12 JANUARY 1850, Page 13


CONTROVERSY carried on like that between landlord, farmer' and agricultural Free-trader, can lead to no satisfactory issue, because they do not argue upon common terms : on neither side is the case presented entire, on neither side does the counsel comprehend the whole case. Certain recent publications enable us to exemplify this onesided manner of arguing, and to indicate the method by which the separate fractions of the truth might be reduced to a common integer. The elaborate statistics in Blackwood's Magazine, ascribed to Sheriff Alison may be taken to set forth the case of the farmer according to his present lights. The writer's object is to show that at existing prices, or without prices artificially raised by "pro- tection," the farmer cannot attain an adequate return for his capi- tal, skill, and industry ; and to this end, we are presented with de- tailed accounts of farming by two eminent farmers, Mr. Hugh Watson, of Keillor in Forfarshire and Mr. Dudgeon, of Spylaw in Roxburghshire ; with vouchers from thirty-eight other farmers, occupying lands distributed in nine counties, testifying to the ac- curacy of those detailed accounts, and to their general bearing. It is alleged by a writer in the Economist that these persons are selected for their known adhesion to Protection doctrines and that the accounts are " cooked " ; an imputation not justified. by any proof. The writer indeed brings forward another set of accounts, produced by Mr. George Robertson, late of Balmanno and Thorn- ton, before the third Committee on Agricultural Distress in 1836, which present somewhat different features, and show rather more cheering mercantile success ; but, as we shall see presently, they do not materially differ from the others on certain broad essentials. Meanwhile, we will take the statistics set forth by Blackwood, not as presenting the absolute state of farming, but as re- resenting the case of the Protectionist farmers. We take the larger totals from some of the accounts, and place them in a com- pressed form.

L Mr. Hugh Watson makes a return for a farm of 600 acres, on the five-shift course, calculated "on an average of years." His rent is fixed for nineteen years at 8001. His capital is 3,000/. gunk and 2,000/. floating ; for which he sets down as annual charges interest at 10 and 5 per cent re- tively, or 3001. and 1001., in all 400/. The total expenditure is 1,8501.' - the income derived from produce is 1,9561.; leaving to the farmer for his skill and industry 1061. [Under free trade he estimates a loss of 6181.] 2. Mr. Dudgeon supplies a statement calculated on averages, for a farm of 500 acres, on the five-shift course, exhibiting these heads : rent, 8001. ; capital, sunk 2,500/. at 10 per cent, floating 1,500/. at S per cent, in all 4,000/., at an annual interest of 3251. ; total expenses 1,7701. income 2,0151.; return for industry and skill 246/. [Under free trade he estimates a loss of 1411.]

statement of a farm of 250 acres. Rent 2621. 108. capital; sunk at 10 per

3. Mr. James Hay, of Little 'Made in Aberdeenshire, sujtillies the average cent 1,000/., floating at 5 per cent 1,800/., in all 280111. at 190!.; • wages, 1441.; total expenditure,. 741!.; income, 852!.; for skill and industry, 111/. [Esti- mated loss on gram alone, 147/.] 4. Mr. Thomas Sadler, of Norton Mains in Mid Lothian, gives the state meat for a 400 imperial acre farm, on the four-course shift; rent, 9004,- - tercet on sunk and floating capital, 240/. • total yearly expenditure, 2,0371. ; z income, 2324!.; profit, 287l. [Estimated loss, 4901.] 6. Mr. John Gi'bson, of WooImet, a first-class farm of 320 acres, Scotch, within five miles of Edinburgh, on an average of ten years : rent, 1,440/.; interest at 10 per cent on 1,5001. sunk capital, and 6 per cent on 2„000/.. floating, total 3,6001. at 2601. ; wages (aggregate of several items) 602/. ; total expense, 4,025!.; income, 4,13l.; profit, 1061. [Estimated loss, 6031.] The loss set down in these accounts is speculative ; but there is no just reason to doubt the general fairness of the facts stated as to the past. It will be observed, however, that the accounts all keep the item of capital distinct from profit ; which is fair enough, as capital may often be borrowed. Yet it is also to be observed, that in retail trade-which farming at present resembles more nearly than the trade of a manufacturer or merchant-the yearly income from the very moderate capital invested would not be thought contemptible, especially wh.en combined with healthful avocations, and the facilities for getting food off the land. To the foregoing let us add the account cited by the Economist- 6. Mr. George Robertson states the produce and expenditure of a farm of 263 imperial acres, on the eleven-shift rotation : rent, 4941. labour, (wages with a few allowances,). 258!.; total expenditure, 1,004!.; income, 1,204!.; profit and interest on capital, (not distinguished,) 2001.

The claim of the forty farmers cited by Blackwood is protection, to keep up prices and so keep up profits to the old level ; for no practicable reduction of rent or increased industry, it is contended, can compensate for the anticipated fall in prices. In order to eats-

mate the effect of this policy, let us present in a different form the manner in which the proceeds. are divided, according to the fore- going account&

.. 1,204 .. 258

The farmer is actively engaged in the work of production ; the capitalist may simply lend the money by a stroke of his pen, but he risks the loss of his money. The landlord lends his land, and risks some (temporary) damage to his land. It will be observed how much the largest share of the produce goes to the landowner ; .

Under protection, skill and industry obtained far less than capital and rent. Of course if free trade should entail an immediate loss, farmers will not continue their calling; landlords will not suffer farms to go out of 'cultivation : the returns of capital are fixed by the laws of the general trade, and may not be much altered by one trade; the estimated loss, therefore, plus sonw amount to remune- rate the farmer for his skill and industry, will ultimately have to come out of the rent. There appears to be a margin for such a pur- pose. In all the accounts the "public burdens form a very small item-501. or under; so that reduction of burdens could not do ranch. If we judge by these accounts, protection has not secured anything but a small and precarious return to the agriculturist : it has not been needed to compensate the small burden of rates and taxes ; but it has maintained a system under which rent swallows up the profits of farming, and reduces the manufacturer of agri- cultural produce to the position of a mere foreman or ganger under a firm that consists wholly of a sleeping partner, the landlord. It is plain also, on the face of these accounts, that the farmer can scarcely augment wages.

We are not without demonstrations on the part of the landlords. Sir Robert Peel's letter to his tenantry may be accounted the ma- nifesto of a landlord distinguished among his class for available wealth, prudence, the liberality of elearsightedness, and for being pledged to fit his position with the Free-trade policy established by himself. He proposes, in brief, to let his tenants revise their bargains ; and to spend 20 per cent of his current rents in im- provements. Is that enough? Until farmers be more educated, it is not likely that they will depart very much from established routine, which is indeed the guide of understandings slow from want of cultivation; the proposal to revise the bargains, therefore, has no great present force. The other part of the proposition amounts to this : Sir Robert Peel will reduce his rents by 20 per cent, on condition that the sum be laid out on the improvement of his estate ; in other words, if tenants spend their capital, or borrow it, for the purpose of keeping up rents in future, the landlord will waive a fifth of his rent- for the present. Look at Blackwood's anti-rent demonstration, and ask if that is enough?

But indeed, you may look to an authority which will have much greater weight with Sir Robert Peel and Free-trade agriculturists —that of Mr. Raxtable. His recent pamphlet* is intended to show how, by a scientific system of high farming, the farmer may make a profit with wheat at 5s. the bushel and meat at 5d. the pound: but we see that among his calculations he assumes rent at 11. on the acre producing 32 bushels of wheat, or 58. a quarter out of 408. The writer in the Economist says, on the strength of Mr. Robertson's account— "The above shows as clear as figures can make it, that when wheat sold at 45s. the bushel, one of the most experienced farmers and land-valuers in Scotland concluded that 178. 9d. was not too much to claim as rent for his employer." And Mr. Huxtable touches with the boldness and candour of a truly, scientific mind on the same.point- " Though I will not make the invidious statement that farmers have not sufficient capital, I do not hesitate to exprees my belief that generally their farms and homesteads are too often wanting in the requirements of high cultivation. But on, every side the tenant-farmer exclaims,' Rents are too high.' I think so too in most eases, unless in former. years they have been much. too low,—too tipiltit that is, considering the very imperfect accommoda- tion farms offer for ma g a maximuni return from the products. But no reasonable reduction of rents can meet the difference of prices, unless there be a change in the system of farming, or great increase of crops. In most cases, the amount which is sought as an abatement of rent is that which, for the good of all parties, should be spent in multiplying the powers and capa- bilities of the farm; not in raising costly edifices, the pride of the estate and admiration of the amateur,—for these cannot be carried out extensively on any property, and the case is urgent, and will not brook the delay. of years. Cheap m Aerials are at hand: there are on almost every farm trim- mings of plants ions and hedge-rods for roofs, straw for covering, larch poles for posts, and wattle or furze for walls."

Now the question is whether the farmer, crushed under a long- enduring system of bed farming .desenhed by Hr. Huxtable, and of high rents, admitted. by the same writer, is inn position to com- mand more capital ; also, whether the capital accorded by landlords in the shape of pretermitted rents will be sufficient ; also, whether, if it were so, the farmer can, on the sudden, be cultivated as to his understanding up to the point necessary.for apprehending the "[notable philosophy, and confiding in it so as to carry it out heartily. and ably ; alto and furthermore whether, if those ques- tions be answered in the negative' landlc:rda must not be prepared to take upon themselves a much larger share of the "estimated' less" than they. now spontaneously and temporarily accept in the * "The Present Prices,' by the Reverend? A. Huxtable, Rector of Sutton "Waldron, Derset.7 A brochure of which Mi. Ridgway is the London dis- tributor.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Proceeds 1,956 .. 2,015 .. 852 .. 2,324 „ 4,132 Rent


Management 106 .. 24.4 .. 111 287 . 106 Wages 7 .. 2 .. 144 7


Estimated loss 516 .. 141 .. 147 .. 490 .. 603

few of the accounts; but the hand-labourer obtains little ind next, to the capitalist. The wages are put forth distinctly in ve shape of the said pretermitted rents ; also and finally, whether, if that be the case, they had not better, deliberately and spouts,- neonsly, provide for such inevitable liability by suitable mea- sures, either in the shape of revising personal expenditure, of pro- curing legislative sanction to proportionate readjustment of bur- dens made on old terms and no longer maintainable, or the like. Without in any degree presuming the conclusion, we may take it as manifest that these are questions which press for consideration, and that they ought to be settled with deliberate foresight, rather than left to the chapter of accidents. To that end, the first step would be, to abandon this idle multiplication of ex-parte state- ments for and against particular interests or particular policies of the past; and in lien of that "damnable iteration," to bring toge- ther the several interests and the representatives of future poli- cies, in order that they may compare notes and take counsel in determining the principles of the least mischievous and most bene- ficial course in our onward progress.