[ The Potato Blight in Scotland, 1854. ] Anonymous manuscript paper: 'The Cause and Cure of the Potato disease &c.', including 'Memorandum of Facts relative to Pestilence and the Potato disease in the Parish of Campbeltown'.
121pp., folio, with each page on a separate leaf. The author's own pagination skips p.20, but the text is complete. In fair condition, on lightly aged and worn watermarked laid paper. Manuscript emendations (corrections, deletions and additions) throughout, and also occasional directions to a printer in the margin (for example, p.18: 'Indent an M piece') suggesting contemporary publication. (The Otago Witness in 1891 reproduced under the same title a few short extracts from the present item - starting at p.24 of it. The background to that abridgment is unclear.) A well-informed article, not only giving an overview, but also drawing on the personal experience of the author. (He has, for example, a conversation with 'an old man, then the occupier of two or three acres of land, who, on being asked, what he thought might have been the cause of the Potato disease in 1845 said, he knew fine - It was a rod picked by the hand of the Almighty, for the backs of Landlords, and Tenants, for encouraging people to build potato mills in the District, to rob the Poor of their daily food.') The author reproduces (pp.70-89) a 'Memorandum of Facts relative to Pestilence and the Potato disease in the Parish of Campbeltown', which ends with '1854 8th planting', and begins by stating that in 1817 'a number of People in Kintyre died of Typhus Fever, and it being generally believed, that the Pestilence was brought to the District by wandering beggars from Ireland'. The memorandum is followed (p.90) by a section headed 'Remarks'. P.92 begins: 'At the quarterly meeting held on the 9th August 1854, the foregoing papers were read to the society, and the ton of Kivans and Seedlings offered having been accepted, votes of thanks were duly returned for the same. One member said, t with his Knowledge, that besides Colonel Porter, and the Blacksmith, a Crofter at Skeroblin, had almost twelve years before the general failure of the Potato crops in 1845, reared new seed potatoes from the apple, and that the whole of his rearing perished that year by the disease.' A final section (pp.115-120) is headed 'Campbeltown 2nd Oct 1854', and gives a report on the state of agriculture in the district at that time. The author also comments: 'For the last week, we have had four deaths by Cholera in this parish, and I see from the newspapers that the pestilence is abating in other places, which is ascribed by some to a change of weather, and by others to sanatory [sic] improvements, but I believe the lull here is occasioned by the farmers of the district being at harvest work, which has within the last four days caused a scarcity of potatoes for consumption, and that scarcity has had the effect of raising the price in the Campbeltown market. The Potato Disease is progressing rapidly, [...]'. The text begins: 'The general failure of the Potato Crop in 1845, was a great national calamity, causing famine in many places and a change of the corn laws. - In almost every rural parish in the three kingdoms, Land was thrown out of tillage, and the consequent want of labour, with a scarcity of food, particularly in the agricultural Districts, caused, for the support of the poor, an unprecedented expenditure of government money; and obliged a greater number of people to emigrate from the British Isles, than has been known to emigrate within the same period of time, from any nation in Europe, since the fall of the Roman Empire. - The potato disease effected all this, and altho modified, I believe it still exists, and may occasionally break and again unless something be done to prevent it. Almost six years ago, and when we were still suffering from the effects of the disease, I stated to you, what in my opinion had brought it on, and suggested a cure - but as I was singular in my opinion, my suggestion was not adopted; and because there is little suffering at present, the malady is allowed to proceed, without those most interested in the present, thinking it at all necessary to provide a remedy; [...]'