Cottage, properly signifies a small dwelling-house, independ-enly of any lands attached to it. By stat. 31 Eliz. c. 7, no man can build a cottage unless he annex four acres of land thereto; except in market-towns or cities, or within i mile of the sea, or for the habitation of labourers in mine sailors, foresters, shepherds, etc.; as likewise those erected by the order of justices of the peace.— The four acres of land required to constitute a cottage, by the law, are to be freehold, and land of inheritance.
According to William Morton Pitt, Esq. the ingenious author of an Address to the Landed Interest; there are few parishes without several rough, encumber-. ed, and uncultivated tracts, which fright be converted into large gardens, and on which cottages might be built, either by the poor them-selves, to be held on lives, or at the expence of the parish. If such habitations were more attainable by the poor, frugality would revive amongst them, and young people would strive to lay up a sum of money for this purpose. The hope of improving their lot is the mainspring of industry, in all stations of life. The prosperity of this coun-try has been attributed, not only to the spirit of enterprize of our merchants and manufacturers, but likewise to the effect, which the possession and security of property have on the minds of men.
The produce of a garden diminishes the consumption of bread, which is the most considerable ar-ticle of a poor man's expenditure : it is an advantage wholly created bythecultivator's industry, at times, when not otherwise engaged, as well as by that of his wife and children ; consequently there is so. much labour gained to the community.
Every man, who is averse to increase the wages of labour in husbandry, should at least encourage the culture of gardens. The quantity of land to be attached to such a cottage, might be half an acre, of inferior: inferior value, namely, about 10s. per acre. The corn in the gardens should be raised by dibbling; a method already practised with success, in many parts of the kingdom. Where 10s. per acre is the value of the land, 5s. per annum might consequently be added as quit-rent: - the fine on putting in a life, should not exceed one year's purchase, computed on the real value. The cottager who builds a house upon this principle, acquires the following advantages: 1. A permanent property, as all improvements are for the benefit of himself and family; 2. Respectability of situation; 3. A diminution of annual expenditure; and 4. That he cannot be dispossessed under any circumstances.
Mr. W. M. Pitt farther observes, that, this arrangement will answer in all instances, where a labourer has money sufficient to enable him to build a cottage. But as this is not the case with many, the landlord may, without any risk, advance to any such industrious man, 101. or 151. to enable him to erect a cottage, which would of itself be a security for the loan ; the money to be issued, in proportion only as the work advances. The cottager should pay interest at 5 per cent., and part of the principal, at least 10 per cent., every year. If he fail in making these payments, his effects should be liable. Thus, he would anticipate, with impatience, the time of discharging the whole debt, that he might enjoy the fruits of his labour, and a comfortable situation. The landlord would also be benefited, by being relieved from the expence of repairs, and especially by the reduction of the poor-rates; he would receive his quit-rent a nually, and a fine also, upon a re-newal, in addition to the full rent of his land, as well as 5 per cent, interest on the money lent; the whole debt being liquidated in ten years at farthest.
The utility of letting lands to the poor, at an easy rate, is still farther evinced in a letter from the Earl of Winchilsea to the Board of Agriculture, in 1796, from which we extract the following particu-lars.—By the advantages arising from lands thus employed, the labourers and their families live better, and are consequently more able to endure fatigue. They are more comfortable, contented, and attached to their situation, while they acquire habits of industry and cleanliness, as well as a kind of independence, so that they seta higher value upon their character. The possession of a little property excites their industry: of this the noble Earl gives instances in the labourers on his estates in Rutlandshire ; whose first thought, after they have obtained a cow, and land sufficient to maintain her, has been how to save money enough to purchase another, in consequence of which, application was made for an additional quantity of land. Such facts afford a complete refutation of the frivolous objections urged against this salutary measure; and we are happy to state, from our own information, that when offers of this nature were made to industrious labourers, they have been unanimously accepted. We, therefore, sincerely recommend to the landholders of this country, to pursue a similar spirited conduct; and are of opinion, that it would act as an additional stimulus to the industry of the poor, if, on the completion of any inclosure, a certain space of ground were allotted, for the grazing of their cows, during certain seasons of the year.
With respect to the most proper method of building cottages, and adapting them to different situations, for more wealthy families, we again recommend Mr. Soane's " Sketches in Architecture" (vol. i. p. 100); - and, for erecting the more humble habitations of the indigent and industrious, we believe Mr. Malton's " Essay on Cottage Architecture'' (large 4to. ll. 11s. 6d.) will be found an useful guide.