[From T.Quayle Agriculture of IoM, 1812]
AS the amount of capital in the hands of the farmer becomes augmented, and as he advances in skill, many of the evils before adverted to will disappear. Some there are certainly, not wholly within his power. The enclosure and appropriation of the waste, with the concurrence of the lord of the manor and of those interested, can only be effected by the authority of the insular legislature. If the obstacles to this measure could be removed, none perhaps can be suggested more likely to produce gain to the individual, or advantage to the public. The turbaries being preserved, and such portion of the waste as is best adapted to the growth of timber, being planted, drains being cut in proper directions, and sufficient fences erected, the remainder would speedily be converted into valuable summer pasture for sheep. The island is in general well adapted to this useful animal, as is indeed the greater part of its arable land to the culture of turnips, and other green crops, for sheep feed in winter and spring. The absence of the fly, and of severe frosts, gives the insular farmer peculiar advantages, of which he does not sufficiently avail himself. In the autumn of 1811, there were not in the island 600 acres of turnips : the quantity might be beneficially increased at least twenty-fold. Instead of importing mutton from Whitehaven, to which the inhabitants of Douglas are at present occasionally compelled for their weekly supply of food, they might speedily become exporters to a considerable amount.
In order to put the fences in effectual repair, recourse must also be had to the legislature. While continuing of their present construction, and on the present system, they will continue a great impediment to the agricul tural progress of the island. An alteration might also be made in the existing laws respecting draining, from which good effects might be expected to result. On their present footing, the object sought evidently is but imperfectly attained. Instead of requiring, as is now the case, each proprietor, at his own discretion, as to mode and time, to keep clear the drain passing through his land, without adverting to the peculiar difficulties which each, singly, has to encounter, or to the relative quantities and value of land, compared with the length of drain which each has to keep clear, if the commissioners were invested with authority by law to give orders for deepening and carrying on the drain in due season, by one operation, and under the guidance of an experienced workman ; afterwards dividing the expense annually by an equitable pound-rate among the persons whose lands were relieved, in proportion to the benefit actually-received by each, it would seem that the object might be effected in a mode, on the whole less costly, more just, more compendious, and more effectual.
In every country, the farmer's interests are sensibly affected by the good or bad condition of the roads. In this island, heavy loaden carriages not being numerous, and good materials generally accessible, the roads ought to be kept in tolerable repair. But the system of statute-labor, on which the principal reliance is placed, must necessarily be inefficient. It is not to be expected that labor should be well performed by a crowd of people, huddled together, and working gratuitously for a day, under an ignorant careless surveyor, to whom they pay no attention. The pecuniary funds at the disposal of the high-road commissioners, are also evidently inadequate. To remedy these defects, and construct such roads as the augmented number of the inhabitants, and their increasing wealth and wants require, must be the future care of the legislature.
On the nearest contiguous coast, that of Galloway, the roads were within memory in a state of equal disrepair. The talents and the exertions of one noble-minded young man, Basil, the late Lord Daer, applied to this important object, have effected a change so complete in the direction, the construction, and the state in general of these roads, as must be of lasting benefit to his country.
When circumstance enable the resident insular legislature, as is their earnest wish, to pass laws for effecting this and other necessary internal regulations, no better plans seem likely to be devised than those put in practice by Lord Daer, in a country of strongly similar features : and in no hands can their execution be more safely confided, than in those of one of the road engineers who have benefited by his Lordship's instructions, and aided in putting them in execution.
To allude again to the imperfect state of farm-houses and offices, or to other deficiences which have been before stated, would be but wearisome repetition. In the period of time elapsed since the completion of the former survey of the insular agriculture under the Board's authority, some improvement certainly has taken place, and some progress been made in the correction of former bad practices. Should the powers of the Board continue to be exerted, which, for the sake of the public, is much to be wished, and should a survey of the island be taken after an equal interval of time, by a more able inquirer, it is confidently hoped that its state may then exhibit an advance still more marked in improvement.