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LETTER TO THE ARCHBISHOP OF DUBLIN.
solemnly profess that I do not know one calamity we have undergone these many years which any man whose opinions were not in fashion dared to lament without being openly charged with that imputation. And this is the harder, because, although a mother, when she has corrected her child, may sometimes force it to kiss the rod, yet she will never give that power to the footboy or the scullion.
work the more effectually, their universal maxim is to
My lord, there are two things for the people of this kingdom to consider; first, their present evil condition; and secondly, what can be done in some degree to remedy it.
I shall not enter into a particular description of our present misery; it has been already done in several papers, and very fully in one entitled, "A short View of the State of Ireland." It will be enough to mention the entire want of trade, the navigation-act executed with the utmost rigour, the remission of a million every year to England, the ruinous importation of foreign luxury and vanity, the oppression of landlords, and discouragement of agriculture.
Now all these evils are without the possibility of a cure, except that of importations; and to fence against ruinous folly will be always in our power, in spite of the discouragements, mortifications, contempt, hatred, and opposition we labour under; but our trade will never mend, the navigation-act never be softened, our absentees never return, our endless foreign payments never be lessened, our own landlords never be less exacting.
All other schemes for preserving this kingdom from utter ruin are idle and visionary; consequently drawn from wrong reasoning and from general topics, which, from the same causes that they may be true in all nations, are certainly false in ours; as I have told the public often enough, but with as little effect as what I shall say at present is likely to produce.
I am weary of so many abortive projects for the advancement of trade; of so many crude proposals in letters sent me from unknown hands; of so many contradictory speculations about raising or sinking the value of gold and silver: I am not in the least sorry to hear of the great numbers going to America, although very much for the causes that drive them from us, since the uncontrolled maxim, "That people are the riches of a nation," is no maxim here under our circumstances. We have neither manufactures to employ them about nor food to support them.
If a private gentleman's income be sunk irretrievably for ever, from a hundred pounds to fifty, and he has no other method to supply the deficiency, I desire to know, my lord, whether such a person has any other course to take than to sink half his expenses in every article of economy, to save himself from ruin and a gaol. Is not this more than doubly the case of Ireland, where the want of money, the irretrievable ruin of trade, with the other evils above mentioned, and many more too well known and felt and too numerous or invidious to be related, have been gradually sinking us for above a dozen years past to a degree that we are at least by two thirds in a worse condition than was ever known since the revolution? Therefore instead of dreams and projects for the advancing of trade we have nothing left but to find out some expedient whereby we may reduce our expenses to our incomes.
Yet this procedure, allowed so necessary in all private families and in its own nature so easy to be put in practice, may meet with strong opposition by the cowardly slavish indulgence of the men, to the intolerable pride, arrogance, vanity, and luxury of the women, who, strictly adhering to the rules of modern education, seem to employ their whole stock of invention in contriving new arts of profusion faster than the most parsimonious husband can afford and to compass this
The prime cost of wine yearly imported to Ireland is
Now if we should allow the 30,000l., wherein the women have their share, and which is all we have to comfort us, and deduct 70,0001. more for overreaching, there would still remain 300,000l., annually spent for unwholesome drugs and unnecessary finery; which prodigious sum would be wholly saved, and many thousands of our miserable shopkeepers and manufacturers comfortably supported.
Let speculative people busy their brains as much as they please, there is no other way to prevent this kingdom from sinking for ever than by utterly renouncing all foreign dress and luxury.
It is absolutely so in fact, that every husband of any fortune in the kingdom is nourishing a poisonous devouring serpent in his bosom, with all the mischief but with none of its wisdom.
If all the women were clad with the growth of their own country they might still vie with each other in the course of foppery; and still have room left to vie with each other and equally show their wit and judgment in deciding upon the variety of Irish stuffs. And if they could be contented with their native wholesome slops for breakfast, we should hear no more of the spleen, hysterics, colics, palpitations, and asthmas. They might still be allowed to ruin each other and their husbands at play, because the money lost would circulate among ourselves.
My lord, I freely own it a wild imagination that any words will cure the sottishness of men or the vanity of women; but the kingdom is in a fair way of producing the most effectual remedy when there will not be money left for the common course of buying and selling the very necessaries of life in our markets, unless we absolutely change the whole method of our proceedings.
The corporation of weavers in woollen and silk, who have so frequently offered proposals both to your grace About a month ago they and to me, are the hottest and coldest generation of men that I have known. attended your grace when I had the honour to be with you, and designed me the same favour. They desired you would recommend to your clergy to wear gowns of Irish stuffs, which might probably spread the example among all their brethren in the kingdom, and perhaps among the lawyers and gentlemen of the university, and among the citizens of those corporations who appear in gowns on solemn occasions. I then mentioned a kind of stuff, not above 8d. a yard, which I heard had been contrived by some of the trade and was very convenient. I desired they would prepare some of that or any sort of black stuff on a certain day, when your grace would appoint as many clergymen as could readily be found to meet at your palace, and there give their opinions; and that, your grace's visitation approaching, you could then have the best opportunity of seeing what could be done in a matter of such consequence, as they seemed to think, to the woollen manufacture. But instead of attending as was expected, they came to me a fortnight after with a new proposal, that something should be written by an acceptable and
able hand, to promote in general the wearing of homemanufactures; and their civilities would fix that work upon me. I asked if they had prepared the stuffs, as they had promised and your grace expected; but they had not made the least step in the matter, nor as it appears thought of it more.
I did some years ago propose to the masters and principal dealers in the home-manufactures of silk and wool that they should meet together; and after mature consideration publish advertisements to the following purpose:
That, in order to encourage the wearing of Irish manu. factures in silk and woollen, they gave notice to the nobility and gentry of the kingdom, That they the undersigned would enter into bonds, for themselves and for each other, to sell the several sorts of stuffs, cloths, and silks, made to the best perfection they were able, for certain fixed prices; and in such a manner that if a child were sent to any of their shops, the buyer might be secure of the value and goodness and measure of the ware; and lest this might be thought to look like a monopoly, any other member of the trade might be admitted upon such conditions as should be agreed And if any person whatsoever should complain that he was ill used in the value and goodness of what he bought, the matter should be examined, the person injured be fully satisfied by the whole corporation without delay, and the dishonest seller be struck out of the society, unless it appeared evidently that the failure proceeded only from mistake.
The mortal danger is, that if these dealers could prevail, by the goodness and cheapness of their cloths and stuffs, to give a turn to the principal people of Ireland in favour of their goods, they would relapse into the knavish practice, peculiar to this kingdom, which is apt to run through all trades, even so low as a common ale-seller, who, as soon as he gets a vogue for his liquor and outsells his neighbours, thinks his credit will put off the worst he can buy, till his customers will come no more. Thus I have known at London in a general mourning the drapers dye black all their damaged goods, and sell them at double rates, then complain, and petition the court that they are ready to starve by the continuance of the mourning.
Therefore, I say, those principal weavers who would enter into such a compact as I have mentioned must give sufficient security against all such practices, for if once the women can persuade their husbands that foreign goods, besides the finery, will be as cheap and do more service, our last state will be worse than the first.
I do not here pretend to digest perfectly the method by which these principal shopkeepers shall proceed in such a proposal, but my meaning is clear enough and cannot reasonably be objected against.
We have seen what a destructive loss the kingdom received by the detestable fraud of the merchants, or northern linen-weavers, or both; notwithstanding all the care of the governors of that board when we had an offer of commerce with the Spaniards for our linen, to the value as I am told of 30,000l. a-year. But while we deal like pedlars we shall practise like pedlars, and sacrifice all honesty to the present urging advantage.
What I have said may serve as an answer to the desire made me by the corporation of weavers, that I would offer my notions to the public. As to anything further, let them apply themselves to the parliament in their next session. Let them prevail on the house of commons to grant one very reasonable request, and I shall think there is still some spirit left in the nation when I read a vote to this purpose," Resolved, nemine contradicente, that this house will for the future wear no cloths but such as are made of Irish growth or of
Irish manufacture, nor will permit their wives or children to wear any other, and that they will to the utmost endeavour to prevail with their friends, relations, dependents, and tenants, to follow their example." And if at the same time they could banish tea and coffee and china-ware out of their families, and force their wives to chat their scandal over an infusion of sage or other wholesome domestic vegetables, we might possibly be able to subsist, and pay our absentees, pensioners, generals, civil officers, appeals, colliers, temporary travellers, students, schoolboys, splenetic visitors of Bath, Tunbridge, and Epsom, with all other smaller drains, by sending our crude unwrought goods to England, and receiving from thence and all other countries nothing but what is fully manufactured, and keep a few potatoes and oatmeal for our own sub
I have been for a dozen years past wisely prognosticating the present condition of this kingdom, which any human creature of common sense could foretel, with as little sagacity as myself. My meaning is, that a consumptive body must needs die which has spent all its spirits and received no nourishment. Yet I am often tempted to pity when I hear the poor farmer and cottager lamenting the hardness of the times, and imputing them either to one or two ill seasons, which better climates than ours are more exposed to, or to scarcity of silver, which to a nation of liberty would only be a slight and temporary inconvenience, to be removed at a month's warning.
ON BARBAROUS DENOMINATIONS IN IRELAND.
I HAVE been lately looking over the advertisements in some of your Dublin newspapers, which are sent me to the country, and was much entertained with a large list of denominations of lands to be sold or let. I am confident they must be genuine, for it is impossible that either chance or modern invention could sort the alphabet in such a manner as to make those abominable sounds, whether first invented to invoke or fright away the devil I must leave among the curious.
If I could wonder at anything barbarous, ridiculous, or absurd among us, this should be one of the first. I have often lamented that Agricola, the father-in-law of Tacitus, was not prevailed on by that petty king from Ireland who followed his camp to come over and civilize us with a conquest, as his countrymen did Britain, where several Roman appellations remain to this day, and so would the rest have done if that inundation of Angles, Saxons, and other northern people, had not changed them so much for the worse, although in no comparison with ours. In one of the advertisements just mentioned I encountered near a hundred words together, which I defy any creature in human shape except an Irishman of the savage kind to pronounce; neither would I undertake such a task to be owner of the lands, unless I had liberty to humanize the syllables twenty miles round. The legislature may think what they please, and that they are above copying the Romans in all their conquests of barbarous nations; but I am deceived if anything has more contributed to prevent the Irish from being tamed than this encouragement of their language, which might be easily abolished, and become a dead one in half an age with little expense and less trouble.
How is it possible that a gentleman who lives in those parts where the town-lands (as they call them) of his estate produce such odious sounds from the mouth, the throat, and the nose, can be able to repeat the words without dislocating every muscle that is used in speaking, and without applying the same tone to all other
words in every language he understands, as it is plainly to be observed not only in those people of the better sort who live in Galway and the western parts, but in most counties of Ireland?
It is true that in the city parts of London the trading people have an affected manner of pronouncing, and so in my time had many ladies and coxcombs at court. It is likewise true that there is an odd provincial cant in most counties in England, sometimes not very pleasing to the ear, and the Scotch cadence as well as expression are offensive enough. But none of these defects derive contempt to the speaker, whereas what we call the Irish brogue is no sooner discovered than it makes the deliverer in the last degree ridiculous and despised, and from such a mouth an Englishman expects nothing but bulls, blunders, and follies. Neither does it avail whether the censure be reasonable or not, since the fact is always so. And what is yet worse, it is too well known that the bad consequence of this opinion affects those among us who are not the least liable to such reproaches, further than the misfortune of being born in Ireland, although of English parents, and whose education has been chiefly in that kingdom.
I have heard many gentlemen among us talk much of the great convenience to those who live in the country that they should speak Irish. It may possibly be so, but I think they should be such who never intend to visit England upon pain of being ridiculous; for I do not remember to have heard of any one man that spoke Irish who had not the accent upon his tongue easily discernible to an English ear.
round him, for want of other merit, thought fit to make use of this expedient, wherein he seems to mistake his account; for this distinguishing term whig had a most infamous original, denoting a man who favoured the fanatic sect, and an enemy to kings, and so continued till this idea was a little softened some years after the Revolution and during a part of her late majesty's reign. After which it was in disgrace until the queen's death, since which time it hath indeed flourished with a witness: but how long will it continue so, in our variable scene, or what kind of mortal it may describe, is a question which this courtly landlord is not able to answer; and therefore he should have set a date on the title of his borough, to let us know what kind of a creature a whig was in that year of our Lord. I would readily assist nomenclators of this costive imagination, and therefore I propose to others of the same size in thinking that, when they are at a loss about christening a country seat, instead of straining their invention, they would call it Booby-borough, Foolbrook, Puppy-ford, Coxcomb-hall, Mount-loggerhead, Dunce-hill; which are innocent appellations, proper to express the talents of the owners. But I cannot reconcile myself to the prudence of this lord of WHIGborough, because I have not yet heard among the presbyterian squires, how much soever their persons and principles are in vogue, that any of them have distinguished their country abode by the name of Mountregicide, Covenant-hall, Fanatic-hill, Roundhead-bawn, Canting-brook, or Mount-rebel, and the like, because there may probably come a time when those kind of sounds may not be so grateful to the ears of the kingdom. For I do not conceive it would be a mark of discretion, upon supposing a gentleman, in allusion to his name or the merit of his ancestors, to call his house Tyburn-hall.
But I have wandered a little from my subject, which was only to propose a wish that these execrable denominations were a little better suited to an English mouth, if it were only for the sake of the English lawyers, who in trials upon appeals to the house of lords find so much difficulty in repeating the names, that if the plaintiff or defendant were by they would never be able to discover which were their own lands. But besides this I would desire, not only that the appellations of what they call town-lands were changed, but likewise of larger districts, and several towns, and some counties, and particularly the seats of country gentlemen, leaving an alias to solve all difficulties in point of law. But I would by no means trust these alterations to the owners themselves, who, as they are generally no great clerks, so they seem to have no large vocabulary about them, nor to be well skilled in prosody. The utmost extent of their genius lies in naming their country habitation by a hill, a mount, a brook, a burrow, a castle, a bawn, a ford, and the like ingenious conceits. Yet these are exceeded by others, whereof some have contrived anagrammatical appellations from half their own and their wives' names joined together, others only from the lady, as for instance a person whose wife's name was Elizabeth calls his seat by the name of Bess-borow. There is likewise a famous town where the worst iron in the kingdom is made, and it is called Swandlingbar, the original of which name I shall explain, lest the antiquaries of future ages might be at a loss to derive it. It was a most witty conceit of four gentlemen who ruined themselves with this iron project. Sw. stands for Swift, And. for Sanders, Ling. for Darling, and Bar. for Barry. Methinks I see the four loggerheads sitting in consult, like Smectymnuus, each gravely contributing a part of his own name to make up one for their place in the iron-work, and could wish they had been hanged as well as undone for their wit. But I was most pleased with the denomination of a townland, which I lately saw in an advertisement of Pue's paper:-"This is to give notice that the lands of Douras, alias WHIG-borough," &c. Now this zealous proprietor, having a mind to record his principles in religion or loyalty to future ages within five miles
But the scheme I would propose for changing the denominations of land into legible and audible syllables is by employing some gentlemen in the university, who, by the knowledge of the Latin tongue and their judgment in sounds, might imitate the Roman way, by translating those hideous words into their English meanings, and altering the termination where a bare translation will not form a good cadence to the ear, or be easily delivered from the mouth. And when both those means happen to fail then to name the parcels of land from the nature of the soil, or some peculiar circumstance belonging to it, as in England, Farn-ham, Oat-lands, Black-heath, Corn-bury, Rye-gate, Ash-burnham, Barn-elms, Cole-orton, Sand-wich, and many others.
I am likewise apt to quarrel with some titles of lords among us that have a very ungracious sound, which are apt to communicate mean ideas to those who have not the honour to be acquainted with their persons or their virtues, of whom I have the misfortune to be one. But I cannot pardon those gentlemen who have gotten titles since the judicature of the peers among us has been taken away, to which they all submitted with a resignation that became good christians, as undoubtedly they are. However since that time I look upon a graceful harmonious title to be at least 40 per cent. in the value intrinsic of an Irish peerage; and since it is as cheap as the worst for any Irish law hitherto enacted in England to the contrary, I would advise the next set before they pass their patents to call a consultation of scholars and musical gentlemen to adjust this most important and essential circumstance. The Scotch noblemen though born almost under the north pole have much more tunable appellations, except some very few, which I suppose were given them by the Irish along with their language, at the time when that kingdom was conquered and planted from hence, and to this day retain the denominations of places and surnames of families, as all historians agree.
I should likewise not be sorry if the names of some bishops' sees were so much obliged to the alphabet, that upon pronouncing them we might contract some veneration for the order and persons of those reverend peers, which the gross ideas sometimes joined to their titles are very unjustly apt to diminish.
ANSWER TO A PAPER, &c.
THE memorial to which this paper is an answer was written by Sir John Browne, the same person alluded to as one of the witnesses examined before the council of England in favour of Wood's project, and stigmatized as a person tried for a rape.
FROM SIR JOHN BROWNE. REV. SIR, Dawson Street, April 4, 1728. By a strange fatality, though you were the only person in the world from whom I would conceal my being an author, yet you were unaccountably the only one let into the secret of it; the ignorant poor man who was intrusted by me to deliver out the little books, though he kept the secret from all others, yet from the nature of the subject concluded that I could have no interest in concealing it from you, who were so universally known to be an indefatigable promoter of the welfare of Ireland. But though the accident gave me some uneasiness at first, yet, when I consider your character, I cannot doubt (however slender the foundation of such a hope may be from any merits of my own) your generosity will oblige you to conceal what chance has revealed to you, and incline you to judge of me, not from the report of my enemies, but from what I appear in the little tracts which have waited on you.
I shall not presume, sir, to detain you with the narrative of the origin and progress of the parliamentary accusations and votes against me, although, would you do me the honour to inquire, I could easily convince you, from my own particular case, that men have two characters, one which is either good or bad according to the prevailing number of their friends or enemies, and one which never varies for either,-one which has little or no regard to the virtue or vice of the subject, and one which regards that alone, is inherent (if I may say so) in the subject, and describes it what it really is, without regard either to friends or enemies.
All I shall beg of you is to suspend your judgment upon it, since all parties allow that, although I had several summons from the committee for Monday, and many evidences on the road in obedience to their summons, yet I was tied down by the committee the preceding Saturday, and deprived of the benefit of all my evidences, notwithstanding anything I could urge to the contrary. This I hope I may say without injury to Mr. Bingham, for sure he may be entirely innocent, and yet a magistrate under the immediate direction of the lord chief-justice, who takes examinations against him, examinations that do not even contain matter to form an indictment upon, may be innocent also.
It shall suffice therefore to say, I went from Ireland loaded with the severest censures of the house of commons, injured as I thought and oppressed to the greatest degree imaginable, robbed of that character which was dearer to me than life itself, and all that by an overbearing and overpowering interest.
I sought in England for that peace and protection which was denied me at home. My public character followed me, my countrymen injured me. The nature of man is sociable; I was forced to herd with strangers. A prime minister engaged in the success of a scheme wants no emissaries to spy out all that makes for him, and to fly with what they have found to their employer. I was unfortunately set by those sort of creatures; my sentiments on the state of our money matters were industriously sifted through me, and when that was done,
before I knew anything of the matter, I was served with his majesty's summons; in a hurry I ran out of town, and stayed in the country awhile, but on my return again found another summons at my lodgings, and, terrified by the dismal effects of power at home from risking a second shipwreck abroad, I yielded to it and appeared at the cockpit.
It is true my appearance at the cockpit, to those who knew me only by the votes in the house of commons, must have looked like a design of revenge, and I had many and powerful enemies who gave all my actions the worst colour. But to take the matter impartially, sir, is there no allowance to be made for a mind already broken by the dismal effects of prevailing power, and filled with the apprehensions of second dangers? Is there no allowance for a man, young in the knowledge of the world, under all these fears and misfortunes, if he has yielded to the repeated summons of the council of England, in which his majesty was present; and if he was there, after a long and strenuous opposition, forced to tell his sentiments, forced, sir, to tell his sentiments, not in the manner represented to the world, but in a manner the most cautious of giving room for a pretence to oppose the inclinations of our parliament?
But alas, the consequence!-You, sir, the defender of Ireland, were soon engaged against me on that account, and that fatal genius of yours in an instant ruined my character. But even ruin-bearing as it was, 1 blessed it; the cause which you undertook was dear and though fame is the last thing which one would sacrifice even for his country, yet I parted with that with pleasure, while you thought it necessary for the public good so to do. But now the end is served, dear sir, may not the man have his mare again?
Plato, being told that certain persons aspersed his character and represented him abroad as a very ill man, instead of expostulating with his enemies and returning reproach for reproach, consoled himself, saying, "No matter, my friends, the whole life of Plato shall give his accusers the lie."
Could I set before me a greater example? Under the general displeasure of my country,-under all the censures which the restless malice of my enemies could devise,—and under the keen edge of the drapier's wit,the only revenge in which I indulged myself was by a steady love for my country, and by manifest acts of affection thereto, to be a silent reproach to the foul tongues of my enemies.
Permit then, sir, permit me in peace to take his great example, and no longer give way to the power of my enemies, by continuing to oppress me. They have already gained their cause by you, but I must say it was not the sword of Ajax, but the armour of Achilles, which he put on, that won the day.
The cause for which you undertook my ruin was the cause of my country. It was a good cause, and you shall ever find me of that side. You have carried it, and I know you will no longer be my enemy. But alas! as long as your works subsist, wherever they be read, even unto the end of time, must I be branded as a villain. It is a hard sentence, and yet, unless the spear of Achilles, the same instrument which gave the wound, administer the remedy, it must be so.
In short, sir, you must be a man of honour; it is not possible that honour should be wanting where all the distinguishing characteristics of it are found. I cannot doubt it, and therefore I will let you fully into a secret which accident has given you a part of, and I am sure you will keep it.
The source of all my misfortunes was the vote of the house of commons, but I have laboured however, as I always shall, to serve my country and make myself agreeable to them. And though the misfortune of a bad public character deprived me of the private con
versation of my countrymen, which is the surest and best way to know our true interest, yet I flatter myself that my little essays may be useful, at least they may be no bad beginning, and you know it is easy to add to a work once begun. But if the work is known to be mine, the very name will condemn it and render it useless to my country.
Whatever the faults may be, I have publicly applied to you to amend them, before the bearer's mistake made me determine this private application to you, and I must say that I shall reckon it no small degree of honour if you take that trouble upon you.
In the mean time I shall beg the favour of you to keep a secret which no other person but my printer, my bookseller, and the bearer knows.
I am, reverend sir, your most obedient servant, JOHN BROWNE.
ANSWER TO A PAPER
CALLED A MEMORIAL OF THE POOR INHABITANTS, TRADESMEN, AND LABOURERS, OF THE KINGDOM OF IRELAND.
Dublin, March 25, 1728.
SIR, I RECEIVED a paper from you, whoever you are, printed without any name of author or printer, and sent, I suppose, to me among others without any particular distinction. It contains a complaint of the dearness of corn, and some schemes for making it cheaper which I cannot approve of.
But pray permit me, before I go further, to give you a short history of the steps by which we arrived at this hopeful situation.
It was indeed the shameful practice of too many Irish farmers to wear out their ground with ploughing; while, either through poverty, laziness, or ignorance, they neither took care to manure it as they ought, nor gave time to any part of the land to recover itself; and when their leases were near expiring, being assured that their landlords would not renew, they ploughed even the meadows, and made 'such havoc that many landlords were considerable sufferers by it.
This gave birth to that abominable race of graziers, who upon expiration of the farmers' leases were ready to engross great quantities of land; and the gentlemen, having been before often ill paid, and their land worn out of heart, were too easily tempted when a rich grazier made an offer to take all their land and give them security for payment. Thus a vast tract of land where twenty or thirty farmers lived, together with their cottagers and labourers in their several cabins, became all desolate, and easily managed by one or two herdsmen and their boys; whereby the master grazier, with little trouble, seized to himself the livelihood of a hundred people.
It must be confessed that the farmers were justly punished for their knavery, brutality, and folly. But neither are the squires and landlords to be excused; for to them is owing the depopulating of the country, the vast number of beggars, and the ruin of those few sorry improvements we had.
That farmers should be limited in ploughing is very reasonable, and practised in England, and might have easily been done here by penal clauses in their leases; but to deprive them in a manner altogether from tilling their lands was a most stupid want of thinking.
Had the farmers been confined to plough a certain quantity of land, with a penalty of ten pounds an acre for whatever they exceeded, and further limited for the three or four last years of their leases, all this evil had been prevented; the nation would have saved a million of money, and been more populous by above two hundred thousand souls.
For a people denied the benefit of trade to manage
their lands in such a manner as to produce nothing but what they are forbidden to trade with, or only such things as they can neither export nor manufacture to advantage, is an absurdity that a wild Indian would be ashamed of; especially when we add that we are content to purchase this hopeful commerce by sending to foreign markets for our daily bread.
The grazier's employment is to feed great flocks of sheep or black cattle, or both. With regard to sheep, as folly is usually accompanied with perverseness, so it is here. There is something so monstrous to deal in a commodity (further than for our own use) which we are not allowed to export manufactured, nor even unmanufactured but to one certain country, and only to some few ports in that country; there is, say, something so sottish that it wants a name in our language to express it by: and the good of it is, that the more sheep we have the fewer human creatures are left to wear the wool or eat the flesh. Ajax was mad when he mistook a flock of sheep for his enemies; but we shall never be sober until we have the same way of thinking.
The other part of the grazier's business is what we call black-cattle, producing hides, tallow, and beef for exportation: all which are good and useful commodities if rightly managed. But it seems the greatest part of the hides are sent out raw, for want of bark to tan them; and that want will daily grow stronger; for I doubt the new project of tanning without it is at an end. Our beef, I am afraid, still continues scandalous in foreign markets, for the old reasons. But our tallow, for anything I know, may be good. However, to bestow the whole kingdom on beef and mutton, and thereby drive out half the people who should eat their share, and force the rest to send sometimes as far as Egypt for bread to eat with it, is a most peculiar and distinguished piece of public economy, of which I have no comprehension.
I know very well that our ancestors the Scythians, and their posterity our kinsmen the Tartars, lived upon the blood, and milk, and raw flesh of their cattle, without one grain of corn; but I confess myself so degenerate that I am not easy without bread to my victuals.
What amazed me for a week or two was to see, in this prodigious plenty of cattle and dearth of human creatures and want of bread, as well as money to buy it, that all kind of flesh-meat should be monstrously dear, beyond what was ever known in this kingdom. I thought it a defect in the laws that there was not some regulation in the price of flesh as well as bread; but I imagine myself to have guessed out the reason: in short, I am apt to think that the whole kingdom is overstocked with cattle, both black and white; and as it is observed that the poor Irish have a vanity to be rather owners of two lean cows than one fat, although with double the charge of grazing and but half the quantity of milk, so I conceive it much more difficult at present to find a fat bullock or wether than it would be if half of them were fairly knocked on the head: for I am assured that the district in the several markets called Carrion-row is as reasonable as the poor can desire; only the circumstances of money to purchase it, and of trade or labour to purchase that money, are indeed wholly wanting.
Now, sir, to return more particularly to you and your memorial.
A hundred thousand barrels of wheat, you say, should be imported hither; and 10,000l. premium to the importers. Have you looked into the purse of the nation? I am no commissioner of the treasury; but am well assured that the whole running cash would not supply you with a sum to purchase so much corn, which, only at 20s. a-barrel, will be 100,0007.; and 10,000l. more for the premium. But you will traffic