During the period which has
elapsed since the publication of the Introduction to the last volume of
the Transactions, in 1845, it has been the endeavour of the Directors to
extend the objects, and to promote the usefulness and prosperity of the
Society. They have the gratification of reporting that these efforts have
not been unsuccessful, and that the interest taken in the welfare and
progress of the Society, not only by the agricultural classes, but by the
public generally, continues to be unabated; they feel assured, that its
present state of maturity and strength will not only be maintained, but
will increase with the development of the country at large, and that it
will continue to command the active support of the agriculturists of
Scotland, and to retain its place in the opinion of the public, as an
institution of national benefit and importance. Its members now exceed
2600, a greater number than ever before appeared on the printed list.
The Directors will very
briefly advert to the subjects which have principally occupied the
attention of the Society since the publication of the last volume. It is
unnecessary to recapitulate, at any length, the various classes of
premiums which have been offered or awarded; these have been repeatedly
brought under the notice of the public by advertisement in the newspapers,
and by publication in the Transactions. Every effort has been made by the
Directors, beneficially, and at the same time economically, to apply the
resources of the Society to the greatest possible extent, in encouraging
experiment, and in procuring information on all subjects connected with
the science and practice of agriculture, the proper management of woods
and plantations, and the improvement of agricultural machinery. Much
valuable knowledge has been acquired and published in reference to the
effects attending the application of different special manures. The
improvement of the cereal grains, and of the various grasses, has been
successfully stimulated; the more extended culture of green crops on hill
farms, and on small holdings, has been encouraged, and premiums have been
awarded for the best qualities of turnip seed.
The improvement of the live
stock of the country has been promoted, not only through the medium of the
Society's general shows, but by means of local competitions, where
premiums are offered for the breeds of cattle, sheep, and horses, most
suitable for the different districts of the country. These competitions
afford facilities to the smaller farmers who may be at a distance from any
general show; they also tend to aid the funds, and strengthen the hands of
the local agricultural associations, under whose charge they are placed;
and to maintain, between them and the parent Society, a friendly
intercourse advantageous to both.
The Directors consider the
establishment of the numerous local associations of Scotland to be one of
the most useful results of the Society's exertions and example; and it has
ever been their object to promote the welfare of such bodies, by granting
that aid which the income of the Society will permit. On the other hand,
they expect that the proprietors and tenantry of the country will not
restrict their support to the associations within their respective
localities, but by extending it to this, the central body, enable it to
continue that co-operation, and to dispense that assistance, which have
hitherto proved so beneficial. With these objects in view, the Directors
have this year offered to add the Society's medal to the money premiums,
which may be given in districts, for the best managed green crops, the
best kept fences, or the greatest extent of land, in proportion to the
size of the farm, sub-soiled or trench ploughed. Besides the acquisition
of the medals, successful competitors will participate in the privilege of
being included in the lists of awards annually published by the Society.
Very beneficial effects have already resulted from a similar system in
regard to seeds, and it is hoped that advantage will be taken of the
facilities thus offered.
The silver medal to the
ploughman successful at competitions, where money premiums to a certain
amount have been awarded by the districts, is still continued. It is a
distinction much prized by farm-servants, as being the only one emanating
from the Society, with the exception of the cottage premiums, for which
they have an opportunity of competing; and in each year numerous
applications for the medal have been received from all parts of the
The endeavour to promote
comfort and cleanliness among the poorer classes, by means of rewards for
the best kept cottages, has been continued. In some parishes, where the
proprietors have co-operated in forwarding the views of the Society, the
expectations of amendment entertained have been fully realised, and the
Directors are strongly impressed with the opinion, that if more advantage
were taken of this class of premiums, the habits of the rural population
might be much ameliorated.
Since the date of the last
preliminary notice, the Society's general shows have been held at Dumfries
and Inverness. Though, in these comparatively distant localities, neither
the same influx of visitors, nor so extensive an exhibition of stock could
be expected, as in larger towns and more populous districts, the results
of the meetings did not fall short of what was anticipated, and the stock,
at each, manifested a marked improvement on that which had been exhibited
in the same places on previous occasions. The meeting for the current year
takes place at Aberdeen, on the 4th, 5th, and 6th of August, when, looking
to the energy of the agriculturists of the north-eastern counties, and the
well-known qualities of their stock, there is every reason to expect a.
more than usually successful exhibition. The Directors have the
gratification of announcing, that applications have been received from the
farmers of the Lothians for a Show at Edinburgh in 1848, and that the
arrangements for that purpose are in course of being completed.
It is not necessary to
enter into any detail with regard to the premiums now offered for
competition; the premium book for 1847 has already been before the public,
and affords ample explanation; reference may, however, briefly be made to
some subjects of recent introduction. The great increase of draining
within the last few years, in conjunction with the drainage acts has of
late brought that subject prominently before the public, and much
discussion and considerable controversy have arisen with regard to the
different systems which have been recommended. The Directors have
therefore, with the view of elucidating information, offered a premium for
a report on the most approved methods of modern practice, as applicable to
various soils and localities in Scotland. In addition to the sums
continued for experiments with special manures, a premium has been offered
for reports on the management and application of compost heaps, composed
of any substances which can be rendered available as manures; and another
has been proposed for the result of experiments showing the relative value
of farmyard manure, obtained from cattle fed on different kinds of food
To acquire a more certain
knowledge, than now exists, of the best varieties of cereal grains for
cultivation on different soils, and in different districts, premiums have
been offered for reports on the comparative earliness, productiveness, and
profit of the various varieties of wheat, oats, and barley. The most
suitable kinds and proportion of clover and grasses for two and three
years' pasture; and the improvement and management of natural meadow, have
also been made the subjects of new premiums.
The expediency of re-introducing the culture of flax, on an improved
system, into Scottish farming, has recently been much canvassed, and a
premium has this year been offered for reports on the results of
experiments that shall, under certain conditions, be made in 1847 and
1848. In proposing this premium, the Directors have neither sought to
express opinions of their own, nor to excite the hopes of others; but as
experiments were already in progress by individuals, and as the attention
of agriculturists had, in some parts of the country, been directed to the
subject, they considered it their duty to encourage an investigation, on
the results of which reliance could be placed.
Seeds of the Tussac grass,
Dactylis coespitosa, introduced from the Falkland Islands, have at
different times been placed by government at the disposal of the Society,
and have been by it committed to the care of persons well qualified to
ascertain whether the plant is adapted for the soil or climate of this
country. On this point there has not yet been time to arrive at a proper
conclusion, but a premium has been offered for reports embodying the
results of the experiments which have been instituted. The Society and the
public are much indebted to Captain Moody, governor of the Falkland
Islands, and to his father, Colonel Moody, commanding the Royal Engineers
in Scotland, for their exertions to facilitate the introduction of this
grass, as well as for the large quantity of seed presented by them to the
The attention of the Society has been given to the pleuro-pneumonia, or
epidemic which has been so fatally prevalent among cattle, and inducements
have this year been offered for investigating and reporting on its
probable causes, and most successful mode of treatment. The disease in
potatoes has necessarily been the subject of anxious consideration. In
addition to a valuable and elaborate analysis of the potato, for which a
premium of L.50 was awarded, and which has been published in the
Transactions, the Directors in 1845 prepared and circulated a series of
queries relative to the appearance, progress, and characteristics of the
disease. Communications, in reply, were received from all quarters of the
country; these embodied a great amount of information, and were published
with an abstract in the Transactions in October. The queries were again
issued in 1846, and the replies since received will be included in the
next number of this work, when the result of the present crop shall have
been ascertained. The Directors do not now expect that the information,
thus given to the public, can be made available, either for the purpose of
determining the cause of the scourge, or of providing a remedy for it; but
they think it desirable, that an authentic record should be preserved of
all facts and circumstances connected with a visitation so severe.
The Museum continues to be
superintended to the satisfaction of the society by Mr Lawson, the
conservator, and the Directors have to acknowledge the receipt of many
interesting donations. They have no doubt that the number of these will
annually be increased, when the admirable adaptation of the Institution
for the exhibition and preservation of models, paintings, or specimens
connected with agriculture, is better understood. The number of visitors
from 1st May 1845, to 1st May 1846, was 7627; and during the same period
in 1846-7, 8850. Several valuable paintings of animals have during that
time been added to the Society's gallery. In connexion with the museum, it
may be mentioned that at certain periods of the year monthly meetings
continue to be held in it, when papers are read, and discussions take
place on subjects connected with the science and practice of agriculture.
By a recent arrangement, members of the Agricultural Chemistry Association
have been admitted to these meetings, and the subjects of business are
contributed jointly by the two bodies. The Society continues to give its
support and countenance to the Association by an annual grant of money,
and the use of rooms; by sending representatives to its council, and by
publishing its proceedings.
The veterinary college
maintains its high name and usefulness under the tuition of Professor Dick
and his able assistants; as a first-rate school, for acquiring a knowledge
of the veterinary art, it has become appreciated over Europe and America,
and students from all countries are now in the habit of resorting to it.
In addition to the matters
which fall more strictly within the sphere of the Society's operations,
there are others of a public nature, which, from their connexion with, or
bearing upon the agricultural interests of Scotland, have from time to
time been brought under its cognisance. Among the oldest of these is the
trigonometrical survey of the country—an important measure of internal
improvement—but one, in regard to which the interests of Scotland have
been much neglected. It was instituted so far back as 1809, and has since,
with repeated and lengthened interruptions, been languidly carried on.
While the survey of England is nearly finished, and that of Ireland,
commenced in 1819, has been completed at a cost of about L.750,000, the
work in Scotland is yet in its earlier stages ; and out of the vast sums
voted by Parliament, during the last forty years, for the survey of the
empire, the amount expended in Scotland has not exceeded L.40,000. In
consequence of representations made to government by the Society, the
operations, which had been dormant for sixteen years, were recommenced in
1838, and since that period the annual sum allowed for them has been
increased. It is still, however, inadequate; but there is every reason to
hope that government may be induced to accelerate the progress of a
national undertaking so important. The example and the exertions of the
Society have not been thrown away on the public; they were specially
noticed at many of the county meetings on the 30th of April last, when
resolutions were adopted, and memorials to government were authorised.
The Drainage Act, 9 and 10
Vict. cap. 101, early came under the consideration of the Society, and the
attention of proprietors and tenants was called to it through a report
issued by the Directors. The manner in which that recommendation was met,
is well known by the preponderating number of applications emanating from
Scotland. The Commissioners, under the Act, were in frequent communication
with the Directors, by whom various suggestions were made for giving
additional effect to the measure, many of which have since been embodied
in the amendment act. Among other propositions, the Directors advocated
the expediency of making legislative provisions for the improvement of
outfalls, but it was considered unadvisable to include these in the
amended drainage act. A bill for the purpose was subsequently introduced
into the House of Commons, which was made applicable to Scotland, and
under which, all questions that might arise were submitted to the
adjudication of a board of commissioners in London. The Directors
considered that this was on many grounds inexpedient and objectionable,
both with a view to precedent in the management of Scotch business, and to
the convenience and protection of those parties, whose interests would be
affected by the measure. They accordingly considered it to be their duty
to exert the influence of the Society for the purpose of obtaining a
separate bill, with machinery, to be worked within Scotland, and with
provisions more available for its wants. They have the satisfaction of
being enabled to report, that in this their efforts have been so far
successful, that the principle of a separate measure has been recognised,
and its details embodied in a bill, which is now in progress.
Since the publication of
the last volume, Sir John Stuart Forbes, Bart., found himself constrained,
on account of absence from Edinburgh, to resign, much to the regret of the
Directors, the office of treasurer, and to deprive the Society of the
benefit of his valuable services and assistance. Mr Maconochie, of
Meadowbank, was unanimously elected his successor, at the general meeting
in January 1847. Within the same period the Society met with a severe loss
through the death of Sir Charles Gordon, who had for above thirty years,
with advantage to the public and credit to himself, discharged the duties
of the office of secretary. The Directors, however, consider it their duty
to state, that they have great pleasure in recording their opinion, that
the Society has been eminently fortunate in its choice of the present
secretary, Mr Hall Maxwell, who has displayed a degree of talent,
assiduity, and zeal, in the discharge of his duties, which merit the
greatest approbation of the Directors. While they cannot but advert with
regret to the deaths of two old and valuable members of the Board—Sir
George Macpherson Grant, Bart., and Mr Aitchison of Drummore—it is
gratifying to them to have it in their power to state, that, at the last
election, fresh strength was infused into the Direction, by the nomination
of several gentlemen eminent for their scientific acquirements, or for
their practical knowledge of agriculture.
The following is the
establishment of the Society for 1847:—
His Grace JAMES, DUKE of MONTROSE.
1846. The Right Hon.
FRANCIS WILLIAM, EARL of SEAFIELD.
1846. The Right Hon. THOMAS ALEXANDER, LORD LOVAT.
1847. The Right Hon. GEORGE HAMILTON, EARL of ABERDEEN.
1846. Sir GEORGE SINCLAIR
of Ulbster, Bart.
1846. Lieut.-General Sir HUGH FRASER of Braelangwell, K.C. B.
1846. Colonel HUGH DUNCAN BAILIE of Redcastle, M.P.
1846. CHAS. LENNOX CUMMING BRUCE of Roseisle and Kinnaird, M.P.
1846. GEORGE DEMPSTER of Skibo.
1847. Major-General the Right Hon. LORD JAMES HAY.
1847. Sir JOHN MACPHERSON GRANT of Ballindallocb, Bart.
1847. Colonel THOMAS GORDON of Park.
1847. Captain ROBERT BARCLAY ALLARDICE of Ury.
1847. WILLIAM INNES of Raemoir.
1844. Robert Balfour
Wardlaw Ramsay of Whitehill.
1844. Sir John Hope of Pinkie, Bart. M.P.
1844. Sir John Graham Dalyell of Binns, Bart.
1844. Captain C. K. Johnstone. Alva, K.L.S.
1845. Thomas Mackenzie of Applecross, M.P.
1845. Thomas Maitland of Dundrennan, M.P., Solicitor-General for Scotland.
1845. William Mackenzie of Muirton.
1845. Captain Thomas Christie, R.N.
1845. Sir. John Stewart Richardson of Pitfour, Bart.
1845. Geoorge Turnbull of Abbey St Bathans.
1846. Donald Horne of Langwell
1846. William Murray of Henderland.
1846. Right Hon. James, Lord Beeriedale.
1846. John Gordon of Cairnbulg
1846. Sir William Dunbar of Mochrum, Bart.
1846. Robert Graham of Balgowan.
1846. John Hutton Balfour, M.D., Professor of Botany in the University of
1846. Robert G. Baillie of Coulterallers.
1846. David Low of Laws, Professor of Agriculture in the University of
1847. Robert Grant of Kincorth.
1847. Sir William Jardine of Applegarth, Bart.
1847. William Gregory, M.D., Professor of Chemistry in the University of
1847. James Wemyss of Wemyss-Hall.
1847. John Finnie, Swanston.
1847. John Trotter of Bush.
1847. Alexander Scott, Craiglockhart.
1847. Alexander Pringle of Whytbank.
1847. William Smith of Carbeth Guthrie.
1847. James Horn Burnett, W.S.
1847. Alexander Forbes Irvine, yr. of Drum.
Alexander Maconochie of
John James Hope Johnstone of Annandale, M.P. Honorary Secretary.
John Hall Maxwell, yr. of Dargavel, Secretary.
Archibald Horne, Accountant.
Rev. James Grant, D.D., St Mary's Church, Edinburgh, Chaplain.
Henry Stephens, Editor of Transactions.
Messrs W. Blackwood and Sons, Publishers.
Charles Lawson, Seedsman and Nurseryman.
William Dick, Professor at the Veterinary College.
James Mackay, Goldsmith and Jeweller.
Alexander Kirkwood, Practical Medallist.
CHAIRMEN OF STANDING
Funds and Accounts, George
Turnbull of Abbey St Bathans.
Publications and Papers, Professor Gregory.
Mechanics, Sir John Graham Dalyell of Binns, Bart.
Geology and Chemistry, David Milne of Milnegraden.
Cottages, R. G. Baillie of Coulterallers.
Veterinary College, John Burn Murdoch of Gartincaber.
General Shows, Donald Horne of Langwell.
Argyll Naval Fund, Alexander Lamont of Knockdow.
The Right Honourable Lord
Robert Graham of Balgowan, Deputy Chairman.
Charles Lawson, Conservator. Thomas Dickson, Assistant-Conservator.
James Slight, Curator of Models
The Right Honourable the
Earl of Rosebery, Chairman.
Lord Murray; Alexander Maconochie of Meadowbank;
Richard Trotter of Mortonhall;
James Maitland Hog of Newliston, Deputy-Chairman.