I am delighted to hear once again from C. de Laune Faunce-de Laune, so much missed since his last essay into print, ‘On laying down land to Permanent Grass’ (Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society, 2nd series, Vol.XVIII pp.230-264), was published in 1882.

He writes to say that his travelling companion, Lady O. de V. has rejected England and the English country house in general, and him in particular as a heap of manure, and left for the Urals. He wishes to know how he should respond.

Lady O. de V. is absolutely right of course. Look at the facts. Wheat output rose by somewhere between 50% and 75% during the second half of the 18th century. This was not accompanied by any corresponding increase in the acreage of arable land or change in farming practice, so it must have been due to increases in muck supply – and this means increasing numbers of farm animals grazing an ever-increasing acreage of grassland. Let us look no further than the client list of the notorious Capability Brown, for they were the engineers of this change and the increasing acreage of parkland was the place where the grass came from.  When John Parnell asked how they got the muck for the new cultivations at Shugborough, the ploughman told him his master had ‘five Thousand Load … at home’.

I have advised C. de L. F. de L. to ink his nib and humbly solicit the good lady’s pardon, and to do so right away.