The rain having ceased, I resumed my walk, in a southerly direction, to Chrishall Grange, the residence of Samuel Jonas, who may be called the largest farmer in England; not, perhaps, in extent of territory occupied, but in the productive capacity of the land cultivated, and in the values realised from it.  It is about four miles east of Royston, bordering on the three counties of Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, and Essex, though lying mainly in the latter.  It contains upwards of 3,000 acres, and nearly every one of them is arable, and under active cultivation.  It consists of five farms, belonging to four different landlords; still they are so contiguous and coherent that they form substantially one great block.  No one could be more deeply impressed with the magnitude of such an establishment, and of the operations it involves, than a New England farmer.  Taking the average of our agriculturists, their holdings or occupations, to use an English term, will not exceed 100 acres each; and, including woodland, swamp, and mountain, not over half of this space can be cultivated.  To the owner and tiller of such a farm, a visit to Mr. Jonas' occupation must be interesting and instructive.  Here is a man who cultivates a space which thirty Connecticut farmers would feel themselves rich to own and occupy, with families making a population of full two hundred souls, supporting and filling a church and school-house.  In the great West of America, where cattle are bred and fed somewhat after the manner of Russian steppes or Mexican ranches, such an occupation would not be unusual nor unexpected; but in the very heart of England, containing a space less than the state of Virginia, a tract of such extent and value in the hands of a single farmer is a fact which a New Englander must regard at first with no little surprise.  He will not wonder how one man canrent such a space, but how he can till it to advantage; how, even with the help of several intelligent and active sons, he can direct and supervise operations which fill the hands of thirty solid farmers of Massachusetts.  Two specific circumstances enable him to perform this undertaking.

In the first place, agriculture in England is reduced to an exact and rigid science.  To use a nautical phrase, it is all plain sailing.  The course is charted even in the written contract with the landlord.  The very term, "course," is adopted to designate the direction which the English farmer is to observe.  Skilled hands are plenty and pressing to man the enterprise.  With such a chart, and such a force, and such an open sea, it is as easy for him to sail the "Great Eastern" as a Thames schooner.  The helm of the great ship plays as freely and faithfully to the motion of his will as the rudder of the small craft.  Then the English farmer has a great advantage over the American in this circumstance: he can hire cheaply a grade of labor which is never brought to our market.  Men of great skill and experience, who in America would conduct farms of their own, and could not be hired at any price, may be had here in abundance for foremen, at from twelve to sixteen shillings, or from three to four dollars a week, they boarding and lodging themselves.  And the number of such men is constantly increasing, from two distinct causes.  In the first place there is a large generation of agricultural laborers in England, now in the prime of manhood, who have just graduated, as it were, through all the scientific processes of agriculture developed in the last fifteen years.  The ploughmen, cowmen, cartmen, and shepherds, even, have become familiar with the established routine; and every set of these hands can produce one or two active and intelligent laborers who will gladly and ably fill the post of under-foreman for a shilling or two a week of advanced wages.  Then, by the constant absorption of small holdings into large farms, which is going on more rapidly from this increased facility of managing great occupations, a very considerable number of small farmers every year are falling into the labor market, being reduced to the necessity of either emigrating to cheaper lands beyond the sea, or of hiring themselves out at home as managers, foremen or common laborers on the estates thus enlarged by their little holdings.  From these two sources of supply, the English tenant-farmer, beyond all question, is able to cultivate a larger space, and conduct more extensive operations than any other agriculturist in the world, at least by free labor.

The first peculiarity of this large occupation I noticed, was the extent of the fields into which it was divided.  I had never seen any so large before in England.  There were only three of the whole estate under 60, and some contained more than 400 acres each, giving the whole an aspect of amplitude like that of a rolling prairie farm in Illinois.  Not one of the little, irregular morsels of land half swallowed by its broad-bottomed hedging, which one sees so frequently in an English landscape, could be found on this great holding.  The white thorn fences were new, trim, and straight, occupying as little space as possible.  The five amalgamated farms are light turnip soil, with the exception of about 200 acres, which are well drained.  The whole surface resembles that of a heavy ground swell of the sea; nearly all the fields declining gently in different directions.  The view from the rounded crest of the highest wave was exceedingly picturesque and beautiful, presenting a vista of plenty which Ceres of classic mythology never saw; for never, in ancient Greece, Italy, or Egypt, were the crops of vegetation so diversified and contrasting with each other as are interspersed over an English farm of the present day.

It is doubtful if 3,000 acres of land, lying in one solid block, could be found in England better adapted for testing and rewarding the most scientific and expensive processes of agriculture, than this great occupation of Mr. Jonas.  Certainly, no equal space could present a less quantity of waste land, or occupy less in hedges or fences.  And it is equally certain that no estate of equal size is more highly cultivated, or yields a greater amount of production per acre.  Its occupant, also, is what may be called an hereditary farmer.  His father and his remote ancestors were farmers, and he, as in the case of the late Mr. Webb, has attained to his present position as an agriculturist by practical farming.

Mr. Jonas cultivates his land on the "Four-course system."  This very term indicates the degree to which English agriculture has been reduced to a precise and rigid science.  It means here, that the whole arable extent of his estate is divided equally between four great crops; or, wheat, 750 acres; barley and oats, 750; seeds and pulse, 750; and roots, 750.  Now, an American farmer, in order to form an approximate idea of the amount of labor given to the growth of these crops, must remember that all these great fields of wheat, oats, barley, turnips, beans, and peas, containing in all over 2,000 acres, are hoed by hand once or twice.  His cereals are all drilled in at seven inches apart, turnips at seventeen.  The latter are horse-hoed three or four times; and as they are drilled on the flat, or without ridging the surface of the ground, they are crossed with a horse-hoe with eight V shaped blades.  This operation leaves the plants in bunches, which are singled out by a troop of children.  One hand-hoeing and two or three more horse-hoeings finish the labor given to their cultivation.  It is remarkable what mechanical skill is brought to bear upon these operations.  In the first place, the plough cuts a furrow as straight and even as if it were turned by machinery.  A kind of esprit de corps animates the ploughmen to a vigorous ambition in the work.  They are trained to it with as much singleness of purpose as the smiths of Sheffield are to the forging of penknife blades.  On a large estate like that occupied by Mr. Jonas, they constitute an order, not of Odd Fellows, but of Straight Furrow-men, and are jealous of the distinction.  When the ground is well prepared, and made as soft, smooth, and even as a garden, the drilling process is performed with a judgement of the eye and skill of hand more marvellous still.  The straightness of the lines of verdure which, in a few weeks, mark the tracks of the seed-tubes, is surprising.  They are drawn and graded with such precision that, when the plants are at a certain height, a horse-hoe, with eight blades, each wide enough to cut the whole intervening space between two rows, is passed, hoeing four or five drills at once.  Of course, if the lines of the drill and hoe did not exactly correspond with each other, whole rows of turnips would be cut up and destroyed.  I saw this process going on in a turnip field, and thought it the most skilful operation connected with agriculture that I had ever witnessed.

One of the principal advantages Mr. Jonas realises in cultivating such an extent of territory, is the ability to economise his working forces, of man, beast, and agricultural machinery.  He saves what may be called the superfluous fractions, which small farmers frequently lose.  For instance, a man with only fifty acres would need a pair of stout horses, a plough, cart, and all the other implements necessary for the growth and gathering of the usual crops.  Now, Mr. Jonas has proved by experience, that, in cultivating his great occupation, the average force of two and a quarter horses is sufficient for a hundred acres.  Here is a saving of almost one half the expense of horse-force per acre which the small farmer incurs, and full one half of the use of carts, ploughs, and other implements.  The whole number of horses employed is about seventy-six; and the number of men and boys about a hundred.  The whole of this great force is directed by Mr. Jonas and his sons with as much apparent ease and equanimity as the captain of a Cunarder would manifest in guiding a steamship across the Atlantic.  The helm and ropes of the establishment obey the motion of one mind with the same readiness and harmony.

A fact or two may serve an American farmer as a tangible measure whereby to estimate the extent of the operations thus conducted by one man.  To come up to the standard of scientific and successful agriculture in England, it is deemed requisite that a tenant farmer, on renting an occupation, should have capital sufficient to invest £10, or $50, per acre in stocking it with cattle, sheep, horses, farming implements, fertilisers, etc.  Mr. Jonas, beyond a doubt, invests capital after this ratio upon the estate he tills.  If so, then the total amount appropriated to the land which he rents cannot be less than £30,000, or nearly $150,000.  The inventory of his live stock, taken at last Michaelmas, resulted in these figures: - Sheep, £6,581; horses, £2,487; bullocks, £2,218; pigs, £452; making a grand total of £11,638.  Every animal bred on the estate is fatted, but by no means with the grain and roots grown upon it.  The outlay for oil-cake and corn purchased for feeding, amounts to about £4,000 per annum.  Another heavy expenditure is about £1,700 yearly for artificial fertilisers, consisting of guano and blood-manure.  Mr. Jonas is one of the directors of the company formed for the manufacture of the latter.

The whole income of this establishment is realised from two sources - meat and grain.  And this is the distinguishing characteristic of English farming generally.  Not a pound of hay, straw, or roots is sold off the estate.  Indeed, this is usually prohibited by the conditions of the contract with the landlord.  So completely has Mr. Jonas adhered to this rule, that he could not give me the market price of hay, straw, or turnips per ton, as he had never sold any, and was not in the habit of noticing the market quotations of those products.  I was surprised at one fact which I learned in connection with his economy.  He keeps about 170 bullocks; buying in October and selling in May.  Now, it would occasion an American farmer some wonderment to be told that this great herd of cattle is fed and fatted almost entirely for the manure they make.  It is doubtful if the difference between the cost and selling prices averages £2, or $10, per head.  For instance, the bullocks bought in will average £13 or £14.  A ton of linseed-cake and some meal are given to each beast before it is sent to market, costing from £10 to £12.  When sold, the bullocks average £24 or £25.  Thus the cake and the meal equal the whole difference between the buying and selling price, so that all the roots, chaff, and attendance go entirely to the account of manure.  These three items, together with the value of pasturage for the months the cattle may lie in the fields, from October to May inclusive, could hardly amount to less than £5 per beast, which, for 170, would be £850.  Then £1,700 are paid annually for guano and artificial manures.  Now add the value of the wheat, oat and barley straw grown on 1,500 acres, and mostly thrown into the barn-yards, or used as bedding for the stables, and you have one great division of the fertilising department of Chrishall Grange.  The amount of these three items cannot be less than £3,000.  Then there is another source of fertilisation nearly as productive and valuable.  Upwards of 3,000 sheep are kept on the estate, of which 1,200 are breeding ewes.  These are folded, acre by acre, on turnips, cole, or trefoil, and those fattened for the market are fed with oil-cake in the field.  The locusts of Egypt could not have left the earth barer of verdure than these sheep do the successive patches of roots in which they are penned for twenty-four or forty-eight hours, nor could any other process fertilise the land more thoroughly and cheaply.  Then 76 horses and 200 fattening hogs add their contingent to the manurial expenditure and production of the establishment.  Thus the fertilising material applied to the estate cannot amount to less than £5,000, or $24,000, per annum.

Sheep are the most facile and fertile source of nett income on the estate.  Indeed, nearly all the profit on the production of meat is realised from them.  Most of those I saw were Southdowns and Hampshires, pure or crossed, with here and there a Leicester.  After being well fattened, they fetch in the market about double the price paid for them as stock sheep.  About 2,000, thus fattened, including lambs, are sold yearly.  They probably average about £2, or $10, per head; thus amounting to the nice little sum of £4,000 a year, as one of the sources of income.

Perhaps it would be easier to estimate the total expenditure than the gross income of such an establishment as that of Mr. Jonas.  We have aggregated the former in a lump; assuming that the whole capital invested in rent, live stock, agricultural machinery, manures, labor of man and horse, fattening material, etc., amounts to £30,000.  We may extract from this aggregate several estimated items which will indicate the extent of his operations, putting the largest expenditure at the head of the list.

Corn and oil-cake purchased for feeding                   £4,000
Guano and manufactured manures                            1,700
Labor of 100 men and boys at the average of £20 per annum  2,000
Labor of 76 horses, including their keep, £20 per annum    1,500
Use and wear of steam-engine and agricultural machinery      500
Commutation money to men for beer                            400
                                                            - - -

These are some of the positive annual outlays, without including rent, interest on capital invested, and other items that belong to the debit side of the ledger.  The smallest on the list given I would commend to the consideration of every New England farmer who may read these pages.  It is stated under the real fact.  The capacity of English laborers for drinking strong beer is a wonder to the civilised world.  They seem to cling to this habit as to a vital condition of their very life and being.  One would be tempted to think that malt liquor was a primary and bread a secondary necessity to them; it must cost them most of the two, at any rate.  And generally they are as particular about the quality as the quantity, and complain if it is not of "good body," as well as full tale.  In many cases the farmer furnishes it to them; sometimes brewing it himself, but more frequently buying it already made.  Occasionally a farmer "commutes" with his men; allowing a certain sum of money weekly in lieu of beer, leaving them to buy and use it as they please.  I understood that Mr. Jonas adopts the latter course, not only to save himself the trouble of furnishing and rationing such a large quantity of beer, but also to induce the habit among his men of appropriating the money he gives them instead of drink to better purposes.  The sum paid to them last year was actually £452, or about $2,200!  Now, it would be quite safe to say, that there is not a farm in the State of Connecticut that produces pasturage, hay, grain, and roots enough to pay this beer-bill of a single English occupation!  This fact may not only serve to show the scale of magnitude which agricultural enterprise has assumed in the hands of such men as Mr. Jonas, but also to indicate to our American farmers some of the charges upon English agriculture from which they are exempt; thanks to the Maine Law, or, to a better one still, that of voluntary disuse of strong drink on our farms.  I do not believe that 100 laboring men and boys could be found on one establishment in Great Britain more temperate, intelligent, industrious, and moral than the set employed by Mr. Jonas.  Still, notice the tax levied upon his land by this beer-impost.  It amounted last year to three English shillings, or seventy-two cents, on every acre of the five consolidated farms, including all the space occupied by hedges, copses, buildings, etc.  Suppose a Maine farmer were obliged, by an inexorable law of custom, to pay a beer-tax of seventy-two cents per acre on his estate of 150 acres, or $108, annually, would he not be glad to "commute" with his hired men, by leaving them in possession of his holding and migrating to some distant section of the country where such a custom did not exist?

The gross income of this great holding it would be more difficult to estimate.  But no one can doubt the yearly issues of Mr. Jonas' balance-sheet, when he has been able to expand his operations gradually to their present magnitude from the capital and experience acquired by successful farming.  Perhaps the principal sources of revenue would approximate to the following figures: -

 2,000 fat sheep and lambs at £2        £4,000
   150 fat bullocks at £25              3,750
   200 fat pigs = 40,000 lbs., at 4d      666
22,500 bushels of wheat, at 6s          6,750
 9,375 bushels of oats, at 2s              937
 7,500 bushels of barley, at 3s          1,125
                                          - - -
Total of these estimated items        £17,228

This, of course, is a mere estimate of the principal sources of income upon which Mr. Jonas depends for a satisfactory result of his balance-sheet.  Each item is probably within the mark.  I have put down the crop of wheat of 750 acres at the average of thirty bushels per acre, and at 6s. per bushel, which are quite moderate figures.  I have assumed 375 acres each for barley and oats, estimating the former at forty bushels per acre, and the latter at fifty; then reserving half of the two crops for feeding and fatting the live stock; also all the beans, peas, and roots for the same purpose.  If the estimate is too high on some items, the products sold, and not enumerated in the foregoing list, such as cole and other seeds, will rectify, perhaps, the differences, and make the general result presented closely approximate to the real fact.

As there is probably no other farm in Great Britain of the same size so well calculated to test the best agricultural science and economy of the day as the great occupation of Mr. Jonas, and as I am anxious to convey to American farmers a well-developed idea of what that science and economy are achieving in this country, I will dwell upon a few other facts connected with this establishment.  The whole space of 3,000 acres is literally under cultivation, or in a sense which we in New England do not generally give to that term - that is, there is not, I believe, a single acre of permanent meadow in the whole territory.  All the vast amount of hay consumed, and all the pasture grasses have virtually to be grown like grain.  There is so much ploughing and sowing involved in the production of these grass crops, that they are called "seeds."  Thus, by this four-course system, every field passes almost annually under a different cropping, and is mowed two or three times in ten years.  This fact, in itself, will not only suggest the immense amount of labor applied, but also the quality and condition of 3,000 acres of land that can be surfaced to the scythe in this manner.

The seeds or grasses sown by Mr. Jonas for pasturage and hay are chiefly white and red clover and trefoil.  His rule of seeding is the following: -

Wheat,  from      8 to 10 pecks per acre
Barley, from    12 to 14  "    "    "
Oats,  from    18 to 22  "    "    "
Winter Beans,    8        "    "    "
Red Clover,      20 lbs          "    "
White Clover,    16 lbs          "    "
Trefoil,        30 to 35 lbs.  "    "

This, in New England, would be called very heavy seeding, especially in regard to oats and the grasses.  I believe that twelve pecks of oats to the acre, rather exceed our average rule.  Good clover seed should weigh two pounds to the quart, and eight quarts, or sixteen pounds, are the usual seeding with us.

As labor of horse and man must be economised to the best advantage on such an estate, it may be interesting to know the expense of the principal operations.  The cost of ploughing averages 7s. 6d., or $1 80c. per acre.  For roots, the land is ploughed three or four times, besides harrowing, drilling, and rolling.  The hoeing of wheat and roots varies from 2s. to 5s., or from 48c. to $1 20c. per acre.

The sheep are all folded on turnips or grass fields, except the breeding ewes in the lambing season.  The enclosures are made of hurdles, of which all reading Americans have read, but not one in a thousand ever has seen.  They are a kind of diminutive, portable, post-and-rail fence, of the New England pattern, made up in permanent lengths, so light that a stout man might carry two or three of them on his shoulders at once.  The two posts are sawed or split pieces of wood, about two inches thick, three wide, and from five to six feet in length.  They are generally square-morticed for the rails, which are frequently what we should call split hoop-holes, but in the best kind are slats of hard wood, about two and a half inches wide and one in thickness.  Midway between the two posts, the rails are nailed to an upright slat or brace, to keep them from swaying.  Sometimes a farmer makes his own hurdles, thus furnishing indoor work for his men in winter, when they cannot labor in the fields; but most generally they are bought of those who manufacture them on a large scale.  Some idea of the extent of sheep-folding on Chrishall Grange may be inferred from the fact, that the hurdling on it, if placed in one straight, continuous line, would reach full ten miles!

A portable steam engine, of twelve-horse power, looking like a common railway locomotive strayed from its track and taken up and housed in a farmer's waggon-shed, performs prodigies of activity and labor.  Indeed, search the three realms through and through, and you would hardly find one on its own legs doing such remarkable varieties of work.  Briareus, with all his fabled faculties, never had such numerous and supple fingers as this creature of human invention.  When set a-going, they are clattering and whisking and frisking everywhere, on the barn-floor, on the hay-loft, in the granary, under the eaves, down cellar, and all this at the same time.  It is doubtful if any stationary engine in a machine shop ever performed more diversified operations at once; thus proving most conclusively how a farmer may work motive power which it was once thought preposterous in him to think of using.  It threshes wheat and other kinds of grain at the rate of from 400 to 500 bushels a day; it conveys the straw up to a platform across what we call the "great beams," where it is cut into chaff and dropped into a great bay, at the trifling expense of sixpence, or twelve cents, per quantity grown on an acre!  While it is doing this in one direction, it is turning machinery in another that cleans and weighs the grain off into sacks ready for the market.  Open the doors right and left and you find it at work like reason, breaking oil-cake, grinding corn for the fat stock, turning the grindstone, pitching, pounding, paring, rubbing, grabbing, and twisting, threshing, wrestling, chopping, flopping, and hopping, after the manner of "The Waters of Lodore."

The housings for live stock are most admirably constructed as well as extensive, and all the great yards are well fitted for making and delivering manure.  I noticed here the best arrangement for feeding swine that I had ever seen before, and of a very simple character.  Instead of revolving troughs, or those that are to be pulled out like drawers to be cleaned, a long, stationary one, generally of iron, extends across the whole breadth of the compartment next to the feeding passage.  The board or picket-fence forming this end of the enclosure, from eight to twelve feet in length, is hung on a pivot at each side, playing in an iron ring or socket let into each of the upright posts that support it.  Midway in the lower rail of this fence is a drop bolt which falls into the floor just behind the trough.  At the feeding time, the man has only to raise this bolt and let it fall on the inner side, and he has the whole length and width of the trough free to clear with a broom and to fill with the feed.  Then, raising the bolt, and bringing it back to its first place, the operation is performed in a minute with the greatest economy and convenience.

There was one feature of this great farm home which I regarded with much satisfaction.  It was the housing of the laborers employed on the estate.  This is done in blocks of well-built, well-ventilated, and very comfortable cottages, all within a stone's throw of the noble old mansion occupied by Mr. Jonas.  Thus, no long and weary miles after the fatigue of the day, or before its labor begins, have to be walked over by his men in the cold and dark, as in many cases in which the agricultural laborer is obliged to trudge on foot from a distant village to his work, making a hard and sunless journey at both ends of the day.

Although my visit at this, perhaps the largest, farming establishment in England, occupied only a few hours, I felt on leaving that I had never spent an equal space of time more profitably and pleasantly in the pursuit or appreciation of agricultural knowledge.  The open and large-hearted hospitality and genial manners of the proprietor and his family seemed to correspond with the dimensions and qualities of his holding, and to complete, vitalise, and beautify the symmetries of a true ENGLISH FARMER'S HOME.