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AGRICULTURE. -+-- Harvest Prospects. In a large portion of the country harvest operations are now in full swing. Owing to the long continuance of bright sun and hot weather the crops have come to maturity at least three weeks earlier than usual, and generally bear a most promising aspect. Daring the winter months there was a good deal of snow and a general heavy rainfall, which penetrated deep into the earth. This was much wanted, as the long drought of last summer had thoroughly parched the ground. The spring was backward, bat when it did really set in, it was a more favourable one than we have had for years. We experienced less than usual of those cold blighting winds which so retard and cut up vegetation, and the consequence was that the crops grew most rapidly, the succeeding hot, dry weather having a most bene- ficial effect. As respects the wheat crop, upon which so much depends, accounts from all parts of the country are satisfactory. As a rule the wheats are thin, but on the other hand the quality is excellent, and the yield will be very heavy. Thin sowing has been very generally adopted, and with the most marked success. It is now found that in proportion to the distance between the plants so does the yield increase. The grain also is not only heavier but of a better quality. In some of the high and dry lands there is not much straw, owing to the very dry and hot month of June, but in the low lands there is plenty. Practical judges estimate that the wheat crop will be considerably above the average. Oats, rye, and barley all look equally well, and if we should have fine harvesting weather we think we may venture to predict that the cereal (irop will be larger than that of last year, and of as good a quality. Next in import- ance to the cereal comes that very essential esculent, the potato. Since the first appearance of the potato disease the plants generally never looked better, if so well. Some anxiety was experienced as to this crop about three weeks since. The weather had been un- usually hot and dry, and in many districts there were indications that the fruit was prematurely ripening, and it was feared that if the drought continued and was followed by heavy rain, the new potatoes would commence to grow. In some few cases this has been the case, and they have had to be dug up, when of course, although the yield was abundant, the potatoes were small. But the rain which fell about three weeks since could not have come more opportunely, and the plants, as a rule, look splendid. The haulm is strong, luxuriant, and clean, and no symptoms of the disease have shown themselves. A very large area has been planted, and if the weather should be propitious for digging the yield will be very satisfac- tory. The poorer classes, with cheap bread and plenty of potatoes, will be able to do with less meat, which is now, practically, almost beyond their reach. How, for inwiance, can an agwicultural labourer, with his nine and ten shillings a week, afford, after payment of his rent, &o., to buy meat at elevenpence and a shilling a pound. He cannot do so, and if he tastes animal food once a week it is as much as he can. The success of the potato crop is, therefore, of immense importance at this period. Great efforts have been and are still being made by the farmers and corn- factors to get the price of corn up, but the prospects of the season are so cheering, both at home and abroad, that we have very little fear they will succeed. The prospects of the fruit season in the spring were very cheering. Unfortunately, kowever, in many dis. tricts the dry weather has retarded the growth of strawberries, and when the rain did come, the plants grew so rapidly that they went to leaf instead of to fruit. The yield basi therefore, been very small. Of currants and gooseberries there has been an abun- dance. Of pears there is also a great crop. Apples, on the other hand, will be scarce as compared with last year. There was an abundance of bloom, and the fruit was well set. Eventually, however, there was a good deal of blight, and the dry weather caused a large quantity to drop off. What remains, how- ever, of the crop is excellent. Almost universally there is an immense show of plums, greater, indeed, than has been observed for several years. The hop growers are in high spirits, as in almost all the dis- tricts the accounts are very satisfactory. The bine is described as being strong and clean, and generally free from the flea and mould. In some of the more forward districts the plant is well in burr, and should the weather continue as favourable as it is at present, there will be a splendid picking. Owing to the repeal of the hop duty growers have planted very largely, and many of them, it is expected, will this year realise sufficient to more than recoup themselves for the short crop of the year 1862. But large as the supply is the demand is still greater, the consump- tion of pale ale and bitter beer feeing enormous; and although the Board of Trade returns show that the consumption of French and other light wines has very much increased, the quantity of beer brewed is greater than ever. The hay crop was abundant and excellent in quality, much better than last year; owing to the moist state of the ground there was, generally, capital bottom, and the crop, as a rule, was very heavy. The late rains have wonderfully improved the pastures, and in the marshes cattle fatten in a marvellously short time. This may, perhaps, tend in some measure to lower the price of butchers' meat, but we are afraid we cannot expect any great change until the graziers breed more largely than they do at present. One reason of the present scarcity is that, some few years since, the breeders overstocked themselves, and the importation of foreign cattle increasing, they did not get what they considered sufficiently remunerating prices, and therefore discontinued breeding to the ex- tent they did before. The present high scale of prices and constantly increasing demand, from the augmen- tation of the population, may now tempt them to re- turn to their former scale of breeding. The root crop, especially mangold wurtzel, looks very good, and grows rapidly. A large area has been planted this year, so that, in all probability, there will not be that scarcity of food for cattle which there was at the latter end of last and the beginning of the present Ye-. Looking generally at the harvest prospects, we see everywhere reasons for sincere congratulation, and if there be fine weather for gathering it in, we may reasonably flatter ourselves that the wonderful pros- perity we have enjoyed for the last few years will not be checked. The Malt-Tax and the Working People. When a large employer, says the Anii-Malt-tax Circular, like Mr. Joshua Fielden, publicly states that amongst a body of intelligent workmen such as those in his employ, there are a vast number who are in positive ignorance of the existence of a tax upon malt, or of its effect ro enhancing the price of beer, it can require no argument to show that, if the aid of the working population is to be made available to bring about the repeal of the malt-tax, the first thing needful is to open their eyes not only to its existence, but to its incidence and operation to show them how materially the exciseman interieres with the cost and the quality of their pot of beer, and how freely the Chancellor of the Exchequer invariably partakes of every draught they swallow, without the customary preliminary of being asked to drink. It often happens that an argument addressed especially to one given subject bears with marvellous force upon another of a totally different eharacter, and with which it has not even a shadow of connection. Thus, in a recent article in the Times on the Union Chargeability Bill, the writer remarks:— "It is not an argument against the measure that it has originated in the recommendations of economists and philanthropists rather than from any outcry ot the labouring class itself. There are, unfortunately, in every country those who suffer in silence through sheer ignorance and helplessness. They have never acquired the mental activity to agitate or petition, they look upon their fate as the natural order of things, and have never conceived it to be capable of change." Can anything be more pertinent than the above passage as to the ignorance of the working population on the subject of the malt-tax P The outcry for the repeal of that tax has not "arisen from the labouring class itself," but from economists and others who have marked its working. The great mass of the working classes, who are, after all, the largest consumers of beer, have assuredly suffered in silence through sheer ignorance," though not, strictly speak- ing, from" helplessness." On the contrary, they could unquestionably have helped themselves, and, there can be as little doubt, would have done so, had their knowledge been equal to either their will or their power. If they possessed-as they eertainly have done and do—the "mental activity to agitate and petition," they have not had placed before them the facts and the figures needful to stimulate that ac- tivity and set it to work. The working classes, and not only they, but the great majority of the country, have been taught to look upon the malt-tax in the same light as the poor have regarded the decrees of the Poor-law Board. The drinkers of beer have been accustomed to view a heavy tax upon malt as in the natural order of things." The very magnitude of the impost has tended to tnis re- sult only suggest the repeal of the malt-tax, ana the stereotyped reply is, See what it produceshow are five or six millions annually to be spared. In a word, the people have accepted a tax of six millions as "their fate," and "have never conceived it to be capable of change." Is not this a perfectly true re- presentation of the case ? „ The author of the very valuable P*ize Essay on the Malt-tax, Mr. R. L. Everett, makes the following per- tinent remarks on the quiet. submission to taxation which is the result of growing up 11 under it: A tax so oppressive to the poorest amongst us, no minister would venture now to propose. When first imposed, in 1697, it was so light as to be scarcely felt. Then, and for the following fiftyyears, it was sixpence per bushel. It was raised during the French war, a time of danger to the country which justified extra- ordinary pressure upon the people. Once raised— with that fatal facility of continuance which all taxes seem to possess-it has never been more than partially reduced. It has stood at nearly its present height for sixty-three years, so that the present generatioa has been born under its influence. It is surprising the difference which this makes. What we are born sub- ject to we take as a matter of course. We do not know the full weight of the burden we carry, never having been for one moment without it. It is thus that this tax has lieen allowed to remain so long. Were it now to be proposed as a new tax, the very people who patiently submit to its operations would, without hesitation, indignantly reject it." But changes are nevertheless brought about, even in matters where such conclusions as those referred to have long exercised their deadening influence. Economists and philanthropists have, as we have just seen, succeeded in removing the monstrous injustice that so long pressed upon the labouring poor, and that which was regarded as the "natural order of things" has been followed by a system far more deserving of the term" natural." That this has been accomplished without the aid or agitation of the immediate sufferers under the old rule, is a fact which may be hailed as an important encourage- ment to the malt-tax repealers, since there can be no question that they will enjoy the substantial ad- vantage of having the aid and co-operation of all classes of "sufferers" from the tax, so soon as the dense ignorance prevalent on the subject can be re- moved. The working population may be safely relied upon to evince safficient 11 mental activity," so soon as they shall have been enlightened upon the question, and it will then be found that they will no longer sub- mit to consider a tax of some seventy per cent. upon the raw material of the national beverage as the natural order of things," and will resolutely refuse to believe that so monstrous an abuse of the power of the Legislature in the way of taxation is not capa- ble of change."




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