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Extract of a Letter from Wakefield


Extract of a Letter from the Rev˙ Mr˙ T*****, of Wakefield, in Yorkshire, (England,) to Dr˙ Price, dated March 20, 1772; enclosed in the preceding.

Most wretched is the state of the poor about Dewsbury, through the languishing condition of the woollen manufactory. I am told, that the poor' s assessment for the last half year, amounted to five shillings in the pound, and for the preceding half year, to three shillings and six pence, and this merely to preserve the poor wretches from absolute starving. Many of the lesser manufacturers have already been broken and sold up, and the rest say, with tears in their eyes, that they expect it will soon be the common fate. Unfortunately, the chief branch of the business of that very populous neighbourhood is making duffil blankets for the North American market, the total stagnation of which trade has chiefly brought on this distress. But the cloth business is almost as bad. I am told, that last Tuesday an account was taken at Leeds, of the cloths that lie there unsold, and they amounted to near nineteen thousand cloths. Measures are also taken to get the number of cloths unsold in the manufacturer' s possession, which, it is not doubted, will be found exceedingly great; and this is the time of the year when business should be most brisk. Mr˙ W*****h, I hear, is going up again to London; furnished with these, and other proper facts, to be laid before Parliament. Even the principal manufacturers express their apprehensions, that they must either stop entirely; or soon will be reduced to the common level. In short, the present state of things here is lamentable, and the prospect dismal. Our work people at Wakefield are tolerably well off, for the Milneses do a great deal this year; but at Leeds, I am told, little is done. Several families are already gone from Bristol this spring for North America, and carry their arts and manufactures with them. If they succeed, swarms will follow. All our hope of relief, while suffering the severities of an hungry and cold winter, was the revival of the demand from America. What astonishment and indignation then must we feel at the measures that blast that hope forever, and fill us with apprehensions, that these are but the beginning of sorrows. Such measures for the supporting authority, are ridiculous enough; but alas, we are too miserable to laugh. I was exceedingly affected last Friday, on observing the settled gloom and dejection that sat on the countenances of the poor manufacturers, who brought their cloths to Mr˙ M****' s warehouse. How different from the looks they wore two years ago! In short, our situation here, is a too forcible confirmation of the principles so affectingly exhibited to public attention, in Dr˙ Price' s additional preface to his appeal to the public, &c˙, which Mr˙ Lindsey has just sent. Beyond a doubt, if the event he so probably prognosticates takes place, the manufacturing part of the nation will first, and most severely suffer.