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Honorary Member of the Societies of DUBLIN, BATH, YORK, SALFORD, and ODIHAM; the
Philofophical and Literary Society of MANCHESTER; the Veterinary College of London;
the Oeconomical Society of BERNE; the Physical Society of ZURICH; the Palatine
Academy of Agriculture at MANHEIM; the Imperial Oeconomical Society efta-
blished at PETERSBURGH; Affociate of the Royal Society of Agriculture at
PARIS; and Correfponding Member of the Royal Academy of Agri-
culture at FLORENCE; and of the Patriotic Society at MILAN.




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T is a question whether modern history has any thing more curious to offer to the attention of the politician, than the progress and rivalship of the French and English empires, from the miniftry of Colbert to the revolution in France. In the course of thofe 130 years, both have figured with a degree of splendour that has attracted the admiration of mankind.

In proportion to the power, the wealth, and the resources of these nations, is the interest which the world in general takes in the maxims of political economy by which they have been governed. To examine how far the fyftem of that œconomy has influenced agriculture, manufactures, commerce, and public felicity, is certainly an inquiry of no flight importance; and fo many books have been compofed on the theory of these, that the public can hardly think that time misemployed which attempts to give THE PRACTICE.

The furvey which I made, fome years past, of the agriculture of England and Ireland (the minutes of which I published under the title of Tours), was fuch a step towards understanding the state of our husbandry as I fhall not prefume to characterise; there are but few of the European nations that do not read thefe Tours in their own language; and, notwithstanding all their faults and deficiencies, it has been often regretted, that no fimilar defcription of France could be reforted to, either by the farmer or the politician. Indeed it could not but be lamented, that this vaft kingdom, which has fo much figured in history, were likely to remain another century unknown, with respect to those circumftances that are the objects of my inquiries. An hundred and thirty years have paffed, including one of the most active and confpicuous reigns upon record, in which the French power and refources, though much overftrained, were formidable to Europe. How far were that power and those refources founded on the permanent basis of an enlightened agriculture? How far on the more infecure fupport of manufactures and commerce? How far have wealth and power and exterior fplendour, from whatever cause they may have arifen, reflected back upon the people the profperity they implied? Very curious inquiries; yet refolved infufficiently by those whofe political reveries are spun by their firefides, or caught flying as they are whirled through Europe in poft-chaifes. A man who is not practically acquainted with agriculture, knows not how to make A 2 thofe

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thofe inquiries; he fcarcely knows how to difcriminate the circumstances productive of mifery, from thofe which generate the felicity of a people; an affertion that will not appear paradoxical, to those who have attended closely to these fubjects. At the fame time, the mere agriculturist, who makes fuch journies, fees little or nothing of the connection between the practice in the fields, and the refources of the empire; of combinations that take place between operations apparently unimportant, and the general intereft of the state; combinations fo curious, as to convert, in fome cafes, well cultivated fields into fcenes of mifery, and accuracy of hufbandry into the parent of national weaknefs. These are subjects that never will be understood from the fpeculations of the mere farmer, or the mere politician; they demand a mixture of both; and the investigation of a mind free from prejudice, particularly national prejudice; from the love of system, and of the vain theories that are to be found in the clofets of fpeculators alone. God forbid that I should be guilty of the vanity of supposing myself thus endowed! I know too well the contrary; and have no other pretenfion to undertake fo arduous a work, than that of having reported the agriculture of England with fome little fuccefs. Twenty years experience, fince that attempt, may make me hope to be not lefs qualified for fimilar exertions at prefent.

The clouds that, for four or five years paft, have indicated a change in the political sky of the French hemifphere, and which have fince gathered to fo fingular a ftorm, have rendered it yet more interesting, to know what France was previously to any change. It would indeed have been matter of astonishment, if monarchy had risen, and had set in that region, without the kingdom having had any examination profeffedly agricultural.

The candid reader will not expect, from the registers of a traveller, that minute analysis of common practice, which a man is enabled to give, who refides fome months, or years, confined to one spot; twenty men, employed during twenty years, would not effect it; and fuppofing it done, not one thousandth part of their labours would be worth a perufal. Some fingularly enlightened diftricts merit fuch attention; but the number of them, in any country, is inconfiderable; and the practices that deserve such a study, perhaps, ftill fewer : to know that unenlightened practices exift, and want improvement, is the chief knowledge that is of ufe to convey; and this rather for the statesman than the farmer. No reader, if he knows any thing of my fituation, will expect, in this work, what the advantages of rank and fortune are neceffary to produce--of fuch I had none to exert, and could combat difficulties with no other arms than unremitted attention, and unabating industry. Had my aims been feconded by that fuccefs in life, which gives energy to effort, and vigour to pursuit, the work would have been more worthy of the public eye; but fuch fuccefs must, in this


kingdom, bè fooner looked for in any other path than in that of the plough; the non ullus aratro dignus honos, was not more applicable to a period of confufion and bloodshed at Rome, than to one of peace and luxury in England.

One circumstance I may be allowed to mention, because it will shew, that whatever faults the enfuing pages contain, they do not flow from any prefumptive expectation of fuccefs: a feeling that belongs to writers only, much more popular than myfelf: when the publisher agreed to run the hazard of printing these papers, and fome progrefs being made in the journal, the whole MS. was. put into the compofitor's hand to be examined, if there were a fufficiency for a volume of fixty fheets; he found enough prepared for the prefs to fill 140: and I affure the reader, that the fucceffive employment of ftriking out and mutilating more than the half of what I had written, was executed with more indifference than regret, even though it obliged me to exclude feveral chapters, upon which I had taken confiderable pains. The publisher would have printed the whole; but whatever faults may be found with the author, he ought at least to be exempted from the imputation of an undue confidence in the public favour; fince, to expunge was undertaken as readily as to compofe.-So much depended in the second part of the work on accurate figures, that I did not care to trust to myself, but employed a schoolmaster, who has the reputation of being a good arithmetician, for examining the calculations, and I hope he has not let any material errors escape him.

The revolution in France was a hazardous and critical fubject, but too important to be neglected; the details I have given, and the reflections I have ventured, will, I truft, be received with candour, by thofe who confider how many authors, of no inconfiderable ability and reputation, have failed on that difficult theme: the course I have fteered is fo removed from extremes, that I can hardly hope for the approbation of more than a few; and I may apply to myself, in this inftance, the words of Swift:-" I have the ambition, common with other reafoners, to wish at least that both parties may think me in the right; but if that is not to be hoped for, my next wifh fhould be, that both might think me in the wrong; which I would understand as an ample justification of myfelf, and a fure ground to believe that I have proceeded at least with impartiality, and perhaps with truth.'


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