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BOOK ment to old cuftoms, but in moft places to the unavoidable obftructions which the natural courfe of things oppofes to the immediate or speedy establishent of a better fyftem: firft, to the poverty of the tenants, to their not having yet had time to acquire a ftock of cattle fufficient to cultivate their lands more completely, the same rise of price which would render it advantageous for them to maintain a greater stock, rendering it more difficult for them to acquire it; and, fecondly, to their not having yet had time to put their lands in condition to maintain this greater ftock properly, fuppofing they were capable of acquiring it. The increase of stock and the improvement of land are two events which must go hand in hand, and of which the one can no-where much out-run the other. Without fome increase of flock, there can be fcarce any improvement of land, but there can be no confiderable increase of flock but in confequence of a confiderable improvement of land; because otherwife the land could not maintain it. Thefe natural obftructions to the establishment of a better system, cannot be removed but by a long courfe of frugality and industry; and half a century or a century more, perhaps, muft pafs away before the old fyftem, which is wearing out gradually, can be completely abolished through all the different parts of the country. Of all the commercial advantages, however, which Scotland has derived from the union with England, this rife in the price of cattle is, perhaps, the greateft. It has not only raised the value of all highland eftates,
eftates, but it has, perhaps, been the principal CHA P. caufe of the improvement of the low country.
In all new colonies the great quantity of waste land, which can for many years be applied to no other purpose but the feeding of cattle, foon renders them extremely abundant, and in every thing great cheapnefs is the neceffary confequence of great abundance. Though.all the cattle of the European colonies in America were originally carried from Europe, they foon multiplied fo much there, and became of fo little value, that even horfes were allowed to run wild in the woods without any owner thinking it worth while to claim them. It must be a long time after the first establishment of fuch colonies, before it can become profitable to feed cattle upon the produce of cultivated land. The fame caufes, therefore, the want of manure, and the difproportion between the ftock employed in cultivation, and the land which it is deftined to cultivate, are likely to introduce there a fyftem of husbandry not unlike that which still continues to take place in fo many parts of Scotland. Mr. Kalm, the Swedish traveller, when he gives an account of the husbandry of fome of the English colonies in North America, as he found it in 1749, obferves, accordingly, that he can with difficulty discover there the character of the English nation, fo well skilled in all the different branches of agriculture. They make fcarce any manure for their corn fields, he fays; but when one piece of ground has been exhausted by continual cropping, they clear and cultivate another
BOOK piece of fresh land; and when that is exhaufted, I. proceed to a third. Their cattle are allowed to
wander through the woods and other uncultivated grounds, where they are half-ftarved ; having long ago extirpated almost all the annual graffes by cropping them too early in the spring, before they had time to form their flowers, or to fhed their feeds. The annual graffes were, it seems, the best natural graffes in that part of North America; and when the Europeans first fettled there, they used to grow very thick, and to rife three or four feet high. A piece of ground which, when he wrote, could not maintain one cow, would in former times, he was affured, have maintained four, each of which would have given four times the quantity of milk which that one was capable of giving. The poorness of the pafture had, in his opinion, occafioned the degradation of their cattle, which degenerated fenfibly from one generation to another. They were probably not unlike that ftunted breed which was common all over Scotland thirty or forty years ago, and which is now fo much mended through the greater part of the low country, not fo much by a change of the breed, though that expedient has been employed in fome places, as by a more plentiful method of feeding them.
Though it is late, therefore, in the progrefs of improvement before cattle can bring fuch a price as to render it profitable to cultivate land for the
* Kalm's Travels, vol. i. p. 343, 344
fake of feeding them; yet of all the different parts C HA P. which compofe this fecond fort of rude produce, they are perhaps the firft which bring this price; because till they bring it, it seems impoffible that improvement can be brought near even to that degree of perfection to which it has arrived in many parts of Europe.
As cattle are among the first, so perhaps venifon is among the last parts of this fort of rude produce which bring this price. The price of venifon in Great Britain, how extravagant foever it may appear, is not near fufficient to compenfate the expence of a deer park, as is well known to all those who have had any experience in the feeding of deer. If it was otherwife, the feeding of deer would foon become an article of common farming; in the fame manner as the feeding of thofe fmall birds called Turdi was among the ancient Romans. Varro and Columella affure us that it was a moft profitable article. The fattening of ortolans, birds of paffage which arrive lean in the country, is faid to be fo in fome parts of France. If venifon continues in fashion, and the wealth and luxury of Great Britain increase as they have done for fome time past, its price may very probably rise still higher than it is at prefent.
Between that period in the progrefs of improvement which brings to its height the price of fo neceffary an article as cattle, and that which brings to it the price of fuch a fuperfluity as venifon, there is a very long interval, in the courfe of which many other forts of rude produce gradually
BOOK gradually arrive at their higheft price, fome I.. fooner and fome later, according to different circumftances,
Thus in every farm the offals of the barn and ftables will maintain a certain number of poultry. These, as they are fed with what would otherwise be loft, are a mere fave-all; and as they coft the farmer fcarce any thing, fo he can afford to fell them for very little. Almost all that he gets is pure gain, and their price can fcarce be fo low as to difcourage him from feeding this number. But in countries ill culti vated, and, therefore, but thinly inhabited, the poultry, which are thus raised without expence, are often fully fufficient to fupply the whole demand. In this ftate of things, therefore, they are often as cheap as butcher's-meat, or any other fort of animal food. But the whole quantity of poultry, which the farm in this manner produces without expence, must always be much smaller than the whole quantity of butcher'smeat which is reared upon it; and in times of wealth and luxury what is rare, with only nearly equal merit, is always preferred to what is common. As wealth and luxury increase, therefore, in confequence of improvement and cultivation, the price of poultry gradually rifes above that of butcher's-meat, till at last it gets fo high that it becomes profitable to cultivate land for the fake of feeding them. When it has got to this height it cannot well go higher. If it did, more land would foon be turned to this purpose. In feveral provinces of France, the feeding of poultry is confidered