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15 June 1882
To W F Ingram Esq
I received your letter of the 13th inst. And must say that its contents do not quite satisfy me. I have made up my mind for a long time past that £400 is a good and sufficient rent and I know from experience that unless I can farm it upon some improved method which at present I do not understand I cannot afford to pay any more for an average of years. I am aware that by always ploughing the land down hill, reducing labour and other expenses, more profit might be obtained for a time but the benefit would be but temporary.
I have no doubt, Sir, but that you have made a very careful and for the present season a very accurate valuation of the Farm, but I think you will allow me to say that the time of year chosen for your survey was when every thing looked at its heightened, and the Spring season up to that time one of the most favourable which during my tenancy I have ever experienced. You saw the oats on the hill looking well and full of plant; some other years you might have seen large patches bare from wireworm. If you had come just before harvest you might have seen large patches on the upper piece blighted and upon all the upper land a large quantity blown out. You saw a more promising looking plant of wheat on the lower land than I have ever seen before but you will admit that a beautiful blade will sometimes produce but very inferior grain. You saw more grass in the Brooks than I have ever seen before, principally from the genial season, and as regards that part over the further railway partly from laying it off early in a mild winter in order to get a good early bite and also from not having fully stocked it so soon as usual. You might have gone through those Brooks at another time and found the appearance very different. You might have seen a great portion flooded with rain water containing no fertilizing matter from my neighbours' brook on either side and if early in the Autumn many of my animals in the yard eating purchased food whilst many others were still out. There are difficulties experienced just after lambing which would no doubt only be noticed by few in looking over the farm. Having only about 3 or 4 acres of dry meadow land we are obliged to put the ewes and lambs in the Brooks which, in wet seasons, is exceedingly unhealthy and a risk of rotting the whole flock is endangered. This want if dry pasture for sheep I have always felt to be a grave consideration. I well remember Mr Matthews used to feel the inconvenience too and I think Mr Morris lost his flock by placing them there. It may be said the rotting year is gone but it is only reasonable to expect a periodical visitation as before. I would suggest that some things of minor importance may have escaped your notice in framing your estimate. They may each be considered small in themselves, and I have no wish to magnify trifles, but in the aggregate make a considerable difference. The unlevel nature of the land is no trifle, in some places it is impossible and at others very difficult to drill corn or to reap or mow by machine. It is also inconvenient and requires more horse labour to draw up manure and plough the land etc. It is also a great inconvenience having two railways running through the Brook. Not having sufficient cottage accommodation for the man I am obliged to employ several from Lewes and it is pretty well known to employers that I farm labourers living in Towns and walking long distances to their daily work are not such men as are either sober, industrious, or careful of their employer's interest. I experience a good deal of annoyance with them and they contaminate the rest.
Many think the milk trade a very profitable business but it is not so profitable or agreeable as some may imagine. I have been unable to sell a considerable portion lately and in a few days shall have the whole upon my hands and at present can not find a customer. I have tried Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings without effect.
You may say all this has nothing to do with hiring a farm, a simple answer to your letter is only required from me but I feel reluctant to sever my connection with those from whom I have ever received courtesy and kindness without pointing out a few things which might possibly have escaped notice and which might lead to a reconsideration of the matter. I have no wish for any unfair advantage and were I not fully satisfied from experience that my estimate was a fair one you would not find me making so much ado about so small a sum. As your decision, Sir, will affect other business matters I should esteem it a favour if you would, and I feel sure you will, give this your careful and impartial consideration and let me hear from you at your earliest convenience.
Your very obedient Servant.
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