Imatges de pÓgina

Life, nor in any of the plentiful Dickensiana which, within recent years, have been brought under my notice. Charles Dickens, in his letters, delivers himself of deservedly severe slaps at pilferers who were principally, if not entirely, American.

At the end of every chapter of this cleverly arranged French adaptation appears the name of Charles Dickens' appended as the author, and followed by a note, in italics, conveying this warning to all and several, Reproduction interdite. La suite au prochain numéro.' But this notice, as it seems to me, applied only to the work of the translator who was adapting it specially for the Journal pour tous, and does not refer to the original by Charles Dickens, which was partly the property of Messrs. Chapman and Hall.

I am informed by the Paris house of Messrs. Hachette et Cie. that 'the publication of the Journal pour tous was continued after 1850'they do not say for how long—but that all volumes are now out of print.' I may therefore, at all events, congratulate myself on the accidental preservation of this exceptionally interesting series which, published between 1854 and 1859, came into my possession in 1863, and per

tot discrimina rerum, from house to house, and from London to country, is still in my possession.





In a long article entitled ' A Great Norfolk House,' which appeared in the June issue of this Review, Dr. Jessopp attempted to discredit the statement that Coke of Norfolk had transformed the agriculture of his native county, and that prior to his labours and experiments the condition of that county, especially of the Holkham estate, was such as it is represented to be in his biography recently published under the title of Coke of Norfolk and His Friends.

Dr. Jessopp's views are presented with a decisiveness which admits of no appeal. Let us examine them briefly and see upon what grounds he bases his assertions.

After a lengthy recapitulation of the history of Coke's ancestry, culled from the biography above mentioned, but in which many palpable errors are introduced by him, he proceeds to annihilate Coke's claim to be considered a leading agriculturist in the following terms :

It is a very great mistake, which the general reader makes who looks back carelessly upon the past, that Thomas William Coke was the father of Norfolk agriculture and the of new things to the agriculturists of East Anglia. The real pioneer of the army of advance was Nathaniel Kent, born in 1737. Kent published his Hints to Gentlemen of Landed Property in 1793, and the book attracted very wide notice and approval, and was specially welcomed by the Norfolk farmers, who presented the author with a handsome testimonial in 1808. Four years Kent's junior was Arthur Young, who published his Letters to the Farmers of England in 1767, when Coke was a schoolboy, and his Farmer's Tour through the East of England in 1771. Mrs. Stirling seems to believe that Norfolk was a desert till the great landlord took up his residence at Holkham and took the oversight of his vast Norfolk estates—an absurd delusion! Arthur Young, writing in 1771, speaks with enthusiasm of the advanced state of farming in Norfolk: at Docking he found two great farmers who held 1,700 acres between them; at Burnham one farm of 1,000 acres was apparently in a high state of cultivation; and from this same Burnham to Wells, extending, that is, almost exactly over the land now beautiful with the Holkham Park, there was a highly cultivated farm, producing crops of wheat, barley, turnips, and with tenants intelligent and prosperous. • . Among the Norfolk landlords and the Norfolk farmers in the middle of the eighteenth century there was a real craze for the new methods of tillage that were already in vogue, and a rage for making experiments and improvements in every direction. In the meantime, where Mrs. Stirling got her amazing statement that from Wells to Lynn was a sheep-walk, and a bad one, and that in all those twenty miles or so neither wheat, barley, nor rye were cultivated, I know not. It reads very like the reminiscence of one of my own dreams, which occasionally trouble me with nonsensical dialogues.

And because Dr. Jessopp does not know the authority for the statement referred to, he proceeds to inform his readers, with a gravity which is unconsciously humorous, that we must be upon our guard against admitting that Thomas William Coke was the leader of the agricultural movement in Norfolk.'

Yet the question which he dismisses thus summarily is one which is of paramount interest, not only to the agriculturist, but to the student of progress and to the historian who deals with a bygone age. None the less, Dr. Jessopp first casually misquotes my statement, which related to wheat only, and next, by his naive admission of ignorance respecting the origin of that statement, at the outset tends to disqualify his subsequent assertions. For a critic should, presumably, be conversant with the subject of which he treats; yet the most superficial student of Coke's agricultural career would not attempt to pronounce a verdict upon a matter which requires careful analysis of facts and statistics, without first having studied the chief authority on the question at issue. Had Dr. Jessopp, however, even glanced at Dr. Rigby's able book on Holkham and its Agriculture, he could not have been at a loss to know whence came the remark which so amazes him, nor the grounds for believing that remark to be veracious.

Dr. Rigby was a man who, in his day, acquired a considerable scientific and literary reputation. His book on Holkham, published 1816-18, achieved an international reputation. It was translated into three different languages and had an extensive sale in Germany, France, Italy, and America. Obviously, therefore, it was held to contain reliable information by those who were in a position to gauge its accuracy; while the writer himself was a contemporary of Coke, and was an eye-witness of that which he attested.

Writing of Holkham in 1817, Dr. Rigby says that when Coke came into possession of the estate, in 1776, wheat was not cultivated in the district, and then follows the emphatic statement which has bewildered Dr. Jessopp : 'In the whole tract between Holkham and Lynn not an ear was to be seen, nor was it believed that one would


The system of farming was wretched, and the produce of the soil of little value.' 1

Referring to the great sheep-shearings instituted by Coke, he adds : 'When he [Coke] began this institution [in 1778] the land of Holkham was so poor and unproductive that much of it was not worth five shillings an acre.' ?

| Holkham and its Agriculture, by Dr. Rigby. Ed. 1817, p. 3.

On page 98 of this same edition he describes more fully the condition of the land before Coke came into possession of his property, and also the wretched inhabitants of this poverty-stricken district :

These parishes [of Warham and Holkham) are situated near the sea, and in the vicinity of the small port of Wells; and not many years ago the site on which Mr. Coke's stables, &c., now stand was occupied by a few mean straggling cottages, inhabited by miserable beings, who, unable to obtain a maintenance from the inadequate produce of the agricultural labour of the neighbourhood, derived a not less precarious subsistence from smuggling, and the predatory habits connected with it ... It was nearly the same with the unfortunate inhabitants of Wells.

Later, he draws the contrast :

The present inhabitants of both parishes are, happily, of a different character ... and the moral influence on the poor, not less than their increased numbers, is obvious. . . . Holkham has in the last forty years tripled its numbers, having increased from two to six hundred, and Warham has increased from two to more than three hundred within less than that period; and if it be true that population follows subsistence, and subsistence grows out of labour, we must look for these in some increased sources of labour; and where, in these parishes, can they be found, but in the greatly changed system of agrioulture ? ?

Then, having given particulars of Coke's system of agriculture, he says :

And what has been the result? Sterility has been converted into fertility. What before was principally a meagre sheep-walk, here and there only exhibiting patches of ordinary rye, oats, barley, and badly cultivated turnips, with not a single ear of wheat to be seen to nod over its whole surface, has become a most productive land; much more than the average of crops, of even the best soils and of the most valuable grains, having grown upon it; ofmI repeat it-from ten to twelve coombs of the best wheat and nearly twenty coombs of excellent barley per acre.

He further remarks :

In the neighbourhood of Holkham, and in the greater part of the west of Norfolk, it may, however, be observed that the land is light and naturally sterile; 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.

Yet compare this statement with Dr. Jessopp's assertion that long before Coke commenced his agricultural career, extending over the land now beautiful with Holkham Park, there was a highly cultivated farm, producing crops of wheat, barley, turnips, and with tenants intelligent and prosperous !! The fact is that on the Docking farm, to which Dr. Jessopp's

? Holkham and its Agriculture, Ed. 1818, p. 78.
3 Up. cit. p. 98.

Op. cit. p. 106.

Op. cit. p. 87.

remarks refer, the chief husbandry was sheep. Arthur Young, moreover, admitted having stated that this farm was more than double the size which he afterwards found it to be.

We must now consider Dr. Jessopp's assertion that Nathaniel Kent was the true' pioneer of the army of advance.'

When Kent published his Hints to Gentlemen of Landed Property in 1793, Coke had been labouring at agriculture for seventeen years. By 1787 Coke had already produced corn where it had previously been believed that none could grow ; a while in 1792, two celebrated farmers, Boys and Ellman, visited Holkham and wrote their account of all which he had accomplished by that date,” laying special stress on their surprise at finding that he had produced immense fields of barley, very great crops, and perfectly clean, on land naturally poor.' In 1804, viz. four years before the date at which Dr. Jessopp triumphantly points out that a testimonial was presented to Kent, Coke had already received a public recognition of his services from the farmers of Norfolk, which, according to Roger Wilbraham, cost them seven hundred guineas, voluntarily expended. In 1796 Kent, with, as Dr. Jessopp patronisingly concedes, 'a certain measure of authority,' himself added his testimony respecting what Coke had accomplished : * The Holkham estate,' he relates, has been increased in the memory of man from five to upwards of twenty thousand a year in this county, and is still increasing like a snowball’; yet, even at that period, it was not the luxuriant, richly cultivated land which Dr. Jessopp represents it to have been fully a quarter of a century earlier. Kent gives the following statistics :

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“It is a lamentable thing,' Kent concludes, that these large tracts of land should be suffered to remain in their present unprofitable state,' 8 and we must again call to mind that, principally through Coke's agency, between 1804 and 1821 no less than 153 enclosures took place in Norfolk alone, while between the years 1790 and 1810 not less than two millions of waste land were brought into tillage.”

Further, Kent emphasises the fact that '& great part of this county is known to have been, within the space of a century, a wild, bleak, unproductive country comparatively with what it is now [in 1796); full half of it was rabbit-warrens and sheep-walks,' and he proceeds to describe that 'the sheep were as natural to the soil as

o Coke of Holkham, Walter Rye, 1895, p. 5.
; Vol. xix. of The Annals of Agriculture, 1793.
& Kent's Agricultural Survey of Norfolk, 1796.

• Sketch of Thomas Coke, Earl of Leicester, printed by Whiting, Beaufort House, Strand; also Norwich Mercury, the 9th of July, 1842.

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