The following tables which we extract from Becker's Handels-Lexicon, printed at Vienna in 1836 (the statements in which, relative to Austria, are stated to be derived from official sources), give a survey of the agricultural industry of the empire, which will be more fully detailed under the heads of the different provinces. These official sources appear to be the returns from the collections of the land-tax, in which the amount of cultivated land is given for all the provinces, excepting Hungary and Transylvania, with the greatest exactness. The amount of produce, however, is considerably underrated, as it is calculated upon the worst description of tillage, and upon low averages, as is usual with calculations which form the basis of taxation:
The agriculture of the archduchy is in general good, although open to many improvements, especially in the cultivation of the vine. The best wines are produced near Vienna, and are the growths of Veselau, Gumpoloskirchen, Closternenburg, and Weldling. The produce of the vintages in the plain are inferior to those in the hills. Cider is extensively made in Upper Austria. A remarkable circumstance is the low value of land in the neighbourhood of so large and rich a capital as Vienna; the common proce of a joch (=1.4 acres) not exceeding 300 fl., or £30. The price does not fall much in a circumference of several miles.
Lombardy and Venice Edit
To the produce of the kingdom of Lombardy (province of Lombardy and Venice), the following additions must be made: Millet and buck-wheat, 184,000 qrs.; rice, 148,800 qrs.; oil, 124,000 cwt.; silk (cocoons), 288,000 cwt.; tobacco, 249,000 cwt.; besides fruit of all kinds, cultivated in great abundance. The Lombards devote more refined industry to agricultural pursuits than any other country in Europe; and perhaps no spot on the face of the globe is made to yield so much produce, in proportion to the quality of the soil, as the district extending from the fall of the Alps to the Po, and from the Ticino to the Adige.
Division of Labour, and Land Edit
The division of agricultural labour is curious in these provinces. Not only a number of persons occupy themselves with silk-growing, who have no land, and are obliged to purchase the leaves from others, but the greater part of the cheese is made by persons who purchase or farm the milk of cows, and whose whole vested property consists in the pans and utensils. It will be supposed that profits are but small where such divisions exist, and the landowner's interests are those best consulted. Land in these provinces is perfectly free from feudal services and contributions, but is most exorbitantly taxed. According to Burger, the land-tax, which appears to be very unequally divided, amounted, in 1826, for Lombardy alone, to 22,280,480 lire; the extra expense of executions on dilatory contributors amounted to 8 ½ per cent.; for Venice it produced 15,977,011 lire; the in the province of Venice the country rates amounted to 2,809,764 lire; in Lombardy, to 3,793,939 lire. These four sums added together give an impost of 7s, 4 ½d per English acre, on 550.2 square German miles, that being the estimated amount of cultivated land upon which these rates are levied. The practice of letting land prevails to a great extent in Lombardy; and the usual rent paid by the farmer (Colone) is large, being half the gross produce of the land. The stock and valuations, however, in such cases, generally belongs to the landlord.
Irrigation, Grain, and Hay Edit
The water from the great Alpine lakes, and from the rivers through which they discharge it, is conducted by innumerable canals to a large portion of the fields, in which the most beautiful and effective system of irrigation has been introduced. It is common to mow these meadows three times in the year, and to graze them besides during the autumn. Dr. Burger estimates the average produce of these meadows at 8 tons of hay per English acre, which he calculates is the equivalent to 24 tons 16 cwt. of grass. It is the produce of these meadows which nourishes the cows that produce the beautiful Parmesan and Strachino cheeses, the preparation of which is attended with no farther mystery; so that the author above cited supposes that, with equal care, these descriptions of produce might be raised in Hungary, or in any other country where the climate is mild. The greater part of these meadows are broken up every three years, and crops of wheat and maize taken; when they are again laid down with rye-grass. The acre yields, on these occasions, on an average taken for four classes of soil, according to Burger—Wheat, 8 bushels; Maize, 11 bushels; but this is, undoubtedly, too low as average, a crop of 8 bushels of wheat would not pay the expenses of labour.
These fields are farther surrounded with plantations, and sometimes with a kind of hedge of mulberry trees, the leaves of which furnish food for the silkworms; the rearing of which, on its present extensive scale, is a benefit accruing to his country from the talents and unwearied exertions of the late Count Vincent Dandolo. The extent to which the cultivation of silk has of late years been carried is shown by the fact that, in 1824, when the exports from Lombardy alone amounted, according to Burger, to 956,695 lib. pie.; that province produced as much silk as sixteen years previously was raised in all Italy; whereas the average export of three years, 1835-6-7, for Lombardy, exhibit as amount of 4,905,850 lib. pie. of spun, raw, and waste silk. Burger reckons to 5 and 4/5ths Vinna lbs. of silk, 1 loth of eggs, the worms from which consume 794 and 2/5ths lbs. of leaves; the mulberry trees in Lombardy produces between 20 lbs. and 60 lbs. leaves; so that if we estimate them at 40 lbs. all round, it gives nearly 10,000,000 of trees for that province. Although the mulberry tree is cultivated all over the north of Italy, yet it is more especially planted in the dry and stony districts near Verona. It would appear, too, that a cooler climate is more favourable to the reading of the silkworm, as the attempts in the north of France have been eminently successful. Near Paris, M. Cam Beaunis produces 70 and 3/5th lbs. of cocoons from one loth of eggs, whereas the calculation here given is based on the production is only 50 lbs. This branch of the industry is particularly valuable from the circumstances of its only occupying the partial labour of six weeks to two months in the year, which is over before the harvest commences.
The production of oranges and lemons is confined chiefly to the neighbourhood of the Lago di Gada, where the trees are kept in covered gardens or terraces, against the sides of the hills. Blumenbach gives the number of these trees in the neighbourhood of Saio along, at from 15,000 to 16,000, many of which produce 800 fruit annually.
The statement, given in the table, of the produce of Hungary, is one of the most moderate among the many varying estimates of the produce of that extraordinary country. If an approximative estimate be sought of what Hungary could produce, were more skill and industry introduced among her agricultural population, the statement given is exceedingly below that mark. The two great plains on the upper and lower Danube present not only an excellent soil, with the finest climate in Europe, to the farmer, but offer facilities for irrigation not inferior to those so admirable used by the Italians in the neighbouring province. The largest plain is 66 German miles long, from West to East, in its greatest length, and nearly 50 in breadth from North to South, its area is upwards of 11,000 square English miles. In the greater part of this plain the soil is is of so rich a quality that no manure is required for the choicest crops, and the dung of the cattle is either thrown away into the rivers or burned as fuel by the peasants. When excessive drought does not burn up the grass, its growth is so luxuriant that the descriptions given of it exceed belief. Owing, however, to the long contest which has been carried on, since the expulsion of the Turks, by the Hungarians against the Austrian emperors for the support of their privileges, the policy of the government has hitherto shut up this valuable portion of Europe; and it is only since the conclusion of the Milan treaty, in the last year, that the expectations of the country have been roused to a state of confidence. Here the agricultural skill of the Lombards transferred to Hungary, this province would, in times of scarcity (which in other lands is usually the result of cold and damp seasons), supply food for all Europe; while the immense amount of produce in ordinary years will ultimately, no doubt, cause a great change in the value of many articles suited to this climate.
Division of Land Edit
The great obstacle to a flourishing state of agriculture was removed by the Diet of 1836, when a law was passed for fixing the division of land. Down to that period the peasant only tilled his portion for three years, after which another was allotted to him by his lord, and the share he possessed was either given over to others or tursed into grazing land. This arrangement alone must have proved the bane of all improvement; besides which, the unthriftiness habitual among the inhabitants of a highly productive soil, exposes them constantly to the distress of famine, even in the year following a very abundant season. Hence the singularity contradictory accounts circulating respecting this highly-favoured country.
Of these, wine is a principal object; and more care is annually bestowed both on the culture of the vineyards and the manufacture of the liquor. The king of wines, Tokay, owes its celebrity entirely to the care with which the ground is tilled and the grapes sorted. The process of dressing the vines is performed with as much care and at nearly the same expense that are bestowed on the celebrated vineyard of Johannisberg. Other good kinds are, the winse of Mensch, in the Banat, of Carlowitz and Nessmill, Ofen, and Oedenburg.
Sheep, Wool, and other Livestock Edit
The want of a market for their corn has obliged the Hungarians to prosecute, on a large scale, the raising of sheep and wool. The number of sheep had been estimated by Lichtenstern at six millions, in 1805. How much this number must have increased since then is evident from the augmentation stated by Czaplowitz (In Econom, Neuigk.) to have taken place in the amount of wool annually produced, and which he estimates at 400,000 cwt., produced by at least 20 millions of sheep. According to the official reports, the export of wool from Hungary to the other provinces amounted, in
1832—1833, to 24,538,410 florins
1833—1834, to 19,036,140 florins
which would give an average of from 180,000 cwt. to 200,000 cwt. annually; a quantity which we may look to see yearly augmented; the internal consumption is estimated at about as much.
Silk is increasing rapidly in cultivations, and might be raised in every part of the kingdom. For fuller detailes respecting this we refer to the article Hungary; and under the head Trade, we have offered some remarks on the best means of marking its riches available to foreign countries.
Galicia, the second rich source of agricultural produce, has also been compelled to substitute wool-growing for the cultivation of corn. The increase in the number of sheep in this province, sin 1816, was, in 1837, 728,100; the increase, since 1835, amounted to 279,791, of which number 90,000 belong to the circles of Zarnow and Brecznow with the Bukowina. The remarkably fertile part of this province begins to the East of the Sau, and follows the course of the Dniester, being part of the great plain extending nearly from the Carpathiaas to the Black sea, and embracing Podolia, the Ukraine, and Moldavia. The soil in this part of the province is nearly as rich as that of the great plain of Hungary, and produces the beautiful white Danzic wheat, so much prized in the London market. The cattle returns for 1837, however, show, in the four circles which embrace this fertile district, 492,456 heads of sheep; while 63,830 oxen besides cows and horses, with 156,413 head of sheep, are counted in Bukowina only. The large portion of the land, which in all the provinces is held in small parcels by the peasants, is, in Galicia, particularly ill cultivated and unproductive.
Division of LandEdit
The large estates of the nobility are, however, generally well farmed, and may be classed with those of Bohemia, Moravia, Austria and the provinces to the south of the Danube. On these estates regular rotations of crops with artificial grasses, are not universal; and many of the machines in England, such as improved ploughs, sowing and threshing machines, etc., have been introduced. A gentleman, who farms his own estate in a part of Moravia, where the soil is of average quality and the climate has a mean temperature, has furnished us with the following details:
An estate of mean size contains from 830 to 1400 English acres of arable land, 140 to 420 acres of meadow land, and 1000 to 2500 or more, acres of wood, according to the situation; that is , whether near the mountains or in the plan. The estates conferring the right of representation (landtaflich Guter) and which are only held by knights or nobles, are of all sizes from a few acres to several German square miles. These estates can, strictly speaking, be held also by a commoner, but only on paying a portion of the taxes twice over, and on his renouncing tthe right to all kinds of patronage and judicial authority. The estates of mean size may be estimated at two thirds of the whole. In Moravia about thirty are found to exceed 32 English square miles in extent. In purchasing land, a profit of from 4 to 4 ½ per cent. per annum is generally looked for. The size of the peasant's holding may be about 28 English acres. In the hilly parts, where the population is somewhat thinner, and the soil less productive, it is about 30, t0, and in some parts 70 acres. Half holdings, quarter holdings, as well as cotters with small gardens, are also frequent. It is, however, supposed that of the peasant families two thirds hold land, and about one third may be considered as mere labourers. The mod of cultivation adopted by the peasants in the low lands is a rotation of three crops, viz., wheat, rye, summer-corn, fallow; the fallow being only partially used. In the hilly parts the fallows are more used for potatoes, turnips, flax, etc.; in the mountains, tillage is more irregular. Oats, potatoes, and flax are grown; and in more elevated spots oats and buckwheat. On the greater part of the small estates of the nobles a better rotation of crops, with clover, green food, and meadows prevail, according as the soil or the local advantages of common grazing (which is very extensive everywhere) render it necessary. “I have found the following rotations do very well: 1, potatoes, with manure; 2, barley, or oats, with clover; 3, clover hay; 4, clover, as pasture; 5, rye; 6, oats.—In heavy soils; 1, winter corn, with dung; 2, barley, with clover; 3, clover, 4, wheat; 5, green fodder, with manure; 6, wheat; 7, Peas and beans; 8, rye.—In the low lands, millet is much sown; and in the mountains, flax. My own experience has given the following produce of various kinds of corn:
It is not usual to let land on least in these parts of the empire. The few cases in which this mode of tenure occurs must rather be considered as exceptions than as a rule, although it is the opinion of competent judges that the incomes of the large landholders would be increased by the introduction of the practice. In Poland, villages are often let for short terms, that is, an estate with the resident labourers upon it, who are bound to labour so many days in the week in lieu of rent for their lands. “In the management of his holdings the peasant enjoys the liberty of turning at pleasure vineyards into meadows, or tilling pasture fields, or of converting the tillage field into pasture; only in the case of woods the landlord reserves a right of inspection, to prevent and punish their being dealt with contrary to contract. But the peasant cannot let his land, nor leave it uncultivated, nor sell it in parcels. From the peasants' holdings the lord usually derives 1. All that was stipulated on the original cession of the land, whether in the shape of a rent-charge in money or otherwise. 2. The Landemineaum,or fine, on transfer, whether by sale or inheritance (usually 5 per cent). 3. The Robot, or personal service, the maximum of which has been fixed by law. The consists generally in three days' work, with a wagon and horses, weekly, for the peasant's whole holding; the half holding gives one and a half days' work, and the quarter holding two or three days' hard labour, weekly: cottagers give from ten to thirteen days per annum. 4. The right of grazing on uncultivated fallows and stubbles; which, however, the peasant may exercise upon the land of his lord. 5. The great and small tithes, which are often ceded to the church, or have been otherwise transferred. Dominical property (allodial estates) pay, in general, no tithe. The peasant may cede or leave by will his holding to whichever of his sons he pleases; but it is then usually charged with a sum for each of his brothers and sisters. The custom prevails of leaving it to the eldest son; but it is often ceded during the father's life, who retains a certain quantum of the produce for his own use; this generally happens when the father wishes to free his son from the liability to conscription.
Distilleries and Sugar Edit
Distilleries and even breweries are commonly established on large farms in the country, and withing a few years sugar manufactories, in which sugar is extracted from beet-root, have become frequent. Twenty-one sugar manufactories are enumerated by Becker as existing, in 1836, in the various provinces.