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when we regard the altered value of money.
In the days of Queen Elizabeth eggs were a
common article of food. We learn from no
less an authority than the Chamberlain of a
renowned inn in Kent, that the company who
travelled with the carriers used eggs
plentifully and luxuriously. 'They are up already,
and call for eggs and butter.' (Henry IV.
pt. 1.) But if we infer that the population of
London, in those days of supposed cheapness,
could obtain eggs with the facility with which
we now obtain them, and that the estimated two
hundred thousand of that population could call
for them as freely as the pack-horse travellers
at Rochester,—the inference may be corrected
by the knowledge of a few facts, which will
show by what means, then undiscovered, a
perishable article is now supplied with
unfailing regularity, and without any limit but
that enforced by the demand, to a population
of two millions and a quarter. That such a
population can be so supplied without a
continuing increase, or a perpetual variation of
price, is an Illustration of Cheapness, which
involves a view of some remarkable
peculiarities of our age, and some important
characteristics of our social condition.

In the days of Edward II., the villagers who
dwelt within a few miles of London daily
surrounded its walls with their poultry and eggs.
The poulterers were forbidden to become their
factors; but unquestionably it was for the
interest of both parties that some one should
stand between the producer and the consumer.
Without this, there would have been no
regular production. Perhaps the production
was very irregular, the price very fluctuating,
the dearth often intolerable. This huckstering
had to go on for centuries before it became
commerce. It would have been difficult, even
fifty years ago, to imagine that eggs, a frail
commodity, and quickly perishable, should
become a great article of import. Extravagant
would have been the assertion that a kingdom
should be supplied with sea-borne eggs, with
as much speed, with more regularity, and at
a more equalised price, than a country market-town
of the days of George III. It has been
stated, that, before the Peace of 1815,
Berwick-upon-Tweed shipped annually as many eggs
to London as were valued at £30,000 Before
the Peace, there were no steam-vessels; and it
is difficult to conceive how the cargoes from
Berwick, with a passage that often lasted a
month, could find their way to the London
consumer in marketable condition. Perhaps
the eaters of those eggs, collected in the Border
districts, were not so fastidious in their tastes
as those who now despise a French egg which
has been a week travelling from the Pas de
Calais. But the Berwick eggs were, at any
rate, the commencement of a real commerce
in eggs.

In 1820, five years after the Peace, thirty-one
millions of foreign eggs found their way
into England, paying a duty of £11,077, at
the rate of a penny for each dozen. They
principally came from France, from that coast
which had a ready communication with Kent
and Sussex, and with the Thames. These
eggs, liable as they were to a duty, came to
the consumer so much cheaper than the
Berwick eggs, or the Welsh eggs, or the eggs
even that were produced in Middlesex or
Surrey, that the trade in eggs was slowly but
surely revolutionised. Large heaps of eggs
made their appearance in the London markets,
or stood in great boxes at the door of the
butterman, with tempting labels of '24 a
shilling,' or '20 a shilling.' They were
approached with great suspicion, and not
unjustly so; for the triumphs of steam were yet
far from complete. But it was discovered
that there was an egg-producing country in
close proximity to London, in which the
production of eggs for the metropolitan market
might be stimulated by systematic intercourse,
and become a mutual advantage to a population
of two millions, closely packed in forty square
miles of street, and a population of six hundred
thousand spread over two thousand five
hundred square miles of arable, meadow, and
forest land, with six or eight large towns.
This population of the Pas de Calais is
chiefly composed of small proprietors. Though
the farms are larger there than in some other
parts of France, some of the peculiarities of
what is called the small culture are there
observable. Poultry, especially, is most abundant.
Every large and every small farm-
house has its troops of fowls and turkeys.
The pullets are carefully fed and housed; the
eggs are duly collected; the good-wife carries
them to the markets of Arras, or Bethune, or
St. Omer, or Aire, or Boulogne, or Calais:
perhaps the egg-collector traverses the district
with his cart and his runners. The egg-trade
with England gradually went on increasing.
In 1835, France consigned to us seventy-six
millions of eggs, paying a duty of tenpence
for 120. In 1849, we received ninety-eight
millions of foreign eggs, paying a duty of
tenpence-halfpenny per 120, amounting to
£35,694These are known in the egg-market
as eggs of Caen, Honfleur, Cherbourg, Calais,
and Belgium.

In 1825 the commercial intercourse between
Great Britain and Ireland was put upon the
same footing as the coasting trade of the
ports of England. Steam navigation between
the two islands also had received an enormous
impulse. The small farmers and cottiers of
Ireland were poultry-keepers. Too often the
poor oppressed tenants were wont to think
'The hen lays eggs, they go into the lord's
frying-pan.' Steam navigation gave a new
impulse to Irish industry. Before steam-
vessels entered the Cove of Cork, an egg, at
certain seasons, could scarcely be found in the
market of that city. England wanted eggs;
steam-boats would convey them rapidly to
Bristol; the small farmers applied themselves
to the production of eggs; Cork itself then
obtained a constant and cheap supply. In