English Farming: Past and Present (Classic Reprint)
English Farming Past and Present is based on an article which appeared in the Quarterly Review for 1885. The article was subsequently expanded into a book, published in 1888 by Messrs. Longman under the title of The Pioneers and Progress of English Farming.
The book has been out of print for twenty years. Written with the confidence of comparative youth and inexperience, it expressed as certainties many opinions which might now be modified, if not withdrawn. But its motives were two convictions, which time has rather strengthened than weakened. One was, that the small number of persons who owned agricultural land might some day make England the forcing-bed of schemes for land-nationalisation, which countries, where the ownership of the soil rested on a more democratic basis, repudiated as destructive of all forms of private property. The other was, that a considerable increase in the number of peasant ownerships, suitable hands, on suitable land, and in suitable localities, was socially, economically, and agriculturally advantageous.
Since 1888, the whole field of economic history has been so carefully and skilfully cultivated, that another work on a branch of the subject might appear superfluous. But there still seemed to be room for a consecutive history of English agriculture, written from a practical point of view, and tracing the influence of the progress of the industry on the social conditions of those engaged in its pursuit. Great economic changes have resulted from small alterations in the details of manufacturing processes. Similar changes may often be explained by some little-noticed alterations in farming practice. The introduction of the field-cultivation of turnips, for example, was as truly the parent of a social revolution as the introduction of textile machinery.
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