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Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland
July 1847 - March 1849 -  Transactions of the Society


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 country.

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 Society.
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:—





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. 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 Edinburgh.
1846. Robert G. Baillie of Coulterallers.
1846. David Low of Laws, Professor of Agriculture in the University of Edinburgh.
1847. Robert Grant of Kincorth.
1847. Sir William Jardine of Applegarth, Bart.
1847. William Gregory, M.D., Professor of Chemistry in the University of Edinburgh.
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 Meadowbank, Treasurer.
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.


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 Berriedale, Chairman.
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.

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