165 Winchester bushels of peat or
e shes, and 48 hogsheads, beer measure, of urine Dutch ashes per English acre.

7. Rre, with one ploughing, and 52 hogsheads, beer measure,
I Whet, id teo ploaghings, and ten tons and a half of of night soil and urine.
furmand dung per English acre.

8. Oats, with two ploughings, and 52 hogsbeads, beer measure,
Rse and Turnips, sith two ploughings, and ten tons and
a half of farma-yard dung per English acte.

9. Buckwheat, with four ploughings, and without any manure.
460. Of the Flemish mode of cultivating some particular crops we shall give a few
Examples. The drill husbandry has never been generally introduced in the Low Countries.
It has been tried in the neighbourhood of Ostend, forty acres of beans against forty acres
of drilled crop, and the result was considered to be in favour of the system. But the row
culture, as distinguished from the raised drill manner, has been long known in the case of
tobacco, cabbages, and some other crops.

451. Wheat is not often diseased in Flanders. Most farmers change their seed, and
others in several places steep it in salt water or urine, and copperas or verdigrise. The
proportion of verdigrise is half a pound to every six bushels of seed; and the time in
which the latter remains in the mixture is three hours, or one hour if cows' urine be used,
because of its ammonia, which is considered injurious. The ripest and plumpest seed is
always preferred.

462. Rye is grown both as a bread corn, and for the distillery. In Flanders
frequently, and in Brabant very generally, the farmer upon the scale of from one
hundred to two hundred acres of light soil is also a distiller, purely for the improvement
of the land by the manure of the beasts, which he can feed upon the straw of the rye, and
the grains of the distillery.

463. Buckwheat enters into the rotations on the poorest soils, and is sown on lands ook got ready in time for other grain. The chief application of buckwheat is to the feeling of swine and poultry, for which it is preeminent; it is also used in flour as a sonstituent in the liquid nourishment prepared for cattle and horses ; and bears no inconsiderable share in the diet of the peasant. Formed into a cake, without yeast, it is a very wholesome, and not a disagreeable, species of bread; but it is necessary to use it while


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