THE ISLAND OF HERM
Auction Particulars and Contract of Sale, Tuesday 29th July 1884


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“The produce of land in all crops is very high. Wheat in the higher and colder parishes and good soil, has yielded between fifty and sixty bushels per English acre, the average of the islands being upwards of thirty. The average of England is stated at only twenty-four.”

“Land is very rarely allowed to lie idle in any of the islands. If let at all, it commands a high rent. . . . Owing to the mildness of the climate, lowing may be postponed or hastened almost at pleasure, for there is little danger of early, frosts in autumn or late frosts in spring, and the sun seldom has so much power as to burn up anything exposed to its influence.”

“Most of the fruits cultivated in England, whether in the open air or under glass, or by forcing are also cultivated more readily, with greater economy, and with at least equal results as to flavour.”

“The number of vineries, both in Jersey and Guernsey, is extremely large in proportion to the size of the islands. In Jersey there is an enormous range of Houses at Goose Green, between St. Helier and St. Aubin's. These houses alone are said to ripen annually for the market many tons weight of valuable fruit.”

“Potatoes are extensively grown in all the principal Channel Islands for the London market, and the quantity sent in the early part of the season is almost incredible. Early potatoes are grown under very favourable circumstances, chiefly in sheltered places. These are ready for the table nearly three weeks in advance of those grown in Cornwall, and are readily sold for prices varying from one shilling to one shilling and sixpence per pound.”

“The growth of grapes is especially remarkable, and is becoming more so every year, almost every house in both islands having its conservatory, and a large proportion of them assisting to supply the market. There seems hardly any limit to this source of industry, the grapes ripening perfectly, without artificial heat, at a somewhat earlier period than in England.”

“Of late years fish of several kinds and a large number of lobsters and crabs have been sent to Southampton, and thence to London. So important has this trade become that it has entirely altered the local prices,-fish and crustaceans which, a few years ago, were extremely cheap, and varied in price according to the quantity taken, having now a standard price, regulated in some measure by that at London, and not unfrequently being higher than in London itself.”

An interesting paper was published some time since in the Scotsman newspaper, particulars of a day spent with a Channel Island farmer.

The writer, after giving emphatic testimony as to the prosperity of the islanders, and their readiness to afford frank accounts to any courteous stronger, as to their government and their relations with England, says:

“They are glad to have a military governor, attended by a few companies of soldiers, resident among them; but one great reason for this satisfaction, it is confessed, is that this official is to a great extent really without office. Every island has its own Parliament, consisting of representatives elected in the different parishes. By this body the legislation for the island is determined, and the laws there enacted are in turn carried into effect in curiously-constituted law courts. Substantial incomes are the rule, undiminished by income tax, except the voluntary one of hospitality, of which a stranger has many experiences; the ports are free, and living is inexpensive; the people are simple-minded, with much primitive geniality about them-many, it is true, talking an unintelligible kind of French, but all the same very anxious to let it be understood that for their neighbours on the south side of the Channel they have no strong attachment. .In every respect, in fact, the picture of life of which a visit to the islanders leaves remembrances is agreeable, and fresh and invigorating in its influences.”

“Farming in the island is, in its general character, very different, on the one hand, from that practised in Scotland; and, on the other, from the spade husbandry and crofter cultivation to which some well meaning but unpractical people give so many worthless certificates. The size of the holdings is reckoned not by acres but by a measurement called a ' vergee,' two vergees and three-quarters going to make an imperial acre. Of these vergees, the farmer as a rule rents or owns from twenty to forty, paying (where tenant) on the worst land about £3, and on the best fully £6 a vergee-the latter rent equal to £1 per acre. In the locality visited, that lying in the centre of the island, the soil is mostly

 
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