Golden Fleece

Golden Fleece

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Excerpt from Golden Fleece: An Introduction to the Industrial History of England

Most of the great industries of England have their own literature; but it has generally been written from the technical point of view. Few of these industrial studies are suitable for the ordinary reader or are written with reference to the general economic history of the country. This book aims at giving to those who are interested in England's industrial development, as well as to those who are engaged in the woollen industry, some idea of the great part wool has played in England's history. It stands midway between the technical books on the subject and the general industrial histories of England. To suggest ideas and to trace tendencies has been held more important than mere erudition.

Each trade is a great romance, the story of the hopes, the fears, and the achievements of men for many generations, and there lingers about it the same fascination as haunts some great monument of the past - making us feel our kinship with the men who have gone before us.

To study the growth of a trade is to see the development of our national life from a new and more intimate point of view. Throughout her history, wool has been peculiarly the staple trade of England. On her upland pastures the sheep could graze in peace; the streams from the hills gave abundance of pure, soft water for the preparation of the wool. In the Middle Ages sheep-rearing and cloth-weaving became in turn the national industries. The need of markets and the importance of the connexion with the Low Countries had no small share in dictating our foreign policy. Wool paid for our wars.

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