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one: it was, that while the rich were en- / found not only unpalatable, but unwholejoying other luxuries, they should dimi- some. If the fact were so, it was a most nish their consumption of bread in order material object; because, from the very that more of that necessary article of food high price of all the other articles of life, should be left for the use of the poor, who many of the labouring poor were forced were not able to procure other articles of to live chiefly on bread. The only refood. The hon. gentleman seemed to medy he saw, was to adopt the bill which think that the association would be inef- had been brought in, to increase the wages fectual, and one of his reasons was, that of labourers. Persons who were in more it was an unusual thing. That, in his affluent situations would be enabled to opinion, was the principal recommenda- use other articles, which would diminish tion of the measure. It was a question the unwholesome effects of mixed bread, upon which the whole House would, he and bread of inferior quality; but men in was convinced, be unanimous. He cer- that low state to which he had alluded, tainly thought, even if other measures would not have it in their power to have should be necessary, that the House recourse to any such means, unless the ought to adopt the present proposition. bill were passed for increasing their It would be recollected that a prejudice wages. With respect to the association prevailed in the minds of the people proposed, he should object to it in its against compulsatory measures. A strong present form, not that he did not wish dislike had existed against any other than the object for which it was proposed to the usual bread: that dislike he was be obtained, but because he was afraid to happy to state, was in many places re- set a bad precedent. If members were moved, and the people in those places once called upon in that kind of way to ate and relished bread not made wholly subscribe to a particular association, it of wheat. Did gentlemen recollect that might be extended to others of a different a compulsatory measure would render an nature. He had no objection to the act of parliament necessary ? that that House coming to a resolution to recomact could not be passed in less than four mend such an association, and that every or five weeks, and that the delay of one member in his individual capacity should week was the delay of a fifty second part recommend and enforce it by example, of the question? As soon as this associa- in the place where he lived; and he certion became known in the country, it tainly would do it. He could not, how. would, he had no doubt, be universal ; ever, for one moment consent to sign and he was decidedly of opinion, that the the association, as at present proposed. legislative example would be more effica- ! Mr. Wilberforce said, he had no doubt cious than the legislative authority of but that there might be a species of bread, parliament.
composed of certain mixtures, which Mr. Curwen thought that the resolu- would be equally nutritive with that at tions would fall short of the end proposed. present in use, because it was proved by He wished the people to be earnestly experience; it was well known, that in exhorted to use bread made of mixed ma- many parts of the country, the poorer terials, and to observe a strict economy sort of people used bread composed, in a in the use of four.
great degree, if not entirely, of rye, which Alderman Newnham wished something was not considered as unwholesome. might be done to prevent the combina- With respect to the hon. gentleman's obtions of millers, which tended to raise the servation upon the propriety of raising price of grain.
the wages of labourers, he did not think Mr. East strongly recommended mem- it applied ; because, if the present mea. bers to be unanimous in supporting the sure was adopted, they would have bread present engagement.
cheap in proportion to their means. Mr. Sheridan said, there was one point The present occasion called for some efwhich would give him much satisfaction fectual measure, and the one proposed to hear, namely, that the proposed substi- appeared to him more likely to effect the tutes for the bread at present in use, object; it would also have the good efwould prove equally nutritive. He was fect of showing the people at large, that afraid that was not the case, He had parliament lost no time in doing every been informed that in many instances, in thing in its power to relieve the distresses which they had attempted to make up of the people. bread of different mixtures, it had been Mr. Hussey said, that he should intro(VOL. XXXII.]
duce some regulations in his own family | liged to begin on the crop of that year with regard to the consumption of bread. soon after it was harvested.
This enHe would take an account of the con- croachment on the new crop helped to sumption of bread, and would endeavour occasion the stock of wheat to be still to lessen it by a third. He would re- more exhausted at the end of the last very commend that potatoes might be used in- backward harvest of 1795; so much, that, stead of bread, but he thought that pota- notwithstanding the opinion of some, that toes should be used as potatoes, not by considerable quantities of wheat were mixing them with four to make bread. hoarded, he was disposed to believe, if the He thought also that rice should be made whole quantity could have been equalized use of instead of pastry. If compulsion throughout Great Britain, we had scarcely was at all to be used, he would submit the at that time a fortnight's supply of Bripropriety of using stale bread instead of tish wheat. The crop in 1794 was parfresh; for which purpose baking mighttially very good, and in some parts very be allowed only three days in the week, thin ; the last crop has been unequal, and and then every person who eat bread, on the whole, probably inferior to that of would be compelled to make use of some the preceding year, and also inferior to an that was stale, and this was the highest average crop. An average, or common species of compulsion he could bring crop, is rot equal to the usual annual conhimself to consent to with regard to bread. sumption of the country: an abundant
Mr. Martin agreed to the proposition harvest occasionally, more than supplies us; before the House, and declared his rea- but our imports prove a general deficiency, diness to come to any measure that might for on an average of the last twelve years, relieve the poor by any law that could
be we have imported about 225,000 quarters devised, because he thought it was hard, of wheat and flour. It is almost imposindeed, that a labouring man could not sible to acquire a precise knowledge of live by the fruits of his labour alone, our present stock of wheat. An unequal without being compelled to apply to the crop last harvest gave rise to various opicharity of the rich.
nions; and the variation, in respect to Lord Sheffield said, he could hardly the deficiency, is from a third to a seventh; conceive that those gentlemen who ob- but if we allow a deficiency of six weeks, jected to the proposition before the House, or an eighth and two-thirds in the last crop, were sensible of the necessity of adopting of our supposed annual consumption, and every measure that could promote a di- a deficiency of six weeks more, on acminution of the consumption of wheaten count of our beginning upon the last crop flour. He assured the House that the at- six weeks at least sooner than usual, three tention of the committee had been unre- months deficiency in the whole could not mitted, and that there was more difficulty be thought exaggerated, amounting to in obviating by law the distress which one million and a balf of quarters. If might arise from a deficiency of corn, six weeks deficiency should be thouglt than probably occurred to those who had too little, and six weeks premature connot attended the committee. He thought sumption too much, still on the whole, it a duty to state the probable deficiency there is good ground to state there will be of crop, and the inadequate quantity of a deficiency of three months. The opiwheaten Aour we are likely to acquire nions that the scarcity is in a degree arfrom abroad. The people should not be tificial, and that there is a prospect of an encouraged to believe that there was a adequate supply, may be essentially misstock of wheat in the country previous to chievous, and divert us from thai ecothe late harvest; that the last crop of nomy and management which can alone wheat was a good one, and that a large prevent extreme distress. The legislaquantity of wheat might be obtained by ture, to show its readiness to adopt every importation. Such notions had been sug- measure that might possibly obtain any gested, at least without doors ; they were quantity of that grain which is the favourlikely to promote unnecessary consump- ite food of the people, had offered great tion, and to check the disposition to use bounties, with a view of encouraging the substitutes. We have generally three, importation of it; but he thought we four, or five months stock in hand of old could not be too explicit in declaring the wheat at the time of harvest ; but it is probable deficiency in the stock of wheat, known, that in the autumn of 1794, it was and the impossibility of obtaining from ncarly exhausted, and that we were ob- abroad an adequate supply. Instead of three months supply of wheat, it is not a considerable degree adopted. In some probable we shall be able to obtain from districts, the people had entirely returned foreign countries, with all our bounties, to barley and oaten bread ; it is, there, sufficient for three weeks of our usual fore, reasonable to suppose, there will be consumption. We have never been able, a saving of one-third, except in great during a century, to import into this towns and their neighbourhood. In those country 500,000 quarters, except twice, towns where an equal saving cannot be and the greatest quantity in one year was expected, the quantity of wheat likely 560,000 quarters, and both happened at to be imported, though not very considera period of general peace. The admi- able, when added to the rye, Indian corn, nistration of France had engaged deeply and rice, with what can be spared by sav. in the purchase of wheat. His majesty's ing one-third in the country, may in the ministers, apprehensive that the British whole make up the deficiency of onemerchants would not be able to meet the fourth of the consumption. There was national
purse of France at the foreign much more reason to apprehend that the market, thought it necessary to cause some people might be flattered into the idea purchases of corn to be made ; but not that management was not necessary, than withstanding all their efforts, the total im- that a true state of our situation should portation of the twelve months is not likely continue to keep up the present uncon. to exceed 300,000 quarters; not more scionable price of corn, the scarcity of than fifteen or sixteen days consumption which was not the only excuse of that of this country. It is highly incumbent price; but it can hardly be doubted, that to make these statements fairly to the the laws which are now passing to prohipublic; although they may alarm at first, bit any articles of food from being conthat alarm will cease when we consider verted to other uses, and the almost genethat we have a most abundant crop of ral use of potatoes, with many other exoats, barley, and potatoes, and thereby pedients, will so much lessen the demand ample means of making up the deficiency for wheat, that the price must necessarily of the wheat crop. It cannot be consi- fall. At all events, every exertion should dered as an insufferable calamity, if we be used, that can possibly provide cheaper should be obliged to make up one-fourth food for the people ; and it will be fortuof our usual consumption on an exigency, nate if the present scarcity should turn by such substitutes, or by such whole- the attention of the legislature to some some or palatable mixtures. Barley and great measure which may prevent in fuoaten bread were, not many years ago, ture a precarious dependance on foreign the food of nearly half of this island ; and countries for our subsistence, and such in very good times, they are very whole- a famine as must of course have ensued, some, and have been found sufficiently. if the crop, of other corn and potatoes nutritive for the most laborious part of had, through a bad season or bad harvest, the community. If it should be thought been as defective as the crop of wheat. that we have not enough of those articles The resolution was agreed to: as was to make up a fourth of our usual a resolution stating, “That the persons sumption, a bounty might be offered to subscribing this Engagement do also en encourage the importation. He had no gage to recommend the same, in the most idea of any limitation of expense, to se- earnest manner, to be adopted in their cure sufficient food for the people. That respective neighbourhoods." It was then a bounty would be of service, is, however, ordered, “ That a committee be appointmuch to be doubted. The good sense of ed to draw up an Agreement pursuant to the country, when satisfied of its real the said Resolutions; which agreement state in respect to the stock of wheat, and shall be left in the office of the clerk of its resources, will turn to the only ma- the Journals of this House, in order that nagement which can obviate the distress the same may be signed by such of the which must otherwise take place before members of this House as choose to sign the next harvest. The greatest difficulty the same, or to give some other member, in respect to substitutes or mixtures, or the clerk of the Journals, authority to occurs in large cities or towns ; but even sign the same in his name.” and a there, the high price of corn will produce committee was immediately appointed. good management and great saving. Shortly after, Mr. Ryder reported that the There are few parts in the country where Committee had come to the followingsubstitutes for wheaten flour were not in
The Resolution and Agreement was AGREEMENT.
communicated to the Lords, who, after a “We, the undersigned, impressed with short conversation, agreed thereto. a sense of the evils which may be experienced by his majesty's subjects, in conse. Dec. 16. On the motion, that the Bill quence of the deficient supply of wheat, to permit Bakers to make certain sorts of unless timely and effectual measures are
Bread be ingrossed, taken to reduce the consumption thereof, Mr. Francis said, that the motion gave within such limits as may prevent the him an opportunity, without irregularity, pressure of actual scarcity previous to the of submitting to the House his opinion on next harvest, and may secure, as far as the general subject of the measures repossible, the necessary subsistence of the commended by the committee, and of people of this kingdom, until it shall comparing them with the urgency of the please Divine Providence to restore the case, as stated by the reports. With blessing of general plenty; do hereby, respect to the agreement, which the comjointly and severally, pledge ourselves, in mittee had brought forward for the adopthe most solemn manner, to execute and tion and signature of the members of maintain, to the utmost of our power, the both Houses of Parliament, he very much following Resolutions; and also most doubted whether he ought to put his earnestly to recommend the same to be name to it in that form, as a member of adopted in our respective neighbourhoods: the House of Commons. The resolution
“We will reduce the consumption of of a majority of that House to sign an wheat in our families, by at least one- agreement, the tendency of which was third of the usual quantity consumed in laudable, and the object likely to be poordinary times. In order to effect this pular, did not leave individuals at perfect reduction, either we will limit to that ex. liberty to refuse their signature, though tent the quantity of fine wheaten bread in their judgment they might see sufficient used by each individual in our families ; reasons for doing so. He, who cannot or we will consume therein only mixed fairly and openly act up-to his opinion, bread, of which not nore than two-thirds without being personally marked and inshall be made of wheat, or we will con- curring the risk of an invidious comparison sume only a proportional quantity of and popular odium, is not free to delimixed bread, of which more than two- berate or safe in his decision. I know not thirds is made of wheat; or a proportional to what purposes such a precedent may quantity of bread made of wheat alone, possibly be applied hereafter ; but I know from which no more than five pounds that it is not a parliamentary proceeding, weight of bran per bushel is excluded: and that dangerous precedents are always and we will also (if it shall be necessary established under favourable circumfor the purpose of this engagement) pro stances. But though I have serious doubts hibit in our families the use of wheaten about the propriety of signing the agreeflour in pastry, and diminish, as much as ment here, I have no doubt at all of conpossible, the use thereof in other articles tributing my assistance to promote the than bread.
general object of it to the utmost of my “ By some one or more of these mea- power, in the little circle in which my insures, or by any other which may be Huence and example can be supposed to found equally effectual, and more expe- operate. No man can be more convinced dient and practicable, in our respective of the urgency of the case, nor more serisituations, we will, to the utmost of our ously apprehensive of the distressing power, ensure
he reduction above-men- consequences which may follow, if meationed, of at least one-third of the quanti- sures, immediate and effectual, are not ty of wheat usually consumed in our fami- taken to restrain the consumption of lies in ordinary times.
wheat within such limits, as may produce “ This engagement shall remain in a general and a material saving in that force until fourteen days after the com- article. Unless it be general, it cannot mencement of the next session of parlia- be material. My opinion on this subment, unless the average price of wheat ject, is founded on some experience and in the whole kingdom shall be reduced, observation, which, in such a case, perbefore that time, to 83. per Winchesier haps is better than speculation. I do not bushel: and we do earnestly recommend pretend to carry it beyond what I have to our fellow subjects to adopt and strictly had an opportuuity of observing in Lon. to adhere to the same."
don and its neighbourhood. That space, than at any other equal period. Why? however, supposing it to extend no farther because the bread was ill made and unthan to a circle of a dozen miles round pleasant, and for that reason wasted. the centre of the metropolis, includes a None but the best bread is fairly eaten in very considerable part of the whole popu- families, where the servants and other lation of the kingdom; and by that popu. inmates are numerous. What they do lation, the consumption of wheat far ex- not like, they throw away. Now, observe ceeds the quantity consumed by equal what passed out of doors. We made a numbers in any other part of the country: contribution for the relief of the poor in Of the success and effect of the proposed bread and meat. The numbers relieved agreement in the distant counties, and were considerable, and in general they how far the example set by the nobility were very well satisfied. But did they and gentry, in confining themselves to follow our example? Did they eat the bread of an inferior quality, will operate same household bread that we did? No there, and be followed by the other classes such thing. In spite of all our remonof the people, I do not take upon me to strances, the poor in my neighbourhood, judge. Such examples are probably more (and I have no doubt that it was pretty respected in the country than they are much the same in all the populous villages here. In London and its neighbourhood, round us), would eat nothing but the I am very much afraid it will have no con- finest and whitest wheaten bread. If one siderable effect, or not a beneficial one. baker refused to supply them with it, they In the course of last summer, an agree went to another. In the end, the bakers, ment of this kind was made, and a similar though they gained by it, assured us, that example given by some of the privy coun- by our contributions we were defeating cil, and other persons of great name and our own purpose; for that in fact they authority, and followed, or attempted to be had never, in any equal period, sold so followed, by many others, and by myself much white bread to the poor, as while among the rest, in niy own family, and in we were eating a coarser sort ourselves, the parish where I live, a few miles from and doing every thing we could to lessen town. What was the consequence? In the consumption of wheat. Sir, they who the first place, it was with great difficulty, have never tried the experiment, will not and after a considerable delay, that we not readily believe how difficult and unacould obtain from the bakers, a supply of vailing it is, for any man with the best inthe sort of bread recommended by the tentions for the public service, but, withagreement. They said, it was not their out power, to act with unwilling instrufault, for that the millers, to whom they ments, to contend with unwilling millers, are a good deal in subjection, would not unwilling bakers, unwilling servants, and furnish them with meal of the quality above all, with an unwilling poor. Do required. At last we got it, heavy and ill what you may to serve them, the latter made, perhaps for want of use, and still very seldom give you credit for your true more, I suspect for want of inclination. I motives. They always suspect, or preNothing is well done, if it be done against tend to suspect, that you do not act as the grain. This bread, however, I per- you say, that in fact you eat better bread sisted to eat for several weeks: with this than you recommend to them; nor will: hope at least that, as far as the uses of they believe the contrary, until they know my own family went, there would be a | that you can get no other. For all these saving in the consumption of wheat. The difficulties, I am convinced there is but consequence is worth your attention. one effectual remedy. To compass your Persons of great rank and fortune, whose object, there is but one course ; and if situation does not permit or oblige them to the object be as important as it is stated, look into the details of domestic economy, and as I believe it to be, that course must canno: be so well informed on this sub- be adopted and pursued as speedily as ject as I am. Upon inquiry I found that, possible, and at all events. It is to pass although there was a trilling saving in the a law, by which millers shall be compelled price of the quartern loaf (not more than to furnish the bakers with meal of a cera halfpenny) that saving bore no propor- tain prescribed quality and no other; and tion to the excess in the quantity con- the bakers not to inake any bread in sumed. I found that, in this period of which the proportion of wheaten flour economy, there had been more bread shall exceed two-thirds of the whole consumed or destroyed in my house, weight. For my own part, I believe, that