Dublin, Printed by R. Reilly, For George Ewing, at the Angel and Bible in Damestreet, Bookseller. 1738, Reprinted, 1816.
Resolution XIX page 117.
We resolve to do all we can to introduce all new improvements in husbandry into Ireland, which are likely to be of real profit and advantage, and especially the culture of Hops, Madder, Weld, Wood, Saffron, Liquorice, Clover and other Grass Seeds.
As whoever desires not to be an useless drone in the hive of his country, should labour to improve it to his best ability, I shall touch on each of these articles ; and I shall begin with hops, as by their importation, they do us most harm, and by being cultivated here, may therefore do us most good. It is generally computed, that we use 6000 bags every year in Ireland, which at the lowest rate of 4l. the hundred, and 200 weight to the bag, make 48,000l. which sum, large as it is, is chiefly paid by the poorest of our people, to get a little tolerable malt liquor, to comfort them as having little or nothing to eat. This is a terrible drain for a country to lie under, that is so impoverished as ours is, and yet it is certain, with a little industry and zeal to help ourselves, it might easily be stopped, if we would once vigorously set about it, and endeavour to raise plantations of hops among us. By these few we have tried already, we know by experience, that both our soil and climate agree as well with them as our neighbours in England, and though possibly they may not do quite so well in Ulster, since even in England, they have travelled very little further north, than Nottinghamshire, yet in Leinster and Munster, they flourish extremely, and even in Ulster, many gentlemen to my knowledge, have tried them in smaller quantities with good success. About 1000 acres it is agreed would suificiently answer the whole consumption of the kingdoni, allowing for bad crops and failing years, and consequently if two hundred gentlemen would plant but five acres a piece, we should in the first place cut off this vast annual drain of 48,000l. from Ireland, and thereby have that sum to employ to the use of our poor nation at home.
But 2dly, these 1000 acres, would not only help to enrich many thriving families, who would set up such plantations, but also they would give maintenance, for at least five months of the year, to a great number of our poor people, who are now useless and idle for want of employment, to the huge benefit of our country in general, as their labour would be all clear gains to the kingdom. The reasons which are brought against our attempting this matter from the tenderness of hops, our want of sufficient skill as well as shelter and poles, and even sufficient warmth of sun and soil, to give a proper strength to the plant, are so easily answered, that there is no occasion to fear any men of sense can be discouraged by them. Besides the success many of our gentlemen have met with in cultivating them, and the great gain, and the ready market they meet with, where they are to be distinguished from the English, have already encouraged numbers to set their hands and heads to forward this good work. As it is chiefly our gentry who have set about it, whose sense will best rectify any errors, and whose fortunes can best bear the expence, so in a little time, as our experience improves and our profit encreases, it is to be hoped many others will follow the wholesome example they have set us by attempting smaller plantations, which may serve as easy trials this way, and supply their own families and a few neighbours.
It were to be wished indeed, that we should obtain an act of parliament to allow premiums and proper encouragements, to promote and extend the culture of large plantations, but if this is not to be expected soon, yet probably the great profit by hops will effectually spread them through the nation in some years, though more slowly and gradually.
I could name many of our nobility and gentry, and even ladies too of the best families and fortunes in Ireland, who to their immortal honour, liave generously and vigorously laboured with much expence, to nourish this undertaking in its infancy, and if some of our constant absentees, would also assist us in it, they would in the noblest manner make us amends for the want of their help otherwise. If they would send over English planters who understand this and other branches of husbandry, and by giving them good freeholds, on that condition oblige them to employ considerable quantities of their farms that way, and order their agents here, to keep large hop-gardens themselves, and encourage their best tenants by premiums, or good leases, to follow their example, our people would turn their ill wishes into blessings and prayers for them, and their families. As hardly as we think of many of those gentlemen, I know several of them that are as justly distinguished for the greatest virtues, as well as the largest fortunes, and possibly as such a method cannot be very expensive at first, and may greatly enlarge their jevenues hereafter, and would be the greatest lielp to restore our country, which languishes under their absence, to a more flourishing state, we may lind some of them who may contrive to give us this generous proof of their regard and pity for us. But tiiis must be left to tiie goodness of their own hearts, and in the mean time let us comfort ourselves, that though the assistance of skilful and experienced men from England, would be a considerable help to us in this matter, yet it is certain, that those judicious, instructions which our excellent Dublin Society have published about hops are so clear, and so full, and so particular as to all necessary diretions, that no man of sense, who will carefully consider and observe them, can fail of success in time, let him be never so unexperienced.
Madder is another article in our husbandry, which we might carry on with great advantage, both as there is above 3000l. annually paid to Holland for it by our dyers, and above 30,000l. by England, all which might be clear gains to us, if we could cultivate it. All the accounts I have ever met with about it, make the profit so prodigious (from 100l. to 200l. an acre and more) and the culture so easy, being little more than giving it a deep, warm, rich soil, and keeping it clear of weeds, that I cannot conceive, what has occasioned its being so much neglected by us, if it be not mere ignorance in drying, curing and preparing it for the dyers and making those nice mills, which the Dutch have for grinding it. It is true, the crop comes in but once in three years, "which probably is one great objection to it, but then the return is so large, that king Charles I. gave Mr. Shipman, his gardener, a patent for it, as a great favour, though I suppose by the taking away all monopolies, and the troublesome times, it came to nothing, and has been very much neglected to this day in England. So that here is a great opportunity offered to us, if we will make use of it, against which there can be no objection raised, it we had once brought over some Dutchmen to instruct us in the management of it. We have seen it flourish, extremely at Dean L'Abadies, in Tipperary, in very indifferent ground, and as probably 600 acres employed this way, would answer the demands of all the dyers and apothecaries in England and Ireland, and produce a vast profit to the undertakers and the nation, I hope it will not be long before we see this branch of husbandly established among us. I must own as our people from their poverty and other circumstances, are not likely to attempt such undertakings, without some encouragement from tlie public, it were to be wished, that the trustees of the linen, or tillage boards, might have such funds given them, as would enable them to set on foot this and many other designs I have, and shall mention for the public good, by proper premiums, a fund of even 4000l. or 5000l. per Ann. thus appropriated to different designs, might easily be contrived, and if judiciously laid out, and faithfully applied to carry them on, would work little miracles in Ireland, and in a few years make us another sort of people.
Weld and woad are two other dyers weeds, which are in great demand for that trade, and may by due cultivation yield considerable profit to our farmers, which are notwithstanding hardly known among us. Weld, which is as useful for dying yellow, as madder for red, will grow on the poorest land, if it be dry and warm, and at the same time, requires no tillage, if sown, as it generally is, after oats, and harrowed in with a bush, and immediately when ripe (which is not till the second summer after it is sown) it must be pulled up in handfuls like flax and so dried and kept for the market. It yields thus frequently fron) 3l. to 6l. per acre, all charges and rent deducted which (especially from poor ground) is no small return, and therefore deserves the regard of all gentlemen, who have very dry, though very ordinary land and yet consequently might make good profit by this weed.
As to woad, it requires very rich, as well as very dry land, which it is said to impoverish greatly; and indeed as the demand for it abroad and our consumption at home is not considerable, and as it requires a large purse, which must be emptied to keep one or two woad mills going, and as the whole management of it is extremely mysterious and difiicult, it is impossible to think of making this improvement in our husbandry, but by bringing over skilful men from Holland, hired and encouraged by wages from the public; and employed by some of our skilfullest farmers here, who may make themselves masters of the business.