[Image of page 1]
IN the year 1831, I published a short Treatise on Sheep and the means of Improving the Growth of Wool, more especially addressed to the flockmasters of Australia and Tasmania. The favourable reception given to that essay induced me to continue my researches, and in 1840 I again ventured to appear in print, when, enlarging my plan, I offered to the same parties, and to British settlers in South Africa (whose success in this branch of industry I early anticipated), such further remarks on the management of sheep as my experience enabled me to suggest, accompanied by a few particulars regarding the flocks of India and the Angora goat.
My object was to encourage our Colonial flock-owners to make further exertions in the improvement of their fleeces, and I was glad to find that my humble endeavours were duly appreciated by many, more immediately interested, from several of whom I afterwards received marks both of approbation and confidence. The advances in the growth of wool since made in the Australian Colonies, as well as in our African and Indian territories, have been so rapidly progressive and really astonishing, that a complete change has taken place in the supplies of this raw material, so essentially necessary to sustain our national manufactures; while, at the same time, those distant settlements, to which we are now indebted for improved sheep's wool, and whose value as consumers we are only beginning to appreciate, through the aid of steam navigation will ere long be brought nearer to us. 1 It has been satisfactorily proved that our Austra-
[Image of page 2]
CHANGES IN THE SUPPLIES OF WOOL.
lian Colonies take from us in merchandise, and other productions of British industry, more than double the quantity per head furnished to other countries with which we are commercially connected, and in proportion to their prosperity do their wants increase.
As the experience of years has taught us, woollens constitute an article of general and increasing demand both at home and abroad; and that demand must extend in the same ratio as the population, wealth, and luxury do in those countries where they are consumed. The raw material from which they are made is thus likely to become an element of greater importance than that which it has already attained, and hence the question of supply naturally comes home to the feelings of every patriotic and reflecting man; for if the manufacturing power of this country were only in one single branch destroyed, or even for a time suspended, the consequences could not fail to be disastrous, and it would besides be difficult to recover the ground lost, more especially in the external market, where competitors are constantly rising up.
Our commercial greatness comes from our industry, to support which we require raw materials mid outlets; but the records of our history tell us that events, over which we have no control, sometimes regulate the movements in trade. By sacrifices, we have been taught the value of self-reliance and mutual co-operation with our Colonies, more especially as regards the production of wool; and the important point of a steady and independent supply of this article being once gained, the advantages ought to be followed up, encouraged, and protected. This change in our supplies I shall endeavour to trace and elucidate; and when we come to reflect upon our present large importations of wool from dependencies, where only sixty years ago a single sheep did not exist, and at the same time reflect that for fine cloths we were during centuries dependent upon Spain,
[Image of page 3]
COMMERCIAL IMPORTANCE OF THESE CHANGES.
whose aid we now no longer require, it will be acknowledged that the subject proposed to be discussed in the following pages is one of no ordinary moment.
From the accession to general trade which followed this change, new interests have arisen whereby the grower, the merchant, manufacturer, and also the consumer, are benefited. In that new commercial world which our Colonists are founding, fresh sources of wealth are, besides, constantly opening upon them, not only in the shape of wool, but also in a variety of other exportable articles, all the result of enterprise, industry, and perseverance. It is curious, and at the same time cheering, to read the marine and agricultural intelligence as recorded in the Australian papers. Persons not conversant with the progress made in those remote islands, would imagine that the arrivals and departures of vessels, the erection of churches and lighthouses, 2 the construction of docks and wharves, together with the establishment of money-banks, steam-boats and revenue-cutters, accompanied by a general activity in agriculture, had reference to the movement of ports in some populous country of the Old World, rather than in Colonies situated at the extremity of the great Pacific--Colonies whose inhabitants only the other day celebrated the fifty-ninth anniversary of their foundation, at which period their numbers barely exceeded 1,000, and provided only with a few horned cattle, intended rather as provisions, if wanted, than live stock from which herds were afterwards to be derived.
Cities, towns, and villages have sprung up where, a few years ago, nothing was to be seen but dreary wastes. Roads have been opened to the interior, where agricultural and pastoral establishments are formed, from which produce is constantly arriving at the sea-ports; and yet, even now, only a very small portion of this immense territory has been reclaimed from the sway of primeval nature. Each Colonial division has an enlightened press, and sends forth vessels, laden with produce and navigated by skilful and hardy crews; while the lists of whalers belonging to some of them would almost induce a belief that this kind of maritime enterprise had been thither transferred from the mother-country.
Except perhaps the United States, no other part of the globe presents such a picture of persevering activity and thriving industry as Australia does at this moment. South Africa also claims attention, for there a new producing power has equally been created, of which the growth of wool is
[Image of page 4]
THE UNIVERSALITY OF SHEEP.
one of the principal elements; while the mountain population of India, and the facilities of rearing sheep which our new acquisitions in that quarter afford, offer to the merchant and manufacturer resources of which they are only now beginning to avail themselves; and every year the interest felt in Indian affairs increases. The Republics of Peru, Chile and La Plata in like manner contribute to our supply, the first by sending us one description of wool which cannot be obtained elsewhere; and it should never be forgotten that the mutual exchange of commodities between the mother-country and her Colonies, as well as between nation and nation, is the best guarantee to confidence and intercourse--the real basis of good feeling and trade. The United States of America also supply us with sheep's wool, and the quantity seems to increase every year; at the same time that a new interest has been created by the introduction of Angora goats' wool into our manufactures--the produce of a race of animals which, at no distant period, will probably become companions to our sheep in the Colonies, as well as ornamental inmates of our parks in England.
With this feeling and with these views, I entered upon my present task; and in presenting to the reader the following results, I indulge the pleasing expectation that my former anticipations will be further confirmed as regards the development of Colonial wools, and that even now, in the present advanced state of our supply, some useful hints and suggestions remain for me to offer, which may stimulate the distant grower to renewed efforts in the management of his sheep, whereby he would not only benefit himself, but also give a further impulse to general commerce, and afford additional employment to the working classes at home.
No animal bestowed upon us by a provident and bountiful Creator varies so much as the sheep, or so speedily adapts itself to the diversities of climate and pasturage. It seems specially destined to be the companion of man, thriving in almost every region where he has been able to fix his abode. Hence we find sheep spread over a large portion of Europe, Asia and Africa; and from the Northern to the Southern extremities of America contributing food and raiment. Having found a home within a wide range of temperature, at every change sheep are impressed with some peculiarity, yet flourishing, with good pasture, wherever the extremes of heat and cold are not intolerable.
The ancients were, therefore, wrong in supposing that these useful animals were adapted only for wine countries; but although they thrive under a variety of climates, they prefer a temperate one, and in such arrive at a state of the greatest perfection. Flocks of sheep are pastured on the Cordillera slopes, at an elevation of from 2,000 to 10,000 feet above the level of the sea. In like manner are they reared upon the
[Image of page 5]
IMPROVEMENTS IN MANUFACTURING MACHINERY.
uplands of Africa and India, and with astonishing success among the islands with which the further confines of the Pacific are studded.
Impressed at an early period with the growing importance of Colonial wools, and clearly perceiving that fine-woolled sheep, bred in our remote settlements, would prosper and ultimately supersede the necessity of seeking a supply from Continental flocks, in my commercial letters, addressed to our Colonies, I from time to time pointed out to the farmers the prospect beaming upon them, and urged the advantages which they would derive by expelling from their stock all sheep yielding inferior fleeces, --an operation which, as experience afterwards proved, could easily he carried into effect without any material loss.
In again offering to the public my opinions upon this subject, but, at the same time, stripping them of minor details, as not affecting general results, it is my duty to premise that, besides the documents which my own avocations enabled me to collect, and independently of inquiries instituted in the most respectable and best-informed quarters, I have consulted the works of various authentic writers on flocks reared abroad, whose sentiments I shall hereafter have occasion to quote in support of my own.
I also feel bound to add that, in treating that part of my work which relates to South America, I was ably assisted by friends well acquainted with the three wool-growing sections of that continent, who kindly opened to me their note-books, or allowed me the benefit of their own correspondence. Conscious of my own inability to perform this task in an adequate manner, gladly should I have seen some one else precede me; but it has often been acknowledged that a work of this kind was desirable, and hence I did not shrink from the undertaking, hoping, at the same time, that my example may stimulate some abler person further to investigate this hitherto neglected branch of our Colonial commerce.
Our annual consumption of sheep's wool is now immense, which may, in great measure, be attributed to improvements in the machinery by which it is spun and wove. This is, therefore, an important advance in the manufacturing process, by means of which the extent of manual labour is materially abridged, and on this account I ought not to leave it unnoticed. Truly may it be said that we are living in the great era of invention, and at a period when the application of science to manufactures is in full operation. Practical remarks upon the progress of machinery, in reference to the spinning and wearing of sheep's wool, do not often meet the public eye, and hence I am induced to assign a small space to the accompanying paper, purposely constructed and furnished to me by a most intelligent, experienced, and respectable friend in Leeds, trusting
[Image of page 6]
TASTE AND SCIENCE RENDERED AVAILABLE.
that the importance of tho consideration by which I am guided will fully justify me in appropriating a few pages to a review of the means by which the process of manufacturing woollens is accelerated, and consequently cheapened.
"While yet the manufactures of this country were but feebly aided by the inventions of science, every fabric of the woollen trade was comparatively plain and substantial. The difference between those articles, worn by the wealthy and the poorer classes, consisted chiefly in the quality of the material of which they were composed; the structure being essentially the same. There were few of what are now termed 'Fancy Goods.' The beauty of artistic design was an element which could not in any material degree enter into either the Woollen, Cotton, or Silk manufactures, without the mechanical inventions which it was reserved for the present age to supply. There no doubt existed in man then, as now, the same inherent capabilities of taste, but it was undeveloped taste, because it had nothing to operate upon. Valuable as a taste for the beautiful in art is (and at no period was it more highly appreciated than at present, as our Arts' Unions and Schools of Design prove) yet artistic taste must have practical means placed within its reach, otherwise it can do nothing.
"In a country like England, so remarkable for its genius as well as for its industry and enterprize, an object so important was not likely to be long overlooked, or to go long unaccomplished. Scientific improvement stood comparatively still during the long period of the French war, though even then our manufactures were, in spite of it, steadily on the increase; but with the return of peace, and consequently with it a state of growing prosperity, a rage for invention burst forth, and the ornamental as well as the useful in every branch of our manufactures have, by the aid of machinery, been rapidly springing into existence. Scarcely a day now passes over our heads that does not bring with it some new invention, or some improvement on the old.
"Machinery has revolutionized all our estimates of wool. Those properties for which it was once prized, have given place to some other property upon which machinery can better operate and yield more desirable results. Wools, a few years ago unknown to our manufacturers, are occupying an important place in the ranks of our former sorts, and superseding the use of some of them. Spanish wool, for instance, once deemed so indispensable, is now little sought after. It is supplanted by our Colonial wool, which, on the other hand, is in quality and quantity steadily advancing, while Angora goat and Alpaca wools are forcing their way into, and enhancing the value of, our stuff trade.
"Machinery has marshalled before its tremendous power the wool of every country, from the torrid to the frigid zone; and as the skilful chemist would take the unrefined ore into his crucible, and separate the precious particles from the dross, so has machinery, applied to wool, selected for its various purposes that which is most valuable and best adapted to each. Nothing, in fact, is now rejected. Even the bur, existing in myriads in South American and some other descriptions of wool, and at one time so perplexing to the manufacturer, through the aid of machinery can be extracted without very material injury to the fibre. The carding-machine, known only within the last half century, also affords a process by means of which there is a great saving in manual labour, at the same time that it helps
[Image of page 7]
THE WORSTED-STUFF TRADE AND BRADFORD.
to multiply the products of the loom; thus producing results, which alone enable us to sustain our superiority in the market abroad.
"True, it is, that foreigners equally use manufacturing machinery. They, too, have carding-machines, and avail themselves of other corresponding inventions; but the designs and apparatus are chiefly obtained from us, and it has happened that before they got them home, and into full operation, some improvement, or some new invention, on this side of the Channel, left them far behind. The wealthy English manufacturer, on the spot, can lay his old machinery aside when he is driven to it, and take to the new; but this is not so easily done by his foreign rival.
"Few machines have undergone more improvements than the carding-machine, and many of these are now protected by patent right. The machine-maker's trade is one of the very best, for it is a free trade; and being, as one may term it, indigenous to the soil of English ingenuity, the articles produced by it are largely exported, while, in the United Kingdom alone, the quantity of machines in use is estimated to be equal in the power which it creates to that of 500,000 horses. Under these mighty changes it will be at once apparent to the flock masters of every country, interested in the commerce of Great Britain, how intimately their own interests are connected with machinery. They will, in fact, see, however remote they may be from the scene of action, that in some measure they are dependent upon it.
"In no description of manufacture, connected with the woollen trade, has machinery been more fertile in improvements, and more productive of wealth, than in what may be termed the 'worsted-stuff trade.' It was this trade which gave the first impulse to the prosperity of Bradford, its acknowledged seat and centre--a town which, within the last quarter of a century, has made an unexampled progress in population, riches and importance. Previous to the period alluded to, in Bradford there were only about three resident stuff merchants, the purchasers chiefly coming from Leeds, whereas at present there are upwards of fifty, and the number visiting its market, from other places, has not diminished, but rather increased.
"The population of Bradford, including the out-townships within a radius of a mile and a half, at the period above referred to, was only 52,954, while agreeably to the census taken in 1841 it had risen to 105,954, and at the present period may be estimated at no less than 150,000. The total number of persons formerly employed in the worsted mills was 10,400, whereas in the new era 10,000 hand-combers alone find constant occupation, notwithstanding the great number of machines doing the same kind of work. There were, at the former period, only about a dozen worsted mills, but now they are equal to eighty.
Since the first introduction of power-looms in 1816, and which were afterwards applied to woollens, as well as cottons, the number of them employed in the worsted trade of the West Riding of Yorkshire, agreeably to the official returns of Mr Saunders, the Factory Inspector, for the last ten years, stand thus:--In 1836, power looms 2,763; in 1841, 11,458; in 1843, 16,870; and in 1845, 19,121, being an increase of more than 66 per cent, within the last six years. The number at present at work, within the West Riding, may be safely taken at 21,000, and were we to refer to the cotton trade of Manchester, the results would appear still more astonishing.
"Previous to the period alluded to, that is twenty-five years ago, the worsted goods, produced in what we may call the Bradford trade, consisted chiefly of bombazets, shalloons, calamancoes, lastings (of which large quantities are still made for ladies' boots, &c.) and tammies, of which a great many were at one time
[Image of page 8]
POWER LOOMS AND FANCY TRADE OF BRADFORD.
manufactured at or in the neighbourhood of Wakefield. Now the articles in the fancy trade of Bradford may be said to be almost numberless, and display great artistic beauty. These articles, made with Alpaca, Saxony, fine English, Colonial and other wools, and latterly with goat's hair, for weft, and cotton, spun to very fine numbers, for warp, consist of merinos, Orleans, plain and figured Parisians, Paramattas, and Alpaca figures, checks, and lustres, &c. Even Royalty has lent its special and powerful patronage to some of these textures, and the nobility were not slow in following the example.
"The admixture of cotton with wool, some years back, introduced into the Bradford trade, and so largely resorted to at the present time, has created quite a new era in the 'stuff-trade.' The lightness, beauty, and variety of these fabrics, together with their very moderate cost, have no doubt greatly interfered with the cotton print-trade of Manchester; but for which, however, some compensation is made by the immense consumption of spun cotton warps, chiefly derived from that place, and in the meanwhile Manchester opens to herself other sources of employment by the invention of new goods. It should be here mentioned that there are other materials occasionally used for warps besides cotton, comprising not only the old one of sheep's wool, but also silk, Alpaca, and goat's wool, in the manufacturing districts, more commonly called mohair. The weft, or thread thrown to the surface, is always of wool, Saxony, Colonial, or English, but principally the latter, and with this variety of materials, ladies' dresses, shawls and other fancy goods are now made, but dresses chiefly, of which tens of thousands of pieces perpetually issue from the loom.
"More strongly to mark the effects of the changes which have thus ensued, it may be here stated that the old and, once-prized tammy, thin and glazed, and used for furniture and other linings, has given place to a similar article at one-fifth of the price in cotton. Years ago, a hall was built at Wakefield, called the 'Tammy Hall,' in which a market was held for the sale of that special article, but it has now become a reminiscence, and like the Ship and the Waters of Moore--'The Hall is still there, but the Tammies are gone.' This building is at the present time filled with looms, as the weaving shops of Marriott and Son. Such are the effects of machinery, and such the taste which it has moulded into form. The wool, chiefly used for the plain and heavier goods, of which I have just spoken, was the hog and wether wool of Lincolnshire and Yorkshire; but so limited was the stuff trade then, that it was no uncommon thing for the blanket maker to chop the long wool into lengths more suitable for his purpose, to him the length of staple being an objection--such a thing now a-days would be deemed the height of barbarism.
"The finest numbers of worsted yarn, at present spun, reach from 100 to 110. These numbers, in the language of the trade, denote the number of hanks to the pound weight of wool, each hank containing 560 yards in length, so that the greater the number of hanks to the pound the finer the yarn necessarily must be. If 1 lb. weight of yarn consists of 100 hanks, it would in one continuous line extend as far as 32 miles. Cotton warps are spun to still finer numbers.
"The first machine to supersede the old process of hand-combing was, as already noticed, the carding-machine, invented about forty-five years ago; but its operations were at first confined to the coarser description of yarns. Several improvements in it were afterwards made, and the carding-machine, well known by the name of the 'Big Ben,' at length became available for hosiery yarn, which so reduced the cost of
[Image of page 9]
THE COMBING-MACHINE AND ITS OPERATIONS.
that article that those who first adopted its use realized fortunes in a short time. Other improvements then followed, which adapted the carding process to finer and even to the finest yarns suitable for piece goods, and more especially became available in our competition with the beautiful and soft fabric of the French, known by the name of single and double-twilled merinos.
"Combing-machines are of later invention, and were wanted to perfect the sliver issuing from the carding-machine for very fine piece goods, by taking out the noil, which the carding-machine cannot do, and this is its greatest defect. To render this expression more intelligible, I should here remark that the noil is not the refuse of combed wool, as many persons imagine, but rather the short parts of the fleece remaining in the teeth of the comb, and lodged there in the operation of combing long wool, a separation which is now easily and most effectually performed. When the staple is tender it will not stand the teeth of the comb, in which case it breaks and goes into the noil, and the noil resulting from deep-grown English wool is generally used for blankets, but when derived from fine English or Colonial, it is appropriated to the manufacture of cloth or fine fancy goods, that is, it is set apart for general clothing purposes.
"In illustration of this subject, it may be proper further to add that the top is the sliver in its combed state, that is, the long and rounded form given to the wool when the fibres are dressed and laid parallel to each other. In this state the wool is ready for the spinner, and the same definition applies whether it is machine or hand-combed, the effects being the same, with this difference only, that the first saves time and trouble, and also prepares wool of a much shorter staple. Previous to combing, classification takes place. The wool is first sorted, that is, the shorts are taken out and the combing qualities thrown into two or three different heaps, and when this operation is completed, shorts usually sell for about the same price as noils resulting from the fleeces of which both form part. Fine wool is in preference hand-combed, and sometimes yields a noil worth 2s. or 2s. 6d. per lb., but if too short to hand-comb, the staple answers for the machine.
"The uses and value of the combing-machine will be thus better understood, and to perfect which, several inventions came forward nearly together; patents and rival patents were taken out; lawsuits arose between competitors, but improvements upon them all were yet in store. Even Mr Donisthorpe, whose combing-machine was perhaps the last, had to apply himself to the perfecting of his own invention, and after years of toil, and with an ingenuity which will make his name honourable in the annals of science, he at length, in 1844, brought out a machine (protected by patent right) so complete, and possessing so many advantages, that the trade was compelled to avail themselves of it, or be so undersold and beaten in the quality of yarns by those who did use it, as almost to involve a question of ruin.
"Messrs Wood and Walker were among the first to adopt it, and it is now very generally sold or lent out on hire. This machine will work wool of a staple so Short as 1 1/4-inch, but its chief excellence may be said to consist of its close adherence to the simple principle of hand-combing, applied to the power of machinery, which enables one factory-girl to do the work of 25 men. It has also the great advantage of producing one continuous sliver, which no hand-comber can do. This is effected by the wool or the carded sliver, as the case may be, being placed upon a circular comb at a given point, and as it revolves, it is operated upon by other combs which straighten the fibre and take out the knots, so that as the circular comb or wheel
[Image of page 10]
ADVANTAGES AND COST OF THE COMBING-MACHINE.
travels round, it combs the wool, produces and draws out the top, and the noil left in the comb it takes out by a brush, afterwards discarding it into a basket, which the girl changes when filled for others in succession. This machine also washes and oils the wool as it is fed on.
"After Mr Donisthorpe had completed his invention, he was induced to sell the patent right to S. C. Lister, Esq., of Manningham, for so large a sum, that were I to name it (which I am not at liberty to do) it would to some appear incredible, but Mr Donisthorpe reserved to himself the right of working eight of the machines for his own benefit. Mr Lister's charge for one set of three machines is 1,200l.
"There is one other machine to which I may just advert; it was invented by a Mr Preller, a foreigner, some six or seven years ago. This ingenious machine performs the double operation of carding and combing at one and the same time, and it may be purchased for 450l. the set of four: but when in operation, it requires the attendance of seven hands (girls), whereas Mr Donisthorpe's only requires one, and I am told will do three times the work.
"What I have said of machinery, and the great increase in the worsted-stuff trade, will apply, though not exactly in the same degree, to the cloth trade, and some other branches of the woollen manufacture. I have selected the Bradford trade as the most striking instance, and also because the combing properties of wool deeply concern all flock-masters. The superfine cloth trade cannot be said to keep pace with the other branches of woollen manufacture, but the solution of this may be found in the great variety of clothing articles which, though procured at a less cost, are tolerated by the upper classes of society. What other changes machinery may yet effect no one can tell, for no thinking man would be bold enough to set bounds to human ingenuity and scientific skill."
The wool-grower is to hear in mind that if there be any objection to the length of the staple, it is as regards carding, and not combing. Thus 4 or 5 inches will hand-comb, and even a greater length can be used, while for carding 3 inches are sufficient, and more than 4 objectionable. In both cases, however, the use of a long staple depends much on the quality of the wool. Donisthorpe's machine, for example, which performs the double operation of carding and combing at the same time, will work wool of only 1 1/2 inch in the staple; but if the quality is very fine, even as low as 1 1/4. This is, in fact, the great advantage of a machine of this kind over the old process of hand-combing.
It is also to be understood that there are three modes of preparing wool for spinning into worsted, and it is important that these distinctions should be noticed. First, there is the old process of hand-combing, which takes out the noil, and for this purpose the minimum length of staple should be 4 inches, or perhaps a little shorter if the wool is very fine; up to 8 or 10 inches in coarser and deeper-grown. Secondly, the process of carding by machine, which does not take out the noil, but places the fibres of the wool parallel to each other, and renders it fit for spinning into worsted. This application does very well for stocking yarns; but if
[Image of page 11]
PREPARING WOOL AND ITS MIXTURES WITH COTTON.
intended for piece-goods, the wool is generally combed afterwards by a machine. Thirdly, there is the combing-machine, the wool used in which, as before mentioned, is very often first carded.
Since the combing-machine came into notice, by means of which, as before explained, wool can be prepared for spinning, and a much shorter staple also applied to the manufacture of worsted, a great increase in the consumption of the raw material has taken place. The demand for worsted yarn has been further promoted by its admixture with cotton and silk, now made into fabrics of almost universal wear, and in appearance so beautiful, that a person, not familiar with manufactured goods in general, cannot easily determine the materials composing the very article which he himself sells. It is only lately that this mixture of cotton with wool, but in different threads, has been successfully accomplished. At first, great difficulty was experienced in rendering the dye uniform; for as the one is a vegetable and the other an animal substance, without some previous preparation the same dye was not strictly applicable to both, or rather did not produce exactly the same shade in the colour.
In some instances, sheep's wool is, in fact, superseding the use of cotton; and even muslins are made from it. So much has the consumption of light woollen textures increased, both at home and abroad, that our manufactures of this material have risen within the last few years to a surprising state of perfection, attended with a reduction in prices, evidently occasioned by more abundant supplies of wool, and the great assistance derived from machinery. My object, however, is not with our home consumption, the amount of which can scarcely be calculated, at least with anything like accurracy, but rather with the export trade in raw wool, woollen yarn, and woollen goods, the several amounts of which the subjoined summary returns will sufficiently demonstrate.
In order, however, to render the importance of the late change in our supplies of sheep's wool more intelligible, if not more striking, it will be proper to point to the countries upon which formerly we were dependent for the quantity required by our looms, among the foremost of which stood Spain. Without recurring to the olden times, it may suffice to say that in 1800 we continued to receive from that country at the rate of 6,062,824 lb.; but in 1809, soon after the French armies crossed the Pyrenees, Spanish merino wool sold in London for 8s. and 9s. per lb.; and at one particular moment, so infatuated were some holders, that they asked, and actually obtained, considerably beyond those prices. In 1825 our importations of wool from Spain amounted to 8,200,127 lb.; but in 1830 they declined to 1,643,515 lb., and never again rose, the
[Image of page 12]
EGYPTIAN SHEEP AND WOOL.
quantity received in 1840 not exceeding 1,020,4701 lb., independent of smaller parcels brought to us through Portugal and Gibraltar.
Towards the end of the last century, we began to import sheep's wool from Germany, the quantity of which in 1800 amounted to 412,394 lb. Till after the close of the general war, our imports from that quarter fluctuated, but in 1815 were returned at 3,137,438 lb., which by 1825 had risen to 28,799,601 lb. From that period they gradually diminished, till at last, in 1846, we were supplied with no more than 15,887,983 lb. of German wool, classed under the head of "Hanseatic Towns."
These are the principal foreign countries from which we have been in the habit of importing sheep's wool, and to a certain extent still continue to do so; the supplies derived from Russia, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, Italy and Egypt; together with small quantities from various Colonies not under our flag, being of minor consequence. From the novelty of the circumstance of Egyptian wool having within the last few years been brought here for sale, and the imports of it seemingly increasing every year, I feel myself called upon to say a word or two on this new article, the more so as I have the pleasure of being acquainted with several observant gentlemen who have travelled or resided in the country, and with whose assistance I was enabled to complete my inquiries. In Egypt, sheep's wool has long been an important article of local commerce, and mutton continues to be the chief animal food eaten by the inhabitants. The ewes are unusually prolific, yeaning twice a year, and frequently baring two lambs at a time. The flocks chiefly belong to the Arab tribes, who during the inundation of the Nile wander about with them on the heights which encircle the land of Lower Egypt, and as soon as the waters have receded, return to the rich herbage which quickly springs up on the Delta and along the valleys of the river. The foot-rot not unfrequently proceeds from the sheep being pastured upon this rich and irrigated land; but as soon as it is perceived by the shepherds the flocks are removed to the more arid soil of the desert, by which means a cure is invariably effected. Above Cairo, the sheep are larger and stronger than in Lower Egypt, and also marked by several peculiarities. Their skins are used for beds; and besides the advantage of a thick fleece, the inhabitants believe that by sleeping upon them they are secure from scorpions, which, they say, never crawl upon wool, from a dread of being entangled in its fibres. The Egyptian sheep are of different breeds--some hornless, and with long pendulous ears, but generally distinguished by the heavy tails which encumber the Asiatic and African breeds. The colour is usually white; some are entirely black, with a few parti-coloured or grizzled. The wool consequently is of a mixed character, and among it some affinity with the
[Image of page 13]
COLONIAL COMPETITION IN SUPPLIES OF WOOL.
Leicester fleece may be traced, a few parcels having the curve or wave peculiar to that country. Egyptian wool has a remarkably soft handle, and although badly conditioned, is growing into request among the manufacturers of coarse woollens. It is known that the Egyptian Government strenuously encourages the improvement of sheep. The shipments of this wool are usually made at Alexandria. The first importation we had was in 1841, when 70 lb. came over on trial. No more was received until 1844; but in that year and the next the imports were blended with those of Syria and Turkey. In 1846, the returns of wool from Egypt were classed separately, and entered at 485,415 lb.
Formidable as the opposition was which the Colonists had to expect, they nevertheless boldly began to run the race with our foreign suppliers; and how earnest and gradual, but uninterrupted, that competition was from 1816 to 1843, both inclusive, will at one glance appear from the following highly illustrative table, published under authority.
QUANTITIES OF WOOL IMPORTED INTO THE UNITED KINGDOM FROM ALL PARTS.
[Image of page 14]
GENERAL IMPORTS OF WOOL AND EXPORTS OF WOOLLENS.
This may be the proper place to add, that our subsequent importations of wool, from all parts, have been, in 1844, 65,079,524 lb.; in 1845, 75,551,930 lb.; and in 1840, 65,255,462 lb. The proportion received from each British Possession, within the same period, will be hereafter exhibited.
Of these wools, foreign and Colonial, we are in the habit of annually re-exporting a certain quantity, chiefly to Belgium and Holland, the returns of which, for 1846, were 3,011,980 lb. The British sheep and lambs' wool shipped in the same year was 5,851,838 lb., and British woollen and worsted yarn (including yarn of wool or worsted, mixed with other materials) 8,630,608 lb.
In 1826, the declared value of woollen goods and hosiery exported was 4,966,879l.; in 1833, 6,294,432l.; in 1839, 6,271,645l.; in 1844, 8,204, 836l.; in 1845, 7,693,118l.; and in 1846, 6,335,102l. Of these, the United States of America, the Hanseatic Towns, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Turkey, China, British North America, Australia and South America are our largest consumers.
In the export returns of woollens, as above inserted, a decrease will have been noticed for the last year, as compared with those of 1844 and 1845, but it is acknowledged that this occurrence was merely accidental. The United States and several sections in South America took less, and a temporary diminution arose from other causes. Our export trade in woollens, it may, nevertheless, he safely said, rests upon a solid basis. It has risen gradually, and in the course of its progress been tested by a variety of adverse circumstances; but, thanks to the ingenuity, industry, and capital of our manufacturers, all obstacles are triumphantly overcome.
The union between wool and cotton which, within the last few years, has taken place in the successful mixtures above alluded to, has given a new feature and added fresh importance to the trade in woollens. From what has already been said, in reference to Bradford, it will appear evident that cotton now constitutes a very principal part of manufactures in which formerly wool only was used; and hence this subject acquires a new character from what is passing among us with respect to cotton, an article, be it remembered (except a very small quantity obtained from India) of foreign growth. These considerations, therefore, warrant me in briefly adverting to the emergency in which persons interested in the cotton trade are at present placed.
At a meeting of operative cotton-spinners, belonging to Lancashire and the neighbouring counties, composed of special delegates, and held at Manchester on the 29th of last August, agreeably to a series of resolutions thereat adopted, it was determined that, taking into account the great dis-
[Image of page 15]
DEFECTIVE SUPPLIES OF COTTON.
proportion which continued to exist between the prices of raw cotton and those of the fabrics, manufactured from it, a suspension of work for some weeks should he recommended; the delegates at the same time candidly expressing their belief, that neither the existing state of the market for cotton goods and yarn, nor the present or probable future supply of the article itself, would justify a return to full employment in the factories for some time to come.
No series of resolutions, emanating from a chosen body of practical and interested men, regarding this staple branch of our manufactures, ever suggested matter for more calm and serious reflection than those subscribed on this occasion by the delegates representing the workpeople in the cotton factories. This trade, for the last twelve months, has been labouring under severe depression, chiefly owing to the inadequate supply of the raw material, whereby the price was considerably enhanced, and in consequence the master spinners for some months have been working short time, with the view of lessening the consumption of cotton as well as the production of goods made from it. 3
The defective supplies of cotton, and the very extravagant prices at which it continued to be held, in fact precluded the possibility of procuring a sufficient stock for regular consumption, a circumstance which materially tended to discourage the trade, by inducing a disproportionate value between the raw material and the various articles made with it. After fairly establishing the premises, and discussing all the merits of the case, although aware of the distressing consequences which inevitably must ensue to themselves and families, with a provident forecast these operatives recommended to their masters a temporary suspension of work, in the hope that the cessation of production, by diminishing the stocks of goods on hand, and economising the raw material in store, would tend to the restoration of trade, and hereafter enable the manufacturer to resume his work with confidence.
Cotton is the daily bread of a large part of the population of Lancashire and Scotland, as wool is that of numbers of the industrial classes residing in Yorkshire and other sections of the kingdom. 4 All have been
[Image of page 16]
INDEPENDENT SUPPLIES OF COTTON AND WOOL NECESSARY.
more or less affected by the short cotton crops on the banks of the Mississippi and in Georgia, occasioned solely by some unaccountable derangement in nature, and not attributable to the effects of war. For cotton, unfortunately, we are chiefly dependent upon one single market, and that market is in the hands of those who cannot be ranked among our cordial friends. It is with wool as it is with cotton, and nothing can be more imprudent, more improvident, than to rely upon any foreign country for a supply of either of these essential articles while we ourselves possess the means of growing both, more particularly since the alliance existing between them.
The untilled plains of the Deccan and the slopes of Candeish afford us ample scope to grow cotton, and for this plant we also find a congenial soil and climate in some parts of Australia. Why, then, do we ran the risk of derangements in the cotton trade, like those at the present moment experienced? We do not wish to shut out the foreign supply of either cotton or wool, so long as the qualities and prices suit us. We in fact want it, and our home and Colonial supplies besides. All can we consume; but if we place our reliance upon the foreign supplier, and through the incidents of war, or from any other cause, the usual supplies fail, we endanger the daily bread of many thousands. It is, therefore, the duty of the government, and also the interest of the manufacturer, to see that supplies of the raw material are seemed; for if the cottons of Lancashire, and the woollens of Yorkshire, should meet with successful rivals in markets, hitherto their own, it can only be through the effects of neglect and improvidence.
To feed our large and growing exportation of woollens, as before exhibited, and at the same time meet the home demand, very large supplies of wool are wanted, and these we should either grow within the United Kingdom, or obtain them from our own Colonies in preference to foreign countries, whenever it shall be found practicable. It is estimated that within the British Isles there are at the present time no less than 40 millions of sheep, at an average of 4 lb. per head, annually yielding 160,000,000 lb. of wool, all which, in addition to 65, and in one year, 75,000,000 lb. of imported, our looms absorb, while many thousands among the working classes participate directly in the advantages arising from the
[Image of page 17]
INJUDICIOUS CROSSING OF SHEEP IN THE COLONIES.
employment which they thence derive. 5 The progress made, and making, in this branch of our manufactures, therefore, points out the expediency, if not the absolute necessity, of seeming an adequate supply, in all cases and under all emergencies.
Although it is not my intention to offer any general observations on the sheep and wool of Great Britain, subjects most ably handled in the agricultural periodicals of the day, 6 still, in reference to the Colonies, I cannot refrain from noticing the injudicious system adopted by many Australian settlers, and others connected with them, in selecting Leicestershire sheep for the purpose of increasing the weight of the fleeces of their flocks. The new Leicestershire breed is justly celebrated for its symmetry of form, the quality of the meat and an aptitude to fatten; in consequence
[Image of page 18]
LEICESTER BREED UNSUITABLE FOR COLONIAL STOCK.
of which properties sheep of this class in England are much esteemed both by graziers and butchers. It should, however, be remembered that such stock as this is only suited for those lands, in foreign countries, containing pasturage somewhat resembling the rich artificial grass general in the counties of Leicester and Northampton, where a supply of food is always readily obtained. Sheep of the Leicester breed are naturally of an easy and quiet temper; they feed, lie down and grow so enormously fat, that my butcher once assured me he had known instances of sheep of this breed producing in weight as much fat as lean.
From these facts it will at once be concluded that Leicester sheep are not such stock as would suit the wide range of the natural pastures, in our Colonies, where the animals have to traverse large extents of ground to pick up their scanty food, and where, in the ordinary runs, it requires three acres to support one sheep. 7 But, independent of these considerations, the wool of the Leicester sheep with us is only held to be of a second-rate quality, being inferior to that produced from the adjoining flocks in the counties of Shropshire, Staffordshire and Hereford, some of which afford fleeces more valuable by 2d. in the lb.
I have been induced to enter upon this detached topic from having seen, in a variety of instances, the bad effects of injudicious crossing in the Colonies, where, by a wrong mixture, the fleeces of a fine merino flock of ewes were deteriorated not unfrequently to the extent of 2d. in the lb. It also unfortunately happens that, in cases of this kind, it would require two or three successive crosses of merino tups to bring back the quality of the fleeces, so injured, to their original standard. 8
In confirmation of these opinions, I regret to have occasion to notice that the unsatisfactory account-sales of Colonial wools, for the season just closed, most assuredly in great measure proceeded from the last year's clip in Australia having been of an inferior quality; a circumstance which did not escape me when I came to compare it with former years' importations, and in this opinion several of our largest buyers concurred. It
[Image of page 19]
THE SELECTION OF PARENT STOCK ESSENTIAL.
is, therefore, in the interest of the flock-owner to pay particular attention to this point, and above all things to avoid injudicious crossing. He ought, indeed, to go further. If he has had the misfortune to introduce the Leicester breed among his flocks, for reasons above explained, it would be worth his while to substitute merino tups as soon as he possibly can, and thus expel from them all ewes since born and resembling the objectionable breed which had lowered the quality of his wool.
It has been my practice, ever since I had intercourse with flock-owners in our wool-growing Colonies, never to lose any opportunity of impressing upon their minds the necessity of examining the fleeces of their flocks every year, and removing from them such ewes as yielded inferior wool. I have invariably urged upon their attention that changes in the fleeces of sheep are wrought by propagation--that is, by crossing breeds--but this must be done carefully and with judgment in the selection of the parent stock, for, as before noticed, animals may be debased by an improper mixture. An improvement in the breed follows by crossing two distinct races, the one possessing those properties which it is wished to acquire, and hence success entirely depends upon the choice of parents. 9 The farmer who seeks to improve his wool, and has already in his possession a given number of ewes, must therefore exercise the soundest judgment in the selection of rams, on account of the more decided influence which the male has in the form and properties of the progeny than the female.
A remarkable instance of the male's power over the female, and also of its effects on the offspring, was lately communicated to me by a distinguished individual in Leicestershire, well acquainted with the facts. A celebrated breeder of horses for the turf had one of his fillies put to a zebra, and the hybrid obtained from that union very much resembled the sire, having numerous stripes upon it. The succeeding year she was put to a blood-horse, when again the issue was marked with stripes. A second time the same mare was associated with another blood-horse; but
[Image of page 20]
INJUDICIOUS CROSSING OF SHEEP IN ENGLAND.
still in the offspring the zebra stripes were discernible, although more faintly fixed.
A similar instance is recorded as having come within the experience of the Earl of Morton, who bred from a male quagga and a mare, of Arabian seven-eighths blood, a female hybrid, displaying in form and colour her mixed origin. The mare was afterwards transferred to Sir Gore Ouseley, who bred from her first a filly, and afterwards a colt, by a fine black Arabian horse; but both these, in their colour and in the hair of their manes, strongly resembled the quagga; an additional proof that the impression of the male parent does not cease on the birth of the first fruits of the connexion; for although he may have no further meeting with the female, yet her succeeding offspring often becomes tinged with his peculiar colour, or modelled after his form.
I do not, however, mean to insinuate that the injudicious crossing of sheep is confined to our Colonies. Even in England men of exalted rank and acknowledged talent, through a love for change and experiment, sometimes rush into contrarieties. Some years ago, the late Lord Western, in the Times newspaper, addressed a letter to Earl Spencer, in which he stated that there was still plenty of room among us for another breed of sheep, without trenching upon the ground allotted to those which we already had, and in a national point of new deemed so valuable. After some introductory observations to the above effect, his Lordship proceeded to unfold his plan in these words--
"My object then may be familiarly stated to be the placing merino wool on a Leicester carcass, perhaps not exactly resembling the short fine clothing wool of Germany, but a fine combing wool, superior to any that has hitherto been grown. It is possible that similar attempts hare been made by other persons; but they have not been earned out upon any general principle of extensive application, to my knowledge, at least." And again--"A third mode is, by engrafting a particular breed upon a native stock, in a way which bears some analogy to the engrafting a peach upon a crab stalk. For example, with the view of creating a merino flock out of any inferior breed of sheep, put a merino ram to any breed of ewes, and again, a merino to their progeny, in a constant succession, and I think it would not require many generations to efface all appearance of the original breed."
When his Lordship had carried out his experiment, I directed my butcher to procure me a haunch of mutton from a sheep of the new breed--say a cross between a Leicester tup and a merino ewe--some of which had been exhibited at the Christmas Cattle-show of 1838, and then sold. My order having been punctually executed, when I came to try my haunch I found the quality of the meat excellent; but the animal from which it had been cut was evidently defective in shape, being
[Image of page 21]
SAXONY SHEEP BEST FOR COLONIAL STOCK.
divested of that peculiar property termed by butchers the cushion, or round circular arch, always found upon the legs of our own handsome and well-proportioned sheep.
Struck with the deterioration which, in my opinion, had attended his Lordship's favourite scheme, as far at least as the carcass was concerned, I addressed him on the subject, pointing out the defect which I had noticed, and, at the same time, venturing to urge various reasons to show the impolicy of introducing, under his Lordship's sanction, a mongrel race of sheep into our wool-growing Colonies, for which at the time there appeared to be an evident disposition; alleging that such a plan, if persisted in, would necessarily lower the quality of the fleeces of the fine-woolled sheep, previously introduced; and I afterwards ascertained that this actually was the case. 10 It is singular that at the time his Lordship entertained such strong opinions upon the merits of his Leicester cross, so publicly and strenuously recommended, we had a favourable instance on record of a union between one of his Lordship's own merino tups and some East Indian ewes, in which a striking proof was exhibited of the influence of the male upon the progeny, the latter having a fleece infinitely superior to that of the dams, as proved by three in my possession which his Lordship presented to me.
In justice to the memory of Lord Western, I ought, however, to add that his Lordship was among the most noble and spirited promoters of British sheep husbandly. He and the late Mrs General Dorrien possessed a race of pure merino sheep and kept them highly fed; consequently their fleeces became long in the fibre and heavy in weight. 11 Whilst long combing wool maintained the highest prices, I considered these two breeds the best from which a selection for Colonial stock could be made--in the first place, because the purity of blood was unquestionable, and, in the second, because naturally they possessed stronger stamina than those of Spain or Germany, from having been naturalised on our soil, and
[Image of page 22]
IMPROVEMENT IN THE SHEEP OF GERMANY AND PRUSSIA.
hardier, in consequence of having been exposed to our variable climate. But, having already shown that wool is not now required to be of a longer staple than 5 or 5 1/2 niches for hand-combing, and from 2 to 2 1/2 for machine-combing, I am disposed to think that it would be more advantageous for those persons in England, who may have to supply merino sheep for our Colonies, to procure some of the best rams from the most celebrated flocks in Saxony, which might be done either by an advertisement in a Leipsic paper, or by employing some agent there.
I, indeed, offer this suggestion with more confidence, from having lately seen a flock imported from Saxony whose wool was of a superior fibre, and the cost of rams nearly the same as here, say from 5 to 6 guineas per head. I cannot help thinking that it would answer the purpose of some spirited individual, of known reputation and rank in the Colonies, to establish a pure breeding flock of the finest woolled Saxon sheep, and thus supply stock that could be relied upon to his neighbours and others, after the manner at one time extensively adopted in England.
The German sheep, doubtless, yield a finer fleece than any grown in the United Kingdom, although the weight is considerably less. It is to the unwearied perseverance and scientific skill of the enlightened Germans that Europe is indebted for the great improvement made in the fibre of wool. So enthusiastic and high-minded were these industrious people, in improving their native flocks by crosses with merinos, that the new breed thus obtained is now called the noble race; and there was a time when this wool in our market commanded an extravagantly high price, being indispensable for the manufacture of superfine broad cloths. Their climate being unfavourable for the growth of the finer qualities, the Germans called in science to their aid, rejected the migratory system of the Spaniards, and by housing the sheep at night, and paying particular attention to their food and cleanliness, ultimately succeeded in supplying the loom with choice wool, in fineness, indeed, surpassing anything of the kind before seen. The packages are also sent over in admirable condition: they, in fact, might serve as a model of what wool should be in order to realise its intrinsic value. The Germans were always of opinion that riches in sheep may be considered as the best barometer of the national wealth of an agricultural country. 12
[Image of page 23]
HOW TO SELECT STOCK FOR CROSSING.
From our own experience, and the concurrent testimony of German breeders, no fact in sheep husbandry is so well established as that the good qualities of a breed are transmitted chiefly through the medium of the male; and hence, in England, the rearing of superior rams at one time formed a special and separate department with some noted breeders, which they were in the habit of letting out at enormous prices for the season. For this reason, the systematic wool-grower will take care to provide himself with the highest fine-woolled tups that possibly can be procured, the great point being to secure purity of blood. The true criteria, by which the merits of a fleece should be determined, are the fineness, soundness, softness and elasticity of the fibre; and these properties, I repeat, can only be obtained by careful attention in choosing the parent stock.
Before I close this part of my advice, I ought to remind the person about to select sheep for breeding, but more especially rams, of a circumstance which is often entirely overlooked. The inspector of a flock will notice that some sheep have a larger proportion of wool on their hind quarters, or, more properly speaking, on their buttocks, than others. This wool is invariably inferior in quality to that grown on other parts of the body, and consequently less saleable. It may, therefore, be concluded that, when an undue proportion behind is noticed, the sheep so marked is exceptionable as stock.
In the economy of flocks, the next suggestion to be offered is the yearly inspection of every member, so as to form a correct opinion of the nature and properties of the fleece home by each, in order that the defective ones may be removed, and never again allowed to mix with those drafted and set apart for the production of fine wool. This operation is best performed in shearing-time, when, from the appearances which present themselves,
[Image of page 24]
INJURIOUS EFFECTS OF BAD MANAGEMENT IN SHEEP.
a competent judgment can be formed. I also, on this occasion, feel it my duty again to invite the attention of our Colonial wool-growers to that most essential point of the getting-up of fleeces. It is in this respect that importance chiefly attaches to the process of winding, the special end of which is far less the orderly folding of a fleece than security for the abstraction from it of all injurious adjuncts, which diminish its worth to the manufacturer, and prevent wool, so neglected, from rising to that place in the estimation of buyers which is requisite to insure the realisation of the full value of the article; for, although with the aid of machinery some impurities can be removed, it is always detrimental to the sale to have a process of this kind pronounced necessary.
The success arising from a careful management of sheep in the Colonies is strikingly illustrated by the sales just terminated, in which inferior qualities of wool were sold at a reduction on last year's prices, while that of the higher bred flocks realised an advance of 2d. per lb. This fact alone demonstrates the advantage to be derived from due care and diligent attention in the several departments of sheep husbandly, and certainly our Colonial breeders have every inducement--nay, every encouragement--to adopt a judicious and systematic plan, as the demand for their fine wool is confessedly on the increase; and, if the quality can only be kept up, the competition with the Continental supply will be rendered still more triumphant than it has already been.
Let, then, the growth of sheep's wool be promoted among our countrymen, who have devoted themselves to that pursuit abroad and in it invested large capitals. Colonial wools are now advantageously introduced to our manufacturer, and the growers themselves will be to blame if their wools do not rise in his estimation. Already they have materially tended to diminish the foreign, and, it might be said, precarious, supply. In a national point of view this is a powerful consideration; and if the recent changes in our commercial policy involve, as a natural consequence, uniformity of system, and the adoption of all such means as are calculated to stimulate the consumption of articles, grown upon British soil and manufactured by British hands, Colonial wools deserve special encouragement.
Among our Colonies, Australia and South Africa most require the fostering care of the mother-country, as I shall have occasion to point out when I come to unfold the productive resources of each of those two valuable appendages of the British Crown, and yet their wants chiefly arise from the absence of labour. Nevertheless, under all difficulties and many disappointments, those two Colonies now present a picture of the most rapid and mutually beneficial increase, recorded in our commercial history --an increase almost entirely attributable to the growth of wool.
[Image of page 25]
WE SHOULD HUSBAND OUR RESOURCES.
In our various distant Dependencies, but more especially in those of which I am about to treat, we possess great resources, and have only to bring them into play in order to overcome our present difficulties, and place ourselves in a higher and firmer commercial position than that which we have hitherto occupied. But, to do this, we must be true to ourselves. We must cast aside all the obstacles which impede our progress, and, above all, make the most of our domestic industry, of our Colonies and our shipping, as well as of every other element of wealth which our conquests, our diplomacy, or nature have placed at our disposal. We are no longer in a situation to overlook any of our advantages. We possess abroad an extent of fertile and available territory, far greater than that belonging to any other European community, settled and inhabited by active and spirited countrymen of our own, distinguished by all that prudence and forethought which render wealth practicable and generally advantageous; but they stand in need of physical aid. Would it not, then, be desirable on the part of Government to place, as far as they can, our redundant population in situations where both the father and the son can benefit themselves, and at the same time add to the resources of the mother-country?
If it is the duty of Government to provide food for the people, it is equally so to see that adequate supplies of cotton and wool are secured; for unless we keep our looms at work, even in the midst of an abundant harvest, numbers must want bread. No one can be insensible to the great advantages arising from a constant source of employment for a large amount of our population, or ignorant of the benefits derived from exchanging the productions of their labour for the raw materials and necessaries which we cannot obtain at home. It is our manufacturing industry that has so far enabled us successfully to meet the competition of other nations, and it is only by its continuing to be well supported that this independence can be maintained.
After the agricultural, the manufacturing interest avowedly is the most valuable, in a national point of view; whence the producers of the raw material, required to support that interest, are among the most important class. In this light we cannot but view our wool-growing Colonies; and in seeking to guard against any future diminution in the imports of those raw materials, which are essential to a continuance of our efforts and the production of those articles which mainly constitute our export trade, I repeat, we can and ought to obtain our supplies of wool from them, more particularly as we can do it with greater collateral advantages to the public at large than by seeking them in foreign lands. It has already been argued that the influx of Colonial wools, at reasonable and steady prices, has enabled the manufacturer to bring forward a greater variety of articles
[Image of page 26]
THE PERIODICAL LONDON WOOL SALES.
than formerly; and in upholding and extending this advantage he and the grower have a mutual interest.
The foreign and distant reader may not, perhaps, he aware that, both in London and Liverpool, Colonial and other wools are mostly sold by auction at customary periods of the year, and on days agreed upon among the importers. These sales formerly took place at Garraway's, but are now carried on at the new Hall of Commerce, near the Royal Exchange; where, agreeably to notice, and provided with descriptive catalogues, the country buyers assemble. As soon as the sales for the series terminate, each broker issues a Circular, accompanied by a return of the several descriptions of wool sold, together with a list of current prices, and also containing incidental particulars and prospects of the market, which he addresses to the merchants and consignees. As a specimen of the manner in which these business transactions are conducted, and as a further illustration of what the Colonial wool-grower may expect from the improvements herein recommended in his flocks, I subjoin (exclusive of prices) the Circular just sent out by our own firm:--
"PUBLIC SALES OF COLONIAL WOOL.
"The first series of sales of Colonial wool, for this season, commenced on the 10th inst., and concluded this day. They comprised
11,414 Bales Australian
8,198 " " Port Philip
2,236 " " Van Diemen's Land
1,577 " " South Australian
2,570 " " Cape of Good Hope
42 " " New Zealand
17 " " Swan River
126 " " East Indian
"We are still unable to report prices at all encouraging to the importers. A very large proportion of the above wool was of an extremely ordinary character, a great deal of that from Sydney being very foul, and the Port Philip generally wasting. We are aware that, at present, any extra management in getting up wools involves a great expense, but we sincerely hope that this will be remedied by the anticipated encouragement
[Image of page 27]
THE WOOL-BROKER'S CIRCULAR.
to emigration, which will enable those who are liberally disposed to employ skill in superintending and classing them for this market.
"From the decided preference which the finer qualities of wool have had throughout the last and the present year, the flockmasters may very safely turn their serious attention to the improvement of their ordinary breed, even if they diminish the weight of the fleece. In former years we hesitated to give this advice indiscriminately, because we have known the finer qualities too good for the demand, and the lower ones sold relatively much higher than the wool of improved flocks. We now find that at the established lower prices (which probably will continue) better wool is used for the major portion of fancy and other goods than formerly; and, from the increased competition which our manufacturers will be exposed to, we feel confident that they must more than ever refrain from impoverishing their goods by the admixture of inferior wool.
"Notwithstanding the pressure on the money-market, caused by the absorption of a large amount of capital in foreign grain, and the continued active calls for Railway purposes, the wool and woollen trades have proved themselves to be in a very healthy condition, by taking off the above large quantity at prices equal to the June sales.
"Good qualities of wool in fair condition from all the Colonies were much in request, and sold relatively higher than inferior descriptions. Lambs' wools, also, were much sought after and realised very satisfactory prices.
"Cape wool commanded a fair share of attention, and sold fully equal to previous quotations.
"The few lots of East Indian wool may be quoted a shade lower than former rates.
"THOMAS SOUTHEY & SON,
"23 Coleman street."
"London, 31st August, 1847."
Having said thus much in the way of Preliminary Remarks, I shall proceed to discuss my main subject, which, for the sake of regularity and convenience, I propose to do in six Sections, each classed under a separate head according to its importance in reference to sheep husbandry.
London, October 1st, 1847.