RURAL ECONOMY. The whole subject of agriculture, with all its details, might properly be discussed under this heading : most of it is, however, referred to piecemeal in the various agri cultural articles which will be found throughout the Cycloptedia, and it remains here to do little more than enumerate those more general relations of country life, and of the several classes interested in the ownership and cultivation of the land, which have not yet been named.
The common weal depends in great measure on these relations tending to the highest productiveness of the land. We want wealthy landowners in order that any hindrance to the proper cultivation of the land, which stagnant water, defective farm-buildings, and poor cottages present, may be removed. We want enterprising, intelligent, and wealthy farmers, in order that a good machine, which an estate properly equipped undoubtedly is, may be worked to its utmost capa bilities; and we want steady, domestic, intelligent, and well-condi tioned -labourers, because without them it is impossible to carry out the cultivation of the land perfectly.
Under the first head the legislature has granted facilities to the owners of land, and even to the owners of a limited interest in it—as io the case of the life-tenants of settled estates—for borrowing money on land in order to the execution of such works as may tend to its permanent improvement, in the way of draining, roads, fences, farm buildings, cottages, ; and there are many companies and associa tions prepared to carry out such improvements, in return for a rentcharge on the property during a sufficient term of years for their repayment. The legislature has not yet, however, conferred all the facilities required ; for landowners are often disabled by the refusal of neighbouring proprietors to concur in schemes for their mutual benefit. This is especially the case where an outfall is needed for the drainage of the property, and can only be obtained through the fields of another. A refusal by a neighbouring proprietor can at present be overruled only by an exceedingly costly and litigious process, and no such difficulties ought to exist in tho way of anything which so much concerns the general interest. It is anticipated that a measure will, during the current session of parliament (1861), be introduced by government for granting the facilities required.
Leaving the subject of the relations of landowners to each other, we come to those existing between them and the tenantry on their satates. Under this head the relative merits of tenancy-at-swill and of
leases for periods of varying duration, of the provisions for ensuring to the tenant the return of all his property spent in cultivation, in the event of his leaving, and the conditions generally under which land is " let " to the cultivator of it, would need to be con sidered. But on these points we have merely to remark in general, that provision for the security of the tenant's capital when invested on another's land Is obviously necesary to the prosperity of agriculture. Such provision is In many districts believed to exist In a long family connection between owners of land and their tenantry, which neither of them willingly break, though instances every now and then occur to allow the instability of such arrange ments; it is elsewhere made by so-called " tenant-right " agree..
mints, which, co-existent with the right of the owner to give his tenant six months' notice to quit, ensure that the latter should receive on leaving a certain proportion of his expenditure under many different heada, varying in quantity with the period which has elapsed since such expenditure has been incurred. This is the system which pre vails in Lincolnshire, and under which large portions of that county have wonderfully increased in fertility. The most efficient way, how ever, in which the property of the tenant is secured to him, is by a lease of the land for a sufficiently long period to ensure the full fruition of all his plans of improvement and good cultivation. It is in this way that Scottish agriculture is generally so good and Scottish rents are so high.
Lastly, there exists the relation between the labourer and his em ployer, on which good agriculture very materially depends. The landlord should provide adequate cottage accommodation, and it is the interest of the farmer to attach his labourers to him by personal interest in their welfare, by the payment of wages according to the real merit of the men, and the value of the work they do, rather than by a com mon rate per diem, including all alike without regard to differences of merit, and thus discouraging individual effort at improvement. The adoption of the allotment system, by which each cottager becomes, at a moderate rent, the tenant of a Large garden, either close to his dwelling or in common-field, along with all the others in the village, has the best influence on the character and comforts of the labourer.