Page images
PDF
EPUB

parte's edicts had been promulgated by that time, the inference seems to be that our trade did not suffer materially till the time of our Orders in Council. Stocks, after fluctuating considerably, left off at the end of last month at a high rate. These fluctuations were ascribed to different causes, but were generally considered the manœuvres of the parties who had not succeeded in getting the loan. Money continues plenty, owing to the difficulty of suitably vesting it in trade.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

The Average Prices of Navigable Canal Shares, Dock Stock, Fire Office Shares, &c. in JUNE 1808; at the Office of Mr. Scott, 28, New Bridge-street, London. The Trent and Mersey, or Grand Trunk Navigation, 9801. to 10001. per share, with half-yearly dividend, paying 401. per share per ann.- -Oxford Canal, 4501. to 4651. per share, the last half-yearly dividend was 111.-Grand Junction, 1161. with half year's dividend of 21.—Ditto Bonds, 901. for 1001.-Kennet and Avon, new shares, 41. 10s. per share prem.-Ashby, 221. per share.-Globe Insurance, 1161. per cent.-West India Dock Stock, 1551. to 1561. per cent. with halfyearly dividend of 51. per cent.—London Dock, 1171. to 119Ï. to 1161⁄21. per cent. ditto.

AGRICULTURAL REPORT FOR JUNE, 1808.

The wheats continue in a most prosperous state of growth, and, exclusive of some particularly cold unfertile soils, it is the general opinion that Britain never stood a fairer chance for an abundant crop of bread corn. To all appearance the blooming season will be favourable. The stock of wheat on hand also is ́very ample.

All the spring crops have succeeded, excepting the peas, which have again failed on most cold lands. The beans do not run much to haulm, but are full of blossom. Oats and barley have a very healthy appearance, and, without being very bulky in the grass, are sufficiently so to produce great crops. Turnips plant well, and look generally healthy. Same of potatoes. The crop of fruit promises great abundance, as does that of the hop, the duty of which is already laid at 150,0001.

The rains came most fortunately for the grass crops, and in the early dis tricts and around the metropolis, much hay is already carted. The produce is very heavy, and hay will be a general good crop, Hemp looks very promising, but the breadth sown this year is by no means answerable to those ideas of its consequence, in the present state of the country, entertained and promulgated by our most patriotic landholders.

Rent of land has suffered no decline, although there seems great reluctance in the eastern and southern counties to comply with the terms demanded. But the marsh land in the vicinity of London has fallen of late nearly 30s. per acre. Live stock, both fat and lean, have sold readily at high prices, which may, however, soon suffer some diminution, from the decreased consumption of the metropolis, consequent on the season.

Smithfield,

Smithfield. Beef, 4s. to 5s. 6d. Lamb, 5s. to 7s. Pork, 5s. to 6s. 6d. Fat, 70s. Skins, 14s. to 20s.

Mutton, 4s. to 5s. 4d. Veal, 4s. to 7s.
Bacon, 6s. 4d. Irish do. 5s. to 5s. 6d.

FROM ANOTHER CORRESPONDent.

The crops of wheat, to every appearance, promise abundance; and the different sorts of spring corn, both grain and pulse, are equally promising. The cold winds we have recently experienced have somewhat checked the growth of peas and beans, preventing them being brought to the London markets in that abundance there was lately every reason to expect. A little warmth will promote vegetation and create plenty. Tares and the clovers prove abundant crops, affording good keep. Immense numbers of wethers and early lambs have been sent in high condition to Smithfield, as well as runts from the forward pastures. Much land has been already well tilled, manured, and sown with turnips, particularly the Swedish kind. The early sown come up well, and the plants at present are free from the fly.

The fallows for wheat have been well managed, the weather being favourable for making good tilths and destroying weeds. Pastures in general are flourishing, and feeding and dairy stock do well. The hay harvest is carried on with great spirit, never a more favourable time, and the swaths are, almost without exception, every where large, heavy, and well grown.

Sheep shearing has commenced in most places, and the flocks in general in good condition, with fine healthy lambs, and the late great attention to the improvements in breeding obvious.

But little variation in the prices of lean stock since last report. Two-yearold cart colts still obtain great prices, and are much in request by the arable farmers.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

THE ATHENÆUM.

No. 20. AUGUST 1st, 1808.

GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE.

[ocr errors]

OBJECTIONS TO THE INSTRUCTION OF THE PEASANTRY CONSIDERED.

To the Editor of the Athenæum.

Sir, IN an early number of your esteemed miscellany some remarks were given on the state of the peasantry in Devonshire, whom the writer represented as being in a more depressed.and humiliated condition than most of their class throughout the kingdom. I am sorry to find these remarks confirmed in a late agricultural survey of that county, from which it manifestly appears that the circumstances of the labouring poor in general are very deplorable. The writer of that survey seems neither deficient in a humane sympathy for their sufferings, nor inattentive to the means for their relief; but there is one particular connected with them respecting which he bas given an opinion that I cannot but regard as equally erroneous and prejudicial, and I therefore request permission to make an appeal on the subject to the enlightened readers of the Athenæum.

After having, I imagine, with more courtliness than accuracy, ascribed the establishment of Sunday schools to the spontaneous benevolence of their Majesties, he proceeds to say, that from their first foundation "he looked with a sort of dread to their probable consequences." This dread was inspired by the dangers of illuminating the minds of the peasantry, and thereby rendering them dissatisfied with their condition and desirous to meliorate it. To such an illumination he imputes the roving disposition of the Irish peasantry, and their frequent emigrations to the American states; and he attributes the German emigrations to the same cause. These poor people, it seems, were such adepts in reading and writing as to maintain correspondence with their emigrated friends, and to peruse flattering accounts in books of the advantages to be procured beyond the Atlantic, which made them restless and discontented under their present VOL. IV.

lot.

lot. Now I cannot but think, that the want of potatoes to a halfnaked Irishinan in his turf cabin, and the deficiency of rye-bread to a poor German, who is also liable to be sold by his mercenary sovereign to fight battles in which he has no concern, are motives sufficiently urgent to induce them to quit their native country, upon the intelligence they might gain from common conversation, that there are countries in the world in which a poor man willing to labour is not doomed for life to a condition worse than that of his animal fellow-labourers; and without debarring them from the use of language, such a fact could not well be concealed from them. Of the real proficiency in letters of the nations above-mentioned I am unable to speak; but the German peasantry are perhaps the most steady and orderly in Europe, unless the Scotch be excepted, whose book-learning is not denied by this writer, but he supposes it is prevented from doing them much harm by the example of "the virtuous career of their pastor's life."

[ocr errors]

To imagine that the reading and writing acquired at a charity school usually gives such a literary turn to the scholar as to make him aspire to the envied station of a book-keeper or an exciseman, is to betray great ignorance of matter of fact. It is seldom, indeed, that such a facility is acquired in either as to render the practice of them other than an irksome task; and it is more likely that the young peasants, like many of their superiors, after becoming their own masters, should totally forget what they learned at school, than that they should keep up and augment their little acquirements. There is one thing, indeed, which such instruction as that of a Sunday school is not unlikely to fix permanently upon their minds, and which the prudent calculators of worldly advantages in every moral plan ought to take into the estimate-this is, a knowledge of their duties. With their hardships they are sure to be well acquainted without the information of books.

But the writer alluded to is not content with warning the Devonian gentry against the fatal consequences of teaching their peasantry to read and write; he goes so far as to say, that "the peasant's mind should never be inspired with a desire to amend his circumstances by the quitting of his cast." I feel it difficult, in commenting upon this sentence, to restrain those expressions of indignation which my feelings would prompt. Cast! Is that odious word to be applied to any order of men in a country like this? Is not the writer aware that the proper signification of cast is a division in society constituting an absolute and unalterable distinction not only of occupations, but of rights and privileges--and that its necessary effect is to nourish in the high the most arrogant contempt for the low, as a race of inferior beings, who, on their parts, are thereby sunk into the most abject self-abasement? And would he introduce such feelings among Englishmen?

Why should not the peasant look to the same reward for his skill and industry that all the other members of the community do-an elevation in the scale of society? What is there to draw such a line of separation between him and other persons who maintain themselves in their respective callings? The laws (thanks to our constitution) make

He

make no difference between him and other subjects of the state. is no longer a serf, chained to the soil, and the property of its owner, like the cattle that till it. He is a freeman, upon whom his country calls for her defence in the hour of danger, and whose strong arm and stout heart are her best security. If the superior utility of his employment is made the plea for binding him irrevocably to it, besides that it is a very ungrateful return for his services, that plea is readily renounced when the object is to make him a soldier or a sailor. But what is the elevation in rank to which he would naturally aspire were he qualified by a little instruction? That of the very laborious condition of a small farmer-of cultivating with his own hands a piece of ground of which the fruits are to be his and not another's. And is not this an useful as well as a reasonable ambition? Will it not stimulate him to every possible exertion, and train him to those habits of frugality and industry which are the most essential virtues in his station?

I shall not take up your pages with a discussion of the general utility of instruction to the lower classes. So many solid arguments have been adduced in its favour by various writers, that one would hope few remain to be convinced except the incurably narrow and prejudiced. If fact be appealed to, the example of Scotland and of the northern parts of England is fully sufficient to prove that the usual concomitants of education among the poor are order, sobriety, and decency of manners. If a few whom nature has formed of "better clay" are thereby lifted into higher situations—if Cumberland produces from its peasantry curates and excisemen; and Scotland, poets, philosophers, and statesmen; society at least loses nothing, whilst a prolific population continues to supply abundant hands for that culture of the ground which is, perhaps, justly considered as the base of all national prosperity.

PHILANDER.

JOURNAL OF A VOYAGE FROM NEW SOUTH WALES TO ENGLAND

By a Lady.-(Continued from page 10.)

On the 10th of January we had squally weather, with strong gales, and a keenness in the air that led us to believe we were not far distant from islands of ice.

Sunday, the 11th. Favourable breezes, which wafted us eight and nine knots an hour; the air keen and sharp; a good look out was kept in case ice should be seen. Being aware of the danger attending the vicinity of islands of ice, the desire I felt to see one was much damped. On the 13th, however, we relinquished all expectation of seeing ice, being in the latitude of 47° 36′ 16′′ S. and the weather considerably warmer. Our distance from the Cape of Good Hope was that day reckoned to be 2804 miles.

We

« PreviousContinue »