In another respect the comparison was in favour of the
East, and Hereford seemed to me to lag a long way behind, say, Kent and Cambridge. I saw the ruins of a large number of the gracious orchards that were once the glory of the shire • a few decrepit, tottering trees in lieu of a serried upright rank is as melancholy a spectacle as the occasional rafters of a decayed building. The cause of the ruin was explained to me in a phrase that is almost an epigram. " They were killed by legislation." This is literally and exactly true. It is ordained with unwise stringency that if a tenant plants trees after obtaining leave the landlord is liable for the payment of full compensation when the tenant departs. He may be compelled —to give a particular instance—to pay £5 each for a thousand trees. Most landlords in these impoverished days dare not face such a liability. The tenant, aware that any of many causes may prevent him remaining after the ten years that must precede the fuller development of his trees, is naturally disinclined to plant. So the pear and apple orchards vanish, and it has only been through the public-spirited zeal of an individual or two, that a number of varieties of apple and pear have not clean vanished. The law forbids any private " contracting out " on the landlord's part ; so, thanks to legislation, orchards vanish and greater and greater quantities of cider apples must be imported from abroad. We come back to the moral, often repeated of late, that the old landlord and tenant system has broken down ; and until it is remedied or a substitute found, the land will go from bad to worse.
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