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My next difficulty was to make a sieve, or searce, to dress my meal, and part it from the bran and the husk, without which I did not see it possible I could have any bread. This was a most difficult thing, so much as but to think on : for, to be sure, I had nothing like the necessary things to make it with–I mean fine thin canvas, or stuff, to searce the meal through. And here I was at a full stop for many months ; nor did I really know what to do : linen I had none left but what was mere rags ; I had goat's hair, but neither knew I how to weave or spin it ; and had I known how, here were no tools to work it with. All the remedy that I found for this was, that at last I did remember I had among the seamen's clothes which were saved out of the ship, some neckcloths of calico, or muslin; and with some pieces of these I made three small sieves, but proper enough for the work ; and thus I made shift for some years.
The baking part was the next thing to be considered, and how I should make bread when I came to have corn; for, first, I had no yeast ; as to that part, there was no supplying the want, so I did not concern myself much about it. But for an oven I was indeed in great pain. At length I found out an expedient for that also, which was this :—I made some earthen vessels very broad, but not deep ; that is to say, about two feet in diameter, and not above nine inches deep; these I burnt in the fire, as I had done the others, and laid them by ; and when I wanted to bake, I made a great fire upon the hearth, which I had paved with some square tiles of my own making and burning also—but I should not call
When the firewood was burnt pretty much into embers, or live coals, I drew them forward upon this hearth, so as to cover it all over, and there I let them lie till the hearth was very hot; then, sweeping away all the embers, I set down my loaf or loaves, and, whelming down the earthen pot upon them, drew the embers all round the outside of the pot, to keep in and add to the heat; and thus, as well as in the best oven in the world, I baked my barley loaves, and became in a little time a good pastry cook into the bargain ; for I made myself several cakes of the rice, and puddings. Indeed, I made no pies, neither had I anything to put into them, supposing I had, except the flesh either of fowls or goats.
It need not be wondered at, if all these things took me up most part of the third year of my abode here ; for it is to be observed,
that in the intervals of these things I had my new harvest and husbandry to manage ; for I reaped my com in its season, and carried it home as well as I could, and laid it up in the ear, in my large baskets, till I had time to rub it out; for I had no floor to thrash it on, or instrument to thrash it with.
indeed, my stock of corn increasing, I really wanted to build my barns bigger : I wanted a place to lay it up in ; for the increase of my corn now yielded me so much, that I had of the barley about twenty bushels, and of the rice as much, or more; insomuch that I now resolved to begin to use it freely, for my bread had been quite gone a great while ; also I resolved to see what quantity would be sufficient for me a whole year, and to sow but once a-year.
Upon the whole, I found that the forty bushels of barley and rice were much more than I could consume in a year; so I resolved to sow just the same quantity every year that I sowed the last, in hopes that such a quantity would fully provide me with bread.
Adventures of Robinson Crusoe.
GULLIVER AT THE COURT OF THE KING OF
JONATHAN SWIFT, 1667–1765. It is the custom that every Wednesday (which, as I have observed, is their Sabbath), the King and Queen of Brobdingnag, with the royal issue of both sexes, dine together in the apartment of his Majesty, to whom I was now become a great favourite; and at these times my little chair and table were placed at his left hand, before one of the salt-cellars. This prince took a pleasure in conversing with me, inquiring into the manners, religion, laws, government, and learning of Europe ; wherein I gave him the best account I was able. His apprehension was so clear, and his judgment so exact, that he made very wise reflections and observations upon
all I said. But I confess that after I had been a little too copious in talking of my own beloved country, of our trade and wars by sea and land, of our schisms in religion, and parties in the state, the prejudices of his education prevailed so far, that he could not forbear taking me up in his right hand, and, stroking me gently with the other, after a hearty fit of laughing, asked me whether I was a Whig or a Tory? Then turning to his first minister, who waited behind him with a white staff near as tall as the mainmast of the Royal Sovereign, he observed, “How contemptible a thing was human grandeur, which could be mimicked by such diminutive insects as I; and yet," says he, “I dare engage these creatures have their titles and distinctions of honour; they contrive little nests and burrows that they call houses and cities ; they make a figure in dress and equipage; they fight, they love, they dispute, they cheat, they betray.” And thus he continued on, while my colour came and went several times with indignation, to hear our noble country, the mistress of arts and arms, the scourge of France, the arbitress of Europe, the seat of virtue, piety, honour, and truth, the pride and envy of the world, so contemptuously treated.
To show the miserable effects of the king's confined education, I shall here insert a passage which will hardly obtain belief. In hopes to ingratiate myself further into his Majesty's favour, I told him of“ an invention, discovered between three and four hundred years ago, to make a certain powder, into a heap of which, the smallest spark of fire falling, would kindle the whole in a moment, although it were as big as a mountain, and make it all fly up in the air together, with a noise and agitation greater than thunder. That a proper quantity of this powder rammed into a hollow tube of brass or iron, according to its bigness, would drive a ball of iron or lead with such violence and speed as nothing was able to sustain its force. That the largest balls thus discharged would not only destroy whole ranks of an army at once, but batter the strongest walls to the ground, sink down ships with a thousand men in each, to the bottom of the sea, and when linked together by a chain would cut through masts and rigging, divide hundreds of bodies in the middle, and lay all waste before them. That we often put this powder into large hollow balls of iron, and discharged them by an engine into some city we were besieging, which would rip up the pavements, tear the houses to pieces, burst and throw splinters on every side, dashing out the brains of all who were near. That I knew the ingredients very well, which were cheap and common. I understood the manner of compounding them, and could direct his workmen how to make those tubes, of a size proportionable to all other things in his Majesty's kingdom, and the largest need not be above a hundred feet long; twenty or thirty of which tubes, charged with the proper quantity of powder and balls, would
batter down the walls of the strongest town in his dominions in a few hours, or destroy the whole metropolis, if ever it should pretend to dispute his absolute commands. This I humbly offered to his Majesty, as a small tribute of acknowledgment, in turn for so many marks that I had received of his royal favour and protection.”
The king was struck with horror at the description I had given of those terrible engines, and the proposal I had made. “He was amazed how so impotent and grovelling an insect as I (these were his expressions) could entertain such inhuman ideas, and in so familiar a manner as to appear wholly unmoved at all the scenes of blood and desolation which I had painted as the common effects of those destructive machines; whereof (he said) some evil genius, enemy to mankind, must have been the first contriver. As for himself, he protested that although few things delighted him so much as new discoveries in art or in nature, yet he would rather lose half his kingdom than be acquainted with such a secret ; which he commanded me, as I valued my life, never to mention any more.”
A strange effect of narrow principles and views, that a prince, possessed of every quality which procures veneration, love, and esteem,-of strong parts, great wisdom, and profound learning, endowed with admirable talents, and almost adored by his subjects, should, from a nice, unnecessary scruple, whereof in Europe we can have no conception, let slip an opportunity put into his hands that would have made him absolute master of the lives, the liberties, and the fortunes of his people. Neither do I say this with the least intention to detract from the
virtues of that excellent king, whose character I am sensible will, on this account, be very much lessened in the opinion of an English reader ; but I take this defect to have arisen from their ignorance, by not having hitherto reduced politics into a science, as the more acute wits of Europe have done. For, I remember very well, in a discourse one day with the king, when I happened to say "there were several thousand books among us, written upon the art of government,” it gave him, directly contrary to my intentions, a very mean opinion of our understandings. He professed both to abominate and despise all mystery, refinement, and intrigue, either in a prince or a minister. He could not tell what I meant by secrets of state, where an enemy, or some rival nation, were not in the case. He confined the knowledge of governing within very narrow bounds,—to common sense and reason, to justice and lenity, to the speedy determination of civil and criminal causes ; with some other obvious topics which are not worth considering ; and he gave it for his opinion, “that whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of these so-called politicians put together."
DRYDEN AND POPE.
DR. JOHNSON, 1709—1784. INTEGRITY of understanding and nicety of discernment were not allotted in a less proportion to Dryden than to Pope. The rectitude of Dryden's mind was sufficiently shown by the dismission of his poetical prejudices, and the rejection of unnatural thoughts and rugged numbers. But Dryden never desired to apply all the judgment that he had. He wrote, and professed to write, merely for the people ; and when he pleased others he contented himself. He spent no time in struggles to rouse latent powers ; he never attempted to make that better which was already good, nor often to mend what he must have known to be faulty. He wrote, as he tells us, with very little consideration; when occasion or necessity called upon him, he poured out what the present moment happened to supply, and when once it had passed the press, ejected it from his mind; for when he had no pecuniary interest he had no further solicitude.
Pope was not content to satisfy ; he desired to excel, and therefore always endeavoured to do his best : he did not court the candour, but dared the judgment of his reader, and, expecting no indulgence from others, he showed none to himself. He examined lines and words with minute and punctilious observation, and retouched every part with indefatigable diligence till he had left nothing to be forgiven.
For this reason he kept his pieces very long in his hands, while he considered and reconsidered them. The only poems which can be supposed to have been written with such regard to the times as might hasten their publication, were the two satires of “Thirtyeight;" of which Dodsley told me that they were brought to him