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The below article appeared in The Penny Magazine for February 25, 1843. The article was retyped. The image appeared on page 65 above the text.

Pound sterling had a symbol after several monetary numbers that looked like this: " l"

That symbol was replaced with a modern pound sterling symbol: "₤." However, in modern times, the symbol would appear BEFORE the monetary amount, not after.


The industry required in producing the common food of the people, although simple and often rude in its nature, involves extensive and varied arrangements, and a division of employments nearly as striking as the complicated processes which excite so much admiration in manufactures. How varied are the contrasts between the different classes engaged in raising food and those who are employed in producing clothing and shelter, and yet the humblest services in each of these departments of industry are indispensable and invaluable. The subject of the cut leads us more immediately to the consideration of one of the useful occupations connected with the supply of animal food. The number of cattle in Great Britain is estimated at eight millions and their value, at 10₤ per head, amounts to the large sum of eighty millions sterling. One-fifth of the above-mentioned number of 1,600,000, is annually consigned to the butcher. His are the last, except those of the cook, of a long chain of operations. London requires a supply of about 160,000 head of cattle annually, and by far the larger proportion are reared in the northern part of the island, though they are fattened in the south. The rich lands are more profitably employed than in supplying food to young beasts which are hardy enough to thrive on the coarse grasses of uncultivated wastes. Hence, as the most profitable distribution of the soil, lean cattle are the riches of a country which is not adapted to cultivation; but when required for the butcher, then the produce of the best soils may be advantageously employed in fattening them. In the districts where they are reared, the rent of the land is paid out of the profits of the live stock, for they are the chief wealth of the tenant, but in those where they are fattened rent is derived from a greater variety of sources, and the manure obtained from stall-feeding constitutes no inconsiderable proportion of the profit, for without this restorative the soil would soon become less productive. No plan therefore is so advantageous or economical as that under which the uncultivated lands are devoted to the rearing, and the richer soils to the fattening of stock. On their road from Scotland to the midland, eastern, and southern counties of England the services of a particular class of men is a distribution of labour equally convenient. The farmer of Norfolk need not leave his farm on a distant journey to the north, but purchases lean stock at the fairs in his own neighbourhood, to which the cattle are driven by those who make it their sole business. In the 'Survey of Dumbartonshire' there is an account of the progress of the cattle on their journey:"The cattle bred in the West Highlands are, at the age of two years, or two years and a half, removed into Dumbartonshire and the neighbouring counties. At three years old they are carried to the northern counties of England, and so by degrees southward, enjoying at each remove a milder climate and a richer pasture than before, till they attain their full size, and reach the butcher in prime condition." The pastures on which they are supported before they commence their journey to the south are very coarse, and only cattle which have never known better fare can pick up a living upon them. After feeding here during the winter, they are sold in April or May, and it is evident that if they have simply not deteriorated during the severe season, they will, when that is over and there is the near prospect of abundant food from the summer pastures, fetch a higher price than was given for them before the winter with its possible scarcity. During summer they get into better condition, and are purchased by buyers from districts where turnips are cultivated, on which root and hay they are fed in the second winter. In spring they perhaps reach the rich pastures of Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, or the marshes of Essex, and are put upon them for the early grass, on which they soon become fat. For stall-feeding, they are bought lean at the great autumn fairs and fattened during the winter. The prices vary in different years, but the proportions remain much the same, and the small Scotch cattle usually average per head, at fifteen months, 3₤. to 4₤.; at two years, 6₤. or 7₤.; at three or three and a half, 10₤. or 12₤. upwards. Every hand through which they pass derives a profit, as advantageous to the public interest as it is to his own.

The great trysts or fairs in Scotland for the sale of cattle exhibit the wealth of pastoral districts to great advantage. Those held at Falkirk are the largest, from its central situation, both for the breeders in the north and west of Scotland, and for the buyers for the English market. Every variety of cattle bred in Scotland, including those from the Western Islands and the Hebrides, are to be found at the Falkirk trysts, which are held on different days in the months of August, September, and October, the last being the largest, as the breeders must then dispose of all the stock which they do not intend to keep through the winter. At the October tryst there have been 50,000 cattle, 30,000 sheep and 3,000 horses on sale; and the number sold at the three together is about 80,000 cattle, 50,000 sheep, and 5,000 horses, which fetch an aggregate sum of 650,000₤., averaging the cattle at 7₤. each, the sheep at 18s., and the horses at 10₤. Some of the cattle are in good store condition, others are almost ready for the butcher, but the greater proportion are lean, and are purchased to be fattened in the south. Cattle-dealing partakes a good deal of excitement of gambling, as the profits may be largely increased by the state of the markets, the supply of fodder, and many unforeseen contingencies; and they are enhanced also by adroitness and aptness in making bargains. A man who spends his whole life in attending fairs is, therefore, a character sui generis; but he has none of the low trickery of the horse-dealer.

From the great Scotch trysts the cattle are sent off to the south in droves of from two to three hundred, under the charge of a person called a 'topsman.' The following account of the further progress of the animals is from the treatise on 'Cattle,' in the "Library of Useful Knowledge:'"The topsman generally goes before, to see that grass is secured at proper stations, and to make all necessary arrangements. He has under him other drovers, in the proportion of one to about thirty cattle. The journey to Norfolk occupies about three weeks. The expense in summer and autumn is from 1₤. to 1₤. 4s. per head; and in winter, when they are fed with hay, they cost 10s. or 15s. per head additional. The cattle are purchased and paid for by the drovers sometimes in cash, but more generally a part of the price is paid in bills, and sometimes the whole of it. In some instances where the farmer has confidence in the drover, he consents that the purchase-money shall be remitted from Norwich, or that the money shall be paid when the jobber returns home. The business is hazardous, and now and then unfortunate; but the drover considers himself well paid, if, every expense of the journey being discharged, he clears from 2s. 6d. to 5s. per head; and when he has either money or credit sufficient to take a drove of 600 or 1,000 head of cattle to the market, that is a good remunerating price." The drovers are said to be a respectable and deserving class of men. They are very different from the class who drive the cattle into Smithfield market from the outskirts of London, where they meet another class, the country drovers; but neither the one nor the other are anything more than mere drivers of the cattle to market. The 'drover,' properly so called, requires either capital or credit.

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