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OBSERVATIONS ON THE GENERALLY PREVAILING DOCTRINES OF LIFE & DEATH.
TO THE SAME.
Your observations on the causes of death, and the experiments which you propose for recalling to life those who appear to be killed by lightning, demonstrate equally your sagacity and humanity. It appears that the doctrines of life and death, in general, are yet but little understood.. A toad buried
in sand will live, it is said, until the sand becomes petrified; and then being inclosed in the stone, it may still 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 dungeon. But if we reflect, that the necessity of nourishment, which animals experience in their ordinary state, pro ceeds from the continual waste of their substance by perspiration; it will appear less 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
OBSERVATIONS ON LIFE AND DEATH. 35
moisture to supply that which exhales from it's substance, and is carried off continually by the air. Perhaps, however, if it were buried in quicksilver, it might preserve, for a considerable space of time, it's vegetable life, its smell and colour. If this be the case, it might prove a commodious method of transporting from distant countries those delicate plants which are unable to sustain the inclemency 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 when it was bottled 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 flies fell into the first glass which was filled. Having heard it remarked that drowned flies were capable of being revived by the rays of the sun,
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 began by degrees 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 brushed their wings with their hind feet, and soon after began to fly, finding themselves in Old England, without knowing how they came thither. The third continued lifeless untill sunset, 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 might be recalled to life at any period, however distant;
for having a very ardent desire to see and observe the state of America a 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, in our time, brought to it's perfection, I must, for the present, content myself with the treat, which you are so kind as to prom. ise me, of the resurrection of a fowl or a turkey, cock.
PRECAUTIONS TO BE USED BY THOSE WHO ARE ABOUT TO UNDERTAKE A SEA VOYAGE.
When you intend to take a long voyage, nothing is better than to keep it a secret till the moment 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 which 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
It is not always
wishes for his happy return? in one's power to choose a captain; tho' great part of the pleasure and happiness of the passage depends upon this choice, and tho' one must for a time be confined to his company, and be in some measure under his command. If he be a social sensible 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 this number, if he be a good seaman, attentive, careful, and active in the management of his vessel, you must 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 occasionally. 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 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, almonds, sugar, capillaire, 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 your self. With the little care which is taken of them on ship-board, they are almost all sickly, and their flesh is as tough as leather.
All sailors entertain an opinion, which has undoubtedly originated formerly from a want of water, and when it has been found necessary to be sparing of it, that poultry
never know when they have 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 thrown into the sea; whilst 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 provision 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 sometimes sick, melancholy and dejected; and there are often women and children among them,