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Chapter XI, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 9 page 3

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The following table may be useful as showing the number of cases throughout Great Britain during one week in November and two in December; and the total numbers since the commencement of the disease: - The loss was all the more severe from the fact of its falling so unequally upon different districts. The corn- growing counties suffered, of course, comparatively little; many of the grazing counties were nearly ruined. Cheshire, for instance, the land of cheeses, had 17,971 cases of the disease up to the 27th January, 1866; Yorkshire had 19,331; while Lincolnshire had only 4,080. Moreover, the districts which breed cattle but do not import them - the North and West Highlands of Scotland, and almost the whole of Wales - continued up to this time to be quite free from the murrain. This partiality of the disease had the additional effect of complicating the question of compensation to the sufferers. The local insurance associations, started to meet the losses of each district, began to find it difficult in some cases to meet their liabilities, while in other districts there were scarcely any liabilities to meet. Hence arose a strong cry for a state insurance - that is, a system of public compensation; and the question derives additional interest from the fact of its having called forth the emphatic opposition of Mr. Gladstone, then Chancellor of the Exchequer; and, in the next year, of having given rise to many a lively passage of arms in the House of Commons between the great economist Mr. Mill and the ready debater Mr. Lowe. One paragraph from Mr. Gladstone's letter to Sir Thomas Lloyd may be quoted. After dwelling on the inevitable waste and fraud that such a scheme would create, on the probable relaxation of individual vigilance, and on the present duties of landlords, the letter went on to say: - "If the disease should extend very widely, the result must inevitably be felt in a much augmented price of meat. The consumer would then, probably, taking the country all over, pay the same or a larger aggregate amount of money for a greatly diminished quantity. All those who are not smitten in their own cattle would thus profit largely by the disease as producers, while as consumers they would only suffer in common with the community at large. How, then, could the community be asked to pay twice - first, for their meat in extra price; and secondly, for the cattle lost, - while landlords and cultivators of the soil would probably, as a class, have their loss (as in a bad corn year) counteracted by a corresponding or greater benefit? "

It is enough to add, that the project of a state insurance came to nothing, and that Mr. Gladstone's prophecy as to the increased price of meat proved lamentably true. Although the fear of approaching contagion drove the farmers to send unusually large numbers of cattle for slaughter - and, therefore, the supply, instead of falling off, increased - the price of meat rose enormously. Instead of eightpence or ninepence, tenpence or a shilling became the common price for a pound of meat; and from this rate it has never since declined. With this increase came a corresponding and more justifiable rise in the price of milk, especially in London. The 7,000 cattle which, as our table shows, had been attacked in the London district up to the end of the year were almost entirely milch-cows; the London dairies were drained of their supply, the London cow-yards emptied. Of course, an immediate rise in the price of milk followed, and a dislocation of the London milk trade. The dairymen became importers instead of producers. The railways began to develop new facilities for the carriage of milk from the country into London; and then were first to be noticed on a large scale what now may be seen on every railway line, trucks loaded with great broad-bottomed cans bringing up the produce of country meadows for the use of the metropolis. No disinterested person can regret this at least among the results of the plague. No one who has once entered a London cow-yard, and been conscious of its dirt, its squalor, its confined space, its want of ventilation, and the unhealthy look of the animals within it, will deny that in changing the source of the metropolitan milk supply, the cattle plague has been a blessing.

The remaining history of the disease, and of the interesting economical questions to which it gave rise, will be better treated when we come to speak of the year 1866.

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