The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening tours by J.C. Loudon 1831-1842
Chapter: London to Manchester in the Spring of 1831

Buckinghamshire agricultural population

Previous - Next

Notwithstanding the general appearance of improvement, which we have noticed, the agricultural population every where, and a portion of the manufacturing classes and mechanics round the large towns, are in a state of great destitution. The appearance of the labourers in Buckinghamshire was wretched, we might almost say, in the extreme. We allude more particularly to those whom we saw between Wootton and Buckingham, and between that town and Banbury. Beyond Banbury, near Wroxton Abbey, and, indeed, close to its park gates, there is as wretched a looking village, we will venture to say, as is to be met with in Britain. It may give some idea to a Scotch gardener of the miserable poverty of the inhabitants of this village, and of the low state of the women, to be informed that the present proprietress of Wroxton Abbey lends them a sort of coarse wheel, much ruder than the rudest ever seen in Scotland, to spin with; and when the spinning season is over, these wheels are returned to her, and kept in safe custody in a large room at the Abbey. In the neighbourhood of all the large manufacturing towns there is a number of small manufacturers, who effect by manual labour what large capitalists effect by machinery; just as there were in Scotland, thirty years ago, a few starving small farmers among the large farmers. It is a fact that cannot be denied, that the servants who attend the machinery of the capitalists are better off than the small masters; and the same was the case in Scotland, with respect to the condition of the servants of large farmers, as compared with that of those who farmed small holdings on their own account. Thus it is that there appears to be a tendency in the present state of society to separate producers into only two classes; capitalists and labourers. The labourers, therefore, must necessarily be more or less at the mercy of the capitalists; whether the latter be the possessors of land, money, or machinery. We say nothing here of the operation on monopolies by legislative measures either in progress or in contemplation.