Page images

the crocodile, which is an animal, whofe jaws, being wery oblong, give him the opportunity of having a great many teeth; and, his habitation and business lying moft in the water, he, like our modern Dutch whitfiers*. in Southwark, had a very good stomach, and was extremely voracious. It is certain that he had the water of Nile always ready, and confequently the opportunity of washing his mouth after meals; yet he had farther occafion for other inftruments to cleanse his teeth, which: are ferrate, or like a faw. To this end, Nature has provided an animal called the ichneumon, which performs this office, and is fo maintained by the product of, its own labour. The Egyptians, feeing fuch an useful fagacity in the crocodile, which they fo much reverenced, foon began to imitate it, great examples eafily drawing the multitude; fo that it became their conftant custom to pick their teeth, and wash their mouths, after eating. I cannot find in Marsham's “ Dynasties,” nor in the "Fragments of Manethon," what year of the moon (for 1 hold the Egyptian years to have been lunar, that is, but of a month's continuance) fo venerable an usage first began for it is the fault of great Philologers, to omit fuch things as are moft material. Whether Sefoftris, in his large conquefts, might extend the use of them, is as uncertain; for the glorious actions of those ages lay very much in the dark. It is very probable that the public ufe of them came in about the fame time that the Egyptians made use of juries. I find, in the Preface to the "Third Part of Modern Reports,"

*Whose tenter-grounds are now almost all built



[ocr errors]

that "the Chaldees had a great esteem for the number' "TWELVE, because there were fo many figns of the "Zodiack; from them this number came to the Egyp"tians, and fo to Greece, where Mars himself was "tried for a murder, and was acquitted." Now it does not appear upon record, nor any fone that I have seen, whether the jury clubbed, or whether Mars treated them, at dinner, though it is most likely that he did for he was a quarrelsome sort of a person, and probably, though acquitted, might be as guilty as Count Koningsmark. Now the custom of juries dining at an eating-house, and having glaffes of water brought them with tooth-picks tinged with vermilion swimming at the top, being still continued, why may we not imagine, that the tooth-picks were as ancient as the dinner, the dinner as the juries, and the juries at least as the grandchildren of Mitzraim? Homer makes his heroes feed fo grofsly, that they feem to have had more occafion for fkewers than goofe-quills. He is very tedious in defcribing a Smith's forge and an anvil: whereas he might have been more polite, in fetting out the tooth-pick-cafe or painted snuff-box of Achilles, if that age had not been fo barbarous as to want them. And here I cannot but confider, that Athens, in the time of Pericles, when it flourished most in sumptuous buildings, and Rome in its height of empire from Augustus down to Adrian, had nothing that equalled the Royal or New Exchange, or Pope's-head Alley, for curiofities and toy-shops; neither had their Senate any thing to alleviate their debates concerning the affairs of the universe like raffling fome

times at Colonel Parfons's. Although the Egyptians often extended their conquefts into Africa and Ethiopia, and though the Cafre Blacks have very fine teeth; yet I cannot find that they made use of any fuch inftrument; nor does Ludolphus, though very exact as to the Abyffinian empire, give any account of a matter fo im portant; for which he is to blame, as I fhall fhew in my Treatife of "Forks and Napkins," of which I shall send you an Effay with all expedition. I fhall in that Treatife fully illuftrate or confute this paffage of Dr. Heylin, in the Third Book of his "Cofmography," where he fays of the Chinese, "That they eat their "meat with two fticks of ivory, ebony, or the like;


not touching it with their hands at all, and therefore "no great foulers of linen. The use of filver forks "with us, by fome of our spruce gallants taken-up of "late, came from hence into Italy, and from thence "into England." I cannot agree with this learned Doctor in many of these particulars. For, firft, the ufe of thefe flicks is not fo much to fave linen, as out of pure neceffity; which arifes from the length of their nails, which persons of great quality in those countries wear at a prodigious length, to prevent all poffibility of working, or being ferviceable to themselves or others; and therefore, if they would, they could not eafily feed themselves with thofe claws; and I have very good authority, that in the Eaft, and effecially in Japan, the Princes have the meat put into their mouths by their attendants. Befides, thefe fticks are of no use but for their fort of meat, which, being pilau, is all boiled to


rags. But what would thofe fticks fignify to carve a turkey-cock, or a chine of beef? therefore our forks are of quite different fhape: the feel ones are bidental, and the filver generally refembling tridents; which makes me think them to be as ancient as the Saturnian race, where the former is appropriated to Pluto, and the latter to Neptune. It is certain that Pedro Della Valle, that famous Italian Traveller, carried his knife and fork into the Eaft Indies; and he gives a large account how, at the court of an Indian Prince, he was admired for his neatness in that particular, and his care in wiping that and his knife before he returned them to their refpective repofitories. I could with Dr. Wotton, in the next edition of his "Modern Learning," would fhew us how much we are improved fince Dr. Heylin's time, and tell us the original of ivory knives, with which young heirs are fuffered to mangle their own pudding; as likewife of filver and gold knives, brought-in with the deffert for carving of jellies and -orange-butter; and the indifpenfable neceffity of a filverknife at the fide-board, to mingle fallads with, as is with great learning made out in a Treatife called Acetaria, concerning "Dreffing of Sallads." A noble Work! But 1 tranfgrefs.

And yet, pardon me, good Doctor, I had almost forgot a thing that I would not have done for the world, it is fo remarkable. I think I may be pofitive, from this verfe of Juvenal, where he speaks of the Egyptians,

Porrum et cepe nefas violare, et frangere morfu;"


that it was "facrilege to chop a leek, or bite an onion." Nay, I believe that it amounts to a demonftration, that Pharaoh Necho could have no true lenten porridge, nor any carrier's fauce to his mutton; the true receipt of making which fauce I have from an ancient Mf. remaining at the Ball-inn in Bishopfgate-ftreet, which runs thus:

"Take feven fpoonfuls of spring-water; flice two ❝onions of moderate fize into a large faucer, and put in as much falt as you can hold at thrice betwixt your fore-finger and thumb, if large, and ferve it up." Probatum eft.

HOBSON, Carrier to the University of Cambridge.

The effigies of that worthy perfon remains ftill at that inn; and I dare fay, not only Hobfon, but old Birch, and many others of that mufical and delightful profeffion, would rather have been labourers at the pyramids with that regale, than to have reigned at Mem ́phis, and have been debarred of it. I break-off abruptly. Believe me an admirer of your worth, and a follower of your methods towards the increase of Learning, and more efpecially your, &c.

[blocks in formation]
« EelmineJätka »