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This grass does not stand for hay, but is excellent sheep feed : the summer of 1816 was indeed favorable for all grass land, but I never saw a more verdant carpet than it exhibited; when fed close, it tillers very much, as we call it, spreads and branches on the ground with multiplied stems, and, in the season most favorable to vegetation, it will grow more than an inch in a few days. Sheep are very fond of it, and Mr. Coke says he can pasture more upon it than on any other layer of artificial grass.
The seeds of this grass, which is indigenous, are gathered in the woods and lanes by women and children, who cut the tops off with scissars, about six inches long, an inch and a half below the lower spur; they are paid threepence a bushel for it, measured as hay; one bushel of seed is obtained from seven bushels of it in the state it is thus gathered.
The cock’s-foot seed has but just found its way into the shops, and I observed to Mr. Coke that this appeared to be a precarious way of collecting it: he had not been inattentive to this circumstance, and said that he intended sowing lines of it on his hedge banks, which would insure a permanent crop ; it would be more accessible and more easily gathered.
Though not cultivated as other artificial grasses, in the regular course of husbandry, saint foin has been found, at Holkham, a valuable source of hay, and of autumnal pasturage.
It was first cultivated in this district, in the year 1774, upon the Brent-Hill Farm, by Mr. Beck, the then occupier. Mr. Beck's example was followed by Mr. Coke, and he has cultivated saint foin, in Holkham park, about forty years; and some of the huge stacks of hay which I saw there were composed of it.
It is most adapted to thin soils, incumbent on chalk. The seed is generally sown, in the pod, at the rate of five bushels per acre, with the barley, after a turnip crop ; nine pounds of trefoil
, per acre, are sown at the same time. The saint foin being in pod, attention is required to bury the seed properly. The trefoil produces a crop to mow in the following year, and dies away in the succeeding years. The saint foin is not in full perfection until the third and fourth years. It continues good until the ninth year, after which it becomes weaker, and is ploughed up for the land to go through a regular course of husbandry. The saint foin is seldom manured or top-dressed : it produces a ton and half of hay per acre, annually, while in perfection. It is never spring-fed, but is depastured by all sorts of cattle, to consume the after-math in autumn. Mr. Coke is ever ready to try the cultivation of any
new article. The introduction of the Swedish turnip into general cultivation is
much owing to him, as, I believe he was the first who grew it on a scale equal to the wants of a farm. I was pleased to see a crop of mangel wurzel in a good state:' and he told me he had prucured some Heligoland beans, a new and promising article, which is said to yield sixty bushels or fifteen coombs per acre, and he proposed dibbling them on the transplanted land; but I saw no cabbages, no succory, no burnet, no parsnips.
In Mr. Blaikie's pamphlet on the Conversion of Arable Land into Pasture, before adverted to, he gives the result of two trials of dibbling the Heligoland beans on this land ; the one was upon land which had undergone a complete summer fallow, previous to its being transplanted'; and the other was land from which Swedish turnips were taken
in November, but they seem not to have answered in either case; the failure is, however, attributed to the beans having been put into the ground too late. In another instance, Poland oats were sown, and produced twelve coombs per
I had little opportunity of noticing Mr. Coke's flocks, but they are highly estimated, and he is distinguished for his skill and attention in this branch of rural economy.
His sheep are all Southdowns, but he told me he had not the merit of selecting them himself. Some years ago he was visited by some gentlemen from the South of England, who found much fault with the Norfolks, which then composed his flocks, and told him that the sheep in their country, the Sussex Southdowns, were much more profitable and better adapted to his pastures:-he bought five hundred, on their recommendation, and finding they fully answered his purpose, he got rid of his Norfolks, and has had none since but the Southdowns.
Mr. Cline has just visited him, and Mr. Coke was much gratis fied on finding this preference confirmed in his excellent paper on the forms and constitutions of animals, in which he considers the characteristic mark of health and vigor, in an animal, to be the expanded chest, the thorax which has ample room for the free
Having, in another publication, advocated the cultivation of mangel-wurzel, I am induced to mention that at the meeting of the Horticultural Suciety, October 7, 1817, some specimens of this root were shewn, producing sixty tons weight per acre; and the account adds, that Mr. Jenkyns, last year, produced for government, from nine acres in the Regent's Park, a crop of this plant, that cleared a profit, after all expenses were paid, of 6001.
Morning Chronicle, Oct. 9, 1817. I have understood this root is much in request among the keepers of cows, in London, the leaves of which, in the beginning of November, and the roots, during the rest of the winter, being profitable articles of nourishment to them:
play of the heart and lungs. In the Norfolk sheep the sternum terminates almost in a line or edge, the ribs contracting too much as they approach it; while the chest of the Southdowns is more rounded and wider, terminating with a less angle at the sternum.
He remarked, on shewing me his admirable dairy of North Devon cows, the same characteristic superiority of form over the Norfolk cows.
He particularly pointed out the flat line the ribs take in spreading from the spine, in the upper part of the chest.
When Mr. Coke came to his estate at Holkham, the rental was two thousand, two hundred pounds,-this was forty-two years ago. The produce of his woods and plantations amounts now to a larger sum ; for he has had the spirit and judgment to plant fifteen hundred acres : the greater part of which have become magnificent woods, which have not only by their picturesque beauty, unspeakably improved the landscape ; by their protection in checking the cold rude winds, so prevalent on this.coast, materially softened the temperature; and, by the annual fall of their leaves, even contributed something to the fertilisation of the soil; but, at this time, the annual fall of timber, poles, and underwood, from them, averages about two thousand seven hundred pounds. The timber and poles are applicable to most building purposes ; some of them are used in the buildings, which he is constantly carrying on, upon an extensive scale ; his houses, cottages, barns, stables, and other farming buildings being all in a superior style of architecture ; and the remainder is sold in the neighborhood.
I saw a handsome house, built in the summer of 1815, and now occupied by his head gardener: the doors, windows, floors, stairs, 26 well as the roofs, joists, spars, &c. were all of Scotch, larch, and spruce fir, of Holkham growth; and his timber-yard, from the same source, displayed no mean quantity of rough timber, balks, planks, &c
In the plantations, several of which I rode through, the oaks and Spanish chesnuts have already attained a considerable size, and are in a state of vigorous growth ; some of the oaks, particularly those near the house, being the largest I ever saw, of the age;
these in time will, obviously, become the most valuable timber on the estate ; in time they may even supply our future wooden walls, and, under a change of form, navigate the very sea which washes the shores on which they are now growing.'
Firs, of the different species, the Scotch, larch, spruce, and silver, have attained a sufficient growth to be applied to the above
* A similar remark was made by Evelyn in his Sylva, respecting the plantations of his day, which time has realised.
mentioned useful purposes; and like the oaks, for many years to come, will have an increasing value.
There are also other trees, which, though of a subordinate character, Mr. Coke turns to a good account; the Salix coerulea, or the French willow, at six years' growth, can be advantageously riven into laths, which are very tough, and answer the purpose quite as well as those made of foreign deal : the populus monilifera, the Canada poplar, also grows very luxuriantly, and I have myself experienced its wood to be very useful. The wild cherry is also cultivated extensively, and its timber is valuable for all building purposes, when of forty or fifty years' growth. I observed another poplar, the black Italian, said to be the most profitable for planting of all poplars, judiciously planted as a skreen, round some barns and farming buildings.
Mr. Coke's system of letting his estates is not less excellent than his farming system: a long lease and a moderate rent cannot fail to be highly advantageous both to landlord and tenant; to the occupier it affords every encouragement to invest capital, and every motive for the skilful cultivation of his farm ; and to the landlord, eventual permanent profit in the improved value of his estate. The following have been the important results : Mr. Coke's tenants are enriched, and his property has increased in value to an almost incredible degree. He gives twenty-one years' leases, and he has already seen the termination of such leases on most of his farms, and, though he continues the same encouraging system of long lease and moderate rent, his present relatively moderate rents, relatively as to the improved state of his farms, have admitted the total increase of his Norfolk rents to amount to the enormous sùm of twenty thousand pounds; an increase in the value of landed property, a creation of wealth, probably, unexampled, except in the vicinity of large towns, or in populous manufacturing districts.
One of his admirably cultivated farms, which I went over, and on which I before remarked such luxuriant and valuable crops,
is let on a twenty-one years' lease, at seventeen shillings per acre, and seven years of this lease were unexpired. At the expiration of the term, can it be doubted, that, for land in such a high state of cultivation, so enriched by manure, so free from weeds, with so many acres of excellent pasture produced by transplanted turf, the fences so well arranged and in such good order, with a superior farm-house, and farming premises, so well adapted ;-can it, I say, be doubted, that thirty shillings an acre would still be a moderate rent?
On the renewal of many of his leases, he has given the tenants the bonus of a capital house : these afford not only every possible
accommodation to his tenants' families, but are striking ornaments to the country. He has, however, been censured for this, and I own, I formerly thought it extraordinary that he should build gentlemen's houses for farmers; but I think otherwise now; they are additional proofs of his genuine liberality to his tenants.
Most of these were built at the termination of his long leases, the renewal of which, at such an enormous increase of total rent, supplied him with the most ample means of doing it. At the end of a twenty-one years' lease, if a tenant have so improved a farm, as to admit such an increase of rent, it is probable he must have enriched himself, and the very circumstance of his acquired wealth advancing him in the scale of society, and admitting a superior domestic establishment, the generosity of his landlord could not, surely, be applied in a way more gratifying to him.
But, independent of this circumstance, which may, perhaps, be considered as too personal to an individual tenant, and as possibly not likely to be equally applicable to every succeeding one, the very improvement the land has undergone, its increased value as an estate, and the different and extended system on which it is cultivated, all claim and require a superior house, and larger, and more numerous appended farming buildings.
Irrigation is one of the superior improvements in agriculture, which Mr. Coke has advocated and adopted; but this can, obviously, be only effected in peculiar situations, and can only be undertaken by persons of considerable capital.
The situation of Holkham does not admit of irrigating to any extent ; but even here Mr. Coke exhibits a water meadow, where it could be little expected; it is near the house at Longlands, his principal farm, and rather on high ground; the source is a large pond, originally formed for the common purposes of a farm-yard. There may be a spring which feeds it in some degree, but its principal supply, I believe, is from the heavens. When the pond is full, the water is well directed to an adjoining, meadow, whose level is a little below it. To a certain degree, it has its use, but the supply of water is inadequate to an extensive and long continued irrigation.
The best specimen of complete irrigation, on any of his estates, is at Lexham, which I have seen, when visiting his respectable tenant there, Mr. Beck. A small stream, tolerably well supplied, runs through a little valley of ordinary meadow land; a large reservoir of several acres has been formed by an embankment, and raised so much above the contiguous grounds as to admit of many streams, in different directions, being conveyed over an extensive surface of land, to which they impart a wonderfully fertilising principle, and by anticipating the common period of the growth of grass in the spring, and by continuing it luxuriantly during the whole seasons