YOUNG, Arthur. A Tour in Ireland; with General Observations on the Present State of that Kingdom: made in the years 1776, 1777, and 1778. And brought down to the end of 1779.

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THE MOST VALUABLE EXAMINATION EVER UNDERTAKEN OF AGRICULTURAL AND SOCIAL CONDITIONS IN IRELAND

The second edition. London: H. Goldney for T. Cadell, in the Strand, 1780. Two volumes. (the first edition appeared earlier in the same year). Octavo. pp. (1) xxiv, 539, [1] (2) [2], 416. Five engraved plates (three folding) & one woodcut in the text. Contemporary full sprinkled calf, covers with double gilt fillet borders. Spine divided into six panels by five gilt raised bands, title, author and volume number in gilt on black morocco labels in the second and fourth, the remainder elaborately tooled in gilt; maroon and gold endbands; splash-marbled endpapers. From the library of Charles Benjamin Caldwell with his bookplate on front pastedowns. A very handsome set in fine condition.

Arthur Young toured Ireland in 1776, 1777 and 1778, observing all classes, from titled lords to casual labourers, and all areas, from the semi-industrial North to the dairy country of Wexford and Waterford. As an agriculturalist of European repute, he had no difficulty in securing introductions to the most prominent members of the Irish aristocracy and gentry, giving him a framework for his astonishingly comprehensive tour of the island.

Unlike most travellers of his time, Young’s attitude was that of scientific observer rather than sentimental tourist, and his accounts of Irish life are thus more detailed and more vivid than the descriptions of his contemporaries. He was particularly interested in the conditions of the peasantry, believing with Dr. Johnson that “a decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilisation”, and condemned the management of the ‘lower classes’, who “are much worse treated than the poor in England, are talked to in more opprobrious terms, and otherwise very much oppressed.”
Young’s account of urban and rural life, of farming practice, industry, and the political atmosphere of the country remains one of the chief authorities for Irish economic conditions in the late eighteenth century. This work “was well received at the time, and has since become a valuable source as one of the few accounts of conditions in Ireland at this time. Among other subjects Young had much to say on commercial policy and the activities of the Dublin Society; and in addition Young attacked the practice of subletting land to middlemen and made some interesting observations on the living conditions of the poor.”- ODNB. Provenance: Charles Benjamin Caldwell (1809-1896) was a son of Charles Andrew Caldwell of New Grange, County Meath. He was a Captain in 91st Argyleshire Highlanders. He inherited New Grange from his father who was married to Sophia Frances Caldwell. Died at New Grange Lodge, Bray, Co Wicklow and left the estate at New Grange to his nephew Charles Henry Bulwer Caldwell Second.

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