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Institutions and Societies for the Pro Motion of Agriculture

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AGRICULTURE, INSTITUTIONS AND SOCIETIES FOR THE PROMOTION OF. The effect of legislative enactments which have for their object the advantage of agriculture are treated of under the heads AGRICULTURE and BOUNTY. Societies for the " Protection" of Agriculture have nothing to do with Agriculture as a science ; but the improve ment of every branch of rural economy has been largely promoted by societies of a different kind ; and those which have been, or are at present, most active in this way, may here be briefly noticed.

The Board of Agriculture, established chiefly through the exertions of Sir John Sinclair, and incorporated in 1793, was a private association of the promoters of agri cultural improvement ; but as it was as sisted annually by a parliamentary grant, it was regarded by the country as in some sort a institution. One of its first proceedings was to commence a sur vey of all the English counties on a uni form plan, which brought out, for the in formation of the class most interested in adopting them, improved practices, origi nating in individual enterprise or intel ligence, and which were confined to a particular district. The Surveys' are many of them imperfectly executed, but they were useful at the time, in develop ing more rapidly the agricultural re sources of the country. During the years of scarcity at the end of the last and be ginning of the present century, the Board of Agriculture took upon itself to suggest and, as far as possible, provide remedies for the dearth—by collecting information and making reports to the government on the state of the crops. The statistics which the Board collected were also at times made use of by the minister, or at least were believed to be so, in connection with his schemes of taxation. The Board encouraged experiments and improve ments in agriculture by prizes ; and the influence which it possessed over the pro vincial agricultural societies excited and combined the efforts of all in one direc tion. The Board of Agriculture was dissolved in 1816. The Smithfield Cattle Club, which has been in existence half a century, and some of the provincial agri cultural societies, especially the Bath and West of England Society, which com menced the publication of its Transac tions' nearly seventy years ago, have been very useful auxiliaries, if not promoters ofagricultural improvement. Until within the last few years, the exertions of Agri cultural Societies have been too exclu sively devoted to the improvement of stock.

With the establishment of the ' Royal Agricultural Society of England' a new sera commenced in the history of institu tions for the improvement of English agriculture. This Society, when it was established, in May, 1838, consisted of 466 members. At the first anniversary, in May, 1839, the number of members had increased to 1104; in May, 1840, there were 2569 members ; in December of the same year, 4262; in December, 1841, 5382 ; in May, 1842, 5834 ; and by the following May, 1843, the number had been increased by the election of 1436 new members. At the sixth anniversary

of the Society, in May, 1844, the number of members was 6927, of whom 274 had been elected in the preceding three and a half months ; and there had previously been struck off the list 249 names of members who were either dead or had not paid their subscriptions. The number of life-governors (who pay on admission the sum of 501.) was 95 in May, 1844 ; and there were 214 annual governors, who pay Si. yearly ; of life members, who pay 10/. on admission, there were 442 ; and of an nual members, who pay 11. yearly, there were 6161. At the above date, the funded _property of the Society amounted to 77001., and the current cash balance to 20001. On the 26th of March, 1840, the Society received a charter of incor poration, on which it assumed the desig nation of the ' Royal Agricultural Society for England' By the 22nd rule of the Society, "No question shall be discussed at any of its meetings of a political tendency, or which shall refer to any matter to be brought forward, or pend ing, in either of the Houses of Parlia ment ; " and this rule is made permanent by the charter of incorporation. The objects of the Society, as set forth in the charter of incorporation, are : 1. To em body such information contained in agri cultural publications and in other scienti fic works as has been proved by practical experience to be useful to the cultivators of the soil. 2. To correspond with agri cultural, horticultural, and other scien tific societies, both at home and abroad, and to select from such correspondence all information which, according to the opinion of the Society, may be likely to lead to practical benefit in the cultivation of the soil. 3. To pay to any occupier of land, or other person, who shall un dertake, at the request of the Society, to ascertain by any experiment how far such information leads to useful results in practice, a remuneration for any loss that he may incur by so doing. 4. To encourage men of science in their atten tion to the improvement of agricultural implements, the construction of farm buildings and cottages, the application of chemistry to the general nurposes of agriculture, the destruction of insects in jurious to vegetable life, and the eradi cation of weeds. 5. To promote the dis covery of new varieties of grain, and other vegetables, useful to man, or for the food of domestic animals. 6. To collect information with regard to the manage ment of woods, plantations, and fences, and on every other subject connected with rural improvement. 7. To take mea sures for the improvement of the educa tion of those who depend upon the culti vation of the soil for their support. 8. To take measures for improving the vete rinary art, as applied to cattle, sheep, and pigs. 9. At the meetings of the Society In the country, by the distribution of prizes, and by other means, to encourage the best mode of farm cultivation and the breed of live stock. 10. To promote the comfort and welfare of labourers, and to encourage the improved management of their cottages and gardens.

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