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wools in the raw material, and to visit the infraction of these prohibitions with the severest penalties. Notwithstanding this extreme rigour, however, it often happened that English wool found its way into the foreign market in despight of all the vigilance of our custom-house officers, for we find one of our poets lamenting, that
“Some English wool, vered in a Belgian loom,
Did into France, or colder Denmark roam,
To ruin with worse wear our staple trade.”-DRYDEN. To counterpoise the severity of these laws against the exportation of British wool, the legislature seems to have exerted itself to the utmost, to force the home consumption of the manufactured article. Accordingly, among other parliamentary provisions enacted with this view, a statute was passed in the reign of Charles II.,* enjoining the burying in sheep's wool only, and enacting the affidavit of the executor, or of some person of the family of the deceased, to prove a strict compliance with the requisitions of this Act after every interment.
It is in reference to this law for burying in woollen, that Pope, in his satire on the ruling passion in woman, makes a fashionable lady of his day exclaim, in her last moments :
“Odious in woollen! Twould a saint provoke!
Wrap these cold limbs, and shade this lifeless face !" And it was, in allusion to this severe statute that, soon after the appearance of Dyer's poem of the Fleece, a critic, after having been told by Dodsley, the bookseller, that the work had been composed in the author's old age, rather sarcastically observed, “then he will be soon buried in woollen.” Having mentioned the name of this modern Cambrian bard, and on a subject connected with the question before us, we cannot refrain from observing, that Dr. Johnson, in his life of this poet, seems. to have indulged in too great a severity of criticism, more particularly, when he makes the extraordinary assertion, that the Fleece is an unpoetical subject, and that the “wool.comber and the poet appeared to him of such discordant natures, that an attempt to bring them together was to couple the serpent and the fowl.” Now, to us the Fleece appears replete with poetic imagery; and, had Johnson forgotten that Shakspeare himself was the son of a wool-comber, from whom Dyer was lineally descended? But the great lexicographer seems to have conceived some unaccountable aversion to our staple manufacture, since, either by accident or design, the words woolstapler, wool-comber,
* 30 C. ii. chap. 3.
and wool-sorter, have not found a place in his dictionary, although they are surely as much entitled to it as ironmonger, cheesemonger, fellmonger, flaxdresser, and a number of other compound words of the same description.
The more enlightened policy of the present day has discarded all the old restrictions and enforcing enactments, and left the wool trade and its consumption wholly free and unfettered. For the low duties on foreign wools, not exceeding a penny per pound, can scarcely be said to amount to any check on the importation of them, and our own are allowed to be freely exported without the least restraint.
Mr. Southey, therefore, could not have selected a more appropriate period for the publication of his little tract on wool than this, the commencement of a new era in this branch of com
The writer has contrived to condense much valuable and practical information in a short pamphlet of a few pages: and though his hints are addressed to the colonists of New South Wales, they will be found well worth the attention of our wool-growers in old Wales, both North and South.
On the breed of sheep, he gives us the following curious and useful observations.
“It is only about sixty or seventy years ago, that the late king of Saxony received, as a present from the then king of Spain, fifty sheep of the most celebrated flocks of that country, to which were added, a few years afterwards, one hundred rams, and two hundred ewes. These were nourished with the utmost care and attention; and from this small stock the whole Germanic empire has since been supplied with a race of sheep, producing wool of a finer fibre than any other class in Europe.”
Although Mr. Southey acquaints us, in p. 16 of his pamphlet, that the race of Saxony sheep which now produce the finest wool in Europe, sprung from a present of a certain number of Spanish ewes and rams, made, about seventy years ago, by the King of Spain to the then Elector of Saxony, yet he omits to inform us further, that this very breed of Spanish fine-wooled sheep came originally from Old England, being likewise a royal present sent from our King Edward IV, to the King of Castille.
This historical fact is recorded and deeply lamented by a writer of the reign of Charles I., now but little known, John Trussel, in his “ Continuation of the History of England, &c." fol. edit. 1641, p. 185, in the following terms :
“And to that end, King Edward entreth into a league with John, King of Arragon, and Henry, King of Castille, to whom he sent for a present a score of Cotswold ewes and five rams, which, though they were but few in number, yet hath the losse that hath thereby redounded to England been too, too great, yet more than he could then well imagine, and greater than the
reader can prima facie apprehend. But great evils may grow out of small causes." Our modern political economists, and sticklers for the doctrine of free trade, are not of old John Trussel's opinion.
“ Persons who have paid attention to the effect of pasturage upon the wool of sheep, will have noticed the great difference in the nature and quality of those which have been reared on calcareous and chalky downs, compared with another part of the same fock, fed on rich luxuriant lands. The wool of the former will be found short and fine grown, although dry and harsh, nor will it work kindly; whilst the latter will be longer and softer, work better, and also produce softer cloth."
Hence, Mr. Southey takes occasion to recommend to those who have extensive sheepwalks on a limestone soil, as we believe is the case throughout a great portion of Wales, to provide themselves with a competent portion of meadow pasture, to afford them the means of occasionally turning their sheep into fresh herbage; “ and this interchange will, in a great measure, counteract the effect of calcareous or down pasture.”
“By strict attention to the health of his flock, and by annually crossing the ewes with a superior woolled ram, he may confidently expect, in a few years, to obtain an excellent flock of sheep; but this great change can orly be effected by attending to the pasturage of his flock, und the exclusion of all ewes found to produce inferior fleeces."
And again, in p. 24 of his pamphlet, this experienced woolbroker further informs us, that
“ The farmer cannot reasonably expect all the lambs of this cross breed to produce fine wool. Some may have indifferent fleeces, or perhaps black or brown hairs may occasionally be interspersed through them. Such lambs should be rejected, as the wool is only suitable for medley cloths, whereas the white fleece can be applied to all purposes. It will, therefore, be seen that the farmer who consults his interest, will annually inspect the fleeces of his flock, and retain only those lambs which produce wool of the best quality.”
Now, this is precisely the point in which our British woolgrowers seem to be most heedlessly inattentive. They bestow great pains, indeed, and are regardless of expense, in procuring rams of the highest price to cross their breed of sheep; but when this is done, as if they expected that by some sudden miracle, the whole of the woolly progeny were at once to resemble the sire, they never trouble themselves further with making the requisite segregation. And yet, it is upon this careful and constantly. continued extirpation of the coarser woolled animals, that the gradual amelioration of the flock is to be effected.
It sometimes, however, is by no means an easy task to get rid entirely of the discarded ewes. The hill sheep of Wales, like all mountaineers, display a considerable portion of amor patriæ, and local attachment. Instances have been known in the hundred of Built of several old grey-faced ewes having returned home, after
having been sold three times, from the rank feedings of Essex, back to their mountain pasture, alone, and without any other guide than instinct.
Mr. S. enters at some length into a discussion of the proper pasture for sheep; and on this point, as well as on their general treatment, he cites Dr. Richard Bright's Travels in Hungary in 1814. He particularly recommends dry food for them in wet weather, and the supplying them occasionally with salt, as materially conducive to their salubrity. He informs us, p. 15, that “sheep eat dry food in wet weather with great alacrity, although, in dry weather, they refuse it."
Mr. Southey is wholly silent on the diseases of sheep. We shall endeavour, therefore, in some sort, to supply the deficiency, by taking this opportunity of recording the following prescription of an old Welsh shepherd, for the prevention and cure of that most destructive of all diseases to our flocks, the rot. Nor will the circumstance of its consisting of a dietetic regimen, rather than in the exhibition of medical drugs, detract from its merit. It is simply this,—to sow a convenient spot of ground with the narrow-leaved parsley. The quantity of ground to be of course proportioned to the number of the flock, and to turn the sheep in to graze upon this pasture whenever the slightest indication of this disease makes its appearance, and this twice or thrice a week for two or three hours at a time. This should be done occasionally, even when they are in perfect health, as they will always greedily devour this herb. The warm aromatic qualities of the parsley operate as an anteseptic and corrective of the aqueous putrescency of that rank watery herbage which causes the rot, Experto crede Roberto. But hares and rabbits are so fond of parsley, that they will come from a great distance to feed upon it, and will destroy it if not very securely fenced.
The author, speaking from his experience as a wool-broker, recommends the growing of long wool in preference to any other, as likely to prove most profitable upon the whole to the sheep
His remarks on the washing of sheep are extremely judicious ; and, for this purpose, he gives a decided preference to the standing pool over the running stream. The great desideratum, he observes, is “to obtain water of the softest quality, or, in other words, such as is most divested of all particles of metallic salts.”
We fear these matters are not generally adverted to with the attention they deserve; and yet we are all aware how much the desirable softness of flannel depends on the quality of the water employed in the fulling.
As Mr. S. expatiates so much on washing, on skirting, and on a due regard to cleanliness and neatness in folding up the fleeces
for market, we are surprised he has said nothing on the subject of pitch-marks: they are the very bane of wool. The farmer can scarcely imagine the deterioration and destruction occasioned by the use of pitch as a sheep-mark. The injury it occasions is so serious that, in this age of improvement, it is wonderful this barbarism still continues to be practised. If the ear-mark, and the ruddle-mark, are not deemed a sufficient security to identify property in sheep, Dr. Lewis, in his Commercio-Philo-Technicon, p. 361, recommends the following composition as being at once cheap, strong, and lasting, so as to bear the changes of the weather, without injuring the wool: take the requisite quantity of melted tallow, into which let as much charcoal, in fine powder, be stirred, as is sufficient to make it of a full black colour, and of a thick consistence. This mixture being applied hot, with a marking-iron, on pieces of Aannel, quickly fixed or hardened, bore moderate rubbing, resisted the sun and rain, and yet could be washed out freely with a strong soap ley. In order to render it still more durable, and prevent its being rubbed off, with the tallow may be melted an eighth or sixth of its weight of tar, which will readily wash out along with it from the wool; but if possible, it were always better for the flock-master to content himself with the ear-mark, and to abstain from pitch and ruddle altogether. From the returns made to Parliament, it appears that, since the year 1819, the importation of wools from Australia and Tasmania has increased in the ratio of twenty to one. The quantity imported in 1830 amounted to 1,967,279 pounds.
“Those who reflect,” says Mr. Southey, “on the great increase of wool furnished by countries almost in an incipient state, will be forcibly struck with the rapid progress already made in the cultivation of the sheep, from which such large supplies have been derived."
In speaking of the Spanish sheep, the Spanish sheep dog has not been forgotten.
“They are represented to us as the best breed of the canine race to assist a shepherd, and protect his pock. Some of them are black and white; others quite white, and the size of a large wolf. They have large heads, and are generally armed with collars, stuck with iron spikes. They are fed only with bread and milk; and this method of feeding causes them to become more subservient to the will of the shepherd than if fed on animal food."
The Welsh shepherd's dog may vie with that of Spain in fidelity and sagacity. As a proof of the latter quality, he will single out and catch any one particular sheep out of a flock of a thousand, at the bidding of his master, whose exquisite power of discernment in being able to distinguish each individual animal by the countenance, he is said to share.
The Welsh name for the shepherd's dog is bugeilgi, from bugail, a shepherd, and ci, a dog. From hence, the Saxons called their little hunting dogs “beagles," though Dr. Johnson has thought fit