Making Bread

William Cobbett–

No. III. MAKING BREAD.

77. LITTLE time need be spent in dwelling on the necessity of this article to all families; though, on account of the modern custom of using potatoes to supply the place of bread, it seems necessary to say a few words here on the subject, which, in another work I have so amply, and, I think, so triumphantly discussed. I am the more disposed to revive the subject for a moment, in this place, from having read, in the evidence recently given before the Agricultural Committee, that many labourers, especially in the West of England, use potatoes instead of bread to a very great extent. And I find, from the same evidence, that it is the custom to allot to labourers “a potatoe ground” in part payment of their wages! This has a tendency to bring English labourers down to the state of the Irish, whose mode of living, as to food, is but one remove from that of the pig, and of the ill-fed pig too.

78. I was, in reading the above-mentioned Evidence, glad to find, that Mr. EDWARD WAKEFIELD, the best informed and most candid of all the witnesses, gave it as his opinion, that the increase which had taken place in the cultivation of potatoes was “injurious to the country” an opinion which must, I think, be adopted by every one who takes the trouble to reflect a little upon the subject. For leaving out of the question the slovenly and beastly habits engendered amongst the labouring classes by constantly lifting their principal food at once out of the earth to their mouths, by eating without the necessity of any implements other than the hands and the teeth, and by dispensing with everything requiring skill in the preparation of the food, and requiring cleanliness in its consumption or preservation; leaving these out of the question, though they are all matters of great moment, when we consider their effects in the rearing of a family, we shall find, that, in mere quantity of food, that is to say of nourishment, bread is the preferable diet.

79. An acre of land that will produce 300 bushels of potatoes, will produce 32 bushels of wheat. I state this as an average fact, and am not at all afraid of being contradicted by any one well acquainted with husbandry. The potatoes are supposed to be of a good sort, as it is called, and the wheat may be supposed to weigh 60 pounds a bushel. It is a fact clearly established, that, after the water, the stringy substance, and the earth, are taken from the potatoe, there remains only one tenth of the rough raw weight of nutritious matter, or matter which is deemed equally nutritious with bread, and, as the raw potatoes weigh 56lb. a bushel, the acre will yield 1,830lb. of nutritious matter. Now mind, a bushel of wheat, weighing 60lb. will make of household bread (that is to say, taking out only the bran) 651b. Thus, the acre yields 2,080lb. of bread. As to the expenses, the seed and act of planting are about equal in the two cases. But, while the potatoes must have cultivation during their growth, the wheat needs none; and while the wheat straw is worth from three to five pounds an acre, the haul of the potatoes is not worth one single truss of that straw. Then, as to the expense of gathering, housing, and keeping the potatoe crop, it is enormous, besides the risk of loss by frost, which may be safely taken, on an average, at a tenth of the crop. Then comes the expense of cooking. The thirty-two bushels of wheat, supposing a bushel to be baked at a time, (which would be the case in a large family,)’ would demand thirty-two heatings of the oven. Suppose a bushel of potatoes to be cooked every day in order to supply the place of this bread, then we have nine hundred boilings of the pot, unless cold potatoes be eaten at some of the meals; and, in that case, the diet must be cheering indeed! Think of the labour; think of the time; think of all the peelings and scrapings and washings and messings attending these nine hundred boilings of the pot! For it must be a considerable time before English people can be brought to eat potatoes in- the Irish style; that is to say, scratch them out of the earth with their paws, toss them into a pot without washing, and when boil- ed, turn them out upon a dirty board, and then sit round that board, peel the skin and dirt from one at a time and eat the inside. Mr. Curwen was delighted with “Irish hospitality” because the people there receive no parish relief; upon which I can only say, that I wish him the exclusive benefit of such hospitality.

80. I have here spoken of a large quantity of each of the sorts of food. I will now come to a comparative view, more immediately applicable to a labourer’s family. When wheat is ten shillings the bushel, potatoes, bought at best hand, (I am speaking of the country generally,) are about two shillings (English) a bushel. Last spring the average price of wheat might be six and sixpence, (English;) and the average price of potatoes (in small quantities) was about eighteen-pence; though, by the wagon-load, I saw potatoes bought at a shilling (English) a bushel, to give to sheep; then, observe, these were of the coarsest kind, and the farmer had to fetch them at a considerable expense. I think, therefore, that I give the advantage to the potatoes when I say that they sell, upon an average, for full a fifth part as much as the wheat sells for, per bushel, while they contain four pounds less weight than the bushel of wheat; while they yield only five pounds and a half of nutritious matter equal to bread; and while the bushel of wheat will yield sixty-five pounds of bread, be- sides the ten pounds of bran. Hence it is clear, that, instead of that saving, which is everlastingly dinned in our ears, from the use of potatoes, there is a waste of more than one half; seeing that, when wheat is ten shillings (English) the bushel, you can have sixty-five pounds of bread for the ten shillings; and can have out of potatoes only five pounds and a half of nutritious matter equal to bread for two shillings! (English.) This being the case, I trust that we shall soon hear no more of those savings which the labourer makes by the use of potatoes; I hope we shall, in the words of Dr. DRENNAN, “leave Ire- land to her lazy root,” if she choose still to adhere to it. It is the root, also, of slovenliness, filth, misery, and slavery; its cultivation has increased in England with the increase of the paupers: both, I thank God, are upon the decline. Englishmen seem to be upon the return to beer and bread, from water and potatoes: and, therefore, I shall now proceed to offer some observations to the cottager, calculated to induce him to bake his own bread.

81. As I have before stated, sixty pounds of wheat, that is to say, where the Winchester bushel weighs sixty pounds, will make sixty-five pounds of bread, besides the leaving of about ten pounds of bran. This is household bread, made of flour from which the bran only is taken. If you make fine flour, you take out pollard, as they call it, as well as bran, and then you have a smaller quantity of bread and a greater quantity of offal; but, even of this finer bread, bread equal in fineness to the baker’s bread, you get from fifty-eight to fifty-nine pounds out of the bushel of wheat. Now, then, let us see how many quartern loaves you get out of the bushel of wheat, supposing it to be fine flour, in the first place. You get thirteen quartern loaves and a half; these cost you, at the present average price of wheat (seven and sixpence a bushel,) in the first place 7s. 6d.;* then 3d. for yeast; then not more than 3d. for grinding because you have about thirteen pounds of offal, ‘which is worth more than a $d. a pound, while the grinding is 9d. a bushel. Thus, then, the bushel of bread of fifty-nine pounds costs you eight shillings; and it yields you the weight of thirteen and a half quartern loaves: these quartern loaves now (Dec. 1821) sell at Kensington, at the baker’s shop, at 1s. _d.; that is to say, the thirteen quartern loaves and a half cost 14s. 7__d. I omitted to mention the salt, which would cost you 4d. more. So that, here is 6s. 3d. saved upon the baking of a bushel of bread. The baker’s quartern loaf is indeed cheaper in the country than at Kensington, by; probably, a penny in the loaf; which would still, however, leave a saving of 5s. upon the bushel of bread. But, besides this, pray think a little of the materials of which the baker’s, loaf is composed. The alum, the ground potatoes, and other materials; it being a notorious fact, that the bakers, in London at least, have mills wherein to grind their potatoes; so large is the scale upon which they use that material. It is probable, that, but of a bushel of wheat, they make between sixty and seventy pounds of bread, though they have no more flour, and, of course, no more nutritious matter, than you have in your fifty- nine pounds of bread. But, at the least, supposing their bread to be as good as yours in quality, you have, allowing a shilling for the heating of the oven, a clear 4s. saved upon every bushel of bread. If you consume half a bushel a week, that is to say about a quartern loaf a day, this is a saving of 51. 4s. a year, or full a sixth part, if not a fifth part, of the earnings of a labourer in husbandry.

* All the calculations in this work, it must be remembered, are m English money but may be turned into United States’ money as before directed, page 16.

82. How wasteful, then, and, indeed, how shameful, for a labourer’s wife to go to the baker’s shop; and how negligent, how criminally careless of the welfare of his family, must the labourer be, who permits so scandalous a use of the proceeds of his labour! But I have hitherto taken a view of the matter the least possibly advantageous to the home- baked bread. For, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, the fuel for heating the oven costs very little. The hedgers, the copsers, the woodmen of all descriptions, have fuel for little or nothing. At any rate, to heat the oven cannot, upon an average, take the country through, cost the labourer more than 6d. a bushel. Then, again, fine flour need not ever be used, and ought not to be -used. This adds six pounds of bread to the bushel, or nearly another quartern loaf and a half, making nearly fifteen quartern loaves but of the bushel of wheat. The finest flour is by no means the most wholesome; and, at any rate, there is more nutritious matter in a pound of household bread than in a pound of baker’s bread. Besides this, rye, and even barley, especially when mixed with wheat, make very good bread. Few people upon the face of the earth live better than the Long Islanders. Yet nine families out of ten seldom eat wheaten-bread. Rye is the flour that they principally make use of. Now, rye is seldom more than two-thirds the price of wheat, and barley is seldom more than half the price of wheat. Half rye and half wheat, taking out a little more of the offal, make very good bread. Half wheat, a quarter rye and a quarter barley, nay, one-third of each, make bread that I could be very well content to live upon all my lifetime; and, even barley alone, if the barley be good, and none but the finest flour taken out of it, has in it, measure for measure, ten times the nutrition of potatoes. Indeed the fact is well known, that our. forefathers used barley bread to a very great extent. Its only fault, with those who dislike it, is its sweetness, a fault which we certainly have not to find with the baker’s loaf, which has in it little more of the sweetness of grain than is to be found in the offal which comes from the sawings of deal boards. The nutritious nature of barley is amply proved by the effect, and very rapid effect, of its meal, in the fatting of hogs and of poultry of all descriptions. They will fatten quicker upon meal of barley than upon any other thing.. The flesh, too, is sweeter than that proceeding from any other food, with the exception of that which proceeds from buck wheat, a grain little used in England. That proceeding from Indian corn is, indeed, still sweeter and finer; but this is wholly out of the question with us.

83, I am, by-and-by, to speak of the cow to be kept by the labourer in husbandry. Then there will be milk to wet the bread with, an exceedingly great improvement in its taste as well as in its quality! This, of all the ways of using skim milk, is the most advantageous: and this great advantage must be wholly thrown away, if the bread of the family be bought at the shop.. With milk, bread with very little wheat in it may be made far better than baker’s bread; and, leaving the milk out of the question, taking a third of each sort of grain, you would get bread weighing as much as fourteen quartern loaves, for about 5s. 9d. at present prices of grain; that is to say, you would get it for about 5d. the quartern loaf, all expenses included; thus you have nine pounds and ten ounces of bread a day for about 5s. 9d. a week. Here is enough for a very large family. Very few labourers’ families can want so much as this, unless indeed there be several persons in it capable of earn- ing something by their daily labour. Here is cut and come again. Here is bread always for the table. Bread to carry a field; always a hunch of bread ready to put into the hand of a hungry child. We hear a great deal about “children crying for bread,” and objects of compassion they and their parents are, when the latter have not the means of obtaining a sufficiency of bread. But I should be glad to be in- formed, how it is possible for a labouring man, who earns, upon an average, 10. a week, who has not more than four children (and if he have more, some ought to be doing something;) who has a garden of a quarter of an acre of land (for that makes part of my plan; who has a wife as industrious as she ought to be; who does not waste his earnings at the ale- house or the tea shop: I should be glad to know how such a man, while wheat shall be at the price of about 6s. a bushel, can possibly have children crying for bread!

84. Cry, indeed, they must, if he will persist in fiving 135. for a bushel of bread instead of 5s. 9d. Such a man. is not to say that the bread which I have described is not good enough. It was.good enough for his forefathers, who were too proud to be paupers, that is to say, abject and willing slaves. “Hogs eat barley.” And hogs will eat wheat, too, when they can get at it. Convicts in condemned cells eat wheaten bread; but we think it no degradation to eat wheaten bread, too. I am for depriving the labourer of none of his rights; I would have him oppressed in no manner or shape; I would have him bold and free; but to have him such, he must have bread in his house, sufficient for all his family, and whether that bread be fine or coarse must depend upon the different circumstances which present themselves in the cases of different individuals.

85. The married man has no right to expect the same plenty of food and of raiment that the single man has. The time before marriage is the time to lay by, or, if the party choose, to indulge himself in the absence of labour. To marry is a voluntary act, and it is attended in the result with great pleasures and advantages. If, therefore, the laws be fair and equal; if the state of things be such that a labouring man can, with the usual ability of labourers, and with constant industry, care and sobriety; with decency of deportment towards all his neighbours, cheerful obedience to his employer, and a due subordination to the laws; if the state of things be such, that such a man’s earnings be sufficient to maintain himself and family with food, raiment, and lodging needful for them; such a man has no reason to complain; and no labouring man has reason to complain, if the numerousness of his family should call upon him for extraordinary exertion, or for frugality uncommonly rigid. The man with a large family has, if it be not in a great measure his own fault, a greater number of pleasures and of blessings than other men. If he be wise, and just as well as wise, he will see that it is reasonable for him to expect less delicate fare than his neighbours, who have a less number of children, or no children at all. He will see the justice as well as the necessity of his resorting to the use of coarser bread, and thus endeavour to make up that, or at least a part of that, which he loses in comparison with his neighbours. The quality of the bread ought, in every case, to be proportioned to the number of the family and the means of the head of that family. Here is no injury to health proposed; but, on the contrary, the best security for its preservation. Without bread, all is misery. The Scripture truly calls it the staff of life; and it may be called, too, the pledge of peace and happiness in the labourer’s dwelling.

86. As to the act of making bread, it would be shocking indeed if that had to be taught by the means of books. Every woman, high or low, ought to know how to make bread. If she do not, she is unworthy of trust and confidence; and, indeed, a mere burden upon the community. Yet, it is but too true, that many women, even amongst those who have to get their living by their labour, know nothing of the making of bread; and seem to understand little more about it than the part which belongs to its consumption. A Frenchman, a Mr. CUSAR, who had been born in the West Indies, told me, that till he came to Long Island, he never knew whence the flour came: that he was surprised when he learnt that it was squeezed out of little grains that grew at the tops of straw; for that he had always had an idea that it was got out of some large substances, like the yams that grow in tropical climates. He was a very sincere and good man, and I am sure he told me truth. And this may be the more readily believed, when we see so many women in England, who seem to know no more of the constituent parts of a loaf than they know of those of the moon. Servant women in abundance appear to think that loaves are made by the baker, as knights are made by the king; things of their pure creation, a creation, too, in which no one else can participate. Now, is not this an enormous evil? And whence does it come? Servant women are the children of the labouring classes; and they would all know how to make bread, and know well how to make it too, if they had been fed on bread of their mother’s and their own making.

87. How serious a matter, then, is this, even in this point of view! A servant that cannot make bread is not entitled to the same wages as one that can. If she can neither bake nor brew; if she be ignorant of the nature of flour, yeast, malt, and hops, what is she good for? If she understand these matters well; if she be able to supply her employer with bread and with beer, she is really valuable; she is entitled to good wages, and to consideration and respect into the bargain; but if she be wholly deficient in these particulars, and can merely dawdle about with a bucket and a broom, she can be of very little consequence; to lose her, is merely to lose a consumer of food, and she can expect very little in- deed in the way of desire to make her life easy and pleasant. Why should any one have such desire? She is not a child of the family. She is not a relation. Any one as well as she can take in a loaf from the baker, or a barrel of beer from the brewer. She has nothing whereby to bind her employer to her. To sweep a room any thing is capable of that has got two hands. In short, she has no useful skill, no useful ability; she is an ordinary drudge, and she is treated accordingly.

88. But, if such be her state in the house of an employer, what is her state in the house of a husband? The lover is blind; but the husband has eyes to see with. He soon discovers that there is something wanted besides dimples and cherry cheeks; and I would have fathers seriously reflect, and to be well assured, that the way to make their daughters to be long admired, beloved and respected by their husbands, is to make them skilful, able and active in the most necessary concerns of a family. Eating and drinking come three times every day; the preparations for these, and all the ministry necessary to them, belong to the wife; and I hold it to be impossible, that at the end of two years, a really ignorant, sluttish wife should possess any thing worthy of the name of love from her husband. This, therefore, is a matter of far greater moment to the father of a family, than, whether the Parson of the parish, or the Methodist Priest, be the most “Evangelical” of the two; for it is here a question of the daughter’s happiness or misery for life. And I have no hesitation to say, that if I were a labouring man, I should prefer teaching my daughters to bake, brew, milk, make butter and cheese, to teaching them to read the Bible till they had got every word of it by heart; and I should think, too, nay I should know, that I was in the former case doing my duty towards God as well as towards my children.

89. When we see a family of dirty, ragged little creatures, let us inquire into the cause; and ninety-nine times out of every hundred we shall find that the parents themselves have been brought up in the same way. But a consideration which ought of itself to be sufficient, is the contempt in which a husband will naturally hold a wife that is ignorant of the matters necessary to the conducting of a family. A woman who understands all the things above mentioned, is really a skilful person; a person worthy of respect, and that will be treated with respect too, by all but brutish employers or brutish husbands; and such, though sometimes, are not very frequently found. Besides, if natural justice and our own interest had not the weight which they have, such valuable persons will be treated with respect. They know their own worth; and, accordingly, they are no more careful of their character, more careful not to lessen by misconduct the value which they possess from their skill and ability.

90. Thus, then, the interest of the labourer; his health; the health of his family; the peace and happiness of his home; the prospects of his children through life; their skill, their ability, their habits of cleanliness, and even their moral deportment; all combine to press upon him the adoption and the constant practice of this branch of domestic economy. “Can she bake?” is the question that I always put. If she can, she is worth a pound or two a year more. Is that nothing’? Is it nothing for a labouring man to make his four or five daughters worth eight or ten pounds a year more; and that too while he is by the same means providing the more plentifully for himself and the rest of his family? The reasons on the side of the thing that I contend for are endless; but if this one motive be not sufficient, I am sure, all that I have said, and all that I could say, must be wholly unavailing.

91. Before, however, I dismiss this subject, let me say a word or two to those persons who do not come under the denomination of labourers. In London, or in any very large town where the space is so confined, and where the proper fuel is not handily to be come at and stored for use, to bake your own bread may be attended with too much difficulty; but in all other situations there appears to me to be hardly any excuse for not baking bread at home. If the family consist of twelve or fourteen persons, the money actually saved in this way (even at present prices) would be little short of from twenty to thirty pounds a year. At the utmost here is only the time of one woman occupied one day in the week. Now mind, here are twenty-five pounds to be employed in some way different from that of giving it to the baker. If you add five of these pounds to a woman’s wages, is not that full as well employed as giving it in wages to the baker’s men? Is it not better employed for you? and is it not better employed for the community? It is very certain, that if the practice were as prevalent as I could wish, there would be a large deduction from the regular baking population; but would there be any harm if less alum were imported into England, and if some of those youths were left at the plough, who are now bound in apprenticeships to learn the art and mystery of doing that which every girl in the kingdom ought to be taught to do by her mother? It ought to be a maxim with every master and every mistress, never to employ another to do that which can be done as well by their own servants. The more of their money that is retained in the hands of their own people, the better it is for them altogether. Besides, a man of a right mind must be pleased with the reflection, that there is a great mass of skill and ability under his own roof. He feels stronger and more independent on this ac- count, all pecuniary advantage out of the question. It is impossible to conceive any thing more contemptible than a crowd of men and women living together in a house, and constantly looking out of it for people to bring them food and drink, and to fetch* their garments to and fro. Such a crowd resemble a nest of unfledged birds, absolutely dependent for their very existence on the activity and success of the old ones.

92. Yet, on men go, from year to year, in this state of wretched dependence, even when they have all the means of living within themselves, which is certainly the happiest state of life that any one can enjoy. It may be asked, Where is the mill to be found? where is the wheat to be got? The answer is, Where is there not a mill? where is there not. a market? They are every where, and the difficulty is to discover what can be the particular attractions contained in that long and luminous manuscript, a baker’s half-yearly bill.

93. With regard to the mill, in speaking of families of any considerable number of persons, the mill has, with me, been more than once a subject of observation in print. I for a good while experienced the great inconvenience and expense of sending my wheat and other grain to be ground at a mill, This expense, in case of a considerable family, living at only a mile from a mill, is something; but the inconveniency and uncertainty are great. In my “Year’s Residence in America,” from Paragraphs 1031 and onwards, I give an account of a horse-mill which I had in my farm yard; and I showed, I think very clearly, that corn could be ground cheaper in this way than by wind or water, and that it would answer well to grind for sale in this way as well as for home use. Since my return to England I have seen a mill, erected in consequence of what the owner had read in my book. This mill belongs to a small farmer, who, when he cannot work on his land with his horses, or in the season when he has little for them to do, grinds wheat, sells the flour; and he takes in grists to grind, as other millers do. This mill goes with three small horses; but what I would recommend to gentlemen with considerable families, or to farmers, is a mill such as I myself have at present.

94.  With this mill, turned by a man and a stout boy, I can grind six bushels of wheat in a day and dress the flour. The grinding of six bushels of wheat at ninepence a bushel comes to four and sixpence, which pays the man and the boy, supposing them (which is not and seldom can be the case) to be hired for the express purpose out of the street. With the same mill you grind meat for your pigs; and of this you will get eight or ten bushels ground in a day. You have no trouble about sending to the mill; you are sure to have your own wheat; for strange as it may seem, I used sometimes to find that I sent white Essex wheat to the mill, and that it brought me flour from very coarse red wheat. There is no accounting for this, except by supposing that wind and water power has something in it to change the very nature of the grain; as, when I came to grind by.horses, such as the wheat went into the hopper, so the flour came out into the bin.

95. But mine now is only on the petty scale of providing for a dozen of persons and a small lot of pigs. For a farm-house, or a gentleman’s house in the country, where there would be room to have a walk for a horse, you might take the labour from the men, clap any little horse, pony, or even ass to the wheel; and he would grind you off eight or ten bushels of wheat in a day, and both he and you would have the thanks of your men into the bargain.

96. The cost of this mill is twenty pounds. The dresser is four more; the horse-path and wheel might, possibly, be four or five more; and, I am very certain, that to any farmer living at a mile from a mill, (and that is less than the average distance perhaps;) having twelve persons in family, having forty pigs to feed, and twenty hogs to fatten, the savings of such a mill would pay the whole expenses of it the very first year. Such a farmer cannot send less than fifty times a year to the mill. Think of that, in the first place! The elements are not always propitious: sometimes the water fails, and sometimes the wind. Many a farmer’s wife has been tempted to vent -her spleen on both. At best, there must be horse and man, or boy, and, perhaps, cart, to go to the mill; and that, too, observe, in all weathers, and in the harvest as well as at other times of the year. The case is one of imperious necessity: neither floods nor droughts, nor storms nor calms, will allay the craving’s of the kitchen, nor quiet the clamorous uproar of the stye. Go, somebody must, to some place or other, and back they.must come with flour and with meal. One summer many persons came down the country more than fifty miles to a mill that I knew in Pennsylvania; and I have known farmers in England carry their grists more than fifteen miles to be ground. It is surprising, that, under these circumstances, hand-mills and horse-mills should not, long ago, have become of more general use; especially when one considers that the labour, in this case, would cost the farmer next to nothing. To grind would be the work of a wet day. There is no farmer who does not at least fifty days in every year exclaim, when he gets up in the morning, “What shall I set them at today?” If he had a mill, he would make them pull off their shoes, sweep all out clean, winnow up some corn, if he had it not already done, and grind and dress, and have every thing in order. No scolding within doors about the grist; no squeaking in the stye; no boy sent off in the rain to the mill.

97. But there is one advantage which I have not yet mentioned, and which is the greatest of all; namely, that you would have the power of supplying your married labourers; your blacksmith’s men sometimes; your wheelwright’s men at other times; and, indeed, the greater part of the persons that you employed, with good flour, instead of their going to purchase their flour, after it had passed through the hands of a Corn Merchant, a Miller, a Flour Merchant, and a Huckster, every one of whom does and must have a profit out of the flour, arising from wheat frown upon, and sent away from, your very farm! used to let all my people have flour at the same price that they would otherwise have been compelled to give for worse flour. Every Farmer will understand me when I say, that he ought to pay for nothing in money, which he can pay for in any thing but money. His maxim is to keep the money that he takes as long as he can. Now here is a most effectual way of putting that maxim in practice to a, very great extent. Farmers know well that it is the Saturday night which empties their pockets; and here is the means of cutting off a good half of the Saturday night. The men have better flour for the same money, and still the farmer keeps at home those profits which would go to the maintaining of the dealers in wheat and in flour.

98. The maker of my little mill is Mr. HILL, of Oxford-street. The expense is what I have stated it to be. I, with my small establishment, find the thing convenient and advantageous; what then must it be to a gentleman in the country who has room and horses, and a considerable family to provide for? The dresser is so contrived as to give you at once, meal, of four degrees of fineness;. so that, for certain purposes, you may take the very finest; and, in- deed, you may have your flour, and your bread of course, of what degree of fineness you please. But there is also a steel mill, much, less expensive, requiring less labour, and yet quite sufficient for a family. Mills of this sort, very good, and at a reasonable price, are to be had of Mr. PARKES, in Fen- church-street, London. These are very complete things of their kind. Mr. PARKES has, also, excellent Malt-Mills.

99. In concluding this part of my Treatise, I cannot help expressing my hope of being instrumental in inducing a part of the labourers, at any rate, to bake their own bread; and, above all things, to abandon the use of “Ireland’s lazy root.” Nevertheless, so extensive is the erroneous opinion relative to this villanous root, that I really began to despair of checking its cultivation and use, till I saw the declaration which Mr. WAKEFIELD had the good sense and the spirit to make before the “AGRICULTURAL COMMITTEE.” Be it observed, too, that Mr. WAKEFIELD had himself made a survey of the state of Ireland. What he saw there did not encourage him, doubtless, to be an advocate for the growing of this root of wretchedness. It is an undeniable fact, that, in the proportion that this root is in use, as a substitute for bread, the people are wretched; the reasons for which I have explained and enforced a hundred times over. Mr. WILLIAM HANNING told the Committee that the labourers in his part of Somersetshire were “almost wholly supplied with potatoes, breakfast and dinner, brought them in the fields, and nothing but potatoes; and that they used, in better times to get a certain portion of bacon and cheese, which, on account of their “poverty, they do not eat now.” It is impossible that men can be contented in such a state of things: it is unjust to desire them to be contented: it is a state of misery and degradation to which no part of any community can have any show of right to reduce another part: men so degraded have no protection; and it is a disgrace to form part of a community to which they belong. This degradation has been occasioned by a silent change in the value of the money of the country. This has purloined the wages of the labourer; it has reduced him by degrees to house with the spider and the bat, and to feed with the pig. It has changed the habits, and, in a great measure, the character of the people. The sins of this system are enormous and undescribable; but, thank God they seem to be approaching to their end! Money is resuming its value, labour is recovering its price: let us hope that the wretched potatoe is disappearing, and that we.shall, once more, see the knife in the labourer’s hand and the loaf upon his board.

[This was written in 1821. Now (1823) we have had the experience of 1822, when, for the first time, the world saw a considerable part of a people, plunged into all the horrors of famine, at a moment when the government of that nation declared food to be abundant! Yes, the year 1822 saw Ireland in this state $ saw the people of whole parishes receiving the extreme unction preparatory to yielding up their breath for want of food; and this while large exports of meat and flour were taking place in that country! But horrible as this was, disgraceful as it was to the name of Ireland, it was attended with this good effect: it brought out, from many members of Parliament (in their places,) and from the public in general, the acknowledgment, that the misery and degradation of the Irish were chiefly owing to the use of the potatoe as the almost sole food of the people.']

100. In my next number I shall treat of the keeping of cows. I have said that I will teach the cottager how to keep a cow all the year round upon the produce of a quarter of an acre, or, in other words, forty rods, of land; and, in my next, I will make good my promise.

About these ads

One Response to Making Bread

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s