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OBSERVATIONS ON THE GENERALLY PREVAILIXO
DOCTRINES OF LIFE AND DEATH.
To the same.
Your observations on the causes of death, and th: experiments which you propose for recalling to lif: those who appear to be killed by lightning demonstrate cqually your sagacity and humanity. It ap pears that the doctrines of life and death, in general, are yet but little understood.
A toad buried in the sand will live, it is said, un til the sand becomes petrified; and then, being in. closed in the stone, it may live for we know not how many ages. The facts which are cited in support of this opinion, are too numerous and too circumstantial not to deserve a certain degree of credit. As we are accustomed to see all the animals with which we are acquainted eat and drink, it appears to us difficult to conceive, how a toad can be supported in such a dun. geon. But if we reflect that the necessity of nourishment which animals experience in their ordinary state, proceeds from the continual waste of their substance by perspiration; it will appear legs incredible, that some animals, in a torpid state, perspiring less, because they use no exercise, should have less need of aliment; and that others, which are covered with scales or shells, which stop perspiration, such as land and sea turtles, serpents and some species of fish, should be able to subsist a considerable time without any nourishment whatever. A plant, with its flowers, fades and dies immediately, if exposed to the air without having its roots immersed in a humid soil, from which it may draw a sufficient quantity of moisture to supply that which exhales from its substance, and is carried off continually by the air. Perhaps, however, if it were buried in quick-silver, it might preserve, for a considerable space of time, its vegetable life, its smell and colour. If this be the case, it might prove a commodious method of trans porting from distant countries those delicate plant which are unable to sustain the inclemer.sv of the
weather at sea, and which require particular care and attention.
I have seen an instance of common flies preserved in a manner somewhat similar. They had been drowned in Madeira wine, apparently about the time it was botiled in Virginia, to be sent to London. At the opening of one of the bottles, at the house of a friend where I was, three drowned fies fell into the first glass that was filled. Having heard it remarked that drowned flies were capable of being revived by the rays of the sun, I proposed making the experiment upon these. They were therefore exposed to the sun, upon a sieve which had been employed to strain them out of the wine. In less than three hours, two of them by degrees began to recover life. They commenced by some convulsive motions in the thighs, and at length they raised themselves upon their legs, wiped their eyes with their fore feet, beat and brush ed their wings with their hind feet, and soon after be. gan to fly, finding themselves in Old England, without knowing how they came thither. The third continued lifeless until sun-set, when, losing all hopes of him, he was thrown away.
I wish it were possible, from this instance, to invent a method of embalming drowned persons in such a manner, that they may be recalled to life at any period, however distant: for, having a very ardent desire to see and observe the state of America an hundred years hence, I should prefer to an ordinary death, the being immersed in a cask of Madeira wine, with a few friends, until that time, then to be recalled to life by the solar warmth of my dear country! But since, in all probability, we live in an age too early, and too near the infancy of science, to see such an art brought in our time to its perfection, I must, for the present, content myself with the treat, which ynu are so kind as to promise me, of the resurrection of a fowl or a turkey-cock.
TO BE USED BY THOSE WHO ARE ABOUT TÓ
UNDERTAKE A SEA VOYAGE.
When you intend to take a long voyage, nothing is better than to keep it a secret till the inoinent of your departure. Without this, you will be continually interrupted and tormented by visits from friends and acquaintances, who not only make you lose your valuable time, but make you forget a thousand things which you wish to remember; so that when you are embarked and fairly at sea, you recollect, with much uneasiness, affairs, which you have not terminated, accounts that you have not settled, and a number of things which you proposed to carry with you, and which you find the want of every moment. Would it not be attended with the best consequences to reform such a custom, and to suffer a traveller, without deranging him, to make his preparations in quietness, to set apart a few days, when these are finished, to take leave of his friends, and to receive their good wishes for his happy return.
It is not always in one's power to choose a cap. tain; though great part of the pleasure and happi. ness of the passage depends upon this choice, and though one must for a time be confined to his company, and be in some measure under his coinmand. If he is a social scosible man, obliging and of a good disposition, you will be so much the happier. One sometimes meets with people of this description, but they are not common; however, if your's be not of his number, if he be a good seaman, attentive, care, ul, and active in the management of his vessel, vou nust dispense with the rest, for these are the most essential qualities.
Whatever right you may have by your agreement with him to the provisions he has taken on board for the use of the passengers, it is always proper to have some private store, which you may make use of oc. casionally. You ought therefore to provide good wa. ter, that of the ship being often had; but you must
put it into bottles, without which you cannot expect to preserve it sweet. You ought also to carry with you good tea, ground coffee, chocolate, wine of that sort which you like best, cider, dried raisins, alinonds, sugar, capilaire, citrons, rum, eggs dipped in oil, portable soup, bread twice baked. With regard to poultry, it is almost useless to carry any with you, unless you resolve to undertake the office of feeding and fattening them yourself. With the little care which is taken of them on board a ship, they are almost all sickly, and their flesh is as tough as leather.
All sailors entertain an opinion, which undoubtedly originated formerly from a want of water, and when it has been found necessary to be sparing of it, that poultry never knew when they had drank enough, and that when water is given them at discretion, they generally kill themselves by drinking beyond measure. In consequence of this opinion, they give them water only once in two days, and even then in small quantities: but as they pour this water into troughs inclining on one side, which occasions it to run to the lower part, it thence happens that they are obliged to mount one upon the back of another in order to reach it; and there are some which cannot even dip their beaks in it. Thus continually tantalized and tormented by thirst, they are unable to digest their food, which is very dry, and they soon fall sick and die. Some of them are found thus every morning, and are thrown into the sea; while those which are killed for the table are scarcely fit to be eaten. To remedy this inconvenience, it will be necessary to divide their troughs into small compartments, in such a manner that each of them may be capable of containing water; but this is seldom or never done. On this account, sheep and hogs are to be considered as the best fresh provisions that one can have at sea; mutton there, being in general very good, and pork excellent.
It may happen that some of the provisions and stores, which I have recommended, may become almost useless, by the care which the captain has taken to lay in a proper stock: but in such a case you may dispose of it to relieve the poor passengers, who, paying less for their passage, are stowed among the common sailors, and have no right to the captain's provisions, except such part of them as is used for feeding the crew. These passengers are some. times sick, melancholy, and dejacted ; and there are often womea and children among them, neither of whom have any opportunity of procuring those things which I have mentioned, and of which perhaps they inve the greatest need. By distributing amongst them a part of your superfluity, you may be of the greatest assistance to them. You may restore their health, save their lives, and in short render them happy; which always affcrds the liveliest sensation to a feel. ing mind.
The most disagreeable thing at sea is the cockery; for there is not, properly speaking, any professed cook on board. The worst sailor is generally chosen for that pur. pose, who forthe most part is equally dirty. Hence comes the proverb used among English sailors, that 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 froin the rolling of the ship, have a wonderful effect in whetting the appetite, they will say, that Providence has given sailors had 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 dy. ing with hunger. However, if you have no confi. dence, in these succours of Providence, you may yourself, with a lamp and a bojler, by the help of a Jilile spirits of wine, prepare some food, such as soup, hash, &c. A small oven made of tin-plate is not a bad piece of furniture; your servant may roast in it a piece of mutton or pork. If you are ever témpted 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 best ; for being made of good loaf-bread cut into slices, and baked a second time, it readily imhibes water, becomes soft, and is easily digested: it