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1867b Ag/Race/Econ


Matthew, P. German Agriculture. Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette (20 July 1867), p.771

(Article dated July 13)
The article starts as a review of weather and crop conditions in Germany.

Matthew’s unorthodox views on electricity again surface:
“Should drought prevail, there will be little or no blight, but should rain and thunder occur in a week or ten days hence, when the plant [potato] comes to exhaust its vis vitae in forming tubers, blight will almost to a certainty take place. Developed electricity by loosening the vito-chemical attractions, in a manner cooks the vegetable body for the organism of the disease, or at least disposes it to a putrescent state, which may prepare the field for animalculae or fungi.”

Matthew then muses on beauty in nature, and asks rhetorically:
“How comes it that Nature bestows so much beauty upon one of her creatures, and forms another of the same family quite destitute of it?”

Matthew then considers what he considers to be the characteristic morphological features of the Saxon (round-headed) versus pre-Celtic (long-headed) races. Apparently both may have merit: “Is the round-head German, wide, but not high-towering brow indicative of greater steadiness and industry, but of less imagination and poetical conception than the long head?”

Matthew ends by considering once again the evils of land tenure system in Britain, which leads to the impoverishment of the vegetable mould, and contrasts this to the situation in Germany:
“Strange as it may appear, the late great German revolution has been so rapidly and masterly carried out as scarcely to have affected the rapid march of rural improvement in this country. This is mainly owing to its not having operated to diminish security of property, the great requisite to improvement, but rather by rendering Germany more able to resist any attempt at foreign aggression, has rendered property more secure; and in Germany, different from Britain, there is no great amount of land let on loose under such an insecure tenure as to prevent the investment of capital in the improvement of the soil. (For a number of years back I have proved to every thinking mind that this want of protection in Britain is the greatest national evil, not only incompatible with the rational liberty of the subject, but with the mental and physical development of the British race, and with their maintaining their position as the leading nation of progress. Still nothing has been done to reform this greatest national evil. What is this to lead to?)”

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