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that of being a good parent, a good child, a good husband or wife, a good neighbour or friend, a good subject or citizen, that is, in short, a good Christian. Nicholas Gimcrack, therefore, who neglected the care of his family to pursue butterflies, was a just object of ridicule, and we must give him up as fair game to the satirist.
To Dr. Joseph Priestley.
EFFECT OF VEGETATION ON NOXIOUS AIR.
* * That the vegetable creation should restore the air which is spoiled by the animal part of it, looks like a rational system, and seems to be of a piece with the rest. Thus fire purifies water all the world over. It purifies it by distillation, when it raises it in vapours, and lets it fall in rain; and farther still by filtration, when, keeping it fluid, it suffers that rain to percolate the earth. We knew before that putrid animal substances were converted into sweet vegetables when mixed with the earth and applied as manure; and now, it seems, that the same putrid substances, mixed with the air, have a similar effect. The strong, thriving state of your mint, in putrid air, seems to show that the air is mended by taking something from it, and not by adding to it. I hope this will give some check to the rage of destroying trees that grow near houses, which has accompanied our late improvements in gardening, from an opinion of their being unwhole
I am certain, from long observation, that there is nothing unhealthy in the air of woods; for we Americans have everywhere our country habitations in the midst of woods, and no people on earth enjoy better health or are more prolific.
To Dr. John Pringle.
ON THE DIFFERENCE OF NAVIGATION IN SHOAL AND DEEP
Craven-street, May 10, 1768. You may remember, that when we were travelling together in Holland, you remarked that the trackschuyt in one of the stages went slower than usual, and inquired of the boatman what might be the reason; who answered, that it had been a dry season, and the water in the canal was low. On being asked if it was so low as that the boat touched the muddy bottom, he said no, not so low as that, but so low as to make it harder for the horse to draw the boat. We neither of us, at first, could conceive, that if there was water enough for the boat to swim clear of the bottom, its being deeper would make any difference; but as the man affirmed it seriously as a thing well known among them, and as the punctuality required in their stages was likely to make such difference, if any there were, more readily observed by them than by other watermen who did not pass so regularly and constantly backward and forward in the same track, I began to apprehend there might be something in it, and attempted to account for it from this consideration, that the boat, in proceeding along the canal, must in every boat's length of her course move out of her way a body of water equal in bulk to the room her bottom took up in the water; that the water so moved must pass on each side of her and under her bottom to get behind her; that if the passage under her bottom was straitened by the shallows, more of that water must pass by her sides, and with a swifter motion, which would retard her, as moving the contrary way; or, that the water becoming lower behind the boat than before, she was pressed back by the weight of its difference in height, and her mo
tion retarded by having that weight constantly to
But as it is often lost time to attempt accounting for uncertain facts, I determined to make an experiment of this when I should have convenient time and opportunity.
After our return to England, as often as I happened to be on the Tham I inquired of our watermen whether they were sensible of any difference in rowing over shallow or deep water. I found them all agreeing in the fact, that there was a very great difference, but they differed widely in expressing the quantity of the difference; some supposing it was equal to a mile in six, others to a mile in three, &c. As I did not recollect to have met with any mention of this matter in our philosophical books, and conceiving that if the difference should really be great, it might be an object of consideration in the many projects now on foot for digging new navigable canals in this island, I lately put my design of making the experiment in execution in the following manner.
I provided a trough of planed boards fourteen feet long, six inches wide, and six inches deep in the clear, filled with water within half an inch of the edge, to represent a canal. I had a loose board, of nearly the same length and breadth, that, being put into the water, might be sunk to any depth, and fixed by little wedges where I would choose to have it stay, in order to make different depths of water, leaving the surface at the same height with regard to the sides of the trough. I had a little boat in form of a lighter or boat of burden, six inches long, two inches and a quarter wide, and one inch and a quarter deep. When swimming, it drew one inch water. To give motion to the boat, I fixed one end of a long silk thread to its bow, just even with the water's edge; the other end passed over a well-made brass pully, of about an inch diameter, turning freely on a small axis; and a shilling was the weight.
Then placing the boat at one end of the trough, the weight would draw it through the water to the other,
Not having a watch that shows seconds, in order to measure the time taken up by the boat in passing from end to end, I counted as fast as I could count to ten repeatedly, keeping an account of the number of tens on my fingers. And as much as possible to correct any little inequalities in my counting, I repeated the experiment a number of times at each depth of water, that I might take the medium. And the following are the results :
Medium 101 Medium 89 Medium 79 I made many other experiments, but the above are those in which I was most exact; and they serve sufficiently to show that the difference is considerable. Between the deepest and shallowest it appears to be somewhat more than one fifth. So that, supposing large canals, and boats, and depths of water to bear the same proportions, and that four men or horses would draw a boat in deep water four leagues in four hours, it would require five to draw the same boat in the same time as far in shallow water, or four would require five hours.
Whether this difference is of consequence enough to justify a greater expense in deepening canals, is a matter of calculation, which our ingenious engineers in that way will readily determine.
To Oliver Neale.
ON THE ART OF SWIMMING.
I cannot be of opinion with you, that it is too late in life for you to learn to swim. The river near the bottom of your garden affords a most convenient place for the purpose. And as your new employment requires your being often on the water, of which you have such a dread, I think you would do well to make the trial; nothing being so likely to remove those apprehensions as the consciousness of an ability to swim to the shore in case of an accident, or of supporting yourself in the water till a boat could come to take you up.
I do not know how far corks or bladders may be useful in learning to swim, having never seen much trial of them. Possibly they may be of service in supporting the body while you are learning what is called the stroke, or that manner of drawing in and striking out the hands and feet that is necessary to produce progressive motion. But you will be no swimmer till you can place some confidence in the power of the water to support you; I would therefore advise the acquiring that confidence in the first place, especially as I have known several who, by a little of the practice necessary for that purpose, have insensibly acquired the stroke, taught, as it were, by nature.
The pràctice I mean is this. Choosing a place where the water deepens gradually, walk coolly into it till it is up to your breast; then turn round, your face to the shore, and throw an egg into the water between you and the shore. It will sink to the bottom, and be easily seen there, as your water is clear. It must lie in water so deep as that you cannot reach it to take it up but by diving for it, To encourage yourself in order to do this, reflect that your progress will be from deeper to shallower