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PRECAUTIONS TO BE USED BY THOSE
WHEN you intend to take a long voyage, nothing is better than to keep it a fecret till the moment of your departure. Without this, you will be continually interrupted and tormented by vifits from friends and acquaintances, who not only make you lofe your valuable time, but make you forget a thoufand things which you wifh to remember; fo that when you are embarked, and fairly at fea, you recollect, with much uneafinefs, 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 find the want of every
moment. Would it not be attended with the beft confequences to reform fuch a custom, and to fuffer a traveller, without deranging him, to make his preparations in quietnefs, to fet apart a few days, when thefe are finifhed, to take leave of his friends, and to receive their good wifhes for his happy return?
It is not always in one's power to choose a captain; though great part of the pleasure and happiness of the paffage depends upon this choice, and though one muft for a time be confined to his company, and be in fome measure under his command. If he is a focial fenfible man, obliging, and of a good difpofition, you will be fo much the happier. One fometimes meets with people of this defcription, but they are not common; however, if yours be not of this number, if he be a good feaman, attentive, careful, and
active in the management of his vessel, you must difpenfe with the reft, for these are the most effential qualities.
Whatever right you may have, by your agreement with him, to the provifions he has taken on board for the ufe of the paffengers, it is always proper to have fome private ftore, which you may make ufe of occafionally. You ought, therefore, to provide good water, that of the ship being often bad; but you must put it into bottles, without which you cannot expect to preferve it fweet. You ought alfo to carry with you good tea, ground coffee, chocolate, wine of that fort which you like beft, cyder, dried raisins, almonds, fugar, capillaire, citrons, rum, eggs dipped in oil, portable foup, bread twice baked. With regard to poultry, it is almost useless to carry any with you, unless you refolve to undertake the office of feeding and fattening them yourself. With the little care which is taken of them on board fhip, they are almost all fickly, and their flesh is as tough as leather.
All failors entertain an opinion, which has und doubtedly originated formerly from a want of water, and when it has been found neceflary to be fparing of it, that poultry never know when they have drank enough; and that when water is given them at difcretion, they generally kill themselves by drinking beyond meafure. In con fequence of this opinion, they give them water only once in two days, and even then in fmall quantities: but as they pour this water into troughs inclining on one fide, which occafions. it to run to the lower part, it thence it happens that they are obliged to mount one upon the back of another in order to reach it; and there are fome which cannot even dip their beaks in it. Thus continually tantalized and tormented by
thirst, they are unable to digeft their food, which is very dry, and they foon fall fick and die. Some of them are found thus every morning, and are thrown into the fea; whilft thofe which are killed for the table are fcarcely fit to be eaten. To remedy this inconvenience, it will be neceffary to divide their troughs into fmall compartments, in fuch a manner that each of them may be capable of containing water; but this is feldom or never done. On this account, fheep and hogs are to be confidered as the beft fresh provifion that one can have at fea; mutton there being in general very good, and pork excellent.
It may happen that fome of the provisions and ftores which I have recommended may become almost useless, by the care which the captain has taken to lay in a proper ftock; but in fuch a case you may difpofe of it to relieve the poor paffengers, who, paying less for their paffage, are ftowed among the common failors, and have no right to the captain's provifions, except fuch part of them as is ufed for feeding the crew. Thefe paffengers are fometimes fick, melancholy, and dejected; and there are often women and children among them, neither of whom have any opportunity of procuring thofe things which I have mentioned, and of which, perhaps, they have the greatest need. By diftributing amongst them a part ofyour fuperfluity, you may be of the greateft affiftance to them. You may reftore their health, fave their lives, and in thort render them happy; which always affords the livelieft fenfation to a feeling mind.
The moft difagreeable thing at fea is the cookery; for there is not, properly fpeaking, any profeffed cook on board. The worft failor is generally chofen for that purpose, who for the moft part is equally dirty. Hence comes the proverb
ufed among the English failors, that God fends meat, and the Devil fends cooks. Thofe, however, who have a better opinion of Providence, will think otherwise. Knowing that fea air, and the exercise or motion which they receive from the rolling of the fhip, have a wonderful effect in whetting the appetite, they will fay, that Providence has given failors 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 thefe fuccours of Providence, you may yourself, with a lamp and a boiler, by the help of a little fpirits of wine, prepare fome food, fuch as foup, hafh, &c. A fmall oven made of tin-plate is not a bad piece of furniture: your fervant may roaft in it a piece of mutton or pork. If you are ever tempted to eat falt beef, which is often very good, you will find that cyder is the beft liquor to quench the thirft generally caused by falt meat falt fish. Sea-biscuit, which is too hard for the teeth of fome people, may be softened by steeping it; but bread double baked is the beft; for being made of good loaf-bred cut into flices, and baked a fecond time, it readily imbibes water, becomes foft, and is easily digefted: it confequently forms excellent nourishment, much fuperior to that of bifcuit, which has not been fermented.
I must here obferve, that this double-baked bread was originally the real biscuit prepared to keep at fea; for the word bifcuit, in French, fignifies twice baked *. Peafe often boil badly, and do not become foft; in fuch a cafe, by putting a two-pound fhot into the kettle, the rolling of the veffel, by means of this bullet, will convert the pease into a kind of porridge, like muftard.
* It is derived from bis again, and cuit baked.
Having often feen foup, when put upon the table at fea in broad flat, dishes, thrown out on every fide by the rolling of the veffel, I have wifhed that our tin-men would make our foupbafons with divifions or compartments; forming fmall plates, proper, for containing foup for one perfon only. By this difpofition, the foup, in an extraordinary roll, would not be thrown out of the plate, and would not fall into the breafts of thofe who are at table, and fcald them.-Having entertained you with these things of little importance, permit me now to conclude with fome general reflections upon navigation.
When navigation is employed only for tranf porting neceffary provifions from one country, where they abound, to another where they are wanting; when by this it prevents famines which were fo frequent and fo fatal before it was invented and became fo common; we cannot help confidering it as one of those arts which contribute moft to the happiness of mankind.-But when it is employed to tranfport things of no utility, or articles merely of luxury, it is uncertain whether the advantages refulting from it are fufficient to counterbalance the misfortunes it occafions, by expofing the lives of fo many individuals upon the vaft ocean. And when it is ufed to plunder veffels and tranfport flaves, it is evidently only the dreadful means of increafing those calamities which afflict human nature.
One is astonished to think on the number of veffels and men who are daily expofed in going to bring tea from China, coffee from Arabia, and fugar and tobacco from America; all commodities which our ancestors lived very well without. The fugar trade employs nearly a thousand veffels; and that of tobacco almoft the fame num