Arthur Young.

The autobiography of Arthur Young, with selections from his correspondence .. online

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nature or the employment of his fellow creatures, would
feel much less at the thought of learning whether this
would ever be his fate or not, than he who, once having
felt in every variety the extent of the blessing, loses it,
learns by experience the sadness of the contrast, and
goes with a throbbing heart to enquire if any hope
exists of again enjoying that power he would gladly
forfeit all his possessions to recover.

I was shown into a room, where I waited a few
minutes (they were painful ones), and Mr. Adaxas
appeared. ' I wish, sir, to be informed what is the
state of my eyes,' looking very attentively at him.
' You have not, sir, undergone an extraction for cata-
ract ? ' * * That you must decide.' ' "Why, yes, and I

^ This is explained in a letter from Mary Toong to her brother
Arthur, dated March 27 ; no year added, but evidently written in 1811.
The Duke of Grafton died March 14, 1811. * It seems that the poor
patient was very intractable, and that the operator said, "Indeed, air,
if yoa are not more patient I must leave yoo.** . . . Mr. Wilberforoe,
with the best wishes imaginable, called [after the couching], and was
shown up to his bedroom ; and the very first words he said were, *' So
we have lost the poor Duke of Grafton I ** then began and continued in
his mild, soft manner a most pathetic dissertation on the duke's pious
resignation, &o, <fcc., till your father burst into teara, which was, Phipps
(the oculist) vowed, the worst thing possible, and which anyone knew in

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fear unsuccessfully.' * Is there any hope of recovery ? '
Mr. Adams started, and looked down with evident
marks of bitter disappointment the first instant he saw
me. ' I grieve, sir, to say that the eye itself is destroyed,
the cornea gone, and there has been such an excessive
discharge of the vitreous humour, that the coats are
collapsed.' * No chance, then, of course ? ' * I fear,
sir, none ; ' then, after a pause, ^ I believe I am
addressing Mr. A. Young ? ' I towed. ' I have heard
your case differently reported ; it was the subject of
much conversation, and excited unenviable interest
last spring when it happened, and I had hoped that
it would have been possible to relieve you, but I now
see the contrary.' 'I am much obliged to you, sir,
good morning,' I replied, and came away.

Mr. Adams was a young man, his aspect was
pleasing and intelligent, and there was a sorrowful look
when I departed that, well became the sad occasion.
There were two things worth repeating on that morning,
one was his liberality in clearing his brother professor
from the character of carelesness, which he endeavoured
to do. I complained that I was sure I could not
have been well prepared. But Mr. Adams replied
that preparation was not necessary for extraction, that
people of the worst habits had been treated in that way
with no preparation and complete success; that the
fault was not of the operator, but of the operation,
which must always be liable to failure. Mr. Adams*

his lamentable state of inflammation was desimcHon, It flnng him
back, being only a week after the operation. Oh, Ar., as I greatly
believe he will be entirely blind, do try to oome to him.*


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own method of removing cataract was not this ill-fated
scheme of extraction. The second remark is this. It
had become much the custom to use hot water for
the eyes when weak or inflamed. The author of this
memoir had been afflicted with a transient indisposition
of them, and on application to Phipps, hot water had
been recommended and used for a twelvemonth without

Mr. Adams, on being questioned with regard to the
expedience of its continuance, decidedly answered, that
by increasing the relaxation, hot water would only
augment the disease ; prescribed the frequent use of the
citrine ointment ^ (to be had at any druggist's) and cold
water constantly. On the way home, I was for a few
moments depressed. ' How happy,' I cried, * are those
beings who can see ; no one can tell the misery of
blindness, the dark gloom over that mind never cheered
by the light of the sun, especially now with me, who am
certain never to see again. If it were not for religion, I
should wish to be the poor man who is to be hanged
next Monday ; but, thank God, I can consider the whole
affair as His appointment, intended not for a curse but
a blessing, and can reconcile my mind to it completely
as His will. You will see,' I added after a pause
[presumably addressing Mr. Adams], smiling, * I shall be
as cheerful and happy as ever,' and so I was.

1814. — This year I paid much attention to the
' Elements.'

My son came from Eussia.

^ * Citrine ointment : a mercurial ointment, the ungaentmn hydrar-
gyri mtiBMs.*— Webster,

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1815. — Arthur, Jane, and myself went post to
London the last day of January, Mary remained at
Bradfield with Mrs. Young, who was unable to move.

About this time ' Baxteriana ' ^ was published.
Through the following spring I was, at various times,
too apt to fall into reflections which tended, more than
they ought to have done, to discontent; but in thirteen
weeks to the present day I have not once entered the
doors of any other person than those of Mr. Wilber-
force, and I have not dined once with him, having
been only at breakfast for the pleasure of hearing his
Exposition and Prayer; for the conversation at and
after breakfast has been entirely desultory, and not
once on any religious question. And as to any Chris-
tian calling on me, John Babbington, from Peter-
borough, once breakfasted here, and is, I believe, never
in town without calling. Mrs. Strachey, who was in
town a month, was so kind as to call three or four
times ; Mrs. John Wayland twice, and here, I think,
except Miss Francis,* dining once a week, is the whole
amount of my communication with those whose con-
versation would please me.

It would be natural to suppose that a poor old
blind man who, through the blessing of God^ retains
his health and strength might have received something
more of friendly attention than this, but such dis-
content should be banished, for let me not a single
moment forget the great mercies of God to me ; and
while many are on beds of torment from dreadful

* A seleotion from the writings of Baxter, by A. T.

* This lady afterwards became assistant secretary to A. T.

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diseases, I am free from bodily pain. These are points
that should give a perpetual spring of gratitude in my
bosom, and if the neglect which I have been apt to
think of too much turns my attention more to the
Lord Jesus, it is a benefit and not a misfortune. Let
me only take care to be looking xmto Jesus, and then
I shall esteem, in the manner it deserves, all that the
world can do for me.

Monday, March 6, most execrable riots began in

London, on account of the Com Bill, then in the

House of Commons, attended with circumstances

proving decisively the abominable effects (sufficiently

proved before) of printing in all the newspapers those

violent and mischievous speeches which are 'made as

much to the Gallery as to the House, and can be

intended for nothing else but to inflame the people,

which they have done to a degree of desperation.

Petitions from a multitude of cities and towns pour in

to the Houses every day they meet, and, in fact, the

prayer of them all is to beg that they, the petitioners,

may be starved, which would probably be the result

of granting their desire. 600,000 qrs. of French wheat

of an excellent quality have been poured into our

markets to meet a crop generally mildewed ; this has

reduced the price on an average of the kingdom to 59s.

per quarter, and that average taken in so preposterous

a way that the real price fairly ascertained would

not amount to 505.; 90*. per qr. [quarter] would not

pay the farmer in so bad a year. If importation was

to be continued, at least half the farmers in England

would be ruined, and wheat consequently must rise in

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a year or two to scarcity, and if importation should
be prevented, by many probable events to famine.
Country labourers throughout the kingdom are in the
greatest distress, as I know from many correspondents.
For want of employment they go to the parish, but
these poor families never petition, even when starving,
and a Legislature which attended not to their interest
would deserve the abuse now vomited forth by towns.
From thirty to forty houses at London have had their
windows broken, many their doors forced, and every-
thing in them destroyed; and after much mischief, with
general anxiety and appehension, the military were
called forth; but it was the last day of the week before
their numbers were sufficient to secure any tolerable

Monday^ March 13. — ^I breakfasted with Mr. Wil-
berf orce : a file of soldiers in his house, because his
servants had been violently threatened that it should
be speedily attacked.

The bawler bearing ^ last week, in the House, read
a denunciation in a petition from Carlisle against the
Board of Agriculture, which made it necessary for me
to hire a bedchamber elsewhere, as blindness would
not permit an escape by the roof of the house.

I wrote to Mr. Vansittart, transcribing a resolution
of the Committee of 1774, proposing to lay the millers
under an assize. The Bill for that purpose passed the
Commons, but was lost in the Lords.

In Mr. Yansittart's answer to me, he mentioned

' This must be a mistake of the French secretary. Surely Baring is

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the difficulties in the way, but observed that as Mr.
Franklin Lewis had taken up the business of bread
and flour in the House, he would mention to him what
I proposed. From Lord Sidmouth's speech it seems
they intend to remove the assize of bread, which will
leave in case of scarcity the bakers vdthout prot«5tion
in case of riots, and also leave the millers in full pos-
session of their rascality.

At Mr. Wilberforce's I met Miss Francis and Mr.
Legh Eichmond, who read to us, with Lord Galthorpe
and General Macaulay, a most interesting letter from
a Russian Princess, describing her conversion to vital
Christianity by Mr. Pinkerton instructing her children,
and her translating into Eussian the 'Dairyman's
Daughter,' and thanking Mr. Eichmond for his other
tracts sent her for the same purpose. Her English
extremely good, and real Christianity, with expressions
of the deepest humility, breathing in every line.

This was an eventful year, for my poor wife
breathed her last after a long illness, and it gives me
great comfort to be informed that she showed great
marks of resignation and piety. My daughter was
with her to the last.

Mcuy 12. — ^A few days ago, writing to Miss Francis,
I used the expression, * If a Christian was to call on me
it should be entered in a pocket-book vdth a mark of
exclamation.' Mr. Wilberforce saw this note, and
yesterday morning Mr. Pakenham called on me, and
introduced himself by saying that he came for some
conversation with me, by desire of Mr. W. He was
quite unknown to me, but I found that he was the

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grandson of that Lord Longford with whom I was in
Irelfiwid in 1776, forty years ago, which lord was in the
Navy ; and the present gentleman is also in that em-
ployment, about twenty-six or twenty-seven years of
age ; his father living and an admiral. I soon found
that he was a firmly estabhshed Christian, ready to
converse on the good subject, which he did with good
sense and no inconsiderable energy.

He is in mourning for General Pakenham, and the
Duchess of Wellington is his first cousin. Mentioning
Miss Francis, he said he met her twice at Mr. Wilber-
force's, and speaking in conamendation of her, I told
him that she was to dine with me at five o'clock,
and that it would give me much pleasure if he would
meet her; this he readily complied with, and came

I have not had so much religious conversation for
an age past ; and had not Dr. Halliday from Moscow
called between seven and eight, expecting to see my
son, this conversation would have been uninterrupted.
I wish he had come on some other day. Bemarking
that I had some apprehension of the ensuing war,
because we should be, in fact, fighting for the restora-
tion of the Pope, the Jesuits, and the Inquisition,
Mr. P. replied, that Lord Liverpool had informed
Mr. Wilberforce that Bonaparte was reconciled to the
Pope, pretending to be a most dutiful son of the
Church. It seems agreed by all that the first victory
gained on either side will have most decisive con-
sequences. I hope I shall hear more of this young

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man, whose determined avowal of bis religions principles
pleases me much.

May 15. — Breakfasted at Mr. Wilberforce's.
General Macanlay there ; he told me that in his late
tour in France, travelling from Lyons to Geneva, he
met with a Monsieur Michaud, who, speaking much
of his farm and offering to show it, the general
accompanied him to view it, and found everything in
the highest state of management, and so much superior
to all the rest of the country, that he enquired into the
origin of such great superiority. The answer was, * My
cultivation is entirely that of Monsieur Arthxir Young,
whose recommendations I have carried into practice
with the success you see.'

Much conversation about Bonaparte ; the general
is well persuaded that the allies will be entirely suc-
cessful, as B. is, and must be, very badly provided to
resist them, and that the first campaign will carry
them to Paris.

May 17. — Last night, being at West Street Chapel,
Mr. Gumey, after the sermon, came into the pew,
when I told him he had not performed his promise,
by calling, on which he came home with me, and gave
us a long account of his life and conversion, beginning
at four years old with a magpie which his father found
in a nest, in a haunted wood, where he went at night
in search of a reputed ghost, and which proved to be
only a white pony. This magpie was, by a strange
series of little events, his introduction to Drummond, the
banker, and to procuring himself a school and coUege
education, a knowledge of several of the nobility, and

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eventually, through Lord Exeter, the appointment to
the Bectory of St. Clement Danes ; and all this from
having been no more than a poor country labourer's
son, and one of twenty-two children. The detail was
very interesting, from being not only well told, but,
from the providence of God, clearly marked in many
little circumstances, and attended by what to him
were great events. These were so remarkable as to
induce him to make many memoranda, and to think at
times that they ought to be published, but on this
point he does not seem to be at all determined. I
urged it strongly as a sort of duty. He is uncommonly
lively Cknd animated in conversation, and contrived to
talk with little interruption, from drinking tea and
smoking several pipes, till twelve o'clock at night. I
much hope that we shall see him often.

1816. — This was a very barren year, for the memo-
randa made are uncommonly few, but among them is
the preparation for the publication of ' Oweniana.* *
The extraction from my religious papers of those
published under the titles of ' Baxteriana ' and
' Oweniana ' has greatly diminished the mass, but
the remainder is considerable, and increases every

February. — Last Tuesday se'nnight Sir John Sea-
bright, coming up to me, said : ' Mr. Young, the
Archdukes of Austria desire to 'be introduced to you,'
and the Archduke John, who Seabright said was the
farmer, began a conversation on agriculture which,
as many persons were around, was very short. Some
* A selection from the works of J. Owen, D.D., by A. T.

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days afterwards Mr. Ackerman, of the Strand, called to
inform me that his Imperial Highness Archduke John
desired to have more conversation with me, and in three
or four days he called and made many enquiries into
those points upon which, I suppose, he had most
doubts, contrasting many circumstances with the
system of Austrian peasants, who, by his account, are
in general the proprietors of their httle farms even to
the amount of as little as three or four acres. In the
conversation I took occasion to mention my son being
in the Crimea, and intending to return to England by
Vienna. In a most obliging manner he desired me to
write to him to tell him to be sure not to pass Vienna
without making himself known to him (the Archduke),
as he would show him everything worth attending to
in agriculture. The conversation was in French, for
he speaks no English. It is a pity that he will go
away without seeing anything of Norfolk or Suffolk.

Sir J. Sinclair just come from Paris. He saw
Sylvestre ^ there, the secretary to the Royal Society of
Agriculture, who told him that agriculture saved his
life in the Revolution. He was in prison and brought
to trial, and told that his life should be saved if he
could show that he had ever done anything really
useful to the Bepublic. He replied that he had un-
questionably done good, for Arthur Young's * Travels
through France ' contained much highly important
information, and in order to spread it through the
Republic in a cheap form, *I published a useful

> A. F. Baron de, 1762-1S51, celebrated agrioultiiriBt and member
of the Institut.

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abridgement/ he said, 'which has been much read,
and has had important effects. I was pardoned and
set at liberty/ and then, taming to Sir John, he said,
' Tell your friend, Mr. Young, that he was thus the
means of saving my life.'

Febniary 17. — The Board met for the first time
last Tuesday, but had no business whatever before
them. I suggested the propriety of sending a circular
letter throughout the kingdom, in order to ascertain
by facts the real state of the farming world. They
approved the proposal, observing that not a moment
should be lost, and I retired in order to draw out a
letter with Queries. This they examined and altered
to their mind; it was immediately despatched to the
printer, and all the rest of the week has been employed
in drawing out lists of persons from the reports, to
whom these letters have been addressed, post paid, to
the amount of 12Z., and many yet to despatch on

The replies have just begun to come in; by two
valuable ones from Maxwell, near Peterborough, and
from Page, of Cobham, the probability is that much
important information will be gained, and a basis laid
for a very interesting publication, but I greatly ques-
tion whether they will permit any public use to be
made of the information, and I suspect that it will
disclose so lamentable a state of distress, that it may
prove somewhat dangerous, or, at least, questionable
to make it public. What are we to think of the
infatuation of Government in laying on a property
tax at such a moment, rather than borrow a few


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millions to avoid the necessity, one of the great evils
resulting from our Government being in all monqr
matters little better than a Committee of the Bank ?

Answers to the circular letter of the Board, which
was despatched throughout the kingdom the first week
in February, flowed in rapidly till about April 10, and
they describe such a state of agricultural misery and
ruin as to be almost inconceivable to those who do not
connect such a defect with the utter want of cir-
culating medium ; the ruin of the country banks, and
the great want of confidence in those that remain, with
an issue of Bank of England notes utterly insufficient
to fill up the vacuity thus occasioned, has made the
want of money so great as to cripple every species of

It is difficult to pronounce what the consequence of
the present ruined state of agriculture will prove, but I
must confess that I dread a scarcity, which must have
dreadful effects, coming at a period when such multi-
tudes are almost starving for want of employment,
even with such cheap bread. What must be their
situation should it be dear ? To my astonishment.
Government seems utterly insensible of the danger, and
has not taken one single step to prevent it, or to meet
it should it come.

March, — Lord Winchilsea, who I have not seen
for some time, called on me yesterday and mentioned
his having been long absent in France, Spain, &c.
He was at Marseilles when Bonaparte landed from
Elba, in Provence ; every circumstance was previously
arranged. Messina, at Marseilles, kept everything

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quiet on his left, and the [garrison ?] at Grenoble was
prepared to receive him; of all this there was no
doubt. Uncertain of what might be the event in
France, his lordship embarked instantly for Barce-
lona; from thence he crossed Spain to Lisbon, and
throughout the whole of his Spanish journey he did
not pass through a town that was not in a state of
ruin and desolation. He everywhere enquired the
cause, and was always told ' that the French had done
all the mischief,' with many expressions of cordial
detestation. He would not have conceived a country
to be in a more wretched and deplorable state.

April 24. — Miss Way and Miss Neve, daughter
of the late Sir Bichard Neve, both high Calvinists and
constant hearers of Mr. Wilkinson, called on me the
other day in order to converse on religion. They
appear to me to be perfectly sincere, but seem wedded
to the high Calvinistic notions of that preacher. Miss
Way lent me two manuscript sermons of his full of
predestination, and the impossibility of falling from
grace; her sister took them in shorthand. This day
Miss Neve called on me again, bringing with her a
Miss Johnson, another Calvinistic lady, who, being in
Italy with some relations, went to Elba to see Bona-
parte, and had much conversation with him. He had
told somebody, who told the Johnsons, that he wanted
to see my 'Travels in France,* which he had often
thought of reading, but came to Elba without them.
Mr. Johnson had these * Travels,* and took them with
him to Elba and presented them to the Emperor,
who expressed much pleasure at receiving them, and

H R 2

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Mr. Johnson afterwards heard that he had read them

eagerly and with much approbation. His countenance

indicates a steadfast, resolute, determined mind, and he

is known to abhor all doubtful and hesitating answers

that do not come immediately to the point in qnestion.

In the very short interview that took place he was

standing with his hands in his breeches pockets

clinking the money in them ; but she observed that his

nails as well as his teeth were dirty. He enquired,

when they were in Provence, and especially on the

coast, whether there were troops at Antibes or at Nice.

This conversation took place on the Thursday, and he

left the island on the Sunday following. He asked

her name, and on the reply of Helen, * Oh ! I am to be

sent to St. Helena,^ this is ominous of my voyage.'

The interview was very short with him, but with the

Bertrands the conversation was rather longer.

I have finished reading the first volume of * G-ibbon's

Miscellaneous Works,' published by Lord Sheffield. Of

mere worldly production, it is the most interesting that

I have read for many years, more especially Gibbon's

own memoirs of himself. I have been acquainted with

Lord Sheffield above forty years, and more than once

met Gibbon at his house ; and, if I remember rightly,

the first time I was at Sheffield Place, which, I think,

was in 1770, being invited by him on my advertising

the intentions of the Eastern tour. Mr. Foster and

Lady Elizabeth his wife, daughter of the Earl of

* Sir Walter Soott and other historians of Napoleon refer to a vagne
nunoor that in 1814 and 1816 the Allied Powers had a seoret design to
remove Napoleon from Elba to St. Helena. He affected to believe the
rumonr, and frequently mentioned it.

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Bristol, were there. I thought her a most fascinating
womjui — an opinion many times afterwards confirmed

Online LibraryArthur YoungThe autobiography of Arthur Young, with selections from his correspondence .. → online text (page 31 of 33)