Observations on a Bill, for Explaining, Amending, and Reducing into One Act, the several Laws now in being,… for preventing the Exportation of Live Sheep, Wool, and other Commodities.
Observations on a Bill, for Explaining, Amending, and Reducing into One Act, the several Laws now in being,… for preventing the Exportation of Live Sheep, Wool, and other Commodities.

Observations on a Bill…
Observations on a Bill, for Explaining, Amending, and Reducing into One Act, the several Laws now in being,… for preventing the Exportation of Live Sheep, Wool, and other Commodities.

London? 1787.

12mo, uncut, recent marbled wrappers.

Wool in England; preface probably by Joseph Banks

Rare: an intriguing pamphlet on the vexed question of the importation of wool into England, with a preface thought to have been contributed by Sir Joseph Banks.

Rare: an intriguing pamphlet on the vexed question of the importation of wool into England, with a preface thought to have been contributed by Sir Joseph Banks.

The West Countryman John Anstie had first mooted a new Bill in 1786 for reducing all the of the laws regarding wool manufacture and export into a single Act, 'a draconian affair of almost fifty pages.' Banks, who had a copy of the Bill, scribbled 'This is the original bill attempted by the manufacturers in 1786 judged too bad for even an attempt at a second reading.' Banks, moreover, is known to have kept a weather eye on proceedings on the advice of Pemberton Milne, who initially spearheaded the defence. Banks became increasingly involved, drawing in the support of agricultural reformers Arthur Young and Lord Sheffield, who 'wrote to each other, collected statistics, circulated pamphlets and newspapers, harangued every M.P. and landowner they met at their country assizes and race meetings' (Richard Wilson, 'Newspapers and Industry: the Export of Wool Controversy in the 1780s,' The Press in English Society, pp. 100-102).

The present pamphlet was one of the bulwarks of this new group that was agitating against the Act. Although anonymous, the attribution of this work to William Nicholson is based on a copy now in the University of Pennsylvania, which bears the manuscript note: 'The pamphlet was written by Mr Nicholson. The Preface by Sir Joseph Banks.' Nicholson (1753-1815) was a scientific editor and member of the Royal Society, known to have dabbled in any number of pursuits. The correspondence between him and Banks recorded by Dawson chiefly related to a contretemps between the two men regarding publication of Royal Society papers, but does show that they were well acquainted.

However, it might just as well have been written by the more famous pamphleteer in the service of the wool trade, Lord Sheffield, who produced any number of pro-market works on the subject in this period. A firm attribution to Banks might not be possible either, but the involvement of Banks in the defence is understood, and it is almost certain that he approved and perhaps even wrote the preface, as has been asserted. Either way, it forms an interesting footnote to Banks' long researches into sheep and wool. Banks, of course, had been actively involved with wool-breeders since 1781 when he was engaged on behalf of the farmers of Lincolnshire, and had keenly promoted the importation of Spanish sheep since at least 1785, when he first established his own small flock at Spring Grove, and over the ensuing two decades energetically fulfilled his role as Groom of His Majesty's Spanish Flock.

Goldsmiths', 13592.

Price (AUD): $925.00  other currencies     Ref: #4010210