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counties ; or whether local power shall be exercised by magistrales, mayors and aldermen, sheriffs, and others holding authority in limited districts. It is a remnant of the old struggle between the monarchical and the democratic principles; and in this as in many other matters, England has taken up å position on the neutral territory between the two—now leaning to the one, now to the other. It will probably be not without much opposition, that a governmental collection of agricultural statistics will be submitted to. Such a system will not work unless there be union between the central power and the local.
The labours of the House of Lords’ Committee, involving the lengthened examination of nineteen witnesses, resulted in a series of recommendations, which we will present in a somewhat altered form, numbering the paragraphs, to distinguish different parts of the subject.
1. It is expedient that powers should be given by Act of Parliament for the systematic collection of agricultural statistics through. out the United Kingdom, as a measure not less valuable to the agriculturists themselves, than to merchants, statesmen, and the public at large. Authority should be given to compel the occupiers of land to make the necessary returns, in case of their neglect or refusal to do so. This compulsory power would be necessary; else the prejudices or obstinacy of a few might be imitated by others, and the returns rendered valueless by too many gaps or omissions.
2. The Board of Trade should be intrusted with the general superintendence of the collection of the statistics in Great Britain, through the medium of the Poor Law machinery in England and Wales, and of the Highland Society in Scotland. The experience of past years will suggest to the Board of Trade a mode of selecting the officers, and managing the details, so as to run as little counter to the opinions and doubts of the farmers as possible, so far as the Poor Law machinery is concerned; while the Highland Society, being held in high confidence in Scotland, will prove an excellent medium between the State and the farmers.
3. The Lord.Lieutenant should undertake the inquiry in Ireland ; it having been found that the Constabulary force, acting under his orders, has been very efficient for this purpose. The Irish Government should, however, from time to time consult with the Board of Trade on the subject, for the purpose of securing as much uniformity as possible in the returns obtained from the different portions of the United Kingdom.
4. It is expedient that two classes of returns should be obtained, at different periods of the year, and for different purposes. The first return, sent in by about the 15th of July, should give the area of all the culti ated land in the district to which the return relates, the acreage under each kind of crop, and the number of head of live stock. The second return, completed some time during the month of November, should consist—not of facts—but of estimates of the probable produce of the harvest. The first return would be compulsory on the farmer : the second not so. A farmer would not be compelled to state, in November, how much corn be had reaped
per acre; for it is believed that the general feeling in the agricultural districts would entirely frustrate such an inquiry ; but, for any given union, county, or district, statistical committees, or classifiers, or individuals who might be willing to render service, or all combined, should be employed to form the best estimate which is possible, under the circumstances, of the probable average produce of each crop per acre. It should be clearly understood and set forth that this second return would consist of estimates, guesses-not facts; but the aggregate of guesses might nevertheless give an average very near the truth.
5. The schedules to be employed should be exactly typified in the Act of Parliament, and should be sufficiently comprehensive for every purpose ; but power should be reserved to the Board of Trade to omit any portion of them on any particular occasion, or to modify them as circumstances may seem to render desirable. The schedules employed in 1854 would form an appropriate basis for the permanent schedules, subject to modification in some of the particulars.
6. It is expedient that two acres should be established as the lowest limit of area in England and Wales, to which the schedule entries should apply; for, although the holdinys below this limit are very numerous, their importance is not adequate to the immense trouble and expense which they would entail upon the statistical inquirers ; while it would not be difficult to form rough estimates concerning them, sufficiently approximative to render useful service.
7. The parochial rate-books should be rendered, by a clause in the Act of Parliament, at all times accessible to the properly-qualified officers employed in the collection of the agricultural statistics. If these rate-books be properly kept, they would form a most important check upon the accuracy of the individual returns, as they contain a statement of the extent in acres of the holding of each occupier in the parish, which ought to correspond with the totals in the schedule. If, as seems to be the case, many of the rate-books are at present imperfectly kept, it would be necessary to enforce their due completeness in future, under penalty for neglect of duty in this particular.
8. There would be advantage in rendering the corn-averages applicable to the statistical inquiry, as further furnishing collateral information. The requirements of the Act for taking these averages have not always been strictly carried out by the local officers intrusted with the duty; and it would be desirable to make the rules more stringent, as well as to increase the number of towns from whence the returns are made.
9. The collection of agricultural statistics being thus regarded as a national undertaking, and the supposed Act of Parliament containing many compulsory enactments, it would be expedient that the cost should be defrayed out of the National Exchequer, either by a distinct vote, or in any other forni usual in parliamentary finance.
10. Finally, if the above recommendations be well founded, it is expedient that the Government should, as early as possible, introduce a Bill into Parliament, for the purpose of carrying into effect such of
the provisions as may require the intervention of the Legislature for their due execution.
It remains to see whether the Legislature in 1856 gives effect to these recommendations.
Even while this sheet is preparing for press, Mr. Caird, the experienced · Agricultural Commissioner' for the Times, has communicated to that journal a letter which illustrates in a remarkable way many aspects of this statistical question. About twelve months earlier, Mr. Caird had put forth an estimate of the probable amount of wheat grown in the United Kingdom in 1854, searching in all directions for such data as might assist him in arriving at this probability. The commerce in corn during the remainder of 1854 and the first ten months of 1855, showed that his estimate had been very near the truth; and he thence felt encouraged to pursue his statistics in relation to the wheat crop of 1855. He travelled nearly all over England and Scotland for this purpose. Knowing that the produce per acre in 1854 had been above an average, and that that of 1855 has been not quite so good, he sets down hypothetically a certain number of bushels per acre as the average yield in 1855. He infers that as 1854 was a good year for the wheat-growers, the farmers would be incited to lay down a greater breadth of wheat than usual, especially as wheat brought a more than usually high price compared with barley. The area of crop being thus probably greater in 1855 than in 1854, and the richness of crop less, Mr. Caird sets down a certain number of million quarters as the wheat growth of the United Kingdom during 1855. He supposes (Times, Oct. 30, 1855) that we have grown 15,200,000 quarters this year; that we usually require for consumption 18,000,000; and that hence we shall require 2,800,000 from abroad-much less than the average of the last six or eight years, and in so far encouraging. This requirement, in fact, he believes will be less ; because the high price of corn (20s. higher per quarter than in the same period of 1854) has lessened the consumption among the poor, and left more in hand. The exact figures it is no part of our business here to touch upon; the matter is mentioned solely as showing how circuitous is at present the mode by which even the most experienced men can alone succeed in obtaining a clue to the quantity of corn in the country. We are at war; and it would be a great advantage to know how far we could feed our own millions from our own resources. This simple consideration, without any other, would tend to show the value of trustworthy agricultural statistics.
III. SHIPWRECKS AND LIFE-BOATS. The exercise of new control by the Board of Trade over merchantshipping, consequent on the passing of a recent Act of Parliament, affords a favourable opportunity for noticing some of the more remarkable features connected with shipwrecks and their prevention.
That wrecks are numerous, is a fact well known to a seafaring nation like ours; that they must necessarily be considerable in
number, regard being had to the perils of the deep, will of course be admitted ; but that nothing can be done to lessen their frequency, would be a hopeless theory of which we ought to be ashamed. Supposing for the sake of fixing the ideas, that some wrecks are occasioned by a want of scientific knowledge of winds, waves, currents, whirlpools, shoals, reefs, and sunken rocks, on the part of meteorologists and hydrographers; that others are caused by the incompetency of captains and mates; that others again result from the insubordination, carelessness, ignorance, or obstinate fatalism of seamen; that a fourth group are due to the deficiency of lighthouses, beacons, and buoys; and that the remainder arise from want of ready assistance to ships which, though placed in peril on shoals or near rocks, might yet be saved if aid were at hand on the beach or the cliff-who shall say that these evils are incurable ? who can put a limit to the improvements which might be wrought?
A dismal story, indeed, does the Wreck-chart of the British Islands' tell
, as published by the Admiralty, and afterwards in the 'Life-Boat Journal. It may be designated a truly distressing map. Every wreck on our coasts has its little black mark ; and the aggregate of such black marks reveals the number of wrecks in one year. Knowing that a black spot indicates a vessel wrecked, and that + indicates a vessel so seriously damaged as to need to discharge cargo, we look eagerly for the relative numbers of these little spots and stars; and it is saddening to see how numerous are the fatal black signs. At some places the wrecks are numerous because the coast is dangerous; at others, because the congregating of ships is very great.
ånd if it be asked, " What ratio did 1854 bear to previous years, in respect to these calamities ?” it is discouraging to know that, despite all our inventions and societies, it was one of the worst years ever experienced. Our coasts were the scene of no fewer than 987 wrecks of ships; of which 431 were totally lost as wrecks, and 53 sunk by collision : in the remaining 503 cases the ships, either by stranding or by collision, were so much damaged as to require to discharge cargo. But, more melancholy to tell, there are believed to have been the fearful number of 1549 human lives lost by these catastrophes-and all, be it remembered, on our own coasts on the coasts of the most busy maritime islands in the world; where, if there be liability of disaster through the vast congregation of shipping, there ought, on the other hand, to be a supply of invention and good sense sufficient to check, in some degree, such disasters. In examining the details of the chart, it will be seen that the mouth of the Tyne takes the unenvied precedence of all other places, in the number of black dots and stars opposite to its name ; next come the mouth of the Tees and the mouth of the Wear. These three rivers may be taken as the representatives of the district whence three million tons of coal are brought by sea to London yearly, employing the services of several thousand collier ships, which sail to and fro, and add to the otherwise busy commercial trade of the Northumbrian and Durham ports. Of the coast of those two counties alone are no fewer than 180 marks, denoting the number of wrecks,
sinkings, and serious collisions in one short twelvementh. The mouth of the Humber, the Suffolk coast between Yarmouth and Southwold, the intricate sandy shoals off the mouth of the Thames, the Goodwin Sands, the Scilly Islands, Barnstable Bay, and Liverpool, are the portions of the English coast which present, in the next degree, ihe most numerous indications of ship-losses. The Welsh coast is thickly strewn, especially Glamorgan, Pembroke, and Anglesea. Scotland, except in and near the Firth of Forth, presents no large numbers; the western coast is, indeed, remarkably free, due probably to the less exposure to the winds which tend to drive ships ashore on our eastern seaboard. Ireland presents a tolerably equable distribution along the east and south coasts : less on the northern and western.
As compared with 1853, the catalogue was equally sad and unexpected. The year 1854 exceeded by 155 wrecks and 560 lives the numbers for the preceding year. Jannary was the disastrous month; it was very inclement to landsmen, as will be well remembered ; and on our coasts it brought the loss of 258 vessels and 467 lives. The cheerful month of May brought less than one-tenth of this number of disasters. The most awful of the losses of life by these shipwrecks were those connected with the Tayleur, wrecked at Lambey Island on January 21st, when 290 persons were drowned ; and the Favorité, sunk by collision off Start Point on March 29th, when 199 lives were lost. The list contains also a record of the 480 souls on board the City of Glasgow steamer, missed since the 1st of March, on which day she left Liverpool for Philadelphia ; but it may be that some other land, or the pathless ocean, and not our own coasts, witnessed the (supposed) destruction of this ship.
Many inquiries into the causes of shipwreck have been instituted ; and especially one by a Committee of the House of Commons, whence a voluminous Report resulted. But public attention was perhaps more fully drawn to the subject by the Duke of Northumberland, who, in 1850, offered a premium for the best model of a life-boat. The examiners by whom the award was made, prepared an interesting Report on the whole subject, which his Grace caused to be printed for distribution in any and all quarters where it might render most service. This Report caused increased attention to be paid to the means for preventing shipwreck, or to assist the sufferers if prevention were impossible. The Duke has caused many lifeboats to be placed on the Northumbrian coast, which course of proceeding has acted as an incentive to others. The Report, and the circumstances attending it, also led to the starting of a small periodical* by a Society which has laboured since 1824 in the same benevolent cause. This Society, by means of a subscribed fund, has sought to assist in the establishing of life-boats and rocket-mortars at all the dangerous parts of our coast; to induce the formation of Local Committees at the chief ports for a sirnilar purpose ; to maintain a correspondence, beneficial to all parties, with these local Committees;
* The Life-Boat ; or, Journal of the Shipwreck Institution.' Published by C. Knight, 90 Flçct-street; and to be had at the office of the Institution, 14 John-street, Adelphi.