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the most rapid and effectual execution of the
work; rendering him more independent of
those bands of harvest supernumeraries, on
whom, while labour was superabundant, he
was accustomed to depend.

To begin with the modern iron plough,
with its long lever handles, long, flowing,
concave share and pair of wheels,—although
heavier in dead weight than the old plough,
it slips through the earth with less than half
horse-power applied, and, when once properly
set, can be guided by a boy; in fact, it
almost travels alone. Just as the swiftness of
a ship depends, so do the efficiency and facility
of draught of a good plough depend, on its
form. The pair-horse abreast was the wise
fashion in Flanders, in Normandy, and in
Scotland, half a century before it became
common in England. There are counties
where, as in Sussex, a long file of horses still
drag their slow length along. The wheels
which are so great an improvement to the
plough, are an invention not unknown to the
Romans, and were used in England centuries
ago; yet, while in the high-farmed English
estates nothing else is to be found, in
Scotland they make their way but by
degrees. The shape of the ploughshare (on which
the draught and work depend) was a matter
of fancy and rule in every parish, until
mechanical science was applied by the Ransomes
of Ipswich and Howard of Bedford to discover
the sort of plough which should cut and
move the soil with the least labour. The
success of the application of science and
practice to iron ploughs was shown triumphantly
in Paris, in eighteen hundred and fifty-five.
One of the heaviest English-wheeled
ploughs was drawn easily by the smallest
French horse in the field, cutting a straight
even furrow; while the same horse, applied
to one of the lightest foreign ploughs, stopped
short after a very short, zig-zaggy course.
But, the best ploughshare had not driven the
old one out of the market in eighteen
hundred and fifty-six; and now, behold, the
Steam Cultivator looming in the horizon of
invention like a faint streak on the sea that
tells us of a coming steamer! The prize
ploughs only economise two or three horses
per plough; the Steam Cultivator,
whenever it becomes a reality, whenever it
advances from the position of an expensive
curiosity to an economical agricultural
machine, will more than half empty the
farmer's stable, relieving him of a dozen or
so of fat, sleek, but indispensable devourers
of profits. Not that there are many farmers
who will be able to endure the expense of
a Steam Cultivator for their own special
use; but we shall have the itinerant principle
extended. At present, we meet formidable
processions of gay-coloured machinery
on rural highways and bywaysof threshing
machines and their steam-engines, drills, and
harrows, to be hired by the day, the quarter
of corn, or the acre. On the same errand we
shall soon see reaping-machines travelling
about, following the sun, from the warmest
and dryest to the coldest and wettest harvest,
under charge of an ingenious blacksmith and
boysuperseding the ragged sickle-bearing
armies of Irish, who are now better
employed at home on unencumbered estates, or
in America, taking the rough edge off
backwoods and prairies.

Seed-drills are a very ancient invention;
but the last ten years of guano, superphosphate,
and other costly portable manures, have
made them so common, that it is difficult now
to find a broadcast sower; and, in another ten
years, manual broad-casting will be one of the
extinct agricultural performances: already
for economising manures and killing off the fly
on turnips by a sprinkling of salt or guano,
we have a demand for broad-casting machines.
Thus, then, the artist intending to symbolise
agriculture, must alter his plough, and
find some substitutes for his sower, and his
thresher, and his reaper.

The story of the reaping-machine, usefully
illustrates the peculiar difficulties that attend
the application of mechanical improvements
to agricultural machinery.

According to a Roman writer on Agriculture,
the Gauls reaped by a machine which,
pushed before an ox, cut off the heads of corn,
and dropped them into a box. Between the
latter end of the last century, and the first
twenty-five years of this (a period singularly
rife with mechanical inventions), some dozens
of patents were taken out for reaping by
machinery; but not one was practically useful.
In eighteen hundred and twenty-seven, the
Reverend Patrick Bell, son of a farmer,
and at that time a student for the Scotch
ministry, determined to invent a reaping-
machine. He had thought of the subject for
years, and had, when a boy, seen a print of
such a machine constructed by Smith of
Deanston; which, by the way, was ingenious,
but useless.

One evening, after tea, while walking in.
his father's garden, his eye was attracted by
a pair of gardener's shears sticking in the
hedge; he took hold of them, and began to cut
the twigs of the blackthornperhaps idly, for
want of thought; but, while so engaged, it
struck him that this was the principle
that might be applied to cutting corn.
At the present day, when Bell's machine
stands at the top of the prize list, it is curious
to find that the very motion that suggested
his whole invention has been totally
abandoned. After much consideration, he
constructed a model, and then prepared a
machine on a large scale. In order to keep
his secret, he made patterns in wood of every
part that required to be made of metal; these
he sent, piece by piece, separately, as he
required them, to the blacksmith, with instructions
to make a thing of iron, or of steel, as
like that sent as possible. When he received
them back, he filed, ground, or otherwise