c. 1848 · n.p.
Lord Lyndhurst, three times Lord Chancellor of Great Britain, also known as John Copley (son of the famous painter), pens a short letter circa 1848, after leaving his position as Chancellor, requesting ""Gentleman / I will thank you to send me the (illegible) in page 9 of catalogue of 1848 - the linseed, and universal grain (illegible) - £5.15.6 … Lord Lyndhurst""Linseed also known as flax, is both a food and fiber crop, a grain used for many purposes including oils, clothing, and food. The flax fibers are used to make linen, the oil is used in cooking, and solvent processed flaxseed oil has been used as a drying oil in painting and varnishing, and the flaxseed along with flaxseed sprouts are edible. After 1846 and the disintegration of the Tory party over Peel's adoption of free trade, Lord Lyndhurst did not attend parliament sessions as often, but he continued to take a lively interest in public affairs and to make speeches. Of interest is that his letter was written during the period in history shortly after the high grain prices leading into the early 1800s had crashed and were beginning to rise again (as much as 20% over the following two decades). During this time there was much interest in cultivation of crops providing a lot of nutritional value in a small area, and the introduction of soil enhancing nitrogen fixing crops. But no doubt this short letter was also in contemplation of the calamity occurring in that decade that gave rise to the term ‘the Hungry Forties’ in Europe. This period is often regarded, and rightly so, as one of deprivation, unrest, and revolution. Two events – the Great Irish Famine and ‘1848’ – stand out. Poor harvests and political unrest were widespread across the continent, however, and the connection between the two was widely discussed. The subsistence crises of the second half of the 1840s may be divided into two rather distinct categories. On the one hand, the failure of the potato which first struck Europe in mid 1845, resulted in a catastrophe in Ireland that killed about one million people, and radically transformed its landscape and the economy, and on the other hand, and in 1846 in particular, was also one of poor wheat and rye harvests throughout much of Europe. Failure of the grain harvest alone rarely resulted in a subsistence crisis, but the combination of poor potato and grain harvests in a single place was a lethal one. This letter by Lord Lyndhurst may be short, but it is packed with thought over the unrest of the period and would warrant further research." (Inventory #: 61057)