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TRAVELS DURING THE YEARS 1787, 1788, AND 1789,

UNDERTAKEN MORE PARTICULARLY WITH A VIEW OF ASCERTAINING THE CULTIVATION, WEALTH, RESOURCES, AND NATIONAL PROSPERITY OF THE KINGDOM OF FRANCE,

BY ARTHUR YOUNG, ESQ. F. R. S.

PREFACE.

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

In proportion to the power, the wealth, and the refources 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 oeconomy 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 thefe, that the public can hardly think that time mifemployed which attempts to give the practice.

The furvey which I made, fome years paft, of the agriculture of England and Ireland (the minutes of which I publifhed under the title of Tours), was such 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 hiftory, were like to remain another century unknown, with refpect to thofe circumstances 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 thofe 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 splendour, from whatever cause they may have arifen, reflected back upon the people the profperity they implied? very curious inquiries; yet refolved infufficiently by thofe whofe political reveries are fpun by their fire-fides, or caught flying as they are whirled through Europe in postchaifes. A man who is not practically acquainted with agriculture, knows not how to make thofe inquiries; he fcarcely knows how to difcriminate the circumftances productive of mifery, from thofe which generate the felicity of a people; an affertion that will not appear paradoxical, to thofe who have attended clofely to thefe fubjects. At the fame time, the mere agriculturift, 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

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tereft of the flate; combinations fo curious, as to convert, in fome cafes, well cultivated fields into scenes of misery, and accuracy of husbandry into the parent of national weaknefs. These are fubjects 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 fyftem, and of the vain theories that are to be found in the closets of fpeculators alone. God forbid that I fhould be guilty of the vanity of fuppofing 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 year's experience, fince that attempt, may make me hope to be not lefs qualified for fimilar exertions at present.

The clouds that for four or five years paft, have indicated a change in the political fky of the French hemifphere, and which have fince gathered to fo fingular a storm, have rendered it more interefting to know what France was previously to any change. It would indeed have been matter of aftonishment, if monarchy had rifen, and had fet 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 analyfis of common practice, which a man is enabled to give, who refides fome months, or years, confined to one fpot; twenty men, employed during twenty years, would not effect it; and fuppofing it done, not one thoufandth 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 deferve such a study, perhaps, ftill fewer: to know that unlightened 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 purfuit, the work would have been more worthy of the public eye; but fuch fuccefs muft, in this kingdom, be fooner looked for in any other path than that of the plough; non ullus aratro dignus honos, was not more applicable to a period of confufion and bloodfhed at Rome, than to one of peace and luxury in England.

One circumftance I may be allowed to mention, because it will fhew, 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 myself: when the publisher agreed to run the hazard of printing these papers, and fome progress 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 60 sheets; he found enough prepared for the prefs to fill 140: and I affure the reader, that the fucceffive employment of striking 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 fecond part of the work on accurate figures, that I did not care to trust myself, but employed a schoolmafter, 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.

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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 courfe I have steer. ed is so 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 with 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 would understand as an ample justification of myself, and a fure ground to believe that I have proceeded at leaft with impartiality, and perhaps with truth."

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