Page images
PDF
EPUB

lettuce. In the second year the same crops are repeated ; and in the third, the place of wheat is supplied by barley, beans, or vetches. In this way six valuable crops are obtained in three years.

Wheat produces tenfold ; in rainy seasons fifteen, and in some places as much as fifty, for one. Near Carthagena the course is wheat, barley, and fallow. For wheat they plough thrice, and sow from the middle of November to the beginning of December; and in July they reap from ten to one hundred for one, as the season happens to be dry or humid. The Huerta, or rich vale of Alicant, yields a perpetual succession of crops. Barley is sown in September, and reaped in April ; succeeded by maize, reaped in September; and that by a mixed crop of esculents. Wheat is sown in November, and reaped in June; flax sown in September is pulled in May. In the vale of Valencia, wheat yields from twenty to forty fold ; barley from eighteen to twentyfour fold ; oats from twenty to thirty fold; maize, one hundred fold; rice, forty fold.

734. The live slock of the Spanish agriculturist consists of oxen, asses, and mules, as beasts of labour; sometimes, also, horses are used on the farm, but these are chiefly reared for the saddle and the army. During the reign of Philip II. an act was passed forbidding their use even in coaches. The horses of Andalusia are celebrated : they are deep-chested, somewhat short-backed; rather heavy about the legs, but with a good shoulder. In general their appearance is magnificent when accoutred for the field. But for the last half century their numbers have been diminishing. The mules and asses are large, and carry heavy loads. The Spanish cows are an esteemed breed, resembling those of Devonshire. They are used chiefly for breeding, there being little use made of cow's milk in most parts of Spain; they are sometimes also put to the plough and cart. Goats are common about most towns, and furnish the milk used in cookery.

735. The sheep of Spain have long been celebrated. Pliny relates, that in his time Spanish clothes were of an excellent texture, and much used in Rome.

For many centuries the wool has been transported to Flanders, for the supply of the Flemish manufactories, and afterwards to England, since the same manufacture was introduced there. By far the greater part of Spanish sheep are migratory, and belong to what is called the mesta or merino corporation ; but there are also stationary flocks belonging to private individuals in Andalusia, whose wool is of equal tineness and value. The carcass of the sheep in Spain is held in no estimation, and only used by the shepherds and poor.

736. The term mesta (equivalent to meslin, Eng.) in general signifies a mixture of grain ; but in a restricted sense a union of flocks. This collection is formed by an association of proprietors of lands, and originated in the time of the plague in 1350. The few persons who survived that destructive calamity, took possession of the lands which had been vacated by the death of their former occupiers ; united them with their own; converted nearly the whole to pasturage ; and confined their attention principally to the care and increase of their flocks. Hence, the immense pastures of Estremadura, Leon, and other provinces; and the prodigious quantity of uncultivated lands throughout the kingdom. Hence, also, the singular circumstance of many proprietors possessing extensive estates without any titles to them.

737. The flocks which form the mesta usually consist of about 10,000 sheep each. Every flock is under the care of a directing officer, fifty shepherds, and fifty dogs. The whole flocks, composing the mesta, consist of about five millions of sheep, and employ about 45 or 50,000 persons, and nearly as many dogs. The flocks are put in motion in the latter end of April, or beginning of May, leaving the plains of Estramadura, Andalusia, Leon, and Old and New Castile, where they usually winter, and they repair to the mountains of the two latter provinces, and those of Biscay, Navarre, and Arragon. The sheep, while feeding on the mountains, have occasionally administered to them small quantities of salt. It is laid upon flat stones, to which the flocks are driven, and permitted to eat what quantity they please. During the days the salt is administered the sheep are not allowed to depasture on a calcareous soil, but are moved to argillaceous lands, where they feed voraciously. (Townsend.)

738. At the end of July the ewes are put to the rams, after separation has been made of those already with lamb. Six or seven rams are considered sufficient for one hundred ewes.

739. In September the sheep are ochred, their backs and loins being rubbed with red ochre, or ruddle, dissolved in water. This practice is founded upon an ancient custom, the reason of which is not clearly ascertained. Some suppose that the ochre, uniting with the oleaginous matter of the fleece, forms a kind of varnish, which defends the animal from the inclemency of the weather; others think the ponderosity of this earth prevents the wool growing too thick and long in the staple : but the more eligible opinion is, that the earth absorbs the superabundant perspiration, which would otherwise render the wool both harsh and coarse.

740. Towards the end of September the flocks recommence their march. Descending from the mountains, they travel towards the warmer parts of the country, and again repair to the plains of Leon, Estre. madura, and Andalusia. The shecp are generally conducted to the same pastures they had grazed the preceding year, and where most of them had been yeaned: there they are kept during the winter.

741. Sheepshearing commences in the beginning of May, and is performed while the sheep are on their summer journey, in large buildings called esquileos. Those, which are placed upon the road, are capable of containing forty, fifty, and some sixty thousand sheep.

[ocr errors]

They are erected in various places ; but the principal are in the environs of Segovia, and the most celebrated is that of Iturviaca. The shearing is preceded by a pompous prepa. ration, conducted in due form, and the interval is considered a time of feasting and recreation. One hundred and twenty-five men are usually employed for shearing a thousand ewes, and two hundred for a thousand wethers. Each sheep affords four kinds of wool, more or less fine according to the parts of the animal whence it is taken. The ewes produce the finest fleeces, and the wethers the heaviest : three wether fleeces ordinarily weigh on the average twenty-five pounds; but it will take five ewe fl eces to amount to the same weight.

742. The journey which the flocks make in their peregrination is regulated by particular laws, and immemorial customs. The sheep pass unmolested over the pastures belonging to the villages and the commons which lie in their road, and have a right to feed on them. They are not, however, allowed to pass over cultivated lands; but the proprietors of such lands are obliged to leave for them a path ninety varas, or about forty toises (eighty-four yards), in breadth. When they traverse the commonable pastures, they seldom travel more than two leagues, or five and a half miles, a day; but when they walk in close order over the cultivated fields, often more than six varas, or nearly seventeen miles. The whole of their journey is usually an extent of one hundred and twenty, thirty, or forty leagues, which they perform in thirty or thirty-five days. The price paid for depasturing the lands where they winter is equally regulated by usage, and is very low; but it is not in the power of the landed proprietors to make the smallest advance.

743. The mesta has its particular laws, and a tribunal before which are cited all persons who have any suit or difference with the proprietors. The public opinion in Spain has long been against the mesta, on account of the number of people it employs, the extent of land it keeps uncultivated, the injury done to the pasture and cultivated lands of individuals, and the tyranny of the directors and shepherds. These have been grievances from time immemorial. Government, yielding to the pressing solicitations of the people, instituted a committee to enquire into them about the middle of the eighteenth century; but it did no good, and it was not till the revolution of 1810, that the powers and privileges of the mesta were greatly reduced.

744. The implements of Spanish agriculture are very simple. The common plough of Castile and most of the provinces (fig. 97.) is supposed to be as old as the time of the

97 Romanis. It it thus described by Townsend : u The beam is about three feet long, curved, and tapered at one end, to receive an additional beam of about five feet, fastened to it by three iron collars; the other end of the three-foot beam touches the ground, and has a mortise to receive the share, the handle, and a wedge." From this description it is evident that the beam itself supplies the place of the sheath; the share has no fin, and instead of a mould-board, there are two wooden pins fastened near the heel of the share. As in this plough the share, from the point to its insertion in the beam, is two feet six inches long, it is strengthened by a retch. That used near Malaga is described by Jacob as “a cross, with the end of the perpendicular part shod with iron. It penetrates about six inches into the soil, and is drawn by two

98

oxen with ropes fastened to the horns. The plough of Valencia, on the eastern coast, we have already given (fig. 12.) as coming the nearest to that described by Virgil. There are many wheels and other contrivances used for raising water; the most general, as well as the most primitive, is the noria (fig. 98.), or bucket wheel, introduced by the Moors, from which our chain pump is evidently de

rived. A vertical wheel over a well has a series of earthen jars, fastened together by cords of esparto, #lich descend into the water and fill themselves; by the motion of the wheel they

or field.

rise to the surface, and then by the same motion empty themselves into a trough, from which the water is conveyed by trenches into the different parts of the garden

The vertical wheel is put in motion by a horizontal one, which is turned by a cow.” (Jacob's Travels, 152.) The construction of dung-pits has already been mentioned, (710.) as introduced by the Moors, and the practice of preserving the dung in that manner is still continued in Granada and Valencia. Threshing-floors are made in the fields, and paved with pebbles or other stones.

745. Few of the operations of Spanish agriculture afford any thing characteristic. No hay is made in Spain (Townsend); and so dry and brittle is the straw of the corn crops, that in the process of treading out, which is generally done by mares and colts, it is broken to pieces. The grain being separated, the straw is put in stacks, and preserved for litter, or mixed with barley as food for cattle. Irrigation is carefully performed, and is the only effectual mode of insuring a crop of grain, or any sort of herbaceous vegetable. On some farms on the Vega in Malaga, scarcely any attention is paid to stirring the soil, but by the very complete irrigation which can be there given, the land yields fifty bushels per acre. Where the soil is naturally light, situated in a warm climate, and not irrigated, it is remarkably free from weeds ; because from the latter end of May, or the beginning of June, when the crop is harvested, till October or November, they have no rain ; and the heat of the sun during that period destroys every plant, and leaves the soil like a fallow which only requires the seed furrow. In effect it gets no more; and thus, under such circumstances, one crop a year, after only one ploughing, may be raised for an endless period. -In the Asturias, after the women milk the sheep, they carry the milk home in leather bags, shaking it all the way, till by the time of their arrival butter is formed. (Townsend's Travels, i. 273.)

746. The labouring man of Spain adopts a custom which might be useful to the reapers and haymakers of Britain, in many situations. The labour and heat of hay time and harvest excite great perspiration and consequent thirst, which it is often necessary to quench with sun-warmed water. To cool such water, the Spanish reaper puts it in a porous earthen pitcher (alcarraza), the surface of which being constantly moist with the transudation of the Auid, its evaporation cools the water within. The frequent application of wet cloths to a bottle or earthen vessel, and exposure to the sun and wind, effects the same object, but with more trouble.

747. The culture of forests is very little attended to in Spain. The best charcoal is made from heath, chiefly the Erica mediterrànea, which grows to the size of a small tree, and of which there are immense tracts like forests. The 99 cork tree (Quercus Suber, fig. 99.) affords the most valuable products. The bark is taken off for the first time when the tree is about fifteen years old; it soon grows again, and may be rebarked three times, the bark improving every time, till the tree attains the age of thirty years. It is taken off in sheets or tables, much in the same way as oak or larch bark is taken from the standing trees in this country. After being detached, it is flattened by presenting the convex side to heat, or by pressure. In either case it is charred on both surfaces to close the transverse pores previously to its being sold. This charring may be seen in bungs and taps ; but not in corks, which, being cut in the long way of the wood, the charring is taken off in the rounding.

748. The exertions that have been made for the improvement of the agriculture of Spain we have already noticed, and need only add, that if the late government had maintained its power, and continued in the same spirit, perhaps every thing would have been effected that could be desired. Time, indeed, would have been requisite ; but improvement once heartily commenced, the ratio of its increase is astonishing. But the French invasion of Spain, first under Bonaparte, and again under the Bourbons, has spoiled every thing, and for the present almost annihilated hope.

749. The agricultural circumstances of Portugal have so much in common with those of Spain, that they do not require separate consideration. The two countries differ in the latter having a more limited cultivation, the sugar-cane, and most of the West India plants grown in Spain, requiring a warmer climate than that of Portugal. The vine and orange are cultivated to great perfection; but common agriculture is neglected. The breed of horses is inferior, and there are few cows or sheep. Swine form the most abundant live stock, and fatten, in a half wild state, on the acorns of the numerous oak forests which cover the mountains.

[graphic]
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

Sect. X. Present State of Agriculture in European Turkey.
750. The Turkish empire includes a variety of climates and countries, of most of which
so little is correctly known, that we can give no satisfactory account of their agriculture.
Asiatic Turkey is nearly three times the extent of the European part; but the latter is
better cultivated and more populous.“ European Turkey,” Thornton observes, " de-
pends upon no foreign country for its subsistence. The labour of its inhabitants produces,
in an abundance unequalled in the other countries of Europe, all the alimentary produc-
tions, animal and vegetable, whether for use or enjoyment. The corn countries, in spite
of the impolitic restrictions of the government, besides pouring plenty over the empire,
secretly export their superfluities to foreign countries. Their agriculture, therefore,
though neglected and discouraged, is still above their wants.” (Present State of Turkey,
Fol. i. p. 66.)

751. The climate and seasons of European Turkey vary with the latitude and local
circumstances of the different provinces, from the Morea, in lat. 37o and surrounded by
the Mediterranean sea, to Moldavia, between Hungary and Russia, in lat. 48o. The
surface is generally mountainous, with plains and vales; some rivers, as the Danube in
Wallachia, and numerous gulfs, bays, estuaries, and inlets of the Adriatic, the Archi-
pelago, the Mediterranean, and the Black Seas. The soil is in general fertile, alluvial in some
of the richest plains of Greece, as Thessaly; and calcareous in many parts of Wallachia
and Moldavia. These provinces produce excellent wheat and rich pasture ; while those
of the south produce maize, wheat, and rice. The vine is cultivated in most provinces ;
and there are extensive forests, especially in the north. The live stock consists of the
borse, oi, camel, sheep, and swine. (Thornton.)

752. Some traits of the agriculture of the Morea, the southernmost province of European
Turkey, have been given by Dr. Pouqueville. The climate holds the exact medium
between the scorching heat of Egypt and the cold of more northern countries. The
winter is short, but stormy; and the summer is hot, but tempered by breezes from the
mountains or the sea. The soil of the mountains is argillaceous; in some places inclin.
ing to marl, and in others to peat or vegetable earth : the richest parts are Arcadia and
Argos. The plough consists of a share, a

100
beam, and a handle (fig. 100.); the share is
shaped somewhat like the claw of an anchor,
and the edges armed with iron. In some cases
it has tro wheels. It is drawn by one horse, by
two asses, or by oxen or buffaloes, according to
the nature of the soil. The corn grown is of
excellent quality, though no attention is paid to selecting the seed. The rice of Argolis
is held at Constantinople the next in excellence to that of Damietta. The vine is suc-
cessfully cultivated ; but at Corinth," situated in a most unwbolesome atmosphere,” the
10

culture of that sort which produces the raisins of Corinth is
less attended to than formerly. The olive trees (Oʻlea europæ'a,

g. 101.) are the finest in the world; the oil of Maina is the
best, and held in esteem at all the principal markets of Eu-
rope. The white mulberry is extensively cultivated for the
support of the silkworm. Elis yields the best silk. The
cotton is cultivated in fields, which are commonly divided by
hedges of Nepal or Indian fig, which is eaten, but is here
more vapid than in Egypt.

753. The figs of the Morea “ are perhaps the most exquisite that can be eaten.” The tree is cultivated with particular care, and the practice of caprification adopted. They collect the little figs which have fallen from the trees while very young, and which contain numbers of the eggs of the gnat insect (Cynips). Of these they make chaplets, which are suspended to the branches of the trees. The gnats are soon hatched, and spread themselves over the whole tree. The

females, in order to provide a nidus for their eggs, pierce the fruit with their sting, and then deposit them. From this puncture a gummy liquor Dozes; and after this the figs are not only not liable to fall, but grow larger and finer than if they had not undergone this operation. It is doubted by some modern physiologists whether this process is of any real use, it being now neglected in most fig countries where it was formerly performed. Some allege that it is merely useful as fecundating the blossoms, which most people are aware are situated inside of the fruit; others that it protnotes precocity, which the puncture of an insect will do in any fruit, and which any one may have observed in the gooseberry, apple, or pear.

[graphic]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

754. The almond tree is very productive. The orange tribe abounds; and the pomegranates, peaches, apricots, grapes, &c., are of the finest flavour. The banana is cultivated in the gardens, as are melons, dates, and many other fruits. Carobs (Ceratònia), quinces, medlars, cherries, &c. are wild in abundance. Bees are found in the hollows of trees; and their excellent white honey is exported.

755. The oxen of the Morea are low, and have long white hair. The most fleshy do not weigh more than from 300 to 400 pounds. The cows give little milk, and are much injured by the jackals, who tear away their teats; and by large serpents, which are said to suck the milk. The sheep are small, and have large horns; their wool is considered of the second quality of the wool of the East. Cheese is made from their milk, and that of goats. The horses of the Morea are of a breed between the Moravian and Thracian : their form is not admired; but they are full of fire and courage ; and so vigorous, that they run with a firm and rapid step over the mountains without ever stumbling. The asses are miserable.

756. The forests of the Morea produce the cork-tree; the kermes oak; the Quércus E'sculus, or Velonia oak, the acorns of which are eaten, and their cups used as oak-galls, in preparing black dye; the azarole, plane, larch, wild olive, sweet chestnut, manna ash; grains d'Avignon (Rhamnus infectdrius L.), from the grains or seeds of which a fine yellow dye is prepared ; Lawsdnia inérmis, which furnishes a fine aurora colour, with which the women of the East dye their nails; the turpentine tree, barren date trees, silk tree (Mimosa Julibrissin) with its beautiful tufts, pine fir, and a variety of others. Chestnuts were at one period the temporary food of nearly the whole country: on Mount Pholoe, where the peasants are half savages, they form the principal food for the whole year. A variety of plants used in the arts and in pharmacy grow wild in the wastes, and there are venison and game in the woods, and fishes in the rivers, lakes, and the surrounding ocean. The Morea, Dr. Pouqueville concludes, is " a fine country :" and though one does not find the golden age here renewed, yet, “ under a better order of things, it will produce abundantly every thing necessary to supply the wants of man." (Travels, transl. by A. Plumtree, p. 206.)

757. Sme notices of the agriculture of Thessaly and Albania have been given by Dr. Holland. The plain of Thes

102
saly (fig. 102. ) is an immense
tract of level country, with a fine
alluvial soil, which tradition
and external appearance concur
in testifying, was once covered
with water. “ The capabili.
ties,” Dr. Holland observes,
“ are great throughout the
whole of this fine province;
and it would not be easy to fix a limit to the amount and variety of produce which might
be raised from its surface. In their present state, the plains of Thessaly form one of the
most productive districts of the Grecian peninsula, and their annual produce, in grain of
different kinds, cotton, silk, wool, rice, and tobacco, allows a very large amount of regular
export from the provinces.” The cultivation is not deficient in skill or neatness. Their
plough is of a primitive form ; and their carts are small cars, some of them, as Dr.
Clarke observes, simple enough (fig. 103.) ; both are drawn by oxen or buffaloes. The
103

wool of the sheep is moderately fine; the mulberry is
grown in dwarf pollards ; and the cotton in drills, well

hoed. The men are a stern-looking race, and the women well
made, and not unlike the antique. “ The circumstances

by which the amount of produce might be increased, are
chiefly, perhaps, of a more general nature, - a better form

of government; greater security to private property ; a more uniform distribution of the inhabitants; and the prevention of those monopolies in the export of grain, which have hitherto been exercised by the Turkish rulers of the country. (Travels, 2d. edit. p. 281.)

758. The agriculture of Albania differs in no essential particular from that of Thessaly. The common tenure on which land is let, is that of paying to the landlord half the produce. The vale of Deropuli is the most fertile and populous in Albania. The tillage, generally speaking, is remarkable for its neatness. The products are chiefly wheat, maize, tobacco, and rice. The returns afford a considerable surplus for exportation ; and the tobacco is esteemed the best in Albania. Large flocks of sheep feed on the declivity of the mountains, and afford much coarse wool for the manufactures of the country.

759. The agriculture of Moldavia and Wallachia, two the most northerly provinces of European Turkey, has been given by various authors, as Carra, Bauer, and Thornton. The climate of those provinces is very severe in winter. Spring begins in April ; summer in June ; and in July and August the days are excessively hot, and the nights cold. Heavy rains begin in September, and snows in November. The surface is generally mountainous: but the valleys are dry and rich. The usual grains are cultivated, and also

[graphic]
[merged small][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »