Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

God sends meat, and the devil sends cooks. Those, however, who have a better opinion of providence, will think otherwise. Knowing that sea air, and the exercise or motion which they receive from the rolling of the ship, have a wonderful effect in whetting the appetite, they will say that providence has given sailors bad cooks to prevent them from eating too much; or that knowing they would have bad cooks, he has given them a good appetite to prevent them from dying with hunger. However, if you have no confidence in these succours of providence, you may yourself, with a lamp and a boiler, by the help of a little spirits of wine, prepare some food, such as soup, hash, &c. A small oven made of tinplate is not a bad piece of furniture; your servant may roast in it a piece of mutton or pork. If you are ever tempted to eat salt beef, which is often very good, you will find that cider is the best liquor to quench the thirst generally caused by salt meat or salt fish. Sea-biscuit which is too hard for the teeth of some people, may be softened by steeping it; but bread double-baked, is the best, for being made of good loaf-bread; cut into slices, and baked a second time, it readily imbibes water, becomes soft, and is easily digested; it consequently forms excellent nourishment; much superior to that of biscuit, which has not been fermented.

I must here observe, that this double-baked bread was originally the real biscuit prepared to keep at sea; for the word biscuit, in French,, signifies twice baked.'' Pease often boil badly, and do not become soft; in such a case, by putting a two-pound shot into the kettle, the rolling of the vessel, by means of this bullet will convert the pease into a kind of porridge, like mustard.

flaving often seen soup, when put upon the table at sea in broad flat dishes, thrown out on every side bythe rolling of the vessel, I have wished that our tinmen would make our soupbasons with divisions or compartments forming small plates, proper for containing soup for one person only.' By this disposition, the soup, in an extraordinary roll, would not be thrown out of the plate, and would not fall into the breasts of those who are at table, and scald them. Hav« ing entertained you with these things of little importance, permit me now to conclude with some general reflections upon navigation. * \#hen navigation is employed only for transporting necessary provisions from one country, where they abound, to another where they are wanting; when by this it prevents famines, which were so frequent and so fatal before it was invented and became so common; we cannot help considering it as one of those arts which contribute most to the happiness of mankind's"-. But when it is employed to transport things of no utility, or articles merely of luxury, it is then uncertain whether the advantages resulting from it are sufficient to counterbalance the misfortunes it occasions, by exposing the lives of so many individuals upon the vast ocean. And when it is * It is derived from bis again, and exit baked.

used to plunder vessels and transport slaves, it is evidently only the dreadful means of increasing those calamities which afflict human nature.

One is astonished to think on the number of vessels and men who are daily exposed in going to bring tea from China, coffee from Arabia, and sugar and tobacco from America; all which commodities our ancestors lived very well without. The sugar trade employs nearly a thousand vessels; and that of tobacco almost the same number. With regard to the utility of tobacco, little can be said; and with regard to sugar, how much more meritorious would it be to sacrifice the momentary pleasure which we receive from drinking it once or twice a day in our tea, than to encourage the numberless cruelties that are continually exercised in order to procure it us?

A celebrated French moralist said, that when he considered the wars which we foment in Africa to get negroes, the great number who of course perish in these wars; the multitude of those wretches who die on their passage, by disease, bad air, and bad provisions; and lastly, how many perish by the cruel treatment they meet with in a state of slavery; when he saw a bit of sugar, he could not help imagining it to be covered with spots of human blood. But, had he added to these considerations, the wars which we carry on against one another, to take and retake the islands that produce this commodity,he would not have seen the sugar simply spotted with blood, he would have beheld it entirely tinged with it.

These wars make the maritime powers of Europe, and the inhabitants of Paris and London, pay much dearer for their sugar than those of Vienna, though they are almost three hundred leagues distant from the sea, A pound of sugar, indeed, costs the former not only the price which they give for it, but also what they pay in taxes, necessary to support those fleets and armies which serve to defend and protect the coun* tries that produce it.

ON LUXURY, IDLENESS, AND INDUSTRY.

From a letter to Benjamin Vaughn, Esq.* written in 1784.

IT is wonderful how preposterously the affairs of this world are managed. Naturally one would imagine that the interest of a few individuals should give way to general interest; but individuals manage their affairs with so much more application, industry and address, than the public do theirs, that general interest most commonly gives way to particular. We assemble parliaments and councils, to have the benefit of their collected wisdom; but we necessarily have, at the same time, the inconvenience of their collected passions, prejudices, and private interests. By the help of these, artful men overpower their wisdom, and dupe its possessors; and if we may judge by the acts, arrets, and edicts, all the world over, for regulating commerce, an assembly of great men is the greatest fool upon earth.

* Present member of parliament for the borough of Calne, in Wiltshire, between whom and our author there subsisted a very close friendship.

I have not yet, indeed, thought of a remedy for luxury. I am not sure that in a great state it is capable of a remedy; nor that the evil is in itself always so great as it is represented. Suppose we include in the definition of luxury all unnecessary expense, and then let us consider whether laws to prevent such expense are possible to be executed in a great country, and whether, if they could be executed, our people generally would be happier or even richer. Is not the hope of being one day able to purchase and enjoy luxuries, a great spur to labour and industry? May not luxury therefore, produce more than it consumes, if, without such a spur, people would be, as they are naturally enough inclined to be, lazy and indolent? To this purpose I remember a circumstance. The skipper of a shallop, employed between Cape-May and Philadelphia, had done us some small service, for which he refused to be paid. My wife understanding that he had a daughter, sent her a present of a new-fashioned cap. Three years after, this skipper being at my house with an old farmer of Cape-May, his passenger, he mentioned the cap, and how much his daughter had been pleased with it. "But (said he) it proved a dear cap to our congregation."—" How so ?"—" When my daughter appeared with it at meeting, it was so much admired, that all the girls resolved to get such caps from Philadelphia; and my wife and I computed that the whole could not have cost less than an hundred pounds."—"True, (said the farmer) but you do not tell all the story. I think the cap

[graphic]
« ZurückWeiter »