The State of the Art
THE rewriting of nineteenth-century agricultural history is at an awkward in-between stage. The volume and balance of the literature which has appeared in the 1960s, although still growing healthily, cannot yet sustain an entirely fresh version of developments from 1815 to 1873. The output of research has modified only in patches the conventional wisdom, as purveyed so long ago but so compellingly by Lord Ernie.1 Other topics have quite escaped the lamps of modern enquiry. The new literature is thus not comprehensive; neither is it sufficiently focused to provide a series of ready-made debates round which a survey might be arranged. There have been a few confrontations, but no head-on clashes to rival those surrounding the early modern ‘rise of the gentry’ or the early industrial standard of living.