« PreviousContinue »
this custom could be changed ; if the voyager, after having, without interruption, made all his preparations, should use some of the time he has left in going himself to take leave of his friends at their own houses, and let them come to congratulate him on his happy return ?
It is not always in your power to make a choice in your captain, though much of your comfort in the passage may depend on his personal character, as you must for so long a time be confined to his company, and under his direction; if he be a sensible, sociable, good-natured, obliging mari, you will be so much the happier. Such there are; but if he happens to be otherwise, and is only skilful, careful, watchful, and active in the conduct of his ship, excuse the rest, for these are the essentials.
Whatever right you may have by agreement in the mass of stores laid in by him for the passengers, it is good to have some particular things in your own possession, so as to be always at your owu command.
1. Good water, that of the ship being often bad. You can be sure of having it good only by bottling it from a clear spring or well, and in clean bottles. 2. Good tea. 3. Coffee ground. 4. Chocolate. 5. Wine of the sort you particularly like, and cider, 6. Raisins. 7. Almonds. 8. Sugar. 9. Capillaire, 10. Lemons. 11. Jamaica spirits. 12. Eggs greased. 13. Diet bread. 14. Portable soup. 15. Rusks. As to fowls, it is not worth while to have any called yours, unless you could have the feeding and managing of them according to your own judgment under your own eye. . As they are generally
treated at present in ships, they are for the most part sick, and their flesh tough and hard as whit. leather.
All seamen have an opinion, broached I supposed at first prudently, for saving of water when short, that fowls do not know when they have drank enough, and will kill themselves if you give theni too much, so they are served with a little only once in two days. This is poured into troughs that lie sloping, and therefore immediately runs down to the lower end. There the fowls ride upon one another's backs to get at it, and some are not happy enough to reach and once dip their bills in it. Thus tantalized, and tormented with thirst, they cannot digest their dry food; they, fret, pine, sicken, and die. Some are found dead, and thrown overboard every morning, and those killed for the table are not eatable. Their troughs should be in little divisions, like cups, to hold the water separately. But this is never done. The sheep and hogs are therefore your best dependence for fresh meat at sea, the mutton being generally tolerable, and the pork excellent.
It is possible your captain may have provided so well in the general stores, as to render some of the particulars above recommended of little or no use to you. But there are frequently in the ship poorer passengers, who are taken at a lower price, lodge in the steerage, and have no claim to any of the cabin provisions, or to any but those kinds that are allowed the sailors. These people are sometimes dejected, sometimes sick; there may be women and children among them. In a situation where there is no going to market, to purchase such ne
cessaries, a few of these your superfinities distris buted occasionally may be of great service, restore health, save life, make the miserable happy, and thereby afford you infinite pleasure. - The worst thing in ordinary merchant ships is the cookery. They have no professed cook; and the worst hand as a seaman is appointed to that office, in which he is not only very ignorant, but very dirty. The sailors have therefore a saying, that God sends meat, and the devil cooks. Passengers more piously disposed, and willing to believe Heaven orders all things for the best, may suppose, that, knowing the sea-air and constant exercise by the motion of the vessel would give us extraordinary appetites, bad cooks were kindly sent to prevent our eating too much; or that, foreseeing we should have bad cooks, good appetites were furnished to prevent our starving. If you cannot trust to these circumstances, a spirit-lamp, with a blaze-pan, may enable you to cook some little things for yourself; such as a hash, a soup, &c. And it might be weil also to have among your stores some potted meats, which if well put up will keep long good. A small tin oven, to place with the open side be. fore the fire, may be another good uteusil, in which your owu servant may roast for you a bit of pork or mutton. You will sometimes be induced to eat of the ship's salf beef, as it is often good. You will find cider the best quencher of that thirst which salt meat or fish occasions. The ship biscuit is too hard for some sets of teeth. It may be softened by toasting. But rusk is better; for being made of good fermented bread, sliced and baked a second time, the pieces imbibe the water easily, soften
immediately, digest more kindly, and are therefore more wholesome thay the unfermented biscuit. By the way, rusk is the true original biscuit, so prepared to keep for sea, biscuit in French signifying twice baked. If your dry peas boil hard, a twopound iron shot put with them into the pot, will, by the motion of the ship, grind them as fine as mustard.
The accidents I have seep at sea with large dishes of soup upon a table, from the motion of the ship, have made me wish, that our potters or pewterers would make soup dishes in divisions, like a set of small bowls united together, each containing about sufficient for one person only; for then when the ship should make -a sudden heel, the soup would not in a body flow over one side, and fall into people's laps, and scald them, as is sometimes the case, but would be retained in the separate divisions. '.
After these trifles, permit the addition of a few general reflections. Navigation, when employed in supplying necessary provisions to a country in want, and thereby preventing famines, which were more frequent and destructive before the invention of that art, is undoubtedly a blessing to mankiud, When employed merely in transporting superfluities, it is a question whether the advantage of the employment it, affords is equal to the mischief of hazarding so many lives on the ocean, But when employed in pillaging merchants and transporting slaves, it is clearly the means of augmenting the mass of human misery. It is amazing to think of the ships and lives risked in fetching tea from China, coffee from Arabia, sugar and tobacco from America, all which our ancestors did well without. Sugar employs near one thousand ships, tobacco almost as many. For the utility of tobacco there is little to be said; and for that of sugar, how much more commend able would it be if we could give up the few minutes', gratification afforded once or twice a day by the taste of sugar in our tea, rather than encourage the cruelties exercised in producing it. An eminent French moralist says, that when he considers the wars we excite in Africa to obtain slaves, the num. bers necessarily slain in those wars, the many pri. soners who perish at sea by sickness, bad provisions, foul air, &c. &c. in the transportation, and how many afterwards die from the hardships of slavery, he cannot look on a piece of sugar without conceiving it stained with spots of human blood ! had he added the consideration of the wars we make to take and retake the sugar islands from one another, and the fleets and armies that perish in those expeditions, he might have seen his sugar not merely spotted, but thoroughly dyed scarlet in grain. It is these wars that make the maritime powers of Eu. rope, the inhabitants of London and Paris, pay dearer for sugar than those of Vienna, a thousand miles from the sea; because their sugar costs not only the price they pay for it by the pound, but all they pay in taxes to maintain the fleets and armies that fight for it.