Reported On This Day 280 Years Ago (April 14 1739): Farmer seeks modern advice

Front page of April 3 1739 Belfast News Letter (April 14 1739 in the modern calendar)
Front page of April 3 1739 Belfast News Letter (April 14 1739 in the modern calendar)
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From the Belfast News Letter of April 3 1739 (April 14 in the modern calendar):


We are so much pleas’d to find that our Papers are got at last into the Hands for which they were principally design’d, that we cannot help laying the following Proof of it before the Reader.

[The letter that follows is a response to various Dublin Society essays, reproduced in the News Letter, urging the use of more modern methods of farming and linen production and so on, such as this article, click here, which appeared immediately above the letter. It is unclear if the letter was sent straight to the society, which seems possible given that the society, above, is highlighting the letter, or first to the News Letter, where the farmer had read the society’s advice]:


IF the Thanks of a plain Man will please you, you have mine most heartily, and those of all my honest Neighbours, for the great Pains you take to give us good Advice.

There are five of six of us, and tho’ I say it, as good Farmers as the best about us, who meet once a Week to read your Papers over a Quart of Ale.

We think you are very Right in many Things, and would do as you bid us with all our Hearts, but we have none of your Dublin Society in our Neighbourhood to shew us the new Tools you have got from abroad, and how they must be handled, and so cannot do as we would do.

What we want of you, which occasions this Trouble, is that you would perswade [sic] some of our Landlords to be of the Society, and then we shall be as happy as our Neighbours.

For we do not doubt, but all the Gentlemen among you, shew their Tenants how Things should be done, and set them an Example, and that you do as well as say, which is a great Encouragement to poor People, and much wanted in our Parts. I myself have a Son a likely Lad as you will see in a Hundred, that I would make a Flax-Dresser, and then I would give my Farm to my Boy William, because you say a Flax Dresser must not be a Farmer, and I believed you are right so far; but I have no body to teach the Lad, and we have no Ponds, or Ovens, nor Mills any where about us for him to learn his Trade at, as you direct us, and therefore we must go on in the old Way.

Pray consider us, and if you can do any Thing in this Business, you will do a great deal of Good to all the Country, and we, and our Children, will bless you as long as we live.

D—, March 9. 1739

[The reply of the Dublin Society, later the Royal Dublin Society, to above included as follows:] ...We could wish to direct our Correspondent to some place in Ireland, where there were Ponds and Mills and Ovens, that his Son Will might have the Farm, and his likely Lad be properly instructed in Flax-Dressing. Unhappily we cannot, and except Gentlemen will at last exert themselves, ‘tis too much to be fear’d, that but little will be done, of the Good this honest Man expects...