Page images

they may all be found in the small compass of a field of four or five acres. Uniformity of soil is scarce any where to be met with, except in the low flat lands by the river sides, and in dells, the staple thereon, frequently to a great depth, having been washed down from the uplands by the heavy rains from time to time for ages past, and there deposited."

Having described the nature of the substructure of the Soils of Hertfordshire (as under the next head) the Reporter adds,-p. 11. "This general rule admits, however, of many exceptions; the chalk, in several parts of the county, is covered for many acres together with a great depth of earth, which often renders the question of a chalk basis uncertain; and the downs skirting the county towards Cambridgeshire, are for the most part a continued bed of hurlock, or bastard chalk, covered with a very thin staple, producing sweet but scanty herbage for sheep, and incapable of any further improvement."

For the rental value of the Hertfordshire soils, see the article Rent, ensuing.

SUBSTRUCTUE.-P. 10. " Having thus attempted to give the only general description of the infinitely varied and mixed soils of Hertfordshire which the nature of the case will admit, the now prevailing practice of sinking pits, for the purpose of chalking the surrounding land therefrom, enables me to give a tolerable idea of a section of the soil, to the depth of 40 or 50 feet. In general, the basis of such section will be found to consist of a deep bed of chalk; the superstructure, an irregular indenture of chalk and earthpillars; the earth-pillars broadest at top, and narrowing as they descend; the chalk-pillars broadest at the bottom, rising conically, and narrowing as they ascend to the surface the chalk-pillars frequently ascend to the surface, make part of the staple, and the whole extent of the apex is visible in ploughed lands. The earth-pillars have been found to descend 50 feet and upwards, to the no small mortification of the chalk-pit diggers, who are frequently obliged to abandon a pit which they have sunk in an earth pillar, to the depth of 20 feet and upwards, and sink in a fresh spot with better hopes of success:"- --a loss of labor which a boarer might have prevented.



* GEOLOGY.-This is an interesting fact, well described. chalk, probably, was first molded, and the earth deposited among the roughnesses of its surface. But not, I think we may sately conclude, in their present situation, which is far above the reach of alluvial deposit.


APPROPRIATION.-Common Fields.-P. 48. “The

land is generally inclosed, though there are many small common fields, or lands lying intermixed in small pieces, the property of different persons, which are cultivated nearly in the same way as inclosed lands; the larger commou fields lie towards Cambridgeshire."

Common Pastures.-P. 50. "There are several small· commons and wastes from 20 to 50 acres, and some considerably larger, the whole may contain 4500 acres: great part of these are the sheep downs skirting the county next Cambridgeshire, and other similar sheep downs producing sweet pasture on a very thin staple. These sheep downs, if not overstocked, are valuable in their present state, as they afford pasture for sheep in the spring and summer, and the sheep are folded every night on the light land fallows adjoining, and manure them with their dung. It is the opinion of woolstaplers that the wool of sheep so fed, is longer in the staple (?) and finer in the thread, than of those fed in inclosures and better land."

"Crown Lands."-Mr. Walker speaks, at some length, on these waste lands. But his remarks cover the crown lands of the kingdom, and have no particular relation to the County of Hertford. He properly recommends the sale of those lands.

To the appropriation of common lands Mr. W. has assigned several pages; in which the effects of inclosures, on cottages, are more particularly dwelt on. Among a variety of less important remarks, we find the following general, well conceived, and not easily controvertible, observations:

P. 53. "As the county of Hertford is by far too narrow and unproductive a field on which to investigate the actual state, and determine the claims of cottagers at large, I must beg leave to refer to what experience has taught me of the actual state of cottagers, as far as my experience has reached. Where wastes and commons are most extensive, there I have perceived the cottagers are the most wretched and worthless accustomed to relie on a precarious and vagabond subsistence, from land in a state of nature, when that fails they recur to pilfering, and thereby become a nuisance to their honest and industrious neighbours; and if the father of a family of this sort is withdrawn from society for his crimes, his children become burthensome to the parish. It may truly be said, that for cottagers of this description the


game is preserved, and by them destroyed; they are mostly beneath the law, and out of the reach of detection, and while they can earn four or five shillings, and sometimes more, in a night by poaching, they will not be satisfied with 10d. or 1s. per day for honest labour. A reform here is absolutely necessary, whether by consent or otherwise, and an inclosure of the commons and wastes will afford these cottagers an honester livelihood, if they think proper to embrace it; if not, brighter prospects will thereby accrue to the rising generation, who may not be so hardened as their progenitors."

PROVISIONS.-P. 70. "In all the counties round London provisions are dearer than in the metropolis, and much of the provisions with which the poor are fed, are brought from thence, independent of groceries. Yorkshire bacon, generally of the worst sort, is retailed to the poor from little chandlers shops, at an advanced price; bread is retailed to them in the same way."

MANUFACTURES.-P. 73. “The commerce of Hertfordshire is in the produce of the soil, and the only manufacture, properly so called, therein, is perfectly analogous thereto, and confined to the women and children of Dunstable, Luton, and that neighbourhood. It is the straw manufactory. Great quantities of malt is made about Ware, Hertford, and that neighbourhood, principally for the London consumption."

TITHE.-This is a subject to which Mr. Walker repeatedly reverts; an impost on improvements in Agriculture, of which he is a decided adversary. The following extracts may be worth preserving.

P. 33. "The average rent of land in these parishes" (Coddicot and Kimpton) "is about 8s. per acre, though that rent is certainly too little; the rector impropriate of part of the land which Mr. Hill occupies, formerly let his tithes on lease, and the composition exacted by the lessee never exceeded 2s. and 3d. per acre for all the land under the plough; this lease expired in 1793, and the rector employed a surveyor to value the land in his tithing, and to settle the future compositions to be paid to him for seven years. Some land which Mr. Hill had lately purchased, lay in half acres and small pieces intermixed in a common field with the lands of a farmer, who was as competent to farm as the surveyor to value, and had beggared himself and his farm, though his own property. The surveyor fascinated by the appearance of the crops produced by Mr. Hill's management and spring dressings, valued the tithe thereof at 6s. and 4d. per acre, and his neighbouring farmer's at 1s. 6d. though there is not a shadow of difference in the natural quality of


the soils in each; and some of Mr. Hill's lands of the same quality, which he had not then dressed, were valued at 1s. and 6d. also. The farmers of lands within this tithing have in consequence rejected these strange compositions, and are determined in future to slacken in their improvements thereof, leaving it to the rector to resort to tithes in kind, till experience has taught him to be more reasonable."

P. 36. “I valued a farm in the parish of Ashwell, and in an adjoining parish in the county of Cambridge, the 12th and 13th of May, 1794, in the occupation of an industrious and improving farmer, who kept his lands in as good condition as they could reasonably be expected in a common field state; about 260 acres of this land is in Ashwell, for which he paid Mr. Whitbread, the rector'impropriate, a composition of three shillings per acre; about 20 acres in the adjoining parish of Great Morden in Cambridgeshire, did not appear to me to have equal justice done to them: the farmer's man who attended me gave the following very satisfactory reason. The rector of this parish has for some years taken tithes in kind, and my master has never since suffered the dung cart to travel over the shire baulk,'

[ocr errors]

Under the head "Obstacles to Improvement," we find this Reporter powerful in fight against Tithes.-P. 77. " If the rector, or his tithe-renter, or gatherer, is of a litigious and troublesome disposition, which the tithe laws, as they now stand, put it too much in their power to indulge, the evil of tithes in kind is increased to an alarming magnitude. In rainy and uncertain harvest weather, when prudence dictates the housing or stacking the crops immediately from the scythe or sickle, to avoid the consequences of the season, they must be shocked or cocked before the farmer can give the rector, or his petty tyrant of the parish, notice to set out the tithe; he must wait a reasonable time for his arrival on the spot, before he will venture to decimate ex parte; in the mean time a sudden and heavy rain outstrips the slow-paced tithing-man, and both crop and tithe are much injured or totally ruined thereby. If the tithing-man does not arrive in the usual time allotted to him, the farmer leaves the tenth shock or cock, and carries the rest of the crop at the risk of a lawsuit. How frequently in such seasons do the tithes, rotting on the ground, meet the eye of the traveller in every part of England."

P. 78. "The Hertfordshire farmers set the example of spring or top dressings, which are brought from distant parts, principally from London, and therefore expensive: they are peculiarly applicable to light lands, and their effects end with the crops on which they are sown. This accounts for the moderation of the Hertfordshire rectors in general,


[ocr errors]

and these dressings would no doubt produce good crops on all light, sandy, or gravelly thin lands, and soils barren to the generality of seasons, but if a tenth thereof is taken from the grower, he will soon be ruined."

P. 80. The consequences of tithes in kind taken by the clergy, are continual disputes and bickerings between them and their parishioners; the farmers grumble, slacken in their improvements, give their spiritual guide all the trouble in their power while collecting his tithes, and cheat him if they can; he recurs to law, and soon becomes the most unpopular man in his parish; the church is deserted, the flock rapidly emerge into a state of nature, or are led away by the cant of knaves and blockheads."

CANALS.-P. 8. "The grand junction canal, from Branston wharf on the Coventry canal to Oid Brentford, where it joins the Thames, enters the county of Hertford above Berkhamstead, and follows the course of the Bulburn and Gade to Rickmansworth; and, from thence the course of the Colne, till it leaves the county.'

ROADS.-P. 86. "Good roads in a corn country facilitate the agriculture thereof, as the crops are thereby conveyed to market, and foreign manure returned by back carriage. The roads in Hertfordshire are in general excellent, good materials to mend them abound every where; the sections of the great roads are curved, and rise in the middle about one foot in thirty; the timber trees and hedges towards the south sides thereof are lopped and kept low, that the sun, may dry the roads."





RAINING ESTATES.-P. 66. "If a pit is sunk 20 or 30 feet deep, in the middle of a field, through the Hertfordshire red, flinty, and impervious clay, into the chaik below; when the usual quantity of chalk is taken out, the pit shaft is filled up with the flints taken out of the chalk and clay, and the top drainage of this part of the field much shortened for ever afterwards, by making principal drains from the part of the field above the level of the top of the pit, terminate therein, and the superabundant moisture will escape through the flints in the pit soaft to the chark below."

IRRIGATION. On this valuable operation (when rightly performed) the Reporter has bestowed ten pages, no inconsiderable

« PreviousContinue »