« PreviousContinue »
It is now between three and four years since I first adopted the Vegetarian practice, and though I am still young, I know youth is the time for laying a good foundation for future usefulness, forming good habits, and learning that great science—self-knowledge.
I cannot, at present, afford a copy of the "Science of Human Life," but I can subscribe to your new quarterly organ. May God hasten the time when all shall be inquiring for the truth, when men shall seek to become masters of their own appetites, and not desire only what will please or pervert them and bring disease and death upon them.
Great Harwood, near Blackburn.
DEAR SIR,-I shall regard myself as a full Vegetarian now that I am entered as a member of the society. Please send me a form of declaration for the young man who lodges with us; he has been an abstainer before for two years, but having returned to a flesh diet, he suffered much from swelling in the mouth, and was compelled to return to his abstinence, and since doing so he has considerably improved. We both find we are better able to stand cold weather now upon a Vegetarian diet. My friend has also given up tea and coffee drinking, and snuff taking. I saw him put a lot of snuff in the fire. At the time when he was a Vegetarian before he never ailed anything, but whilst living on a mixed diet he was ill many a time; so he says now, and I say so too, there is no other way but being a Vegetarian in order to keep on the highway of health, happiness, and long life. May God bless your efforts, and increase the number of self-denying labourers in the cause of humanity.
Great Harwood, near Blackburn.
Reviews and Notices of Books.
THE CULTIVATION OF SMALL FARMS.
1. Our Farm of Four Acres, and the Money we made by it. London: Chapman and Hall. 2. How to Farm Two Acres profitably, including the Management of the Cow and the Pig. By JOHN ROBSON. London: "Cottage Gardener" Office.
3. Scientific Farming made Easy; or, the Science of Agriculture reduced to Practice. By THOMAS C. FLETCHER, Agricultural and Analytical Chemist. London: Routledge, Warne, and Routledge.
4. Health, Husbandry, and Handicraft. By HARRIET MARTINEAU. London: Bradbury and Evans.
To detail the history of Agriculture, interesting and important and suggestive though it be, is beyond our means and opportunities at present; and the vast improvements of modern agriculture we are not now prepared to survey. Neither are we prepared to dilate on the relation of Land to the Law, or the relation of the Land to the People, though we opine these are two of the most important questions affecting the welfare of the community that the politician or the philanthropist can deal with.
We intend merely to dwell for a short time on the cultivation of small farms-la pettit culture, and look for a moment at the multiplicity and the variability of the teaching in relation to them. The love of nature is almost instinctive in man. How universal it is, is manifested by the culture of the soil by an emperor or a prince consort with their farms down to the poor needlewoman with her geranium in a blacking-bottle, sickly and pining though it be, like its cultivator, for fresher and purer air. And between these extremes, putting the ordinary farmers aside, we have a number of persons, tradespeople and artizans, who
have saved a little money, ladies of small income and with little or nothing to do, who are continually seeking an employment, that ministers to their health and enjoyment, upon some two or more acres of land. A considerable number of persons have even ventured to keep themselves and their families wholly upon the produets of three or four acres, and that they have succeeded admirably is well known to ourselves. This may meet with a smile or a sneer, and the Feargus O'Connor Land Scheme may be quoted to i lustrate what happens to speculators in land for small farming. Now here we join issue with any such persons, and deny the reference as pertinent to the question. That the Land Scheme failed as a political and a monetary scheme we admit. That the proposal to locate artizans on the soil who knew nothing about its culture, who did not not know "a cucumber from a handsaw," as Feargus himself once expressed it, when irritated at the stolid ignorance of his allottees, we just as readily admit to be absurd. And that not above twenty per cent of the original allottees succeeded in cultivating their allotment we equally believe. But we do know that at the present moment one of the original allottees on one of the Gloucestershire estates, a Lancashire operative, then one of the most ignorant of agriculture, is now one of the most successful cultivators, and has gained amongst his neighbours the soubriquet of The Farmer," and from the local agricultural society the prizes for the largest and finest vegetables. So grateful is mother earth to those that tend her with industry and perseverance that she will reward even the most ignorant of her sons, not only with food and plenty but at last with a knowledge of her requirements. Another illustration can be given from the same estate:-A Lancashire lamplighter gained an allotment, but knowing nothing of the culture or cleaning of the soil, went on for some years scratching and teazing the surface, growing many weeds and fewer crops, and reaping vexation and poverty. At last he gave it up in despair; and to return to his lamplighting and town den, sold his allotment for £15 good-wi.l-three acres of land and a good cottage, subject to ground rent, at that moment of an undetermined amount. A poor man, with five small children, who had earned nine shillings per week as a farm labourer on the same estate for years before it was broken up into allotments, thought it an admirable opportunity to benefit himself and family. But the £15 was for some time to him a fabulous amount. He strove, put his little all together, borrowed all he could, still was deficient-every chance seemed gone. At last a fellow labourer agreed to hire a part and pay rent beforehand. Now all was raised but a few shillings; but they were as indispensable as the pounds, and after various unsuccessful efforts to raise them, he pawned his breeches, and so paid off the lamplighter. Now, surely, we have an instance here as unfavourable for success as could be easily found. Three acres of foul land that had for years been robbed and neglected; a labourer, whose strength a farmer had ground out for nine shillings a week, penniless, and burdened with five small child en! Surely, if he has been successful, none need despair who have the land. Well, some twelve or fourteen years have passed away, and what is the history of this poor labourer? Within that period he has lost one wife and found another, has had six or seven more children, and there he is on the same three acres of land, living in decent comfort, cheerful and happy. His land is well cropped, and clean and productive; himself well up in every cheap expedient of stimulating and forcing his soil. We put the question to him last summer, "Are you better off than if you had continued a farm labourer?" His quick reply, with a smile of surprise at our question and a just pride at his answer, was, "Look at my children; how could I have reared them on nine shillings a week? and I have been offered £75 good-will for my allotment, and refused it. How could I have been worth £75 as a farm labourer?" We felt some awkwardness before this "nobleman of industry," for having put such a question to such a man, with the evidence of his crops and his family about him. If any one doubts the substantial truth of this story, let them visit Redmarley: there is much to learn there, and our description will soon find the man.
A few such facts as these should silence the advocates of large farms--la grande culture. For more than a century the controversy has been going on-small culture versus grand or lage culture, and sti'l the question is unsettled. Nevertheless, there has been such evidence and proof given in the last twenty-five years as pretty well to silence the advocates of large farming. Cobbett, with his usual courage an i boldness, was an advocate of small culture. In his "Cottage Ec nomy" he showed how a cow could be kept on forty rods, i.e., a quarter of an acre of land. Since then we have had Laing, Thornton, Nicholls, Kay, and Mill, all on the humanity side; for small culture is the humane side of the question. The political-economy theory of large farms is nothing more than the wealth-ofnations plea, not the happiness-of the people question, but simply, what with land clearage, expatriation, Malthusian population-repression, cottage degradation, poor-law punishment, to degrade the peasantry-the million, that the thirty thousand landlords may be very rich and luxurious, and somewhere about ten times their number of farmers may rise in the world to be country squires.
Well did Southey say "that political economy required that they should harden their hearts." Why, if we had space to show the evils of the large-farm system, we think we should appeal with some success to the thinking and feeling portions of the community. We can now only point at the agricultural labourer, the producer of the food of the nation, who is
allowed the smallest share of any. Take any agricultural labourer with a family, and it will be found that their dietary is lower than the pauper in the union-house or the felon in the gaol. Honesty is made for them almost an impossibility; no fund out of 9s. per week, say less rent 7s. 6d., can be provided for fuel: they must steal their firing. Their daughters, cradled in a mother's love as well as the daughters of the landowners, what is their fate? It is a painful subject, but the immorality of the rural districts is appalling. Virtue, that diadem on woman's brow, fairer far than any coronet on earth, is becoming rarer every day. What with crowded cottages, out-door labour at 8d. per day, and the union-house accommodations, that to them are luxurious, but which they have no claim upon except when sick or pregnant, they too soon are eligible at the cost of their virtue. Go back three centuries, or a little more, and see that every class since then has increased their comforts except the agricultural labourer. Before wool became a great article of export from this country, before the great rise in its value took place, then small farms were common in England, and the agricultural labourer had his land and other privileges-the ight of fuel from the lord's woods, of grazing on the village common, &c., &c. For ages before then, the legislating for the agricultural labourer was not to pauperise him, or to provide a union-house, but to repress his luxury. In 1363, carters, ploughmen, and all other farm servants, were required to be moderate in eating and drinking; and they must not wear expensive cloth, but only "blanket and russet wool of twelvepence." In 1463, 3 Edward IV., c. 5, servants in husbandry were restricted to clothing themselves with material of not more than two shillings a yard, or with hose higher than fourteenpence a pair, and their girdles must not be garnished with silver. In 1482, 22 Edward IV., c. 1, their hose was limited to eighteenpence, and their wives' head-gear to twentypence. Now, from the fall in the value of money, these sums must be multiplied nine or ten times. What a farce it would be now-a-days to restrict a farm labourer, with 9s. a week and five small children, from wearing a velvet coat, diamond breast-pin, and a gold watch-chain, finished off with silk stockings at 123. a pair; or prohibit his wife from French ribbons, Brussels lace, and Lyons silks!
Well may Bloomfield, in "The Farmer's Boy," ask what has caused the degradation of the farm labourer:
"Has wealth done this? Then wealth's a foe to me;
Foe to our rights; that leaves a powerful few
The paths of emulation to pursue;
For emulation stoops to us no more,
We have not space to pursue this subject of the effects of withholding land from the people. We may conclude with saying it is unscriptural. Moses divided the land among the people, that every family should have about 15 acres, and then with restrictions against usury, against the alienation of land from any family, beyond fifty years there could not be a rich luxurious few, and a poverty stricken and degraded many.
Great as is the general interest in the cultivation of the soil, it possesses a larger and special claim upon the Vegetarian. First, we believe the hunting of wild animals is only suited to savage or semi-savage life; that the cultivation of the soil is the basis of civilisation. This fact cannot be more practically taught than in the words of a North American chief, recorded by the French traveller Crevecour. The chief, in exhorting his people- the tribe of the Missisais-said:- Do you not see the whites living upon seeds, while we eat flesh? That the flesh requires more than thirty moons to grow up, and is then often scarce? That each of the wonderful seeds they sow in the earth returns them one hundred fold? That the flesh on which we subsist has four legs to escape from us, while we can use but two to pursue and capture it? That the grains remain where the whites sow them and grow? That winter, which with us is the time for laborious hunting, to them is a period of rest? For these reasons have they so many children and live longer than we do. I say, therefore, unto every one that will hear me, that before the cedars of our village shall have died down with age, and the maple trees of the valley shall have ceased to give us sugar, the race of the little corn sowers will have exterminated the race of the flesh eaters, provided their huntsmen do not resolve to become sowers.'
Secondly, while our fellow-countrymen so generally look to the chase, the poultry-yard, and the slaughter-house for part of their food, we look mainly to the soil. We believe that "out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food;" and that He gave us "every herb bearing seed for meat."
and milk for
(Genesis i. 29, ii. 9.) And "herb for the service of man that he may bring forth food ont of the earth."-(Psalms civ. 14.) "And lambs for his clothing * * himself and household. - (Pro. xxvii. 26, 27.)
Thirdly, that now, with England, Ireland, and Scotland, as they are with some thirty millions of people, the food of ten millions is imported. But if the land were divided amongst the people, and no animals reared for food, there might be produced the food for one hundred and thirty millions of people.
These, and other similar considerations, have moved some members of our society to propose a vegetarian colony, or village, excluding the flesh eater; and others, not blest with patience enough to wait for a Utopia, have located themselves amid our country scenes. The writer threw up a lucrative profession that he might enjoy the pure air-the quietness and simplicity of rural life. And here we are, with the Rhine of England at our backs, perched on a hill, looking over one valley, and into two, the most fertile in England, with glorious hills in the distance: the one to the right, where Tyndale first translated the Bible; to our left, where Queen Bonduca, or Boadicea, made her stand against the Romans, and threw up entrenchments that two thousand winters have not weathered down; and there they are, sixteen miles away and visible to the naked eye. And here for a few years we have tried our hand at first raising large cabbage and mangel wurzel, and keeping our two cows upon an acre or so of land. And all along, and aye for twenty years before, we have studied nearly all that has been written on small farming, and for the information of our brethren we have headed this article with four books, that we will now briefly examine.
First, then, "Our Farm of Four Acres." This is written by a lady, and we may say it is to ladies. It is an experiment with grazing land. Now grazing farms we abominate; they are principally used for raising flesh for the slaughter-house. They are generally large far ns, therefore they are quite foreign to the class we address. And more, they require little labour, therefore the population is scanty upon them; in short, where people are to be lodged and fed, where acres are scant and people are many, grazing farms, except upon land that is not cultivatable by spade or plough, are nuisances, injurious to the common weal. We know this is heresy in a beef-eating country, but that troubles us but little.
The book opens with a humorous detail of the adventures of a widow lady and her sister in search of a house with land. Then we have the details of their cow purchases; and a very full story of butter making. Indeed, as regards information, it is the only chapter that offers any teaching to those who are seeking a like pursuit. Then we have the balance sheet. Now, as we have the money question prominently on the title page, as the one-half of the information promised, this statement of profit and loss ought to be full, clear, and correct, and betray no evidence of "cooking." Well, let us see.
We have here a most surprising attempt at deception. It is "Our Farm of Four Acres." In the balance sheet it appears as two acres! This bit of "cooking" is managed thus: the ladies tell us "an acre of grass is usually considered sufficient to support a cow during the year," and therefore they charge against the cows only the rent of two acres, although they have consumed the produce of four! That is, a fact is conveniently over-ridden by an hypothesis. But we should like to be informed and satisfied that it is usually con sidered an acre of grass will support a cow during a year." Turn to the latest and best authority, Morton's Handbook of Dairy Husbandry" (London: Longman and Co., 1860), p. 29. "The ordinary experience of dairy farmers is one cow to every three or even four acres of pasture." The ladies are very wide of the mark. So the first item of the balance sheet must just be doubled.
The value of milk and butter, £23 6s. 4d., is made up thus: milk, £9 3s. 4d., and £14 3s. Od. butter. Now as to the milk, we find at page 36 that 3d. per quart is the estimated price. Turn a long way on to page 101, and there we are told they use "about two quarts of new milk" daily. This is told us in the butter experience. Now two quarts of milk per day, at 3d per quart, comes to only £4 11s. 3d. for six months, instead of £9 3s. 4d. Now as to butter: at page 101 we are told, "we never made more than eight pounds;" that is, per cow, per week. Now any cowkeeper, even in his "salad days of greenness," is aware that every cow only keeps up her highest produce of butter for a few weeks; it then gradually descends to nothing at ten months; and for two months, therefore, there is no produce at all. And yet our authoress takes the highest quantity made, and estimates it for a whole year! Now as to the item of 18s. for oilcake: we are told in page 36, that “when the weather became cold, they [the cows] had two pounds each daily." And a small quantity, too, as the cows are to produce butter all the year round with undiminished power! The 4lb daily would be just cwt. per week, and for the winter six months would be 6 cwt. Now the price of linseed cake, in retail quantities, is 13s. per cwt.; therefore instead of 18s., we have £3 18s.-only the pounds dropped-perhaps a clerkly, or rather unclerkly, error. And more: not a farthing is charged against the cows for labour. We have heard
of a cow pumping water for her own drinking, but we never heard of cows milking themselves, and cooking their own cake! Harriet Martineau, in her balance sheet, which we shall notice farther on, charges each cow with £11 per year attendance, besides £1 10s. for "tillage." Now that we have ventilated the items of the balance sheet, let us see how it stands.
Instead of gain, leaving only a loss of... 5 14 3
So much for the ladies' farm of four acres, and the money they made by it. Their book, we expect, was a far finer speculation than their cows. But before we dismiss it, we must notice a statement at page 35. The butter being made, "it is put into a butter print, and pressed with the hands till it is considered to have received the impression. It is then, through a small hole in the handle, blown off with the mouth. I don't think I shall ever again eat butter which appears at table with the figures of cows, flowers, &c. stamped on it. I should always think of the process it had gone through for the sake of looking pretty." Really these ladies are very fastidious. They are flesh-eaters, it appears. And if they are so shocked at the use of the mouth-the mouth of a pretty, healthy dairy-maid being used to blow off the butter from the mould, which can only affect the butter over a space smaller than an ordinary pea,-how are they affected when they see a loin of veal upon their table which has been blown by the mouth of perhaps some drunken, fetid-breathing butcher; and that, not upon a space smaller than a pea, but extending over an area of many cubic feet? Indeed, if we were to dwell and dilate upon this disgusting and positively unhealthy process of rendering veal attractive and saleable, as these ladies have done upon the offensive side of butter-making, we fear we should nauseate our readers. The old proverb of "gaping at a gnat and swallowing a camel" is nicely illustrated by the ladies feeding on blown veal, who are shocked at dairy-maids making butter!
[To be continued.]
Association; in its Commercial, Moral, and Religious Aspects: a Lecture. By WILLIAM BENNETT. London: A. Bennett.
THIS cannot be called a popular lecture in any sense of the phrase. It is not a brilliant series of carefully constructed sentences, having for their object to produce a pleasant excitement or gratify an aesthetic fancy; nor is it the treatment of a commonplace question, so as to excite the passions or inflame the vanity of an unthinking multitude. On the contrary, it is a thoughtful attempt to indicate the weak points of combinations founded upon the principles of pecuniary gain, or upon mere verbal assents to literary formulas. Mr. Bennett believes that much power is lost to the world by action in such corporations, that individual energy is restrained and conscience deadened by union upon the principles indicated, and that no equivalent advantages accrue on the other side. A just distinction is, however, drawn between what we may call an apparent and a real union. The latter, it is contended, can only proceed from a sympathy of a higher kind than the hope of gain supplies. Indeed the lecturer is so Utopian as to believe that the united action which would be most beneficial to society at large, and which may be hoped for-as it ought to be laboured for-is that which is founded upon brotherly love; such a sympathy as would lead us to desire another's good as much as our own. And we are sufficiently Utopian to agree with him. The writer is a member of the Vegetarian Society.
* See Morton's "Handbook of Dairy Husbandry," p. 82.