The soils of Scotland, as might be expected from the peculiarities of its surface and geology, are often very various in even a single field, and much more in extensive districts. Yet they have, in many instances of both the excellent and the inferior, long and broad expanses of uniformity; and, while in aggregate character poorer than those of England, they vie in their rich tracts with the wealthiest in the three kingdoms, and have prompted and tutored, over their penurious tracts, a keenness of georgic skill, and a sturdiness in the arts of husbandry, which have made Scottish farmers the boast of Europe. The carses of Stirling, Falkirk, and Gowrie, most of the three Lothians; the Merse, Clydesdale, and Strathearn, large portions of Fifeshire, Strathmore, Annandale, Nithsdale, Kyle, Cunningham, and of the low grounds along the Moray and the Cromarty friths, and even some straths and very numerous haughs in the mountainous districts, are highly productive, and can bear comparison with the best tracts of land in England. According to Sir John Sinclair’s digest of the productive soils, or of those on lands fully or partially cultivated, the loams amount to 1,869,193 English acres, the rich clays to 987,070, the gravelly soils to 681,862, the cold or inferior clays to 510,265, the improved mossy soils to 411,096, the alluvial haugh or carse land to 320,193, and the sandy soils to 263,771, – in all, as we stated at the outset, 5,043,450 English acres. According to the same authority, the extent of plantations and of natural woods which existed at the date of the digest, on lands not included in this classification, was, of the former, 412,226 English acres, of the latter, 501,469, – jointly, 913,695. Plantations, since that period, have been raised to a vast aggregate amount on the waste lands, and disposed in innumerable tiny forests, clumps, belts, and rows, among the cultivated grounds. Pines are the most common trees; but, in later plantations, the hard woods, in many instances, prevail. Though agriculture has, in most districts, attained bold approaches to perfection, the crops, in the aggregate, are inferior in quality to those of England, and considerably more exposed to risk. Grain of the same weight, raised on Scottish and on English soils, differs in the proportion of the most valued elements; and fruit, according to its species, is richer now in Scotland and now in England, and of the same species widely varies as raised in the two ends of the island. A fair view of Scottish agriculture in its palmiest state, may be obtained by perusal of the agricultural section of our article on Haddingtonshire. The grand characteristics of the aggregate agriculture of the country are, in the words of McCulloch, “1st, The nearly universal prevalence of leases of a reasonable endurance, and containing regulations as to management, which, while they do not improperly shackle the tenant, prevent the land from being exhausted previously to the termination of the lease; 2d, The absence of tithes, and in most cases, also, of poor-rates, and of all oppressive public burdens; 3d, The prevention of assignment and sub-letting by tenants, and the descent of the lease to the heir-at-law; and 4th, The general introduction of thrashing-machines, and the universal use of the two-horse plough and one-horse cart.” The dairy commands attention principally in the counties of Ayr, Renfrew, and Dumfries. The annual produce of wheat is estimated in value at £1,650,000, or 660,000 quarters at 50s. per quarter; of barley, at £1,470,000, or 980,000 quarters at 30s. per quarter; of oats, at £7,171,875, or 5,737,000 quarters at 25s. per quarter; of potatoes and turnips, at £2,250,000; of flax, at £128,000; of garden and orchard produce, at £416,000; or the total of agricultural and horticultural produce, exclusive of pulse and the grasses, at £13,355,875. Pasture on arable lands is averaged at £2 per acre, and estimated in aggregate value at £4,979,450; and upland pasture, together with plantations and waste lands, is averaged at 3s. per acre, and estimated in aggregate value at £2,100,000. According to these estimates – which we borrow from Malte Brun and Balbi Abridged, as the most recent and a very intelligent publication – the total annual value of the land produce of Scotland amounts to £20,435,325. The gross rental of land, in 1811, was £4,792,243.
It has been estimated by the late Sir John Sinclair, and his calculations were confirmed by many of the parochial clergy, that the rental of estates in Scotland increased at least from two to three fold, from the year 1660 to the year 1750. This increased rental doubled previous to 1770, and in the next twenty years it again doubled. The rental had thus increased from eight to ten fold in one hundred and thirty years; and again, from 1791 to 1841, it had increased two-and-a-half times on the average of ninety-nine parishes taken indiscriminately to illustrate this increase, and of which a list is subjoined; and as Scotland contains only 919 parishes, it may be taken to have been general. The land-rental of parishes in Scotland, it would thus appear, has increased since the Restoration, in 1660, twenty to thirty fold; or about two thousand per cent.!
|County.||Parish.||Real Rental in 1791-6.||Real Rental in 1832-40.|
|Monkton and Prestwick,||2,000||4,509|
|Swinton and Simprin,||4,030||8,000|
|Buncle and Preston Ellim,||3,200||8,000|
|Berwick,||Whitsome and Hilton,||3,080||7,526|
|Cockburnspath and Old Cambus,||4,500||8,000|
|Applegarth and SIbbaldine,||2,500||6,680|
|Total Rent||of 99 Parishes,||£287,139||£748,847|