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there was scarcely a single individual, of any age, that did not find full employment, and they even wanted hands.—He had been applied to, some time ago, by the principal inhabitants of the three parishes of Holkham, Warham, and Wighton, to say that their poor-house was no longer wanted; that, in fact, it was a burden to keep it up; their poor were so much diminished, they had no use for it. And when he told them to consider well what they were about, and to look forward to times when the poor might increase upon them, they replied, they were convinced that, by the spirit of independence which their comfort inspired, and the certainty of labor, they had no dread of a reverse, for the whole district was industrious and moral.—The workhouse was therefore pulled down, and the aged and infirm were a small burden on the three parishes. The introduction of the drill husbandry, which he could now, from the most ample experience, recommend, had justified all the hopes he had entertained of it. It was the most profitable course a farmer could pursue, and, with the turnip crops, completed the Norfolk system of husbandry. He paid merited compliments to Mr. Blaikie, his steward, for superior talents, indefatigable attention, and integrity in the conduct of his affairs, as well as for the many plain, practicable, and ingenious communications he had given to the public; and he spoke, with warm eulogy, of the ardent manner in which his efforts had been seconded, not only by his own tenants, but by many of the noblemen and gentlemen, as well as yeomen, his friends and neighbors.
It was cheering to the heart to witness the sympathy with which these expressions of kindness from Mr. Coke were received by his tenants and the company at large. It realised all that we have read of the community of feeling between the baron and his people in feudal times, but with this difference, that here every tenant, by his lease, was completely independent of his landlord, and that the affection sprang from an honorable sentiment of mutual kindness and advantage, not from that of a cold, bounden duty.
Before closing this extraordinary scene, some other toasts were given,and appropriate returns made:—that from Lord Albemarle, whose health was drank for the third time, was so peculiarly impressive, and delivered in so feeling a manner, that every one who heard it must wish to see it recorded, even in the following imperfect manner. Addressing himself to the company, he said, he had no doubt but he had their permission to add their thanks to his own, for the hospitality, the kind and friendly hospitality, with which Mr. Coke had received them all.—Gentlemen, said his Lordship, I know his heart well, and that it is his VOL. XIII. Pam. NO. XXVI. 21
highest pride, the greatest glory he covets on earth, to enjoy the good wishes of so numerous a body of enlightened and liberal men. Look around you, Sir, addressing himself to Mr. Coke, observe the feelings of gratitude depicted in every countenance; every heart cheerful and contented, anxious and bursting to thank you for the magnificent hospitality with which you have received us all, and for that kind and unremitting attention with which you have, in so surprising a manner, noticed every individual among us. We thank you, Sir, for the information you have enabled us to carry away with us. In the name of all, then, I express a sincere and fervent hope, that every prosperity, and every blessing which this world affords, may attend you. Gentlemen, again addressing himself to the company, I now take my leave of you; . accept my most sincere and heartfelt gratitude for the kindness you manifested towards me yesterday.—Long may you all live, and may you succeed and prosper!
Thus ended a meeting, the genuine, unalloyed, and extensive utility of which cannot be questioned; whether we consider the information diffused, the emulation excited, or the actual improvement effected, in an art, in which humanity is more interested than in any other whatever.
Nor as a scene of rational, superior, exhilarating conviviality, as a genuine festival, and as a source of most gratifying mental excitement, can it be sufficiently appreciated; whether we consider the numerous assemblage, and its comprehensive and distinguished character ;—Mr. Coke's most magnificent and extended hospitalitythe striking objects which everywhere meet the eye; the succession of interesting circ umstances, and the general animation; all which have their share in producing and keeping up no common degree of mental energy' and it merits observation, in a way too not liable to exhaustion, as when called forth by artificial stimuli.
Nor, I will add, as an occasion of powerful moral influence, should I think it likely to be surpassed; for, under this conviction, I may be allowed to say, I never witnessed human nature under more favorable circumstances.—I am able, indeed, very inadequately to describe the proud scene of the delivery of the awarded prizes, and its effect on myself and the company, which most strikingly exemplified this.—The dignified and impressive, yet kind and conciliating manner of Mr. Coke, in addressing, individually, each successful candidate; his judicious and instructive remarks on the several subjects, in which they had excelled; his animation, when he adverted to the boundless benefits which agriculture must derive from a continuance of such well-directed exertions, and, particularly, his feeling expression of thanks to them, on his own part, and on that of the public, rivetted the attention of every one, and could not fail to inspire those who were engaged in agriculture, with an ardent desire of making similar efforts, and of partaking of similar honors.
It was indeed a goodly sight, when each fortunate candidate's name was announced by Mr. Coke, to behold every eye directed towards him, following him as he passed through the distinguished crowd, to the table, which was placed before Mr. Coke, and on which were displayed various massive and costly pieces of plate,— tankards, vases, waiters, cups, mugs, &c. the truly rich rewards of merit, and destined to become, in each family, which has the good fortune to possess them, the most honorable heir-looms, and to tell, in future times, from father to son, the interesting tale of an ancestor's well-doing, and of Mr. Coke's bounty. Nor was the general sympathy less in viewing the rewarded individual, returning through the same admiring crowd, bearing conspicuously, proudly conspicuously, the well-earned and highly-valued prize.
And was not this an instructive scene? and did not this afford a most impressive, practical, moral lesson? Was motive ever more happily called forth, or more usefully directed? But the tendency of this extraordinary establishment is well known to be, throughout, unequivocally good, and the benefit it has conferred on society is already beyond calculation; and in no respect have its effects been more striking than in the amelioration of manners, and the increased respectability of a class in society, neither inconsiderable nor unimportant.
The mere mechanism of such an establishment is also no trifling thing: its previous annual arrangement, comprising such a variety of objects, and demanding a minute attention to such a variety of articles, necessarily requires much preparation, and the co-operation of many competent individuals, to whom only general directions can be given: but the immediate conduct of the meeting itself rests wholly upon Mr. Coke; the interest excited, and the general gratification derived from it, are the effects of his sole superintendance,—of his well-directed, single, personal exertions. He is everywhere, and with every one; he points out the objects most worthy of notice, the processes and experiments which are most instructive,—the implements, the buildings, the animals, the manures, the crops most likely to interest the inquiring stranger, or even to gratify the curiosity of the common observer. He solicits inquiry from every one who appears interested in agriculture, and most readily and indiscriminately answers all questions connected with the subject.
It was the expressed wonder of many that he could thus, day waste of his
[48 animal spirits, go through such unremitting bodily and mental exertion. He was each morning among the first on horseback; the first to lead the way, in a new and untried course; animating his numerous and eager followers, and conducting them to fresh scenes of interest and instruction. Nor did his labors terminate in the field; it has already been seen, that on his return, he only met new duties, in a varied attention to his guests, scarcely less numerous than in the field, and much more concentrated at his tables. It was each day no light effort to select healths and give appropriate toasts, to preface each with apposite remarks, to keep up the attention of so large a company, and even excite in them something like agricultural discussion. On the last day his occupied a considerable part of the afternoon, during which he appeared to be constantly on his legs, and, with little intermission, to be addressing either the fortunate candidates, or his attentive audience; and as the end of his labors approached, instead of exhibiting marks of bodily fatigue or mental exhaustion, he seemed to acquire fresh animation, and to evince, even to the last, an undiminished desire to omit nothing which could inform or gratify his friends; and finally, in taking his leave, he again shewed the surprising faculty before adverted to by Lord Albemarle, of recognising and noticing large numbers, almost individually, and on this occasion, of giving and receiving, almost personally, the warmest and most gratifying valedictions.
After this recital it cannot, I apprehend, be questioned, that Mr. Coke has thus been very instrumental in effecting a considerable change in the system of agriculture. Doubts, however, are still expressed as to its real utility, and principally because it has led to what, with much censure, has been called the aggregation of farms.
It is indeed well known, that many of Mr. Coke's are large farms; that in his own occupation, is said not to be less than two thousand acres; and some of his tenants occupy not less than twelve hundred acres. But this, like all other questions in political economy, must be determined by experience; and the experiment has now been tried long enough to admit a fair reference to it.
I would first ask, from what period are the improvements which are acknowledged to have taken place in agriculture to be dated ?—unquestionably, from the time when the land began to be cultivated by individuals on an extensive scale ;—and what is the proof of improvement? increased productiveness;—and how has this been effected? obviously, by the skilful application of capital. :.
In the neighborhood of Holkham, and in a great part of the West of Norfolk, it may, moreover, be observed, that the land is light and naturally sterile, not admitting of profitable culture on a small scale and with little capital; many extensive tracts of this kind were, under the old system, as unproductive as Holkham; and the country is equally indebted to the new system for the ample supply of corn they now produce.
But to invest a considerable capital in any undertaking, with security and a prospect of profit, requires no small share of intellectual discernment: the farmer, therefore, who invests such a capital in land, requires it as well as the merchant and the manufacturer. Such a farmer, then, ought to be a well educated man; and this, and his command of capital, distinguish him from the little farmer; distinguish his large farm from the small farm, as much by the superiority of its cultivation, as by its greater extent of surface.
The small farm and uneducated farmer, (for, with exceptions, they go together,) have little influence on national prosperity, they seldom admit of agricultural experiment, they are little calculated for improvement. The small farmer, I repeat it, with exceptions, and with respectable exceptions, (for he certainly may have the merit of industry and frugality, and these alone may make him respectable, and it must also be admitted, that every little farmer is not without the advantage of education,) the small farmer, I say, but too often ranks in education and manners, not much above the laborer: he has, originally, had but scanty means of mental instruction, and, his limited occupation affording scarcely any intellectual exercise, he necessarily remains stationary with regard to the powers of his mind, and his rank in society. Ifir.j h
In a national view, on the contrary, and as respects the immediate object of agriculture, it cannot be denied that the large farms have had greatly the advantage; they have certainly been proportionately most productive of human food ; they have also certainly been the principal sources of agricultural improvements; these improvements having been, almost exclusively, practised on large farms; and they who have witnessed the Holkham husbandry will not lightly appreciate them.
It has been found that there are few branches of natural philosophy, chemistry, natural history, mechanics, &c. which may not be profitably applied on a large farm. To take advantage of these, the occupier, I say, ought to be a man of education: he should be competent to his own progressive scientific improvement, by reading, observation, and intercourse with intelligent men; and few such men whose attention, for a series of years, is unremit