Arthur Young.

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

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my industry to examine the measure on its very
foundation. When I was a complete master of the
subject and stated the result in conversation to the
warmest friends of the measure, I had the satisfaction

■ Corn bounty in Ireland, 1780. This was granted by the Insh
Parliament The Lord Lieutenant, in his speech at the close of the
session, said : ' Ample bounties on the export of your com, your linen,
and your sail-cloth have been granted.' See Annual Register^ 1780,
p. 838.

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to find that the documents thus produced were utterly
unknown to all, and they were fairly beat * out of their
prejudices in favour of the measure; at least their
argument entirely failed on the occasion. But the
event proved that the conviction was real. For in the
very first session after the publication of my book
the bounty was reduced by half, as appears by Mr.
Henry Cavendish's publication on the revenue and
national expenses of Ireland. It was afterwards
gradually reduced, and at last gave up entirely. The
saving to the nation occasioned palpably by this publi-
cation amounted to 40,0002. per annum immediately,
and as the expense of the bounty had been constantly
increasing, the saving was of course in reality much
greater. Long after, in conversation with Lord
Loughborough, he told me that he had read that part
of my work relative to the bounty, &c., with particular
attention, and that he thought the arguments most un*
answerable, adding, 'Ireland ought to have rewarded
you for that.' When the whole was given up it was a
saving of 80,0002. a year to the nation. This was much
for one individual to effect ; and some reward for such ser-
vices would not have been much for the nation to grant.

I cannot on such an occasion name Ireland without
remarking that though the Irish are certainly a gene-
rous people, and liberal sometimes almost to excess, yet
not a ray of that spirit was by any public body shed on
my labours.

After I had left the kingdom and published the tour,
I received the following letter : —

* Beat : partioipial adjective. — Wehater.

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'Dublin: Sept. 16, 1780.
*Sir, — With great pleasure I take up the pen in
obedience to the commands of the Dubhn Society, to
communicate to you their thanks for the late publica-
tion of your tour in Ireland, a treatise which, in doing
justice to this country, puts us in a most respectable
view ; for which reason we consider you to have great
merit. But what particularly gained the attention of
the Society were your just and excellent observations
and reasoning, in the second part of that work, relative
to the agriculture, manufactures, trade, and poUce of
the kingdom. And gentlemen thought the publication
of that part, particularly so as to fall into the hands of
the generaUty of the people of this country, might be
of great benefit and use ; and we vnsh you would let us
know your sentiments relative to the preparing a
publication of that kind, and in what mode you would
think it most proper, and would answer best, and what
you would judge a reasonable amends for all this
trouble, that we may lay the same before the Society
at our next meeting, the beginning of November.
There are a great many useful observations and hints
interspersed in many parts of your tour which may be
of great use to throw into the hands of the public.
' I am. Sir,

' Your most obedient servant,

' Bed. Mobbes.'

In answer to this letter, I returned sincere thanks
for the honour of the vote ; and assured them that I
should be ready either to publish any part of the work

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separately, or to make an abridgment of the whole,
reduced in such a manner as to be diffused at a small
expense over all the kingdom. In a few posts I received,
under the Dublin post-mark, an envelope, enclosing an
anonymous essay, cut out of a newspaper, which re-
ferred to the transactions of the Society relative to me,
and condemning pretty heavily my whole publication ;
and in this unhandsome manner the business ended.

In a Society which disposed of 10,000Z. a year of
public money, granted by Parliament chiefly with
a view, as the Act expresses, to encourage agricul-
ture, but which patronised manufacturers far more,
there will necessarily be an agricultural party and a
manufacturing one. According as one or the other
happens to prevail, such contradictions will arise. All
that is to be said of my case now is, that it was not so
bad as that of poor Whyman Baker, who settled in
Ireland as their experimenter in agriculture — lived there
in poverty ten or twelve years — and broke his heart on
account of the treatment which he met with. But
while their Societies acted thus, the Parliament of the
kingdom paid my book a much greater compliment
than any Society could do ; for they passed more than
one Act almost directly, to alter and vary the poUce of
com, which I had proved was vicious, but which till
then had been universally esteemed as the chief pillar
of their national prosperity, and I had thus the satisfac-
tion to see the Legislature of the kingdom improving the
policy of it from the known and confessed suggestions
of a work that, in other respects, had proved to the
author a mere barren blank. I have, however, since

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heard from many most respectable gentlemen of that
nation, as well as from the correspondence of others,
that the book is even now esteemed of some value to
Ireland, and that the agriculture of the kingdom has
been advanced in consequence. But it is time to dis-
miss a subject upon which I have dilated too much,
and spoken perhaps with an unguarded vanity and self-
love which would ill become ma

I was the chief part of this year at Bradfield, but I
had bought at London a pair of roan mares for drawing
a post-chaise, and having the small farm in hand, I
made myself by practice no bad ploughman,, and could
finish the stetches * neatly, and execute everything except
the rivalling the Suffolk ploughman in drawing straight
furrows to a mark set for that purpose ; yet I overcame
this difficulty in a manner that would have been com-
mended in any other county.

The Society for the Encouragement of Arts,
Manufactures, and Commerce voted me their Honorary
Medal for some experiments I had communicated to
them on the culture of potatoes.

According to custom, part of my time was occupied
in reading, and among other works was highly enter-
tained with Gray's letters, and particularly with the
following passage, which displays so much knowledge of
the human mind, and, at the same time, much sterling
sense : ' To find oneself business I am persuaded is the
great art of life, and I am never so angry as when I
hear my acquaintance wishing they had been bred to

' Stetch : as much land as lies between one farm and another. — Frov^
Eng^y HalUwell

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some poking profession, or employed in some office of
dradgery, as if it were pleasanter to be at the command
of other people than at one's own, and as if they could
not go unless they were wound up. Yet I know and
feel what they mean by this complaint ; it proves that
some spirit, something of genius (more than common)
is required to teach a man how to employ himself — I
say a man, for women, conmionly speaking, never feel
this distemper, they have always something to do.
Time hangs not on their hands (unless they be fine
ladies), a variety of small inventions and occupations fill
up the void, and their eyes are never open in vain *
(vol. ii.)

Thank heaven, I have so much of the woman in me
as to possess this faculty of employing myself. The day
is never too long, for I think time spent in reading is
always well employed, unless a man reads like an idiot,
that is, equally removed from instruction and entertain-
ment. Now the general occupation of my life — agri-
culture — has the happy circumstance of giving much
employment, and with it exercise, at the same time that
it naturally leads into a course of reading, to which it
gives the air and turn of a study, and consequently
renders it more interesting, an advantage I shall be
solicitous to preserve, by persisting, at all events, to be
much interested in farming, even though I should not
continue an actual farmer. Gray felt the advantage of
country pursuits. * Happy they that can create a rose
tree or erect a honeysuckle, that can watch the brood
of a hen, or see a fleet of their own ducklings launch
into the water; it is with a sentiment of envy I

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speak it, who never shall have even a thatched roof
of my own, nor gather a strawberry but in Govent

I read also Roberts' ' Map of Commerce/ ^ and find
the following extract about the spot where should be
the ruin of Troy : * Anno Domini, 1620. — I hardly saw
the relics of this mighty fabric (Troy), though I traced
it for many miles, and gave ear to all the ridiculous
fables of those poor Grecians that inhabit thereabouts
in many villages within the compass of her ancient
walls, from Mount Ida to the River Scamander, now
only a brook not two feet deep, so that what Ovid said
of old I found by experience verified, " jam seges est
ubi Troja fuit." ' There is a melancholy which attends
such reflections that with me makes a deep impression ;
the idea that what was once the seat of power, arts, Utera-
ture and elegance is now in the most miserable situation
which Turkish oppression and Mahometan superstition
can inflict, that not a trace of a once mighty city is now
to be found, is depressing to the human mind. In an
equal series of time what will become of the cities
which are now the pride of Europe? what obscure
farmer of futurity shall plough the ground whereon
that House of Common stands in which a Hampden,
a Bolingbroke, a Pitt, and a Mansfield have delighted
the most celebrated assembly now in the world ? ^

My visit to London was, part of it, very agreeable,

■ Lewis BobertB, The MtrchanVs Map of Commerce, London, 1638.
' The first syBtematio wri^r upon trade in the English language '

* Had this sentence appeared in print anterior to Maeaulay's famous
passage, the latter might have been deemed a plagiarism.

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my whole intercourse with Arbuthnot entirely so. At
Dr. Bnmey's, while it lasted, the same; the opera,
parties, the Boyal Society, with some of the attend-
ance on Parliament, add to this being in the world
and on the spot for whatever happened, were all so
many opportunities for pleasure and amusement, which,
however, I did not make the most of. Against these I
must now rank ease in my circumstances. Let it fly,
and the change has been a bad one, indeed. But I
think I have resolution enough to take special care of
the greatest of all man's chances. I do not remember
when my acquaintance with Mr. Hugh Boyd * began,
but I was 8bcquainted with him in London, met him in
many companies in Dublin, and travelled with him
from thence to London. It has been supposed that he
was the author of ' Junius,' and I must give it as my
opinion that there was much probability in the supposi-
tion. I have been many times at his house, at break-
fasts, morning calls and dinners, and never without seeing
the Public Advertiser and remarking that they were
blanks, that is to say, without being stamped. All
writers in newspapers are allowed a copy gratis, and
these are never stamped. His company was so much
sought after in Dublin that I was scarcely at a great
dinner without his being present. A very striking
circumstance in his character was a memory in some
points beyond example ; he would multiply nine figures
by eight entirely in his head, and would give the result

' Hugh Boyd, a vrriter whose real name was Maoaulay, author of
two political tracts now forgotten. Died at Madras in 1791, having
dissipated his wife's fortune and his own.

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with the most perfect accuracy. When it is considered
that such an operation demands the recollection not
merely of the figmres, but of their position in order for the
final addition, it must be admitted to be a stupendous
one. He was on all occasions and in every circum-
stance a most pleasing, agreeable companion. His wife
was a woman of very good understanding, and appeared
to be sensible of her husband's extraordinary talents.
One morning at breakfast Mr. Burke's son came in, and
as his father had made a very celebrated speech the day
before in the House of Commons which he intended to
publish, but had, in the conclusion, departed from his
notes in a very fine strain of eloquence, knowing the
great memory of Boyd, he sent his son to request some
hints for that conclusion. We set to work to recollect
as much as possible his own words, and furnished young
Burke much to his satisfaction. Mr. Boyd's letters,
of which I have preserved several, are written in a most
pleasing, lively style.

' Norfolk street : August 16, 1780.
' My dear Sir, — You have an excellent physician, but
I should be glad to know what right the patient has to
become his own apothecary ? The doctor's prescription
consists of such rare ingredients as require no common
skill to discover and use, Cuivis in $tui arte. If it had
been your inferior fate to wield the pestle instead of
the ploughshare and the pen, I should subscribe to the
judgment of the apothecary as fully as I do to the
author's genius and the farmer's knowledge. " A friend
who can enliven the dulness of the country." Well

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Baid, doctor. Macbeth himself might take yom: advice,
for there is httle difference between a dull mind and *' a
mind diseased ; " but my good friend has neither. His
mistake, therefore, in making up your prescription, and
shaking me up as the aforesaid ingredient, is of little
consequence. To convince him, however, that he is
mistaken — for I love to set your clever men right —
I shall make my appearance, first in the county of
Cambridge, and next in the county of Suffolk — or ere
the amorous Phoebus shall have twice resorted to his
evening assignation to take an oyster with Miss Thetis.
By the bye, we have had very good [entertainment]
in town for some days — though as to days I can only
answer for one and a half ; being no longer returned
from a Western Tour, which I have had the pleasure
and trouble of making — for everything is mixed, you
know, pleasure and pain — rose and thorns — man and
wife ; I ask Mrs. Young ten thousand pardons.

' I have had hopes sometimes of tempting Mrs. B.
to a country excursion, and she has almost agreed to
make it with me to Cambridge, where I wish to call
for half a day, and perhaps longer, soon ; the hopes of
seeing her friends at Bradfield Hall are a strong in-

* Believe me,

* Very sincerely yours,

*H. Boyd.'

• * August 17, 1780.

* My good friend will be at least just in this instance,
when he is in every other so partial to his friends ; and

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you'll believe that it is no small disappointment to me
quod inclination, though the cause will probably be
very advantageous, businessly speaking, that I am
obliged to postpone my Suffolk trip. Observe I esta-
blish a credit by the term postpone, and I sincerely
hope it will not be a long term. I have at present only
another half minute to say fifty things. But not being
able to think, speak, or write the fiftieth part as quick
as certain persons of my acquaintance (my love to
Mrs. Young), I must confine myself to one subject —
which I have too much at heart to omit — the assuring
you and her of my being very sincerely yours,

'H. Boyd.'

* September 2, 1780.

' My dear Friends, — You'll excuse coarse paper, and
coarse writing in every sense, I'm afraid, " in matter,
form, and style," according to Milton's divisions, when
you know that I sit down to this delectable epistle in a
City coflfee-house, in the midst of Bob- wigs and worsted
stocking knaves, Turks, Jews, and brokers, infidels, and
merchants. Nunquam, si quid miM credis, amavi
Hos homines. dialect of Babel! "Who calls for
coffee ? " — " This poHcy, sir " — " Strong convoy, a very
good thing" — "Pen, ink, and wafer" — "I'sh would be
rejoished to do for you, shur " — " Was Mr. Shylock here
this morning? " — " Yesh, just gone to Jerusalem."
blessed race ! I wish you were all there, with all your
adopted brethren of Jewish Christians from this holy

'I have continued in much disappointment — at least.

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suspense — since I wrote to you last, when I hinted the
sudden occurrence of some business preventing the
pleasure of my proposed trip. Depending on the
pleasures not only of some three or four different
persons, but of great ones, too, who think themselves
personages f you will not wonder that the said business
has been like Sisyphus's Stone, or Ixion's Cloud, or
Tantalus's Apple, or anything else that's infernally
troublesome. But it may, and, notwithstanding their
greatness, probably it will, be very consequential. In
the meantime I must deny myself both Suffolk and
Cambridge. The former, indeed, is the self-denial ; for
Cam. I had more at head than at heart. Besides,
wishing to establish my Mastery of Arts by a little
residence near them, I had a little reading and
writing also in contemplation, near the walks locally
—^erlongo mtervallo in every other sense — of old

'I should have been happy in being at Bradfield
Hall ; I long to hear my friend refute himself, to com-
plain with good spirits, and to demonstrate, with much
wit, that he was extremely dull. But I dare say you
have too much genuine vivacity, as well as good taste,
to enter much into the bastard sort of alacrity — ^the
intoxicated bustle that rages in empty heads and full
pockets, by Boyal proclamation. I should not object if
the cui bono ? could be answered. But in the present
desperate size of power and depopulation of spirit, so
much and so expensive pains seem little better than a
curious folly. If a man's brains must be blown out,
why need he gild his pocket pistol, much less purchase

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a great gun — ^onleaa it be a Scotch canonade, which, it
most be confessed, will do the business, con amore, for
England or Ireland ?

* Yours ever,

*H. Boyd:

I continued farming at Bradfield, and also reading
and writing with much attention, as about this time I
had formed the intention of delivering lectures on
agriculture, and had prepared several. The original
hint came from Mr. Wedderbum,* who persuaded me
to persevere in this plan ; but the lectures never took
place. I was highly honoured by the commendation
and partiahty of a friend, Dr. Watson,* the celebrated
Professor at Cambridge, afterwards Bishop of Llandaff,
who wrote thus : * We owe to the agricultural societies,
and to the patriotic exertions of one deserving citizen
(Arthur Young, Esq.), the present flourishing condition
of our husbandry ' (* Chemical Mag.* vol. 4).

I find from an application of my friend, Arbuthnot,
that the Bishop of Chester was at this time collecting
materials for a work on population by the Eev, Mr.
Howlett,' and had desired Arbuthnot to apply to me
for assistance. I was myself meditating such a work,

* Alex. Wedderborn, Earl of Bosslyn, Baron Longhborongh. In 1778
Attomey-Ctoneral ; in 1793 suooeeded Lord Thnrlow to the Ohanoellor-
ship. Died 1805.

* Richard Watson, a celebrated prelate. In 1796 he pnbliahed an
answer to Paine's Age of Beaaon, He was left an estate worth 24,0002.
by a Mr. Lather, an entire stranger to him, anthor of many theological
works and memoirs of himself. Died 1816.

' Died in 1804. There is a notice of this writer in Watts' BibHo-
ihtca BritawMca,

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but complied with the request, suad transmitted the
collections I had made to the Bishop, who wrote me a
most obliging letter.

' Your facts are clear and decisive, and the conclusions
you draw from them, unanswerable. The only difl&culty
I am apprehensive of is that as his work is now pretty
far advanced, and is already larger than I could wish
he will not be able to take in the whole of your papers,
especially as I observe that he has in some part of his
pamphlet fallen into the same train of reasoning as
yourself. If, therefore, you would allow him to take
only your two general tables of baptism before and
after the Eevolution, and the two more recent periods
of thirty years each, which is the very method he has
himself adopted, subjoining such of your observations
as are the most important and are not in some measure
anticipated by him, he will be most exceedingly obliged
to you, and will, I am sure, be very ready to acknow-
ledge in proper terms the sense he has of your goodness
to him.'

I had also a sad letter from my friend Arbuthnot
on his return from France, but it was written in so
melancholy a strain on his own situation and that of
his wife and family, that it has often made my heart
ache to read it. By Lord Loughborough's interest
he got an appointment in Lreland under the Linen
Board,^ which carried him to that country, where he

1 Irish Linen Board, established 1711; the Board abolished 1828.
We do not learn upon what bnsiness Mr. Arbuthnot had gone to France.

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lived but a few years. I lost in him by far the most
agreeable friend I was ever connected with.

At this time I was much engaged in making a
variety of experiments in expelling gaseous fluids from
specimens of soils, the results of which were afterwards
pubUshed in ' The Annals of Agriculture.' As I met
vdth some difficulties I wrote to Dr. Priestley, stating
them, and begging information. He very hberally and
politely answered all my enquiries, encouraging me to
proceed with my trials, and I received several interest-
ing letters from him.

' Birmingham : Deo. 12, 1781.

' Dear Sir, — If I had any remarks or hints respecting
the subject of your experiments, I should certainly with
much pleasure have communicated them long ago. I
meant, indeed, to have made a few more experiments
on the growth of plants in the course of the last summer,
but the weather was so bad, and the sun shone so little,
that I dropped the scheme. All I can do, therefore, in
return for your /oc^s, is to mention one that I have
lately observed. I readily convert pure water into
permanent air, by first combining it with quickhme,
and then exposing it to a strong heat. The weight of
the air is equal to the weight of water, and no part of
the water is turned into steam in the process. During
the whole of it, a glass velum, interposed between the
retort and the recipient for the air, remains quite cool
and dry. The air I procure in this manner is in part
fixed air, but the bulk of it is such as a candle would
hardly bum in it, but is such as I should imagine would
be the best for plants, which would purify it and


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render it fit for respiration. And as this kind of air
would be yielded in great abundance by volcanoes, from
calcareous matter in the earth ; such was perhaps the
original atmosphere of this earth, which according to
the Mosaick account (which you must allow me to
respect) had plants before there were any land animals.
' This letter I fear is hardly worth sending you ;
your objects and mine are so very different, though now
and then coinciding ; but mine have seldom any prac-
tical uses, at least no inmiediate ones, whereas yours are
highly and immediately beneficial. Wishing you the
greatest success, and wishing you and all philosophers
joy of the near prospect of peace,

' I am, yours sincerely,

'J. Priestley.'

This year's memoranda : ' Wrote " Emigration," an

In the autumn of this year I spent a month at
Lowestoft, where the sea air and bathing agreed so
well with me that I do not recollect in my life ever
having spent a month with so continued a flow of high
spirits, which received no slight addition by the society
of a very handsome and most agreeable girl, whose

Online LibraryArthur YoungThe autobiography of Arthur Young, with selections from his correspondence .. → online text (page 7 of 33)