London: volume 2
Smithfield, where the great and only cattle-market of the metropolis is held, is not a place with which the inhabitants of London are very familiar, excepting as a thoroughfare. The grazier from Essex, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, or Lincolnshire, is better acquainted with the spot. The inns and shops in its vicinity are for his accommodation, and exist almost independent of the surrounding population. Smithfield and its immediate precincts may in fact be regarded in the same light as a market-town, thriving upon the industry of a class of customers who resort to it from the country. Some of the shops in the neighbourhood have been used for the same kind of business for above a century; --and the customers who now frequent them go there partly because the generation before them did so, and because the experience of years has given the shopkeepers an intimate knowledge of the wants of that portion of the community with which they deal. Smithfield has its banking-house too; and when we know that property to the amount of a-year changes hands in the market, we may easily conceive that such an establishment, isolated as it is, is quite essential. Take away the market, and the industry which it has called into existence would be under the necessity of transferring itself elsewhere. But we will glance at the past rather than anticipate the future.
Situated at a little distance from the city walls, Smithfield, in the century, was a spot to which the citizens resorted to practise the sports peculiar to the
| age, or to enjoy the pleasures of a country walk. centuries afterwards it was a place adapted for large assemblages of the people--as much so as in the present day. Wat Tyler was killed in Smithfield in by Sir William , the Lord Mayor of London; from which circumstance, it is said, the dagger was quartered in the City arms. This insurrection shows the metal of which the |
were composed in this age. Richard II. had made so many applications to the Parliament for money, that at length they required a statement of the of what he wanted, on which lists were made out to the amount of The Commons declared the sum to be
but at length it was agreed to raise the amount by a capitation tax-unmarried persons of the age of and upwards paying fourpence each. A year or afterwards, more money being wanted, the tax was increased; but as it produced less, more rigorous means were adopted for collecting it, and the conduct of the tax-gatherers towards young women who claimed to be exempt on account of their age soon excited the flame of popular indignation. The
of Kent met to consider how the oppression might be remedied, but
At Fobbing, in Essex, a baker directly exhorted the people to rise; and Kent and Essex were soon in commotion. A man at Dartford, called Wat Tyler,[n.314.1] had signalised himself by attacking of the taxgatherers, and the people made him their leader. The country people of Essex quickly mustered strong, armed with sticks, rusty swords, axes, and worn-out bows; and their numbers were soon increased. The men of Kent assembled in still greater force; and when the rebels reached Blackheath, and were joined by malcontents from other southern and eastern counties, their numbers are said to have exceeded . On reaching the Mayor and Aldermen were for closing the city gate, but the populace within opened it and admitted the insurgents. Though an undisciplined mob (
as the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Chancellor, called them), they at paid fairly for all they took, and some, who were guilty of stealing, were beheaded. The King and his court were at the Tower, and Richard, to save some of his friends, whose lives were in jeopardy, agreed to meet the insurgents at Mile End, where the King gave them a charter, declaring that every in England should be free, and discharged from all servitude and villenage. While the King was engaged in this interview, the insurgents who had remained on broke into the fortress and beheaded the Archbishop of Canterbury, Leg, the tax-commissioner, and several others. The moderation which they had at shown was now at an end, and they next proceeded to the Savoy, to attack the palace of the Duke of Lancaster; and for days they continued in a state of riot and drunkenness, destroying property, pillaging and murdering the citizens, and at length attacking each other. times the King had given them charters, but they became dissatisfied with all of them; and were then required to meet him in Smithfield to make known their further demands. Wat Tyler, among other things, required that all lawyers should be beheaded! At the meeting, he took offence because the King sent a knight to him, who approached the rebel leader on horseback instead of a more obsequious attitude. Tyler drew his dagger and threatened the royal messenger, who had already unsheathed his
| weapon, when the King ordered him to give it up to Tyler. The latter now addressed the King in an insolent manner, throwing up his dagger and catching it in his hand while thus engaged. He demanded that all the warrens, streams, parks, and woods should be common to every , and that the right of pursuing game should be equally free. While the King was pausing on the subject, Tyler seized the bridle of his horse, on which , the mayor of London, plunged a dagger into the rebel's throat, and he was stabbed at the same moment by of the King's attendants. The King, who was then only in his year, averted the danger and tumult which this event threatened with an excellent spirit. He rode in front of the rebel ranks, exclaiming, |
The insurgents followed the King into the fields; and while he was holding a parley with them the citizens collected an armed force, which coming suddenly upon them, the insurgents were seized with a panic and dispersed.
This spot, where drovers, salesmen, graziers, and butchers, droves of bullocks, an flocks of sheep, now form the living mass which crowd its area, witnessed, in times gone by, scenes of a far different character. Edward III., with his mistress Alice Piers, was present at a tournament in Smithfield, which lasted for several days. His son Richard II. evinced his taste for these chivalric festivals at the same place. In , on his marriage with Isabella, daughter of Charles VI. of France, he ordered a grand tournament to be proclaimed, to be held at London, where knights, who were to be accompanied by as many ladies, were to tilt for days at the ensuing Michaelmas. Heralds were sent to announce the arrangements through England, Scotland, Hainault, Germany, Flanders, and France. Froissart has given a description of this display of royal chivalry.:--
They were afterwards adjourned to Windsor, and the King concluded his hospitalities by liberal presents to his foreign guests.
The whimsical combat in Smithfield between Horner and Peter, in the
| part of King Henry VI., is an incident founded on fact, which the poet found thus briefly told by Holinshed:-- |
The scene in the drama presents an accurate representation of the forms which attended a trial of battle:--
[n.316.1] In the case quoted from Holinshed, and dramatised in Henry VI., the barriers, it appears (from the precept to the sheriff and the expenses on the occasion preserved in ), were brought to Smithfield from ; a large quantity of sand and gravel was laid down, and the place of battle was strewed with rushes. The return of expenses contains the following item:--,
was subsequent to the battle. The trial of battle was only abolished in ; and in the previous year some such scene as that here detailed might have again been witnessed in Smithfield. Besides being the spot where these deadly appeals were settled, Smithfield was also a place of execution. In the drama already quoted, King Henry, in passing sentence on several persons, says-
The contrasts which its history presents are sufficiently striking, if we advert to Smithfield as the site where Bartholomew Fair has been held since the right to hold a fair was granted to the prior and abbey of St. Bartholomew; and as the spot which witnessed the fate of martyrs to religious bigotry and intolerance.
At what period Smithfield became a cattle-market is not exactly known, but it was used for this purpose centuries ago, for Fitzstephen, writing in , notices horses and cattle being sold there. An act of the Common Council of the City recognises a cattle-market at Smithfield previous to ; and the Corporation made statutes for its regulation, which are to be found in the City records, and are called the
In these statutes were again enacted. The City, however, does not derive its authority to hold the market
| from any specific charter, but from prescription; and this ancient privilege is confirmed by a charter of Charles I. That part of the charter which refers to our present subject is as follows :-- |
And then it goes on to say,--
The rights and privileges which the above charter confirmed were taken away by a decision of the Judges in the reign of Charles II., but the City authorities of the present day contend that this judgment was illegal; and an act was passed in the reign of William and Mary, which restored to the City the ancient rights, founded on constant and uniform usage for many years. Before leaving this part of the subject we must advert to a charter granted to the City in ( Edward III.), which provides-
Here, then, many centuries ago, we have the sole cattle-market for the metropolis established on the site where it is at present held, and the City invested with authority to prohibit any rival market within a distance of miles. At this remote period a more suitable spot than the in question could not have been.selected. It was a large uninclosed space outside the city walls, and cattle could be driven there without annoyance to the inhabitants of crowded thoroughfares. The number of cattle sold in the market was then inconsiderable compared to what it has since become, and they were of much
|less size than the improved breeds of the present day. The days of abstinence enjoined by the Church in those times rendered the consumption of meat much less for a given amount of population than it would otherwise have been, and the market for salt fish furnished at certain seasons (excluding Lent) nearly as large a supply of food as the butcher's shop; for after the pastures had ceased to be productive,.and cattle could no longer be sent fat to the market, and while the inhabitants were chiefly dependent upon their stores of salt meat until spring and summer had renewed the verdure of the fields--that is, for nearly -half the year--a market-day at Smithfield would necessarily be nearly a blank. There was, in fact, so little demand for space for the purposes of the market, that the field in which it was held began to be surrounded by a dense population. Houses and other buildings were erected, and the area of the market was encroached upon on every side.|
We must now contemplate Smithfield as a market-place embedded in the heart of London, and observe some of the effects produced by the contracted area in which the market was held, while the number of cattle driven to it for sale was rapidly increasing with the growth of the metropolis. In John Erswick's
published in , we find an estimate of the number of cattle sold yearly in Smithfield at that period. There were, he says, butchers, freemen of the city, who each killed oxen weekly, or per week; the non-freemen, or
as they were called, killed altogether times as many as the freemen, or weekly. Excluding the days on which abstinence from flesh interfered with the demand for butcher's meat, Erswick states the number of cattle slaughtered annually in London at . In the number of cattle sold in Smithfield Market was , and of sheep ; but both were of small size, and Davenant states that the gross weight of the cattle did not exceed lbs., and that of the sheep and lambs averaged together lbs. This estimate of the average weight is probably rather too low. In some instructions for managing the household of Prince Henry, son of James I., the purveyor is directed to observe that an ox should weigh lbs., and a sheep lbs., or lbs.; and though there might be few of this weight in the market, yet an average of lbs. does certainly appear low. From to the population of the metropolis being about , there were sold at an average, during these years, about cattle, and about sheep. Between this period and the population increased about per cent., and taking an average of years ending with , cattle and sheep were sold annually in Smithfield; being an increase of per cent. on the cattle, and of per cent. on the sheep, as compared with the numbers sold in -. But the average weight of cattle is now about lbs., and of sheep about lbs.: so that, while in number the sales at Smithfield have not kept pace with the population, the excess of weight in the animals sold in over those in - shows that the consumption of butchers' meat is greater in proportion to the population than it was years before-and this without reckoning the very large supplies of killed meat conveyed by railways and steamboats to Newgate and Leadenhall Markets. The following table shows the
| number of cattle and sheep annually sold in Smithfield during the following periods of years each:--
There are great thoroughfares by which the cattle are brought to London--from the north by Highgate Archway, and from the eastern counties by the , and large quantities are also brought by the Birmingham Railway. They reach the outskirts of London on Sunday, and about o'clock are driven, into the city, and continue arriving in Smithfield from that hour until the morning. In this large irregular area, comprising about and a half acres enclosed by houses, the scene on a foggy, wet, and wintry morning is of which few persons not living in the immediate
| neighbourhood, or whose business does not require their attendance in the market, have an accurate conception. The drovers are furnished with torches to enable them to distinguish the marks on the cattle--to put the sheep into pens, and to form the beasts into |
There is not room to tie up much more than -half of the cattle sent for sale, and the remainder are formed into groups of about each, called
each beast with its head to the centre of the drove. This is not accomplished without the greatest exertion; and about o'clock in the morning the scene is of terrific confusion. To get the
into a ring, to enable purchasers to examine them more readily, the drovers aim blows at the heads of the animals, in endeavouring to avoid which they keep their heads towards the ground. Should they attempt to run backwards, a shower of blows forces them to remain in their position. The process of forming these
has, however, been described before a parliamentary committee by a competent witness:--
And another witness examined before the same committee details the difficulty of getting a beast out of the market when it has been sold out of of the
The deterioration of the meat from this barbarity has been calculated at no less a sum than per annum-all this would be avoided if there were room to tie up the beasts. The exertions to prevent different flocks of sheep from mixing with each other are not so great, but here the drovers' dogs are useful. The lowing of the oxen, the tremulous cries of the sheep, the barking of dogs, the
|rattling of sticks on the heads and bodies of the animals, the shouts of the drovers, and the flashing about of torches, present altogether a wild and terrific combination; and few, either of those who reside in the metropolis, or who visit it, have the resolution to witness the strange scene.|
The nuisance of holding a market for cattle in the heart of London is not confined to Smithfield. There it is endured for the sake of the profit which it brings to the shops, coffee-houses, inns, and other places of accommodation; and yet a person who resided in Smithfield stated before the parliamentary committee that he had lived there for years, and found it impossible to sleep in the front of his house on the Sunday night. But the evil extends to all the thoroughfares leading to the market; and there is danger as well as inconvenience in driving bullocks and sheep through crowded streets, exposing passengers to accident, and keeping the neighbourhood in a state of confusion once a-week during the entire year. The attempt to remove the market to the outskirts of London, which was made a few years ago, signally failed, although the experiment was made on a scale which it might have been expected would have ensured its success. The opulent projector of the new undertaking expended ; and the proposed cattle-market was calculated to contain nearly double the number of cattle usually exhibited in Smithfield. It occupied an area of acres, situated in the , , on the high road for the northern and eastern parts of the country, whence the principal supplies of cattle come to the London market. The accommodations were in every respect judicious, and combined advantages which are altogether impracticable in Smithfield. The immense space was enclosed by high walls, surrounding which was a continuous range of slated sheds, extending yards in length, and supported by and, Doric pillars. The sheds were subdivided into numerous compartments, with lairs enclosed in front by oak-paling; and the beasts might either be fastened or left at liberty, being in either case equally convenient for persons who wished to examine them. Wells were sunk on the premises, and water was conveyed by pipes into troughs in each lair. The sheep-pens were calculated to hold of these animals; and there were pens for calves and pigs in a separate part of the market. Everything which could simplify the arrangements, and prevent confusion and irregularity, was an object of attention. The offices for salesmen and clerks of the market were not less conveniently arranged. It was also proposed to erect abattoirs adjoining the market for slaughtering cattle, in } which persons might either be accommodated with private slaughter-houses, or have their cattle slaughtered under inspectors at the usual rates. Nor was this all. Persons having business here would have found a market-tavern, with stable-yard, stables, and sheds; and shops were to have been opened for the supply of all the most ordinary wants. But, as we have before stated, this vigorous and even magnificent experiment signally failed. Mere attachment to old habits, or the mere power of monopoly on the part of the corporation of the City of London, could not of themselves have prevented the removal of Smithfield Market. It must possess many real advantages to enable it to resist the powerful attempts which have at different times been made to remove it to a less populous site. Even the City has been foiled in the attempt. Between
|and the City twice attempted to remove the market; they made applications to Parliament for power to enlarge it; and applications were made for acts for its better regulation. The bill for removing the market was opposed by the Trustees of the Rugby Charity, the Butchers' Company, the , the Trustees of the Highgate Roads, Bartholomew's Hospital, the inhabitants of Smithfield, and the cattle salesmen. The site to which it was proposed to remove the market was a field near Sadler's Wells. Another time, when a bill was brought in for the purpose, the site intended was near the north end of . Many of the objections which apply to Smithfield might now be equally urged against the sites above mentioned, as they are both surrounded by houses. The gross revenue which the City derives from the present market is about a-year, and the expenses amount to , leaving only a net revenue of about The risk of splitting great market into several smaller and inferior ones is not to be overlooked. In the great market all the purchasers, be they large or small, have equal advantages; and the man who has a few pounds in his pocket can suit himself as well as he who comes to lay out hundreds, or even thousands. At present the nearest cattle-market to Smithfield is the at Southall, a few miles west of London.|
The smaller retail butchers do not buy in Smithfield, unless it may be now and then a few sheep. They prefer purchasing from the carcass butchers, who kill to a large extent. The carcass butchers are to be found principally in , Newgate Market, Leadenhall Market, and in Whitechapel. Some of them are slaughtermen, and kill on their own premises; but the business of killing is also carried on as a separate occupation. There are slaughtermen who kill above a sheep and several beasts in a week. Many of the places in which they perform their operations are the most horrible dens which can be conceived, being literally underground cellars, down which the sheep are precipitated and immediately butchered. There are slaughtermen who kill sheep only. It is stated that the London slaughtermen perform their work with a knack and handiness which the country slaughterers cannot attain; and the charge for killing, skinning, and preparing an ox for the wholesale butcher, and delivering the carcass, is not more than . The London Jews have a different system of slaughtering from the other butchers: instead of knocking down the animal with an axe, they kill it with a knife, and a seal is put upon the carcass by a Jewish inspector, in proof of its having been slaughtered according to the mode prescribed by the Jewish religion.
In addition to the supplies obtained at Smithfield, large quantities of
are sent up by steam-boats and railways to London, principally to the carcass butchers of Newgate and Leadenhall Markets. It is packed in dry straw and cloth, and in cold weather is equal to the meat killed in the metropolis; but in the summer season this trade is almost entirely suspended. The railways have not as yet had much effect in increasing the supply of country-killed meat, but they have had some influence on the trade. A flock of sheep, instead of being driven to some town or miles from the grazier's farm, and then slaughtered and sent by waggon , , or miles, are killed at the homestead, properly packed, and taken in the owner's waggon to the nearest railway station. But this does not affect the total supply of killed
|meat; and any increase will not so much arise from the facility of reaching London in a shorter space of time as from the diminished cost of conveyance-a desideratum which has not yet been attained. A grazier, living miles from London has the choice of neighbouring markets as well as the London markets and prices are so nearly equalised in the present day, for different parts of the country, and the London market is always so abundantly and regularly supplied, as to offer little or no inducement for him to turn his attention to London in preference to the neighbouring country markets. Unless the demand of London be very much extended, or the markets of the manufacturing districts decline while the London market remains unaffected, it is not likely that we shall very soon see any great increase in the supply of country-killed meat. The railways might be put in requisition for the conveyance of a greater quantity of killed meat if a proportionate diminution took place in the arrivals of live stock at Smithfield; but this is not likely to occur, as in the case the supply must be disposed of, however disadvantageous the state of prices may be, while the live animals, if not disposed of with a profit in the Monday's market, may be held over until Friday, when the demand may be more active. At Mr. Laycock's cattle lairs at every facility is offered for arrangements of this kind, and many cattle may be comfortably accommodated for a moderate sum. Some of the London butchers have fields, into which the cattle which they purchase at Smithfield are turned before being slaughtered.|
If a man were to speculate over his dessert on the extensive chain of interests of which the demand for his
was the last link, he would find himself engaged in a far more extensive inquiry than he might at have supposed. It would lead him from a London hotel, and the cook and waiter who prepared and laid before him the principal item of his repast, to the mountains of Sutherlandshire and its plaided shepherds; but what a variety of stages have to be passed between these extreme points! Taking the average age at which oxen are brought to the market to be about years, and of sheep about , there are always in existence about or of the former, and about of the latter, which are destined for the Smithfield market; and perhaps we might put down the number of cattle at , and of sheep at -that is, about an of all the cattle and sheep bred in Great Britain. This immense demand enables land to pay a rent which would otherwise be a mere waste, dedicated only to the wildness of nature, instead of figuring in the rent-roll. On land of this character neither cattle nor sheep can be fattened, and after the herds and flocks have obtained a scanty livelihood for a year or so, they are driven to the great trysts or fairs, where they are purchased in immense numbers by dealers, who drive them farther south, and again sell them at fairs, where they are bought by farmers for the purpose of being made profitable consumers of the produce of their land; and after being fed in the straw-yard during the winter, or improved in condition by turnips or other nourishing food, they are again disposed of, and are, perhaps, next to be found on the pastures of Lincolnshire, the salt marshes of Essex, or on Romney Marsh, or other similar places, where they are finally fattened for the market. Others are fattened on turnips and other artificial food instead of the natural grasses of the pasture. The poor farmer, whose means do not enable him to fatten cattle for the butcher,
| has a share of the profit attending these successive transfers of the animal from its birth to its final destination. The following is an estimate of the number of cattle arriving in year at Smithfield from different districts at different seasons of the year:-- |
The grazier need never set foot in Smithfield. The country drovers collect the beasts and. drive them up to London under consignment to a salesman: there are beast salesmen and sheep salesmen. The salesmen's drovers meet the cattle at the outskirts of London, and drive them into the market; and here it is the duty of the salesman to attend to the interests of the grazier, which he can always do better than the grazier himself. He is quick in detecting the state of the market, and how prices are likely to
he is acquainted with the butchers and dealers, and knows their customary demands; and under these circumstances he can obtain a better price than the owner of the cattle, whose experience is not sharpened by years of practice in the open market. The salesman disposes of the stock committed to his charge, his remuneration consisting of the moderate sum of for each beast. The purchase-money is immediately remitted into the country. To be saved from constant visits to Smithfield and attendance from Sunday night to Monday noon, to avoid the expenses of travelling and the interruption of ordinary pursuits, is a result of the division of employments on which the grazier must surely congratulate himself. When a beast is sold, he is committed to a class of drovers,--namely, the butchers' drovers, and his course from the market to the dining-table is not delayed many days.
The consumption of butcher's meat is nowhere so great, both absolutely and in proportion to the population, as in London; but there are no means of estimating the total quantity very exactly with reference to the population supplied, the radius being so extensive and undefined, comprising places as far south as Croydon, and others equally distant on each side of the metropolis. The butchers at these places find that they can be more conveniently supplied from Smithfield, Newgate, or Leadenhall markets than from country markets in their own vicinity. The population which obtains a supply of butcher's meat from
| the sources above mentioned amounts to , on the lowest estimation. Now, taking the number of cattle and sheep sold in Smithfield in , with the number of pigs and calves from the average of a previous year, and averaging the dead weight of each, according to the judgment of an intelligent carcass-butcher of , we shall find the gross amount of animal food which is furnished by the Smithfield market :
At the average price of per lb. the above quantity would amount to ; at it would be ; at it would produce This is exclusive of bacon and all salted provisions imported from Ireland and other parts. The quantity of killed meat sent to Newgate and Leadenhall markets cannot be ascertained, but it is very great; and though this trade is at its height in the winter months, yet during the greater part of the year the arrivals are very considerable, and are never entirely suspended. But dividing only the quantity derived from Smithfield amongst a population of , the consumption of each individual will average lbs. of meat in the year. The consumption of Paris is estimated at lbs. per annum for each person, and at Brussels the annual consumption of each head of the population is estimated at lbs. The consumption of meat amongst the higher and middle classes is but little affected by price, a trifling increase or decrease, occasioning neither a diminished nor an extra demand; but, amongst the working classes, the very pressure of a diminished income operates in reducing the consumption of meat. From forming a portion of their daily diet, it is only consumed twice or thrice a week; and, lastly, when the pressure continues, even the Sunday dinner, which, to the working classes of London, is of the greatest spurs to their industry-even this must be given up for more frugal fare. From some recent statistical inquiries in the manufacturing districts of the north, it has been found, on a comparison of a period of prosperity with of stagnation and embarrassment, that the consumption of meat fell off -, and even -half. The oxen, sheep and lambs, calves, and pigs slaughtered in the borough of Leeds, declined from in -, to in ; and in Rochdale the number of oxen killed weekly in was , while in only or were killed. These statements show how extensively the cattle-breeder, the grazier, the butcher, and all connected with these avocations, are dependent on the well-being of the great masses of the non-agricultural population.
Closely connected with the interests of Smithfield Market is the annual competition of fat cattle for the prizes awarded by the Smithfield Club. This club, which consists of noblemen and gentlemen of extensive landed possessions, was established at the close of the last century, when the improvement of the rural arts was looked upon as a patriotic duty. The annual show of the prize-cattle, sheep, pigs, &c., is of the
of London. For the last or
|years the exhibition has taken place at the Horse Bazaar, , Portmansquare, which, though not quite so eligible as could be wished, is superior to the former exhibition-yard in . The show always takes place in December, about a week or days before Christmas-day, and after the prizes have been adjudged the public are admitted, on payment of , during the remainder of the week. In , there were exhibited oxen, cows, sheep, and pigs, the animals of each species being the most perfect specimens of their kind which the united judgment and experience of breeders and graziers can produce. The Scotch oxen had, in some cases, been brought by steam-boats a distance exceeding miles; and in nearly every case the railways were made use of for the conveyance of both cattle and sheep from all parts of England. Formerly the animals were brought to London in vans, at a great expense, as the rate of travelling was necessarily slow.|
The interest of the show is, as may be expected, chiefly confined to certain classes. On entering the place of exhibition the visitor at once perceives that the company consists chiefly of country gentlemen, cattle-breeders, graziers, cattle-salesmen, and butchers, with a sprinkling of townsmen, who have a relish, imbibed in early life, for country pursuits. But the sight is of rational interest to any man. Here he sees the result of exertions, principally carried on during the last years, to unite and bring to perfection the most desirable points in the various breeds of domestic animals which were once peculiar to different parts of Great Britain,
|but are now spread, in their improved form, over every part of the country. In the gallery, a portion of which overlooks the show-yard, are to be seen agricultural implements and machinery of the latest and most improved construction; roots and plants adapted to our climate, but which are as yet comparatively unknown; samples of artificial manures; and specimens of the soil of districts differing from each other in their geological formation. In spite of all the advances which agriculture has made during the present century, how slowly do improvements extend beyond the intelligent circle in which they are adopted! And it is f the great advantages of institutions such as the Smithfield Club to spread them more rapidly and over a wider surface, by drawing the agriculturist from the secluded scenes amid which he carries on his occupations, and bringing them before him in the manner best calculated to demonstrate their utility.|
The prize oxen or sheep which we see at this exhibition are fatter than is required for the ordinary market; and hence it is often supposed that the stimulus of prizes for bringing an animal into a state of unnecessary fatness is altogether a work of supererogation. But the power of reaching this point is simply a test, showing the capacity of the breed for acquiring, at the least expense of food and at the earliest age,; such a useful marketable condition as the public demand requires. This course has been perfectly successful; and to show that it has been so, we need only advert to the period when improved breeds of cattle were less common than they are now. Culley, who was himself a great improver of cattle, and wrote a work on the subject at the commencement of the century, speaks of a kind of oxen which had not then become extinct, that were
and the flesh (for he says it did not deserve to be called beef) was
and yet such an animal was less profitable than an ox of the present improved breeds. After feeding on the best pastures for a whole summer, it was scarcely fatter or in better condition than at the commencement, as the food which it consumed went to the support of
There were breeds of sheep which equally stood in need of improvement. But what is the case now? A sheep can be fattened for the market in years, which formerly required years, or even a longer period, the saving to the consumer from this cause alone being above per cent.; and in cattle, the small-boned, true-proportioned animal of the improved breeds has in the same way been rendered above per cent. more profitable. The meat thus obtained at a less expense of food, and in a shorter space of time, is far superior in quantity and quality to the carcass of the old breeds. When Davenant stated that the average weight of cattle sold in Smithfield was lbs., and sheep and lambs, averaged together, only weighed lbs., we can show, as will have been seen from a previous estimate, that the former average lbs., while the average weight of the Teeswater sheep is lbs. per quarter; of the Leicester, lbs. per quarter; and of the Southdown, lbs. per quarter. Culley states (and the work of improvement has been carried to a higher point, as well as very widely diffused, since his time) that the difference between the coarse and fine, or between the best and worst parts of beef, when cut up, was formerly not less than per cent.; but in the improved breeds the quality of the coarse parts has been made very much better, and the
| quantity of bone is also diminished. These are no trifling advantages to the poorest class of consumers. In mutton, the difference between part and another has also gradually become less and less. In this useful object of agricultural zeal the Smithfield Club has rendered great services; and the London butchers, who purchase the prize cattle and sheep as a means of enhancing the reputation of their shops, have equally promoted the same end; and by combination of purpose and competition between cattle-breeders, graziers, and others, the average standard of quality in meat has been raised to an extent which may be compared with the still more important step of converting a whole population into consumers of wheaten bread instead of that made from oats, barley, or other inferior grain. The cattle-breeder looks no farther for his reward than to the grazier; the grazier expects encouragement from the butcher; and the butcher calculates upon the support of a |
who must in all cases either communicate the stimulus to improvement, or support it when once its career has commenced.
There is a horse-market held in Smithfield on the afternoon of Fridays. It commences in the summer season at in the afternoon, and closes at ; and in winter is held from o'clock until dusk. This market had much the same reputation in Shakspere's time,[n.328.1] and most probably for centuries before, which it now bears. The number of horses is usually or , and from to a asses. Here low jockeys attempt to display their broken-down animals to the best advantage, and costermongers
over the buying and selling of their asses; and scenes of drollery and coarse and boisterous mirth may be witnessed which at least illustrate low life in London. The inspector of police for Smithfield stated in that.there was not
It is the horse-market which has the credit, according to the same testimony, of bringing together
and he described it as the most abominable scene that can be imagined.
It is not so bad now, being under better police regulation.
Smithfield is also of the metropolitan hay and straw markets. This market is held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. A payment of sixpence per load (unless the property of freemen), and a penny for each entry of sale, has produced above a-year. The supplies arrive from places within a circle of miles round London.
[n.314.1] Stow calls him John Tyler, but his name in the Parliamentary Records is given as Walter.
[n.316.1] Art. Appeal, Penny Cyclopaedia.
[n.328.1] Henry IV., Part 2, Act I., Scene 2.