Having finished my little tour, and counted my neat expenses – twenty-six pounds seven shillings – I am perfectly satisfied with what I have done, and would recommend any young farmer who can afford it to make the same or like tour, so as they may be acquainted with the geography of the country, the population, the manners and customs of the people, and the stage of agriculture, both as to improvements of land, and breeding, feeding of sheep and cattle; as to labouring, they are very far behind what we are in the south and eastern districts in Scotland; their mode of ploughing, harrowing, &c, is slow and expensive; their hedge fences are pitiful, and encumbrances in the way of improving, in the West of England especially. They have the easiest access to manure and exportation of their commodities by canals that can be; that of housing their whole crop at harvest is certainly a bad plan; it gives the fodder a bad musty smell, and must encourage such vermin as rats, mice, &c It also requires a very great expense of building large barns for the purpose; in general, the farms in tillage are but small; 200 acres, English, is reputed a large farm. Every part of the farm steading is kept clean and neat; they have a great dependence upon the dairy for the rent-butter, cheese, and milk – these they manage to a very great purpose. You never see a woman milk a cow; this is all done by the men, and for cleanliness, both as to houses, meat, drink, and clothing, they very far exceed the Scotch in general. In their manner they are frank and open, and ready to give their answer without hesitating or designing.
THE LOWER CLASSES
Ignorance amongst the lower class is much against them; food and clothing seem to be their great concern. They give their children very little education, and by being put to work in some of their manufactories so soon as they can earn twopence a day, they seldom have the opportunity of learning afterwards; they seldom lay up any part of their gains for trouble or old age. Saturday evenings and Sunday’s eating and drinking settle the account for the week’s work. One reason for their being so improvident may be the poor rates being very great ill England, and the allowances for their maintenance so liberal that they are the less careful to lay by anything for a future day. Swearing is a thing they are much addicted to. It is shocking to hear them, of all ages, from young boys and girls up to old age. They have no sense of religion, and any they have is a mere form; indeed, the Established Church Government has too much of this in it. After all, I believe they are freer from hypocrisy by far than our most refined professors and Dissenters of any kind. In general they are civil, and when they get your money for anything, you get more civility and thanks for one shilling than here for one pound.
THE NOBILITY AND GENTRY.
As to the nobility and gentry, they are far more generous and easy of access than our Scots lairds (whose character has long been poor and proud). In England they are beloved and revered from their liberality and affability. Here in general they are revered from a fear of their arbitrary power, and the manner in which they treat the lower class of people. In England there is scarcely a fine house that may not be seen by any decent- looking person, and everything you wish to see will be pointed out to you. Here you can hardly look over the fence without being threatened; the smallest offence is punished. To hear with what filial affection they speak of their great men when they tell you of their condescending, behaviour and good actions, you cannot help feeling as they do. Here when you see the haughty manner in which even petty gentlemen speak to those below them, you cannot help thinking meanly of them. In road bills, game laws, and whatever they have any power in, they rule with rigour, and none may even risk their opinion in public of their right or wrong; and any petition to be presented must be with the profoundest humility. From what I saw and the many things I heard of the English great, they deserve praise and merit, regard which our Scots lairds have no claim to. We have by far too many gentlemen of the law, justices of the peace, &c., who are not the most conciliatory of men; and .others, Nabobs who from mean extract have made their fortunes abroad, and, now great men at home, and being accustomed to rule over negroes or Indians abroad, retain that domineering spirit which can never take in a land of liberty like ours.
THE COST OF THE TOUR
As to the expense of travelling in England, it is little or nothing higher than in Scotland. As to myself, I could travel and live comfortably to go thirty-six or forty miles a day as under;
On the above a man and horse may travel and hold out very well. I have not received much improvement by seeing anything great to imitate; but I have got information and knowledge of my country which I never could have got otherwise, and may profit by the observations I made upon what I saw, draining especially. The remarks I have made are more for my own amusement than otherwise. They will keep the geography of the country, the nature of the soil, the principal towns, places, and curiosities alive in my memory; and if ever any of mine should go that way, they will see what changes are made. It can but be poor entertainment to any person else.