The Hexham Farmers' Club held its annual meeting last week, and this gave the chairman, Mr. John Grey of Dilston, "one of the best practical farmers" in Northumberland, an opportunity of delivering a comprehensive speech on agricultural progress ; some extracts from which are here appended. He contrasted the time when Northumberland, now covered with cul- tivation, was "almost a barren waste" to show that farmers have not been slow to follow the impulse given to improvement.
"You will recollect, I dare say, gentlemen, at the time I speak of, when it was the habit to allow young cattle and sheep to go in a very meagre way upon very poor pastures; and after they had attained an age when it was fancied they might be matured and brought to market, they were taken up and fattened. Now, gentlemen, that won't do in the present day. We had then a scanty fleece of wool every year from the sheep, and when the sheep got to be two or three years old they were fed. But what is the fact now? On high ground you see that they are taken a year sooner than they were at those times : on low ground you can hardly say that a sheep is al- lowed to go till he is two years old. We should consider that a perfect waste. Sheep are brought to market at fourteen or fifteen months old, and you are deriving from sheep of that age as much wool as you derived from sheep that bad gone two years longer' and occupied your ground more unprofitably. In the same way it is with cattle ; and the secret of raising the greatest amount of produce, whether in beef or mutton, I believe to be this—that you never ought to allow the animal to be so pinched or starved as that it retrogrades in the least. You should keep it progressing from the first month of its birth, and never let it lose the flesh it has acquired, be- cause if you have an animal losing for one month, it takes another month to make it up, and then a month more to bring it into a regular healthy con- dition. The secret; then, I believe is—and it is now pretty well understood —that from their bit th forward the animals ought to be brought forward to the condition which they are intended to be in, without ever losing one day. When I first recollect farming, the common way was for a man to select a portion of his fallow which was beat suited for turnips. That portion got all the manure which was made upon the farm ; it was not so much as might have been, I am sorry to say, because we recollect the quantities that were lost, as the stubble of the field, as compared with now-a-days, when the machine cuts it so close that my friends that are sportsmen complain that a partridge cannot find a biding-place from one end of the farm to an- other upon a stubble field. Well, that portion of fallow received the whole of the manure ; what was left, perhaps, got a little scanty dose of lime, and then it was expected to grow a crop of wheat. We know what kind of crops were grown ; we know that, as compared with now, there was not above two-thirds, or, perhaps, in many cases, not one-half, of the produce of corn. There was not, certainly, nearly one-half of the produce of butchers' meat which there is at this moment. Then with regard to wooL Look at the price which wool is maintaining, and the desirability there is for the culti- vation of that kind of stock which not only gives you the carcase at the end, but gives you an annual produce of wool. It is said, and may be said truly with regard to some farms, that it is impossible that the farmer can thrive with the average price of wheat at 40s. and below it. I saw it stated in one of our periodical papers the other day that the farmer would be ruined by the price of wheat. So say I, if there are farms which have nothing else but wheat to depend upon. That is the case certainly on some small farms of cold land ; but it will hardly be the case, as it might have been if beef and mutton were at 4d. a pound instead of 7d. and 8d, and had wool been at 184. or 20s. the stone instead of 36s., as we have had it formerly, or in- stead of 428., as it is now ; for, gentlemen, it may be of some consequence for you to know, and some consolation to those who have much to sell, that I know of one person who has been offered for his next year's clip of between 200 and 300 stones, 42s. a stone, to be paid within a fortnight of his clipping it. I think there is a lesson taught by that, when I have directed your at- tention to the low price ruling for wheat and other grain, though oats and barley are not so depressed ; but when I have drawn your attention to the low price of wheat and to the high comparative price of butchers' meat, I think this lesson meets you—and that you will take it to yourselves,—that there are countries more favourable as to soil and climate for the production of wheat than our own ; that wheat is an article which can be transferred from one part of the world or one part of the country to another, and is of small bulk as compared with its value, but that no one can injure or come up to us either in beef or mutton, or in the growth of wool. . . . . Since I recollect, it was hardly the CRSO that the labouring population of this country were able to indulge themselves with eating butchers' meat at home. The father of a family thought himself very well off if he could feed one or two pigs, and exceedingly well off if he could maintain a cow ; but you now see the butcher's shop in every village, and you are often lia- ble to be trotted over by the butcher's cart dispensing Joints of meat at every cottage door as you go along the road. Such is the difference in the way of living, and I tun sure you will all rejoice with me in thinking that it is so." He showed how stock-keeping, by creating manure increased the yield of corn. Manure, home and foreign, produces root crops; and these produce what is so profitable, butcher's meat and wool. "I should like to say one word in the cause of sheep stock. There is a friend of mine here to whom I have talked for the last twenty years on the subject, and I am happy to say I have no cause to change my opinion, and it is this—that the wealth and success of a farmer may be pretty well calculated by the amount of his sheep stock. Sheep are said to be the animals with the golden hoofs—that they enrich where they got—and that is true. They not only enrich the master, but the soil. Their manure has a peculiarly efficacious quality, and it is distributed throughout the land in a way very different from that which is left in patches by horned cattle• but there is this also,—that while you have the mutton, probably as valuable at the end of the sheep's life as beef, it has given you, year after year, the fleece which is of itself so important, and which, in the progress of the manufacture of this country, I think we have no reason to fear ever again seeing at a very disastrous price." Expressing himself as generally in favour of large farms, because on them alone can expensive machinery and capital be profitably employed, he made a reservation in favour of a few small farms because they" afford a kind of stepping-stone to the industrious labourer to advance himself in society." "Under all the progress and improvement it is our bounden duty to try to cultivate the minds of our men as well as to cultivate our land. It will be unnecessary- to turn your attention to the fact that it is most desirable that we should produce that which the country offers the greatest home market for, and that which will at the same time be most remunerative. I know there is a way of reckoning upon wheat as productive and remune- rative; it has been fixed to guide the commutation of tithes and various other ihings, but it is proved to be a fallacious ground for computing the prosperity of a farmer. I have heard many people inveighing against the low market price of wheat at the present moment, and saying, How can a fanner thrive'?. But there is a fallacy in this, and many of you will hold . me out in saying that, notwithstanding the very low prices, the crop of this year is remunerating you very much better than the crop of the two former years did. Therefore the actual price is not a fair criterion of the profit which the farmer is making. But, again, if you turn to the remunerating prices that the farmer is receiving for beef and mutton, I need not recom- mend you to pursue the rearing of beef and mutton, but more especially the enlargement of your flocks of sheep to the utmost extent they are capable of receiving, because this I do believe m the great object we must look to here- after as the staple commodity of our farms. '
The Earl of Carlisle took the chair at the tenth annual meeting of the Hull Ragged and Industrial Schools, and made a stirring speech in be- half of this institution. It is in debt ; he urged his hearers to wipe out the debt, and extend the ellleieney of the school—to make it commen- surate with the lowest depths of destitution with which they had to grapple. He also had a good word to say for the Yorkshire reforma- tories. Both the Ragged schools and reformatories deal with the same class ; but by means of ragged schools we diminish the supply of the criminal and dangerous classes who supply the raw material for the re- formatory.
A well-attended meeting was held in Norwich last week to promote the objects of the association in favour of equalizing the poor-rates. Norwich prefers a complaint similar to that which has found a voice in London—that the poor-rate in the county of Norfolk is so unequally levied that Norwich pays more than its fair share. The rate varies from a half-penny in some parishes to four shillings in the pound in others. The speakers, among whom was Mr. Schneider M.P., pointed out that the present system injuriously- restricts the freedom of labour, and in- flicts hardships on the poor. The meeting adopted resolutions 111 favour of equal rating.
The Liverpool Select Vestry have directed a Roman Catholic lady, Miss Gillow, to discontinue her visits to the workhouse. Her offence was that she had told a protestant pauper woman, the daughter of a Roman Catholic father and Protestant mother, that for changing her re- ligion she would be "damned to all eternity."
At a meeting in Manchester on Monday, it was resolved, that in order to prevent the indiscriminate sale of poisons, no one should be allowed to dispense cfrugs or medicines without a certificate of competency from some constituted authority ; that the sale of poisons should be regulated by act of Parliament ; and that local authorities should have power to inspect all food offered for sale in order that the vendors of adulterated food may be punished.
The colliers at Ince Hall are on strike. Other miners were obtained, but for several days the turnouts obstructed the "knobsticks " from proceeding to their work. The police were called in to protect the willing workmen, but the turnouts occupied the approaches to the pits, and blockaded the po- lice. It was found necessary to obtain military aid, and 100 men of the 22d Regiment were ordered to Wigan. Fourteen colliers have been sum- moned for leaving work without notice. P As Mr. Baker, a landscape-painter residing at Leamington, on his return from church, entered his house on Sunday evening, he heard a noise, and shortly afterwards saw a man whom he instantly seized. It was a burglar. He escaped from Mr. Baker, but being again seized, he threatened his op- ponent with violence, unless released. Mr. Baker held on until he was stunned by a blow from some weapon. The burglar or burglars escaped, carrying off a small booty. Mr. Baker was seriously injured. It is cou- rageous, certainly, but not prudent to seize a man in the dark. No one should do it unless he has great strength or some offensive weapon.
A queer ghost story comes from Reading. A tradesman and his wife were awakened one night by an unearthly scream. A few nights afterwards it was repeated. The wife became alarmed. The minister, they are Dissent- ers, agreed to sleep in the house. The scream was repeated. The couple removed and slept elsewhere ; still the scream was heard.