« FöregåendeFortsätt »
with such alterations as adapted it to the state of that country, and was translated into Italian. Mr. Bowdler soon printed an abridgement of it, with a view to bring it more generally into circulation among the lower orders; and he writes thus to a friend on the subject :
“ Hayes, 3d Feb. 1798. “ I don't wonder that you are pleased with my book, or that you knew it to be mine; and these give me more sincere pleasure than the applauses of the great and the learned. You and I learned at the feet of the same Gamaliel; and your agreeing to my doctrines convinces me that we have not forgot his precepts. God grant we never may! They are the only armour of proof, and never was such more needful. Not that I am in despair; on the contrary, the rapid sale of my pamphlet convinces me that there are more people than I who like sound principles; as also, that people are really alarmed. I am persuaded that those have praised that tract, who, but a very few years since, would have laughed it to scorn as cant and nonsense. Whether we shall so far repent and amend as to prevent God's judgments from falling upon this land, God only knows; but it is a great and heartfelt comfort to me to have endeavoured to promote such effects. I am still very busy; for as it can only do good in proportion as it is known, I am trying to promote the circulation of it (and still more of the abridgement) in the distant counties and manufacturing towns. With this view, I am offering printers in the provinces leave to print editions of the abridgement on their own account; the most effectual way to make them push it, if they accept the offer ; I doubt the difficulty will be to persuade them that they will sell so many as experience convinces me they will (1000 of the octavo were sold in the last seven days, and 1500 of the abridgement in the last four days of January.) The octavo has now my name, and a dedication (by permission) to the · Archbishop of Canterbury. I wished much to avoid putting my name (not that I am ashamed of the principles of the pamphlet, but I wish to remain unseen and unknown); but when both the Archbishop and Bishop of London said my name would do good, I did not feel justified in refusing to do it.”
To other circumstances which occasioned alarm at this distressing period, was added a fear of a scarcity of food. The necessaries of life rose in the beginning of 1795 to an extraordinary price, and the poor were in real and unusual distress. This is a subject which is likely, whenever it occurs, to produce serious apprehension, since, as Mr. Bowdler observed, “ dearth is the parent of commotions, and the cry among the common people was reported to be, that they might as well be killed as starved.” He, therefore, proposed a subscription in his parish for furnishing a proper quantity of wheat or bread to the poor at a regular and reasonable price ; and by applying to his friends, and inserting paragraphs in the newspapers, he endeavoured to promote similar subscriptions in all parts of England. Feeling much anxiety upon this subject, he addressed a letter also to a friend, who held an office under govern
ment, requesting that it might be shown to His Majesty's ministers, which was complied with, and it received the marked attention of Mr. Pitt, Lord Grenville, and the late Lord Liverpool. The subject was renewed at the beginning of 1800, and again at the close of that year, when two successive bad harvests had occasioned a scarcity of corn, and its necessary consequence, a very high price in wheat, and bread, and, indeed, in all the articles of food. In this year Mr. Bowdler had a correspondence with his neighbour and friend, the late Lord Auckland, to whom he communicated some statements which were deemed worthy of attentive consideration.
“ I have no means of knowing (and I question if any one has) in what proportion the last crop of wheat fell short of the average crop of this island. I know my own crop fell short very considerably; and am told by some of my neighbours that theirs was still more deficient. In short, I believe in this corner the last year's produce was not more than two-thirds of the average produce. But, suppose the deficiency throughout the kingdom to be onefourth ; the deficiency of the part applicable to food is much greater. For the same quantity (not the same proportion) of the best wheat, must be reserved for seed; and a deficient crop is naturally defective in quality, especially since a larger proportion of its best sample must be deducted for seed; consequently, a bushel of wheat in such a year does not contain so much food as in a plentiful year.
6 Suppose last year's produce to be one-fourth less, that is
Deduct for seed, the same quantity
“ This is not one-fourth, but above 4th parts less than the
former quantity, and if we deduct sth of this last remainder, on account of its being defective in quality, viz. -
The remainder will be only - 4,800,000
which is exactly one-third less than the average quantity applicable to food : and this, I should guess, may be the fact. If, then, the average quantity be not equal to the consumption (which, I fear, is too certain), it follows, that last year's crop was not sufficient for the usual consumption of eight months.
6 Again, suppose the average crop to be
And one-third of this to be fine wheat,
Fine wheat remaining for food
“ Suppose last year's crop to be as above - 6,000,000 Quarters. And only one-fourth of this to be fine wheat, that is
- 1,500,000 Deduct from this fourth, the seed
“ Thus it appears, that the fine wheat of last year's crop applicable to food is only three-eight parts of the fine wheat applicable to food of an average crop. A cry is raised that farmers are getting vast fortunes. In truth, the small farmers are starving'; for their families, their horses, their cows, and their hogs, always consume so large a proportion of the corn and hay which they grow, that, when they have a short crop, they have scarce any thing to sell ; whereas, in a plentiful year, their consumption bears a much smaller proportion to their growth. The case is nearly the same with great farmers, in respect to oats and hay, and, in some degree, in respect to all sorts of corn, but not in the same degree; because their consumption never bears the same proportion to their growth, especially of wheat. In dear times, the increase of the poor's rates and of the price of labour falls heavily on all farmers.
66 It is of the utmost importance, that the lower classes should be able to buy bread of some sort át, or under, 15d. the quartern loaf; because at that price, with the helps they now have, they may most of them (if sober and industrious) buy as much bread as will prevent them and their families from suffering by hunger. But if no bread can be bought under 173. or 18d. a loaf, many of them must suffer hunger; and hungry people will not be quiet.
“ The great objection to coarse bread made for sale