Page images

Their performance evinces them to be, or to have been (for I know not which, at this time is strictly proper) men of mind, and not wanting in exertion. On the few subjects which they may be said to have handled, they are satisfactorily intelligent.-These subjects are Woodlands and Planting; the Appropriation of uncivilized Lands; and the forming and keeping of Roads. On most other branches and subdivisions of natural, political, and rural economy, as they are connected with Agriculture, their work is very defective.

Insufficient, however, as this Report certainly is, as a picture of the rural practices of Surrey, it would betray a want of knowledge of the human mind to image that men (or a man, for the pronoun singular is once at least used) of business, and good natural abilities, should sit down to write a book, without eliciting some useful or interesting ideas; and it will be seen that, in the work now under consideration, I have been able to select a few passages that may be acceptable to my readers.

The number of pages-ninetyfive.

Two sketch engravings:-one of them of a horse hoe, the other of the form of a road.

No map.



XTENT.-P. 8. "The county is computed to be thirty-nine miles in length, from east to west; and twentyfive miles in breadth, from north to south; and 146 miles in circumference; and, taken as a plane, contains about 481,947 statute acres."

WATERS.-The "rivers" of Surrey are the Wandle (a calcareous" bourn," or brooklet) which rises out of the northern margin of the Chalk Hills. The Mole, a larger stream, a brook, which originates in the Weald, or Southern Vale Lands, and passes, a short distance, partially beneath a skirt of the Chalk Hills, in its course to the Thames. And the Wey, which has its rise in the Heathlands; and which, by a circuitous course, descends leisurely into the same capacious receptacle. This is a minor river; and is navigable for some miles from the Thames.

SOILS.-P. 8." The upper soil is very various, consisting of black mould, clay, sand, chalk, and loams, of different depths. The under soil is of different strata, but principally composed of chalk and gravel, thereby rendering it dry, healthy, and pleasant.”

This does not well apply to the southern vale landsthe Weald or "Wild" of Surrey; which is a claybottomed, wet, unpleasant passage of country.



[ocr errors]

PPROPRIATION.-Common Pastures. Much of the Reporters' time has been occupied, in surveying, and estimating the extents, of the unappropriated lands of Surrey; descending to small commons and greens, down to fifty or even twenty acres in extent ;-noting the soil or soils and circumstances of each; with a view toward their inclosure and cultivation,-or planting. They have set down the whole quantity at 96,000 acres; and, on that quantity, have made some political calculations.-For instance-p. 24,-" Waste, 4 of 96,000 acres = 24,000 acres at 3 qrs." (of grain, as wheat, barley, oats, &c.) " =72,000 grs. at 27s. £97,200."

per acre On counting the several estimated quantities, I find that instead of 96,000, there are not 75,000 acres of unappropriated pasture grounds :-namely, of heathland 50,720 acres (of the very worst lands in the island), and of grassy commons, 23,750 acres; comprizing much very bad land. Nevertheless, in the first page of the body of the Report is the following passage.

After mentioning the favourable locality of the County, with respect to the metropolis, and water carriage, the Reporters say (p. 7.)-" Will it not then be matter of surprise, that at the close of the seventeenth century, there shall be found, in a county like this, commons and wastes of the magnitude of 96,000 acres; the much greater part of which, if not the whole, capable of being made subservient to the purposes of agriculture," (!)" and thereby enabling us to supply those foreign markets, which stand in need of it, with that superabundance which, to our shame be it spoken, we draw at this time from Flanders, Holland, and America?"

I have thought it right to mention those mis-statements, lest POLITICAL ARITHMATICIANS, who, I fear, are not always scrupulously inquisitive about their data, should quote them, implicitly, as coming from the "high authority" of a Report to the Board of Agriculture.

Common Meadows.-This partially appropriated species of "property" is still prevalent in the County of Surrey. Messrs. James and Malcolm enumerate sundry instances, and, among the rest, the celebrated RUNNEY MEAD; which,

A a 2


[ocr errors]

I believe, may be taken as a tolerably fair specimen of this inconvenient kind of "Landed Property."

P. 49. "Runneymead contains one hundred and sixty acres of good soil, and at present lets for twenty shillings per acre, tythe free. It is the property of ten persons, and in small parcels. After the 12th of August it is common to all the parish, who turn on an indefinite number of cattle, until March, when it is shut up again; but being subject to be flooded in the winter, it becomes poached by the number of cattle that are on at that time, to the destruction of the herbage, and consequent loss to the proprietors. This would be remedied by an inclosure, and would be worth from forty to sixty shillings per acre."

Common Fields.-The Reporters have also enumerated, and noticed the extents, the soils, and ther circumstances, of the several open arable fields of the County. The subjoined list, with the extent of each field, is placed at the close of the detail.

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



INLAND NAVIGATION.-The Thames navigation bounds the northern margin of the County, for more than twenty miles. And the Wey" becomes navigable to the Thames at Weybridge, being of infinite benefit to the county, which it supplies with all sorts of necessaries, particularly coals from London. It is here worthy of remark, that the first locks that were constructed were erected upon this river by a gentleman of the name of Weston." p. 9.


ROADS. This subject, and that of planting, are the only ones, which the Reporters speak of, as practical men. Their remarks and recommendations, tho of some length, are mostly proper. Few of them, however, are new. They are similar to those which I have long been inculcating. They contain some passages, which, as corroborants, are en◄ titled to a place, here.

On the Width of Turnpike Roads.-P. 65. "The width of a road should be just as much as the extensiveness of the thoroughfare requires; that is to say, every approach to the metropolis, and for a distance not exceeding six miles, should have a road of forty feet wide, with a foot-way on each side of ten feet: beyond that distance the road may with great propriety be reduced to thirty-four feet wide, which is sufficient for four carriages to pass abreast, and which is more than perhaps may ever meet at one time in one spot. Exceeding this width all is useless, and adds greatly to the expence of keeping in repair. The foot-way here should be eight feet wide; beyond the distance of twelve miles, and to the land's end, the road should be thirty feet, and the foot-way six feet."

Their Convexity.-P. 65. "The convexity of every road should be just so much as, according to its width, no water shall lodge on the center or on its sides, but pass quickly to the edge, which should be higher than the ditch on the other side of the foot-way."

The Reporters have given an engraved diagram of what they conceive to be the proper dimensions, and form, of public roads. The width of the carriage road, in their sketch, is twenty feet, and the rise or convexity, at the crown, two feet; with a footpath, on each side, ten feet wide-thus filling up the whole width of a Parliamentary road!

Messrs. James and Malcolm, however, have sufficient good sense to see the extravagance of such a width;-unless in the immediate environs of the metropolis; and, it may be added, in the immediate neighbourhoods of a few other large trading towns. My principal objection to their scale of roads lies in the width of cross-country roads, between town and town. Thirty feet of hard road, I conceive, is much too great. And more than one footpath, by the side of such a road, is quite unnecessary.

See my Treaties on Landed Property; or the abstract of it; for general observations on this important subject, in a civilized country.

On Watering Roads.-P. 67. "We cannot close this account without noticing the impolicy of watering the roads in the summer; for however pleasant and convenient it may be to be free from dust, yet the watering of such ronds

A a 3


proves by their uniform badness, at almost all seasons, how much it wears them; and the inevitable bad effect it has upon them; and therefore wherever that is practised, and pipes for the conveyance of river water are laid, it is in vain for the public to expect or to look for good roads there."

There is some truth in this statement; and the arguments upon it are not groundless. But the mischief ensuing, from the watering of roads, principally arises, I believe, not from its wearing them; but from another cause: namely that of its preventing the wind from operating in the manner it otherwise would, in the valuable work of freeing the surface from pulverized materials; and thus performing, in the least expensive and most compleat way, the requisite business of cleaning them.

The surface of unwatered roads, unless in very close situations, seldom fail, in the summer season, of being unburdened of their more finely pulverized, and no longer useful, materials,--by the wind;-leaving the partially reduced matter on the surface. This desirable circumstance not only renders a road pleasant to be travelled upon, but tends to prevent the wear of the unground materials. Whereas, by the operation of artificial scraping, this valuable matter is removed with the mud or wet dust; and is thereby more than wasted; as it requires to be farther removed as a nuisance.

On the contrary, in the neighbourhood of London, and wherever the operation of watering is practised,-by way of "laying the dust,"-it is not merely laid for the day; but, if the watering be continued, is effectually arrested;its thickness, in dry weather, daily increasing; until a falt of rain turn the accumulated mass into a bed of mud; which is become too soft to sustain, any longer, the tread of animals, and much less the wheels of carriages; yet is too consistent to form a current. Whereas, had the same rain fallen on a surface, free or nearly free from dust, or other encumberance, it would have tended to cleanse it, rather than have been the mean of fouling it:-the rain water would have flowed off a well-formed road, and thereby have washed it; and would not have been arrested, in its turn, by the dust, which the waterings had collected.

I have seen the Kensington road covered, footlock or midleg deep, with puddle; and the road itself,-the inundated hard materials,-(gravel) kept in a soft" rotten" state,

*And see Mr. Middleton's account of other roads in Middlesex; p. 119, aforegoing.

« PreviousContinue »