“UNIVERSAL CULTIVATION OF THE WASTE LANDS IN GREAT BRITAIN WOULD BE THE GREATEST EVIL TO THIS COUNTRY”
(ECONOMICS) ANONYMOUS. A Political Enquiry into the Consequences of Enclosing Waste Lands, and the Causes of the Present High Price of Butchers Meat. Being the Sentiments of a Society of Farmers in ——shire. London: L. Davis, 1785. Octavo, 19th-century three-quarter red calf rebacked, renewed endpapers. $900.
First edition of this revealing pamphlet defending late 18th-century agricultural practices, ostensibly penned by a farmer, a point-by-point rebuttal of William Lamport’s 1784 pamphlet “Cursory Remarks on the Importance of Agriculture,” in which Lamport recommended the sale of forested and other unused lands so that they may be enclosed and cultivated.
William Lamport, in his 80-page pamphlet of 1784 —which received favorable notice in the Monthly Review of January 1785—argued that by “raising as large a store of provisions as possible, we may enable our manufacturers and artists to live comfortably on the allowed price of their labor… that our commerce may extend its sails to the greatest distance, and foreign nations be prevented from underselling us.” The present pamphlet argues that greatly increasing production would not necessarily bring down prices, and would in fact have dire consequences for the poor of the nation, specifically by “doubling the present price of butcher’s meat.” The anonymous author writes, “Agriculture is the parent of industry and wealth. A well conducted system of farming is the only root from whence can spring a lasting wealth, power, and happiness to this nation. For though commerce may for a time produce wealth, yet it inevitably at the same time will produce luxury. Trade, manufactures, and commerce should therefore be treated as the hand-maids or servants to agriculture. Whenever the farming interest shall be considered by the legislature as subservient to the trading interest, this nation from that moment is tending towards decline” (page 37). (It is not necessary to have Lamport’s Cursory Remarks on hand to appreciate the present work, as the author quotes liberally from Lamport’s pamphlet and provides a point-by-point rebuttal.) Bound with half title. Goldsmiths 12833. Kress B.933.
Near-fine condition. Quite scarce.