Discursos apresentados à Meza da Agricultura sobre varios objectos relativos à cultura, e melhoramento interno do Reino: Traduzidos da Lingua Ingleza debaixo dos auspicios e ordem de Sua Alteza Real o Principe Regente Nosso Senhor



José Feliciano Fernandes Pinheiro 

author biography José Feliciano Fernandes Pinheiro was a Brazilian historian, politician and the first President of the Historical and Geographical Brazilian Institute. He studied at the University of Coimbra (Portugal) when he did this translation. According to himself, working as a translator gave him the knowledge that he later used in his public life, especially as Governor of the Province of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil).

As for the different authors, they were all somehow related to the Board of Agriculture, standing out Sir John Sinclair. This Scottish intellectual was a great defender of agricultural (and social) development through scientific knowledge. Motivated by this objective, he founded the Board of Agriculture that he hoped to be integrated into the English State. Sinclair is also known to be the first-ever to use the word statistic in English when he published (1791-1799) The Statistical Accounts of Scotland, a crucial document to understand the industrial revolution process in Scotland.

Editor: Lisboa, Typographia Chalcographica e Litteraria do Arco do Cego
Year of edition: 1800

This is the translation of an original book in English, containing a collection of articles presented to the Board of Agriculture, an association aiming to promote the development of British agriculture. The book is divided into two chapters, which match two distinct subjects. The first addresses rural buildings that support agricultural activities such as granaries, mills, stables or places for storing seeds. In a didactic way, all the authors try to demonstrate the best construction methods and the most suitable location for these kinds of buildings. The second focuses on the labourers with the ambition to make this social class more productive. Among other solutions, it is proposed: cottage improvements, reform of the Poor Law or transformation of the labourers towards a small landowner “bourgeoisie”.  

At least three factors make this reading especially interesting. One is the technical development of the British agricultural sector, at the time a world leader. Then, the thought of the elites towards the most disadvantaged rural classes and their ideas of “social engineering” that one and a half a century later will be tried in Portugal something that also made sense to some Portuguese elites. Finally, the way scientific knowledge circulated during the 18th century, knowing the book was published in Portugal only 4 years after the British edition.


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