MR. CUNNINGHAM'S HINTS FOR AUSTRALIAN EMIGRANTS.
IN strictness, the title of Mr. Cussixosam's volume does not con- vey an accurate idea of the contents according to the general in- terpretation that will be put upon it. Hints for South Australian Emigrants is not a book of directions or advice for intending colo- nists to South Australia, but a series of philosophical suggestions regarding the husbandry of New South Wales,—using the word husbandry in its largest sense, as extending not merely to modes of agriculture and of managing stock, but to the introduction of plants and animals, and a change in the principles of cultivation.
The basis of Mr. CUNNINGHAM'S view is, that there is a style of agriculture, or rather of husbandry, adapted to every region ; and that the closer this natural method is adhered to, the more success- ful will be the results. With Englishmen the inculcation of this principle is more necessary than with foreigners, since, go where they will, they persist in introducing their own habits, however improper ; never making a change till after severe experience, and then changing no more than they can help. A man in Australia, forgetting he was in the Southern hemisphere, laid out his garden with a Southern aspect, which is there equivalent to our North ; and when asked why he did so, replied, he did so at home ! When Englishmen visit another country, they immediately criticize agri- cultural practices and implements by their own standard, without regard to the nature of the soil and climate ; though, very often, that which seems inferior to the English instrument is much superior for the purposes it is applied to.
" Of nothing," says Mr. CUNNINGHAM, "are Englishmen more proud than the superiority of the English ploughs ; their constant exclamation, on seeing those of other countries, being How is it that no one has introduced the English plough?' It has, however, been introduced into many foreign parts, and in many of them thrown aside, on account of its not answering so well as the plough of the country, while at the same time much more expensive. In Malta, for instance, the land is very light and friable, and consequently a plough of infinitely lighter and cheaper construction than the English one is found to suit every purpose ; consisting, as it does, simply of a tapering piece of wood, (without mould-board,) pointed with iron, into which a handle is in- serted, so that the ploughman holding this in his right hand and the reins in his left, will torn over much more ground in a day with his team than an Eng- lish plough of five times its weight (and price) would accomplish. " When in Chili, I chanced to make the usual observation, ' Why don't they introduce the English plough?' when I was informed that it had been introduced by an intelligent Englishman upon his own property, but abandoned after a fair trial; the land worked by it being found to produce no better crops in moist years than that worked by the Chilian plough ; while, during dry years, the land worked by the latter produced a crop, though often a scanty one, and that worked by the former produced none at all. " To any one who has witnessed the workings of the two ploughs, the cause of failure m the English one in dry years must be soon apparent, as by means of its mould-board the dry upper soil is turned down and the moist under soil turned up; so that a large amount of ground moisture is naturally expended by the English mode of ploughing, which is saved in the Chilian, from the Chilian plough having no mould-board, and consequently simply stirring the soil like a harrow, leaving the relative positions of the dry upper soil and moist under soil nearly the same as before, thus giving a great advantage to the Chilian mode in dry years, by the less exhaustion of the ground moisture enabling the crop to be brought to maturity with a less supply of rain."
The object of Mr. CUNNINGHAM, as may in a measure be gathered from this extract, is to furnish suggestions for introducing into Australia the animals, vegetables and modes of cultivation best adapted to the region. This useful purpose is not attempted by speculation a priori, but by exhibiting the results of an extensive observation of the husbandry followed in countries not greatly dif- fering in soil and climate from Australia ; as Peru, Chili, the Cape, and the regions bordering on the Mediterranean. Accomplished with tolerable ability, such a work would be valuable ; but Mr. CUNNINGHAM'S Hints are very very far beyond tolerable, exhibiting wide observation guided by scientific knowledge and applied to practical affairs. The information collected in visits to many countries has been tested by native sagacity and digested by time, so as to present only the available pith of the subjects handled. The book is therefore one of great value,—important in its objects ; real, various, and interesting in its matter ; clear and terse in its style. The particular topics mooted by Mr. CUNNINGHAM are between thirty and forty in number, but reducible to a few leading heads. Some relate to modes of culture—as irrigation ; others to particu- lar farming processes—as ploughing; a good many refer to the in- troduction of new plants—as the olive, the date ; or the most ad- vantageous species of the plants already in cultivation—as the bearded wheat. There are also some chapters on animals that ap- pear adapted to Australia—as the goat and camel ; though in several of these hints Mr. CUNNINGHAM has been anticipated by others. Some valuable directions respecting the general manage- ment of sheep, communicated by a Colonial friend of the author's, form the most direct hints to Australian emigrants of any thing in the volume. Two papers on meteorological influences as regards climate are of the nature of abstract speculation, and too abstruse for the hard-working wits of a new colony. Each of the subjects discussed by Mr. CUNNINGHAM is complete in itself, sufficient for its purposes, and, by containing an incidental account of the husbandry of many countries, possesses an interest apart from its Colonial utility. The papers on irrigation, though not perhaps the most attractive to readers in this moist climate, are the fullest-treated-of in the book, as being the basis of cultiva- tion in a land of droughts; and they not only convey a general idea of the advantage of artificial watering, but illustrate by plans and plates, as well as by letterpress, the methods practised in the . . . countries adjacent to the Mediterranean.
e best mode, however, of conveying an idea of Mr. Cestsune- Rases volume, will be to let him speak for himself The following fact is curious.
STEADINESS OP PRICE UNDER IRRIGATION.
In England, irrigation has only been applied as yet in a partial degree to the growth of grasses; no wonder. therefore, that it should be unknown in all the English Colonies, except, I believe, Jamaica and the Cape, where it is of foreign introduction. In countries, indeed, where irrigation is practised and irrigating- water abundant, failures of crops can seldom take place, in consequence of their being independent of rain for their maturation; while in such countries also bread-corn and culinary vegetables fluctuate little in price, from the cer- tainty of production, by irrigation enabling the grower to regulate the amount produced, without fear of causing a scarcity on the one hand or a super- abundance on the other.
In Egypt, the Scriptural " land of plenty," and in Western Peru, in both 'of which rain rarely falls, and consequently the crops are wholly dependent upon irrigation, bread varies but little in price in the absence of internal troubles ; while at Malta, culinary vegetables can always be had in abundance through- out every year however dry, the largest cabbages never exceeding a penny per head, and every other similar article in proportion, even during the presence of a fleet of several thousand men—all the products of irrigation.
GRASS FOR WET AND SANDY REGIONS ALL OVER THE WORLD.
Doob Grass.—It is not known how or when this grass was introduced into New South Wales ; but it has made such rapid progress since then over the country, as to threaten to supersede, in a great measure, the native grasses. Its roots not only strike many feet deep into the soil, but ramify in all direc- tions through it, while its tendrils shoot rapidly along the superfices, taking root at intervals as they proceed, thus forming a thick network above ground as well as below, binding the miry as well as the sandy soils, so as to make them passable for both animals and wheel-carriages, and at the same time fur- nishing places with abundant food for stock, which yielded nothing before.
It has also been successfully applied in preventing, by its binding qualities, the washing away of land by floods, of which the late Mr. Macarthur was the . first to test its merits in this respect, at Camden. Indeed, from the rapidity with which it spreads, it bids fair at no distant period to convert the numerous wastes of interior Australia into grassy meadows and downs ; as from the deep- ness to which it burrows, and the enduring nature of its roots, it is so consti- tuted as to defy the severest droughts or floods to which the Australian interior is subject, from making any deadly impression upon it.
It would, indeed, be conferring a great future good upon the colony, were all travellers into the interior to carry a store of its seeds along with them, to scatter at intervals in their route, so as to hasten the covering of the present interior wastes with verdure.
It must strike any one who has witnessed the binding effects upon the Aus- tralian sands, what great benefits would attend its introduction into Southern France, which moving sands are fast converting into deserts, as its binding qualities would not only arrest their progress, but convert them into pasture- downs.
The doob grass stands heat and drought infinitely better, but cold worse than the native grasses ; while it is always the first to show, by its leafy shoots of lively green, the influence of a passing shower, as well as the longest to reap its benefits. Though much coarser in blade in its wild state than the native grasses, yet it improves greatly in this respect by cultivation—is much relished by cattle, as well as a good fattener of them, particularly when its pastures are intermingled with white clover, which agrees well with it, while it also makes good hay.
Its roots form in some parts of India no small portion of the horse and cattle food, and were similarly used in the vicinity of Sydney daring the great drought terminating in 1829; the horses relishing them much when washed and chopped up. A HINT FOR ENGLAND'S HEDGERS.
The dwarf oak is a handsome prickly-leaved evergreen, making such a tall close hedge as to afford not only good shelter to the field, but defy either pig or bullock to break through, while it furnishes a good annual crop of pig-food in its acorns, besides a crop of that valuable article in dyeing, the gall-nat. The wonder is, that from the above qualities it has not been introduced into Eng- land, where it would soon change the whole winter aspect of the country, the hedgerows exhibiting throughout the year the bright green freshness of perpetual spring.
THE ADVANTAGE OF GOATS.
An Englishman on visiting the Mediterranean countries, and Sliding goat's milk nearly everywhere in use, to the exclusion of that of the cow, is apt to ascribe this to prejudice : but on further research, he will find that it is more digestible than cow's milk, and hence more suitable to warm countries; and that a far greater amount of milk can be obtained from a given space of ground pastured by goats than when pastured by cows, in consequence of the goat feeding upon many things the cow either would not taste or that would prove poisonous to her. The Malta goat frequently gives ten pints of milk per day in the height of the milking; while in the case where a milch-cow was required at Smyrna, several herds were tried, and the greatest quantity procurable was two pints per day from a single cow. In manyparts of Australia, therefore, (particularly in the busby ground near Sydney,) goats might with great advantage supplant the cows for milking purposes ; while the flesh of some of the breeds, differing little from mutton, would still farther enhance their value.
Not among the least recommendations of this work is its con- densation : the matter which had a litterateur gotten it from books would have occupied a bulky volume, is compressed by Mr. CUN- NINGHAM into little more than a hundred pages ; saving time in the reading, and space in the stowage, besides contributing to easier understanding through presenting nothing but what is necessary to be known. Hints for Australian Emigrants is a work that we should be glad to have extensively circulated in Australia : not that it will work miracles, changing the practices of the colonists and the face of the country all at once, but it would prepare opinion, and stimulate the bolder speculators to action ; and after time and trials, with some failures, it would enable the coun- try to establish that kind of husbandry which is best adapted to its nature, and diminish the worst effects of its droughts, if it could not altogether remove them.