Page images

994. The value of landed property is in general lower than in England, being at present (1829) sold at from twenty-two to twenty-six years' purchase.

395. The farming of lands in France, according to Professor Thouin, naturally divides itself into three kinds : 1. The grand culture, in which from two to twelve ploughs are employed, and corn chiefly cultivated ; 2. The middle culture, including the metayers, who also grow corn, but more frequently rear live stock, maintain a dairy, or produce silk, wine, cider, or oil, according to the climate in which they may be situated ; and 3. The minor culture, or that which is done by manual labour, and into which live stock or corns do not enter. The middle culture is by far the most common.

There are very few farms of six or eight ploughs in France, and equally few farmers who do not labour in person at all times of the year. It is acknowledged by Professor Thouin, that each of these divisions is susceptible of very great improvement.

SUBSECT. 8. Of the common Farming of France. 396. The corn farming in France is carried on in the best manner in French Flanders, Picardy, and Brie. The first may be considered as equally well cultivated with Suffolk; and the last produces three crops in two years, or five in three years. The crops of these districts are wheat, beans, turnips, maize, and buckwheat. The most frequent rotations are, two corn crops and a fallow, or an alternation of corn and green or pulse crops, without a naked fallow. In the heath district, broom enters into the rotation for fuel, and is cut the fourth year; buckwheat is also extensively sown, and rye and oats. After lands have borne crops, it is usual to let them rest a year or two, during which they produce nothing but grass and weeds, and they are afterwards broken up with a naked fallow. Potatoes enter more or less into the field culture of the greater part of France, and especially of the northern districts; but in Provence, and some parts of Languedoc, they are still little known. Irrigation, both of arable and grass lands, is adopted whereever it is practicable. It is common in the Vosges, and remarkably well conducted in the lands round Avignon, formerly for many miles the property of the church.

397. The meadows of France contain nearly the same herbage, plants, and grasses as those of England ; but though clovers and lucerne are cultivated in many places, yet ryegrass and other grasses, either for hay crops or temporary or permanent pasture, are not generally resorted to. (Chaptal de l'Industrie Française, vol. i. p. 157.)

398. To sheep the French have paid considerable attention from the time of Colbert; and there are now considerable flocks of short-woolled and Spanish breeds in some places, besides several national flocks. That of Rambouillet (established in 1786 by Louis XVI.) is managed by M. Tessier, a well known writer on agriculture, and when visited by Birkbeck, in 1814, was in excellent order. Sheep are housed, and kept in folds and little yards or enclosures, much more than in England. Great part of the sheep of France are black. (Birkbeck.) Some curious attempts have lately been made to inoculate them for the claveau and the scab, but a definite result has not yet been ascertained, at least as to the latter disease. Birkbeck considers the practice of housing as the cause why the foot-rot is so common a disease among sheep in France. Where flocks remain out all night, the shepherd sleeps in a small thatched hut or portable watchhouse, placed on wheels. He guides the fock by walking before them, and his dog guards them from the wolves, which still abound even in Picardy. During summer, in the hottest districts, they are fed in the night, and housed in the heat of the day. Hay is the general winter food; and, in some parts of the Picardy climate, turnips. In 1811, Bonaparte monopolised the breeding of Merinos, and from that time to the passing of an act for the exportation of wool and rams in 1814 they declined; but they are now greatly on the increase. Among the most extensive flocks, are those of the celebrated M. Ternaux.

399. The beasts of labour are chiefly the ox on small farms, and the horse on the larger. Both are kept under cover the greater part of the year. The breeds of oxen are very various; they are generally cream-coloured. The best oxen are in Auvergne, Poitiers, and Languedoc. Normandy furnishes the best breed of working horses ; as Limosin does of those for the saddle. In the south of France the ass and mule are of frequent use in husbandry. There, as in many parts of Italy, the poor people collect the stolones of Agrostis, and creeping roots of couch, and sell them in little bundles to the carriers and others who keep road horses. A royal stud of Arabians has been kept up at Aurillac in Limosin, for a century; and another has been lately formed near Nismes. Studs of English horses and mixed breeds of high blood, have been established by government in several departments.

400. The best dairies are in Normandy; but in this department France does not excel. In the southern districts, olive, almond, and poppy oil supply the place of butter ; and goats' milk is that used in cookery.

401. The goats of Thibet, have been imported by M. Ternaux, who has been successful in multiplying them and in manufacturing their hair.

[ocr errors]

402. Poultry is an important article of French husbandry, and well understood as far
as breeding and feeding. Birkbeck thinks the consumption of poultry in towns may be
equal to that of mutton. The smallest cottage owns a few hens, 47
which often roost under cover, in a neat little structure (fig. 47.),
elevated so as to be secure from dogs, wolves, and foxes.

403. The breed of suine is in general bad; but excellent hams are
sent from Bretagne, from hogs reared on acorns, and fatted off
with maize, Pigeon-houses are not uncommon.

404. The management of fish-ponds is well understood in France,
owing to fish in all catholic countries being an article of necessity.
In the internal district there are many large artificial ponds, as well
as natural lakes, where the eel, carp, pike, and a few other species, are
reared, separated, and fed, as in the Berkshire ponds in England.

405. The implements and operations of the common farms of
France are in general rude. The ploughs of Normandy resemble
the large wheel-ploughs of Kent. Those farther south are generally
without wheels; often without coulters; and an iron mould-board
is rare. In many parts of the south the ploughs have no mould-
beard, and turn the earth in the manner of the simplest form of
Roman plough. (110.) Harrows are in general wholly of wood; and,
instead of a roller, a plank is for the most part used. Large farmers, as in Normandy,
plough with four or six oxen : small farmers with two, or even one ; or, when stiff

soils are to be worked out

of season, they join to-
gether, and form a team of
four or six cattle. Their
carts are narrow and long,
with low wheels, seldom
shod in the remote parts
of the country. The guim-
barde of the Seine and

Oise (fig. 48.) is a light
and useful machine. Corn is reaped with sickles, hooks, and the Brabant and cradle
seythes. (fig. 49.) Threshing, in
Normandy, is performed with the fail
in houses, as in England; in the
other climates, in the open air with
fails, or by the tread of horses. There
are few permanent threshing-floors;
a piece of ground being smoothed in
the most convenient part of the field
is found sufficiently hard. Farmers,
as we have already observed, perform
most of their operations without extra
Labourers; and their wives and daugh-
ters reap, thresh, and perform almost every part of the farm and garden work indifferently.
Such farmers prefer living in villages ; society and the evening dance being nearly as
indispensable to them as their daily food. If the farm be distant, the farmer and his
servants of all descriptions set off early in the morning in a light waggon, carrying with
them their provisions for the day.(Neill.) Hence it is, that a traveller in France may
pass through ten or twenty miles of corn-fields, without seeing a single farm-house.

406. Large farms, which are extremely rare, have generally farmeries on the lands;
and there the labour is in great part performed by labourers, who, as well as the tradesmen
employed, are frequently paid in kind. (Birkbeck.)

407. All the plants cultivated by the British farmer are also grown in France; the turnip not generally, and in the warm districts scarcely at all, as it does not bulb; but it is questionable, whether, if it did bulb, it would be so valuable in these districts as the lucerne, or clover, which grow all the winter ; or the potato, from which flour is now made extensively; or the field beet, which may be used either as food for cattle, or for, yielding sugar: Of plants not usually cultivated on British farms may be mentioned, the chiccory for green food, fuller's thistle for its heads, furze and broom for green food, madder, tobacco, poppies for oil, rice in Dauphine (but now dropped as prejudicial to health), saffron about Angouleme, Láthyrus sativus, the pois Breton or keanl of Spain, Láthyrus setifòlius, Vícia lathyröides and sativa, Cìcer arietinum, Ervum Léns, Melilotus sibírica, Coronilla vària, Hedýsarum coronàrium, &c. They have a hardy red wheat, called l'épeautre (spelt), which grows in the worst soil and climates, and is Citimon in Alsace and Suabia. They grow the millet, the dura or douro of Egypt



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

(Hólcus Sorghum L.), in the maize district. The flower-stalks and spikes of this plant are sold at Marseilles and Leghorn, for making chamber-besoms and clothes-brushes. The hop and the common fruit trees are cultivated ; and the chestnut is used as food in some places. An oil used as food, and also much esteemed by painters, is made from the walnut. The other fruits of field-culture, as the almond, fig, vine, caper, olive, and orange,' belong to the farming of the southern districts.

408. The forest culture of France is scientifically conducted, both in the extensive national forests, and on private estates. The chief objects are fuel, charcoal, and bark; and next, timber for construction : but in some districts other products are collected, as acorns, mast, nuts, resin, &c. The French and Germans have written more on this department of rural economy than the English, and understand it better.

409. A remarkable feature in the agriculture of France, and of most warm countries, is the use of leaves of trees as food for cattle. Not only are mulberry, olive, poplar, vine, and other leaves gathered in autumn, when they begin to change colour, and acquire a sweetness of taste ; but spray is cut green in July, dried in the sun or in the shade of trees in woods, faggoted, and stacked for winter use. During that season they are given to sheep and cattle like hay; and sometimes, boiled with grains or bran, to cows. The astringency of some sorts of leaves, as the oak, is esteemed medicinal, especially for sheep. Such are the outlines of that description of agriculture which is practised more or less throughout France, but chiefly in the northern and middle districts.

SUBSECT. 4. Of Farming in the warmer Climates of France. 410. The culture peculiar to the vine, maize, olive, and orange climates, we shall extract from the very interesting work of Baron de la Peyrouse. The estate of this gentleman is situated in the maize district at Pepils, near Toulouse. Its extent is 800 acres ; and he has, since the year 1788, been engaged, and not without success, in introducing a better system of agriculture.

411. The farm-houses and offices in the warm districts are generally built of brick; framework filled up with a mixture of straw and clay; or, en prisé; and they are covered with gutter-tiles. The vineyards are enclosed by hawthorn hedges or mud walls ; the boundaries of arable farms are formed by wide ditches ; and those of grass lands by fixed stones or wild quince trees. Implements are wretched, operations not well performed, and labourers, and even overseers, paid in kind, and allowed to sow flax, beans, haricots, &c., for themselves. The old plough (fig. 50.) resembles that used by the Arabs, which the French antiquarian, Gouguet, (Origine des Lois) thinks, in all probability, the same as that used by the ancient Egyptians. They have also a light one-handled plough

for stirring fallows, called the araire. 51

(fig. 51.) A plough with coulters was first employed at Pepils ; and a Scotch plough, with a cast-iron mould-board, was lately sent there, and excited the wonder of the whole district. In nothing is France more deficient than in suitable agricultural implements.

412. Fallow, wheat, and maize con

stitute the common rotation of crops. 413. The live stock consists chiefly of oxen and mules; the latter are sold to the Spaniards. Some flocks of sheep are kept ; but it is calculated that the rot destroys them once in three years. Beans are the grain of the poor, and are mixed with wheat for bread. The chick pea (Cicer

52 arietìnum) (fig. 52.) is a favourite dish with the Provençals, and much cultivated. Spelt is sown on newly broken up lands. Potatoes were unknown till introduced at Pepils from the Pyrenees, where they had been cultivated for fifty years. In the neighbourhood they are beginning to be cultivated. Turnips and rutabaga were tried often at Pepils, but did not succeed once in ten years. Maize is reckoned a clearing crop, and its grain is the principal food of the people.

414. The vine is cultivated in France in fields, and on terraced hills, as in Italy, but managed in a different manner from what it is in that country. Here it is kept low, and treated more as a plantation of raspberries or currants



is in England. It is either planted in large plots, in rows three or four feet apart, and the plants two or three feet distant in the row; or it is planted in double or single rows alternating with ridges of arable land. In some cases, also, two close rows and a space of six or seven feet alternate, to admit a sort of horse-hoeing culture in the wide interval. Most generally, plantations are made by dibbling in cuttings of two feet in length, pressing the earth firmly to their lower end; an essential part of the operation, noticed even by Xenophon. In pruning, a stem or stool of a foot or more is left above ground, and the young shoots are every year cut down within two buds of this stool. These stools get very bulky after sixty or a hundred years, and then it is customary, in some places, to lay down branches from them, and form new stools, leaving the old for a time, which, however, soon cease to produce any but weak shoots. The winter pruning of the vine generally takes place in February: a bill is used resembling that of Italy (Az. 36.); the women faggot the branches, and their value, as fuel, is expected to pay the expense of dressing. In summer, the ground is twice or thrice hoed, and the young shoots are tied to short stakes with wheat or rye straw, or whatever else comes cheapest. The shoots are stopped, in some places, after the blossom has expanded ; the tops are given to cows. In some places, also, great part of the young wood is cut off before vintage for feed for cows, and to let the sun directly to the fruit. The sorts cultivated are almost as numerous as the vineyards. Fourteen hundred sorts were collected from all parts of France, by order of the Comte Chaptal, and are now in the nursery of the Luxembourg : but little or no good will result from the collection, or from attempting to describe them; for it has been ascertained that, after a cousiderable time, the fruit of the vine takes a particular character from the soil in which it is planted ; so that fourteen hundred sorts, planted in one soil and garden, would in time, probably in less than half a century, be reduced to two or three sorts; and, on the contrary, two or three sorts planted in fourteen hundred different vineyards, would soon become as many distinct varieties. The pineau of Burgogne, and the auvernat of Orleans, are esteemed varieties ; and these, with several others grown for wine-making, have small berries and branches like our Burgundy grape. Small berries and a harsh flavour are universally preferred for winemaking, both in France and Italy. The oldest vines invariably give the best grapes, and produce the best wines. The Baron de la Peyrouse planted a vineyard twenty years ago, which, though in full bearing, he says, is still too vigorous to enable him to judge of the fineness and quality of the wine, which it may one day afford. “ In the Clos de Vougeot eineyard, in which the most celebrated Burgundy wine is produced, new vine plants have not been set for 300 years : the vines are renewed by laying (provigner); but the root is never separated from the stock. This celebrated vineyard is never manured. The Entent is 160 French arpents. It makes, in a good year, from 160 to 200 hogsheads, of 260 bottles each hogshead. The expense of labour and cooperage, in such a year, has arisen to 33,000 francs; and the wine sells on the spot at five francs a bottle. The vineyard is of the pineau grape. The soil, about three feet deep, is a limestone gravel on a limestone rock." (Peyrouse, 96.)

415. The white mulberry is very extensively cultivated in France for feeding the silkworm. It is placed in comers, rows along roads, or round fields or farms. The trees are raised from seeds in nurseries, sornetine grafted with a large-leafed sort, and sold generally at five years, when they have strong stems. They are planted, staked, and treated as pollards. Some strip the leaves from the young shoots, others cut these off t*ice one year, and only once the next; others pollard the tree every second year.

416. The eas of the silk-moth (Búmbyx mòri) are hatched in rooms heated by means of stoves to 180 of Rezumur 219 Fah.). One ounce of eggs requires one hundred-weight of leaves, and will produce from sa to nine pounds of raw silk. The hatching commences about the end of April, and, with the feeding, is over in about a month. Second broods are procured in some places. The silk is wound off the coccoons, er little balls, by women and children. This operation is reserved for leisure days throughout the rest of the season, or given out to women in towns. The eggs are small round objects; the caterpillar attains a considerable size; the chrysalis is ovate; and the male and female are readily distinguishable. •

417. The air, of which the most luxuriant plantations are between Aix and Nice, is treated in France in the same way as in Italy. (288.) The fruit is picked green, or, when ripe, crushed for oil, as in the latter country. 118 The fig is cultivated in the olive district as a standard tree; and dried for winter use, and

At Argenteuil it is cultivated in the gardening manner for eating green. 419 The aimond is cultivated about Lyons, and in different parts in the department of the Rhone, as a daniard, in the vineyards. As it blossoms early, and the fruit is liable to injury from fogs and rains, it is a very precarious article of culture, and does not yield a good crop above once in five, or, according to samne, ten, fears.

41. The cager is an article of field culture about Toulon. It has the habit of a bramble bush, and is planted in aquares, ten or twelve feet plant from plant every way. Standard figs, peaches, and other fruit trees are intermixed with it.

121. The culture of the orange is very limited; it is conducted in large walled enclosures at Hieres and its neighbourhood. The fruit, like that of Geneva and Naples, is very inferior to the St. Michael's and Maltese cranges, as imported to Britain; but the lemons

are good. 22. The sister melon is cultivated in different parts of Provence and Languedoc, and especially in the dange orchards of Hieres. It forms an article of exportation.

428. Various other fruits are cultivated by the small proprietors in all the districts of France, and sold in the adjoining markets ; but this department of rural economy belongs rather to gardening than to agriculture.


Sect. IV. Of the present State of Agriculture in Holland and the Netherlands. 424. The agriculture of the Low Countries, and especially of Flanders, has been celebrated by the rest of Europe for upwards of 600 years; that of Holland for its pasturage, and that of the Netherlands for tillage. We shall notice a part of the agricultural circumstances of the two countries,

Subsect. 1. Of the present State of Agriculture in Holland. 425. The climate of Holland is cold and moist. The surface of the country towards the sea is low and marshy, and that of the interior sandy and naturally barren. А considerable part of Holland, indeed the chief part of the seven provinces comprising the country, is lower than the sea, and is secured from inundation by immense embankments; while the internal water is delivered over these banks into the canals and drains leading to the sea, by mills, commonly impelled by wind. In the province of Guelderland and other internal parts, the waste grounds are extensive; being overrun with broom and heath, and the soil a black sand. The marshes, morasses, and heaths, which are characteristic of the different provinces, are, however, intermixed with cities, towns, villages, groves, gardens, and meadows, to a degree only equalled in England. There are no hills, but only gentle elevations, and no extensive woods; but almost every where an intimate combination of land, water, and buildings. The soil in the low districts is a rich, deep, sandy mud; sometimes alluvial, but more frequently siliceous, and mixed with rotten shells. In a few places there are beds of decayed trees ; but no where rough gravel or rocks. The soil of the inland provinces is in general a brown or black sand, naturally poor, and, wherever it is productive, indebted entirely to art.

426. The landed property of Holland is in moderate or rather small divisions; and, in the richer parts, generally in farms of from twenty to one hundred and fifty or two hundred acres, often farmed by the proprietor. In the interior provinces, both estates and farms are much larger ; and instances occur of farms of five hundred or seven hundred acres, partly in tillage, and partly in wood and pasture.

427. The agriculture of Holland is almost entirely confined to a system of pasturage and dairy management, for the production of butter and cheese ; the latter well known in every part of the world. Almost the only objects of tillage are some , madder, tobacco, and herbage plants and roots for stall-feeding the cattle. The pastures, and especially the lower meadows, produce a coarse grass, but in great abundance. The cows are allowed to graze at least a part of the day throughout the greater part of the year, but are generally fed in sheds, once a day or oftener, with rape cake, grains, and a great variety of other preparations. Their manure is preserved with the greatest care, and the animals themselves are kept perfectly clean. The breed is large, small-legged, generally red and white, with long slender horns ; they are very well known in England as the Dutch breed. The fuel used in Amsterdam and most of the towns is peat, and the ashes are collected and sold at high prices, chiefly to the Flemings, but also to other nations. A considerable quantity has been imported to England; they are found excellent as a top dressing for clovers and other green crops, and are strongly recommended by Sir John Sinclair and other writers. Other particulars of Dutch culture and economy correspond with the practice of the Netherlands.

428. The field implements, buildings, and operations of Holland, are more ingeniously contrived and better executed than those of any other country on the Continent. The best plough in the world (the Scotch) is an improvement on the Rotheram or Dutch implement. The farmeries, and especially the cow-houses and stables, are remarkable for arrangements which facilitate and economise manual labour, and insure comfort to the animals and general cleanliness. Even

53 the fences and gates are generally found in a better state than in most other countries. They have a simple field gate ( fig. 53.) constructed with few rails, and balanced so as it may be opened and shut without straining the posts or hinges, which deserves imitation. Their bridges, foot-planks, and other mechanical agents of culture, are in general indicative of more art and invention than is usual in Continental agriculture.

« PreviousContinue »