SECTION XXIV.

Progress of Agricultural Improvement in 1810-12beneficial Effects of extending Cultivationthe Government commend the Exertions of some, and animadvert on the Obstinacy and ldleness of othersflourishing State of St. Helena in the Year 1675.

THE tracts contained in the preceding Sections are selected from many others which were published in the St. Helena Register, between November, 1810, and January, 1813 : and as it was observable that they had produced a considerable change in the sentiments of the landholdersby the plough gradually coming into use, and by the quantity of land in cultivation having been doubled during the above period, it was, therefore, deemed expedient officially to notify the progress of improvementto commend the industrious, and to animadvert on the conduct of those who seemed obstinately determined to adhere to their old practice, and to withhold their aid from the grand object of general improvement. This measure of the Government, it was hoped, might operate as a further stimulus to exertion ; and with this view the following Proclamation was issued :

"Island of St. Helena, 11th January, 1813.

"THE Governor and Council have derived much gratification in observing the laudable spirit of industry which has for some time past, been manifested amongst several respectable landholders and in contemplating the progress in agricultural improvement by which a fair prospect is now held out of St. Helena becoming, in a short time, far more abundant in its internal resources, and in the means of refreshing fleets, than it has ever yet been since its first establishment.

"Comparing the annual Reports of the farms for 1810 and 1812, there appear to have been added since November, 1810, ninety-one acres, to the cultivated lands : of which 49 1/2 acres have been thus improved by the exertions of individuals.[1] The beneficial effects resulting from this increase of cultivation, have been felt by the garrison and the community at large ; by His Majesty's and the Honourable Company's ships having been enabled to provide potatoes at moderate prices, in quantities sufficient for their crews during a long passage ; and by a part of those sums formerly expended in the purchase of imported food, having become a saving to the island-proportionate (at the least) to the diminished expenditure of flour and rice.

Amongst those whose exertions have been conspicuous in producing this beneficial change, and whose merits are deserving particular notice on the present occasion, are Messrs. Brooke and Defountain, Miss Mason, Captain Sampson, Mr. Samuel Knipe, Mr. John Kay, Mr. Bagley, Mr. Hayward, Major Wright, Mr. Legg, Mr. George Leech, Mrs. Alexander, and Mr. Alesworth.

"It is to such examples (which evince a strong conviction in those persons of the importance and advantage of agriculture) that the Governor and Council look forward with confidence to its more general introduction ; which is undoubtedly the best possible means of promoting the prosperity of the island, the real interests of the Honourable East India Company, and those of individuals.

"The greatly enhanced prices of beef, pork, and flour from England, and of rice and paddy from India, during the last five years, together with the present State of affairs with America, are circumstances which should operate as a further stimulus to exertions ; for by still extending the culture of potatoes and corn, and raising crops suited to the feeding of live-stock, the demands for the above-mentioned article, of import might be greatly diminished ; and little inconvenience would he felt in this remote part of the globe, from those causes which unavoidably have led to the high price of provisions in England.

"These observations will have due weight with those landholders who have already manifested a laudable disposition to promote the improvement of the island : but the Governor and Council can entertain but little hopes of their making any impression on the minds of others, who occupy extensive farms, have large establishments of servants, and who still persist in their former habits of inactivity, or absolute idleness ; thus betraying equally total disregard to their own interests as to the Company's orders. It is therefore once more recommended to the landholders of this description, that they examine the 'Laws and Ordinances,' in their possession, and inform themselves of the Orders of the Court of Directors, particularly those stated at length in the General Letter, dated 30th March, 1810, (page 86 to 90.)

"It is also proper to apprise the persons alluded to, that annual Reports of the farms, and lists of families and servants are regularly transmitted for the information of the Court of Directors, by which will be seen the relative industry of individuals ; and consequently the deserving and the undeserving tenants are thus brought to light. Wherefore, if the Court shall discover that neither their repeated orders, nor arguments, nor successful examples, will rouse this class of landholders to exertion, it is indeed highly probable they will order them a fate similar to some of those 'drones' who are noticed in the 13th page of the 'Laws and Ordinances;'[2] not by a removal from the island, but from the lease lands, in order that these may be placed in the hands of persons who are willing to contribute to the general welfare of the community.

"By Order of the Governor and Council,
T. H. BROOKE,
Secretary


  1. Although these beginnings may appear trifling to English farmers, there being only "91 acres added to the cultiivated lands since 1810;" yet when it is considered that prior to that period 88 acres were the total in cultivation ; and that this statement is taken from the official return, dated in May last, which comprises but a small portion of the year 1812 (since which time many more acres have been added,) the whole improvement, under all the circumstances of this place, is as much as could have been expected.
     
  2. Extract of a Letter from the Court of Directors to the Governor and Council, dated 8th March, 1675.

    "We are pleased to hear from you that the island is in such a flourishing condition, and that all things thrive well with you. But yet we find there is wanting industry and pains taking in many of the inhabitants, which we will not permit to continue to be amongst you ; for they that will not plant and take care for provisions of their own, we will not supply them ; rather send them home under the title of drones." On the 11th of January, 1709, the Court again ordered "the drones to be sent away"and in this letter it is added, "We are pleased with the account Governor Roberts gives us, that he effectually checked that lazy disposition of too many of the planters, to let all run to ruin ; and by removing some of the drones, and speaking well of the industrious, has mended the temper of the rest, that they are as busy as bees," &c. &c.


 Section XXV