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A Year's Residence in the United States of America: Vol 2
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265. I HAVE made no experiments as to this root, and I am now about to offer my opinions as to the mode of cultivating it. But, so much has been said and written against me on account of my scouting the idea of this root being proper as food for man, I will, out of respect for public opinion, here state my reasons for thinking that the Potatoe is a root, worse than useless.
266. When I published some articles upon this subject, in England, I was attacked by the Irish writers with as much fury as the Newfoundlanders attack people who speak against the Pope; and with a great deal less reason; for, to attack a system, which teaches people to fill their bellies with fish for the good of their souls, might appear to be dictated by malice against the sellers of the fish; whereas, my at tack upon Potatoes, was no attack upon the sons of St. Patrick, to whom, on the contrary, I wished a better sort of diet to be afforded. Nevertheless, I was told, in the Irish papers, not that I was a fool: that might have been rational; but, when I was, by these zealous Hibernians, called a liar, a slanderer, a viper, and was reminded of all my political sins, I could not help thinking, that, to use an Irish Peeress's expression with regard to her Lord, there was a little of the Potatoe sprouting out of their head.
267. These rude attacks upon me even were all nameless, however; and, with nameless adversaries I do not like to join battle. Of one thing I am very glad; and that is, that the Irish do not like to live upon what their accomplished countryman DOCTOR DRENNAN, calls "Ireland's lazy root.'' There is more sound political philosophy in that poem than in all the enormous piles of Plowden and Musgrave. When I called it a lazy root; when I satyrized the use of it; the Irish seemed to think, that their national honour was touched. But, I am happy to find, that it is not taste, but necessity, which makes them mess-mates with the pig; for when they come to this country; they invariably prefer to their "favourite root," not only fowls, geese, ducks and turkeys, but even the flesh of oxen, pigs and sheep!
268. In 1815, I wrote an article, which I will here insert, because it contains my opinions upon this subject. And when I have done that, I will add some calculations as to the comparative value of an acre of wheat and an acre of potatoes. The article was a letter to the Editor of the Agricultural Magazine; and was in the following words.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE AGRICULTURAL MAGAZINE.
269. IN an article of your Magazine for the month of September last, on the subject of my Letters to Lord Sheffield, an article with which, upon the whole, I have reason to be very proud, you express your dissent with me upon some matters, and particularly relative to potatoes. The passage to which I allude, is in these words: "As to a former diatribe of his on Potatoes, we regarded it as a pleasant example of argument for argument's sake; as an agreeable jumble of truth and of mental rambling."
270. Now, Sir, I do assure you, that I never was more serious in my life, than when I wrote the essay, or, rather, casually made the observations against the cultivation arid use of this worse than useless root. If it was argument for argument's sake, no one, that I can recollect, ever did me the honour to show that the argument was fallacious. I think it a subject of great importance; I regard the praises of this root and the preference given to it before corn, and even some other roots, to have arisen from a sort of monkey-like imitation. It has become, of late years, the fashion to extol the virtues of potatoes, as it has been to admire the writings of Milton and Shakespear. God, almighty and all fore-seeing, first permitting his chief angel to be disposed to rebel against him; his permitting him to enlist whole squadrons of angels under his banners; his permitting this host to come and dispute with him the throne of heaven; his permitting the contest to be long, and, at one time, doubtful; his permitting the devils to bring cannon into this battle in the clouds; his permitting one devil or angel, I forget which, to be split down the middle, from crown to crotch, as we split a pig; his permitting the two halves, intestines and all, to go slap, up together again, and become a perfect body; his, then, causing all the devil host to be tumbled head-long down into a place called Hell, of the local situation of which no man can have an idea; his causing gates (iron gates too) to be erected to keep the devil in; his permitting him to get out, nevertheless, and to come and destroy the peace and happiness of his new creation; his causing his son to take a pair of compasses out of a drawer to trace the form of the earth: all this, and, indeed, the whole of Milton's poem, is such barbarous trash, so outrageously offensive to reason and to common sense, that one is naturally led to wonder how it can have been tolerated by a people, amongst whom astronomy, navigation, and chemistry are understood. But, it is the fashion to turn up the eyes, when Paradise Lost is mentioned; and, if you fail herein you want taste; you want judgment even, if you do not admire this absurd and ridiculous stuff, when, if one of your relations were to write a letter in the same strain, you would send him to a mad-house and take his estate. It is the sacrificing of reason to fashion. And as to the other "Divine Bard," the case is still more provoking. After his ghosts, witches, sorcerers, fairies, and monsters; after his bombast and puns and smut, which appear to have been not much relished by his comparatively rude contemporaries, had had their full swing; after hundreds of thousands of pounds had been expended upon embellishing his works; after numerous commentators and engravers and painters and booksellers had got fat upon the trade; after jubilees had been held in honour of his memory; at a time when there were men, otherwise of apparently good sense, who were what was aptly enough termed Shakespear-mad. At this very moment an occurrence took place, which must have put an end, for ever, to this national folly, had it not been kept up by infatuation and obstinacy without parallel. Young IRELAND, I think his name was WILLIAM, no matter from what motive, though I never could see any harm in his motive, and have always thought him a man most unjustly and brutally used. No matter, however, what were the inducing circumstances, or the motives, he did write, and bring forth, as being Shakespear's, some plays, a prayer, and a love-letter. The learned men of England, Ireland and Scotland met to examine these performances. Some doubted, a few denied; but, the far greater part, amongst whom were Dr. PARR, Dr. WHARTON, and Mr. GEORGE CHALMERS, declared, in the most positive terms, that no man but Shakespear could have written those things. There was a division; but this division arose more from a suspicion of some trick, than from any thing to be urged against the merit of the writings. The plays went so far as to be ACTED. Long lists of subscribers appeared to the work. And, in short, it was decided, in the most unequivocal manner, that this young man of sixteen years of age had written so nearly like Shakespear, that a majority of the learned and critical classes of the nation most firmly believed the writings to be Shakespear's; and, there cannot be a doubt, that, if Mr. Ireland had been able to keep his secret, they would have passed for Shakespear's 'till the time shall come when the whole heap of trash will, by the natural good sense of the nation, be consigned to everlasting oblivion; and, indeed, as folly ever doats on a darling, it is very likely, that these last found productions of "our immortal bard" would have been regarded as his best. Yet, in spite of all this; in spite of what one would have thought was sufficient to make blind people see, the fashion has been kept up; and, what excites something more than ridicule and contempt, Mr. Ireland, whose writings had been taken for Shakespear's, was, when he made the discovery, treated as an impostor and a cheat, and hunted down with as much rancour as if he had written against the buying and selling of seats in Parliament. The learned men; the sage critics; the Shakespear-mad folks; were all so ashamed, that they endeavoured to draw the public attention from themselves to the young man. It was of his impositions that they now talked, and not of their own folly. When the witty clown, mentioned in Don Quixote, put the nuncio's audience to shame by pulling the real pig out from under his cloak, we do not find that that audience were, like our learned men, so unjust as to pursue him with reproaches and with every act that a vindictive mind can suggest. They perceived how foolish they had been, they hung down their heads in silence, and, I dare say, would not easily be led to admire the mountebank again.
271. It is fashion, Sir, to which in these most striking instances, sense and reason have yielded; and it is to fashion that the potatoe owes its general cultivation and use. If you ask me whether fashion can possibly make a nation prefer one sort of diet to another, I ask you what it is that can make a nation admire Shakespear? What is it that can make them call him a "Divine Bard," nine-tenths of whose works are made up of such trash as no decent man, now-a-days, would not be ashamed, and even afraid, to put his name to? What can make an audience in London sit and hear, and even applaud, under the name of Shakespear, what they would hoot off the stage in a moment, if it came forth under any other name? When folly has once given the fashion she is a very persevering dame. An American writer, whose name is GEORGE DORSEY, I believe, and who has recently published a pamphlet, called, "The UNITED STATES AND ENGLAND, &c," being a reply to an attack on the morals and government and learning of the Americans, in the "Quarterly Review," states, as matter of justification, that the People of America sigh with delight to see the plays of Shakespear, whom they claim as their countryman; an honour, if it be disputed, of which I will make any of them a voluntary surrender of my share. Now, Sir, what can induce the American to sit and hear with delight the dialogues of Falstaff and Poins, and Dame Quickely and Doll Tearsheet? What can restrain them from pelting Parson Hugh, Justice Shallow, Bardolph, and the whole crew off the stage? What can make them endure a ghost cap-ΰ-pie, a prince, who, for justice sake, pursues his uncle and his mother, and who stabs an old gentleman in sport, and cries out "dead for a ducat! dead!" What can they find to "delight" them in punning clowns, in ranting heroes, in sorcerers, ghosts, witches, fairies, monsters, sooth-sayers, dreamers; in incidents out of nature, in scenes most unnecessarily bloody. How they must be delighted at the story of Lear putting the question to his daughters of which loved him most, and then dividing his kingdom among them, according to their professions of love; how delighted to see the fantastical disguise of Edgar, the treading out Gloucester's eyes, and the trick by which it is pretended he was made to believe, that he had actually fallen from the top of the cliff! How they must be delighted to see the stage filled with green boughs, like a coppice, as in Macbeth, or streaming like a slaughter-house, as in Titus Andronicus! How the young girls in America must be tickled with delight at the dialogues in Troilus and Cressida, and more especially at the pretty observations of the Nurse, I think it is, in Romeo and Juliet! But, it is the same all through the work. I know of one other, and only one other, book, so obscene as this; arid, if I were to judge from the high favour in which these two books seem to stand, I should conclude, that wild and improbable fiction, bad principles of morality and politicks, obscurity in meaning, bombastical language, forced jokes, puns, and smut, were fitted to the minds of the people. But I do not thus judge. It is fashion. These books are in fashion. Every one is ashamed not to be in the fashion. It is the fashion to extol potatoes, and to eat potatoes. Every one joins in extolling potatoes, and all the world like potatoes, or pretend to like them, which is the same thing in effect.
272. In those memorable years of wisdom, 1800 and 1801, you can remember, I dare say, the grave discussions in Parliament about potatoes. It was proposed by some one to make a law to encourage the growth of them; and, if the Bill did not pass, it was, I believe, owing to the ridicule which Mr. Horne Tooke threw upon that whole system of petty legislation. Will it be believed, in another century, that the law-givers of a great nation actually passed a law to compel people to eat pollard in their bread, and that, too, not for the purpose of degrading or punishing, but for the purpose of doing the said people good by adding to the quantity of bread in a time of scarcity? Will this be believed? In every bushel of wheat there is a certain proportion of flour, suited to the appetite and the stomach of man; and a certain proportion of pollard and bran, suited to the appetite and stomach of pigs, cows, and sheep. But the parliament of the years of wisdom wished to cram the whole down the throat of man, together with the flour of other grain. And what was to become of the pigs, cows, and sheep? Whence were the pork, butter, and mutton to come? And were not these articles of human food as well as bread? The truth is, that pollard, bran, and the coarser kinds of grain, when given to cattle, make these cattle, fat; but when eaten by man make him lean and weak. And yet this bill actually became a law!
273. That period of wisdom was also the period of the potatoe-mania. Bulk was the only thing sought after; and, it is a real fact, that Pitt did suggest the making of beer out of straw. Bulk was all that was looked after. If the scarcity had continued a year longer, I should not have been at all surprized, if it had been proposed to feed the people at rack and manger. But, the Potatoe! Oh! What a blessing to man! LORD GRENVILLE, at a birth day dinner given to the foreign ambassadors, used not a morsel of bread, but, instead of it, little potatoe cakes, though he had, I dare say, a plenty of lamb, poultry, pig, &c. All of which had been fatted upon corn or meal, in whole or in part. Yes, Sir, potatoes will do very well along with plenty of animal food, which has been fatted on something better than potatoes. But, when you and I talk of the use of them, we must consider them in a very different light.
274. The notion is, that potatoes are cheaper than wheat flour. This word cheap is not quite expressive enough, but it will do for our present purpose. I shall consider the cost of potatoes, in a family, compared with that of flour. It will be best to take the simple case of the labouring man.
275. The price of a bushel of fine flour, at Botley, is, at this time, 10s. The weight is 56 Ibs. The price of a bushel of potatoes is 2s. 6d. They are just now dug up, and are at the cheapest. A bushel of potatoes which are measured by a large bushel, weighs about 60 Ibs. dirt and all, for they are sold unwashed. Allow 4 Ibs. for dirt, and the weights are equal. Well, then, here is toiling Dick with his four bushels of potatoes, and John with his bushel of flour. But, to be fair, I must allow, that the relative price is not always so much in favour of flour. Yet, I think you will agree with me, that upon an average, five bushels of potatoes do cost as much as one bushel of flour. You know very well, that potatoes in London, sell for Id. and sometimes for 2d. a pound; that is to say, sometimes for 1l. 7s. 6d. and sometimes for 2l. 15s. the five bushels. This is notorious. Every reader knows it. And did you ever hear of a bushel of flour selling for 2l. 15s. Monstrous to think of! And yet the trades man's wife, looking narrowly to every halfpenny, trudges away to the potatoe shop to get five or six pounds of this wretched root for the purpose of saving flour! She goes and gives 10d. for ten pounds of potatoes, when she might buy five pounds of flour with the same money! Before her potatoes come to the table, they are, even in bulk, less than 5 Ibs. or even 3 Ibs. of flour made into a pudding. Try the experiment yourself Sir, and you will soon be able to appreciate the economy of this dame.
276. But, to return to Dick and John; the former has got his five bushels of potatoes, and the latter his bushel of flour. I shall, by and by, have to observe upon the stock that Dick must lay in, and upon the stowage that he must have but, at present, we will trace these two commodities in their way to the mouth and in their effects upon those who eat them. Dick has got five bushels at once, because he could have them a little cheaper. John may have his Peck or Gallon of flour: for that has a fixed and indiscriminating price. It requires no trick in dealing, no judgment, as in the case of the roots, which may be wet, or hollow, or hot; flour may be sent for by any child able to carry the quantity wanted. However, reckoning Dick's trouble and time nothing in getting home his five bushels of potatoes, and supposing him to, have got the right sort, a "fine sort," which he can hardly fail of, indeed, since the whole nation is now full of "fine sort," let us now see how he goes to work to consume them. He has a piece of bacon upon the rack, but he must have some potatoes too. On goes the pot, but there it may as well hang, for we shall find it in continual requisition. For this time the meat and roots boil together. But, what is Dick to have for supper? Bread? No. He shall not have bread, unless he will have bread for dinner. Put on the Pot again for supper. Up an hour before day light and on with the pot. Fill your luncheon-bag, Dick: nothing is so relishing and so strengthening out in the harvest-field, or ploughing on a bleak hill in winter, as a cold potatoe. But, be sure, Dick, to wrap your bag well up in your clothes, during winter, or, when you come to lunch, you may, to your great surprise, find your food transformed into pebbles. Home goes merry Dick, and on goes the pot again. Thus 1095 times in the year Dick's pot must boil. This is, at least, a thousand times oftener than with a bread and meat diet. Once a week baking and once a week boiling, is as much as a farm house used to require. There must be some fuel consumed in winter for warmth. But here are, at the least, 500 fires to be made for the sake of these potatoes, and, at a penny a fire, the amount is more than would purchase four bushels of flour, which would make 288 Ibs. of bread, which at 7 Ibs. of bread a day, would keep John's family in bread for 41 days out of the 365. This I state as a fact challenging contradiction, that, exclusive of the extra labour, occasioned by the cookery of potatoes, the fuel required, in a year, for a bread diet, would cost, in any part of the kingdom, more than would keep a family, even in baker's bread for 41 days in the year, at the rate of 71 Ibs. of bread a day.
277. John, on the contrary, lies and sleeps on Sunday morning 'till about 7 o'clock. He then gets a bit of bread and meat, or cheese, if he has either. The mill gives him his bushel of flour in a few minutes. His wife has baked during the week. He has a pudding on Sunday, and another batch of bread, before the next Sunday. The moment he is up, he is off to his stable, or the field, or the coppice. His breakfast and luncheon are in his bag. In spite of frost he finds them safe and sound. They give him heart, and enable him to go through the day. His 56 Ibs. of flour, with the aid of 2d. in yeast, bring him 72 Ibs. of bread; while, after the dirt and peelings and waste are deducted, it is very doubtful whether Dick's 300 Ibs. of potatoes bring 200 Ibs. of even this watery diet to his lips. It is notorious, that in a pound of clean potatoes there are 11 ounces of water, half an ounce of earthy matter, an ounce of fibrous and strawey stuff, and I know not what besides. The water can do Dick no good, but he must swallow these 11 ounces of water in every pound of potatoes. How far earth and straw may tend to fatten or strengthen cunning Dick, I do not know; but, at any rate, it is certain, that, while he is eating as much of potatoe as is equal in nutriment to I Ib. of bread, he must swallow about 14 oz. of water, earth, straw, &c. for, down they must go altogether, like the Parliament's bread in the years of wisdom, 1800 and 1801. But, suppose every pound of potatoes to bring into Dick's stomach a 6th part in nutritious matter, including in the gross pound all the dirt, eyes, peeling, and other inevitable waste. Divide his gross 300 Ibs. by 6, and you will find him with 50 Ibs. of nutritious matter for the same sum that John has laid out in 72 Ibs. of nutritious matter, besides the price of 288 Ibs. of bread in a year, which Dick lays out in extra fuel for the eternal boilings of his pot. Is it any wonder that his cheeks are like two bits of loose leather, while he is pot-bellied, and weak as a cat? In order to get half a pound of nutritious matter into him, he must swallow about 50 ounces of water, earth, and straw. Without ruminating faculties how is he to bear this cramming?
278. But, Dick's disadvantages do not stop here. He must lay in his store at the beginning of winter, or he must buy through the nose. And, where is he to find stowage? He has no caves. He may pie them in the garden, if he has none; but, he must not open the pie in frosty weather. It is a fact not to be disputed, that a full tenth of the potatoe crop is destroyed, upon an average of years, by the frost. His wife, or stout daughter, cannot go out to work to help to earn the means of buying potatoes. She must stay at home to boil the pot, the ever lasting pot! There is no such thing as a cold dinner. No such thing as women sitting down on a hay-cock, or a shock of wheat, to their dinner, ready to jump up at the approach of the shower. Home they must tramp, if it be three miles, to the fire that ceaseth not, and the pot as black as Satan. No wonder, that in the brightest and busiest seasons of the year, you see from every cottage door, staring out at you, as you pass, a smoky-capped, greasy-heeled woman. The pot, which keeps her at home, also gives her the colour of the chimney, while long inactivity swells her heels.
279. Now, Sir, I am quite serious in these my reasons against the use of this root, as food for man. As food for other animals, in proportion to its cost, I know it to be the worst of all roots that I know any thing of; but, that is another question. I have here been speaking of it as food for man; and, if it be more expensive than flour to the labourer in the country, who, at any rate, can stow it in pies, what must it be to tradesman's and artizan's families in towns, who can lay in no store, and who must buy by the ten pound or quarter of a hundred at a time? When broad-faced Mrs. Wilkins tells Mrs. Tomkins, that, so that she has "a potatoe" for her dinner, she does not care a farthing for bread, I only laugh, knowing that she will twist down a half pound of beef with her "potatoe," and has twisted down half a pound of buttered toast in the morning, and means to do the same at tea time without prejudice to her supper and grog. But when Mrs. Tomkins gravely answers, "yes, Ma'am, there is nothing like a potatoe; it is such a saving in a family," I really should not be very much out of humour to see the tκte-ΰ-tκte broken up by the application of a broom-stick.
280. However, Sir, I am talking to you now, and, as I am not aware that there can be any impropriety in it, I now call upon you to show, that I am really wrong in my notions upon this subject; and this, I think you are, in some sort bound to do, seeing that you have, in a public manner, condemned them.
281. But, there remains a very important part of the subject yet undiscussed. For, though you should be satisfied, that 300 Ibs. of potatoes are not, taking every thing into consideration, more than equal to about 30 lbs. of flour, you may be of opinion, that the disproportion in the bulk of the crops is, in favour of potatoes, more than sufficient to compensate for this. I think this is already clearly enough settled by the relative prices of the contending commodities; for, if the quantity of produce was on the side of potatoes, their price would be in proportion.
282. I have heard of enormous crops of potatoes; as high, I believe, as 10 tons grow upon an acre. I have heard of 14 sacks of wheat upon an acre. I never saw above 10 grow upon an acre. The average crop of wheat is about 24 bushels, in this part of England, and the average crop of potatoes about 6 tons. The weight of the wheat 1,440 Ibs. and that of the potatoes 13,440 Ibs. Now, then, if I am right in what has been said above, this bulk of potatoes barely keeps place with that of the wheat; for, if a bushel of wheat does not make 56 Ibs. of flour, it weighs 60 Ibs. and leaves pollard and bran to make up the deficiency. Then, as to the cost: the ground must be equally good. The seed is equally expensive. But the potatoes must be cultivated during their growth. The expense of digging and cartage and stowage is not less than 2l. an acre; at present prices. The expense of reaping, housing, and threshing is, at present prices, 10l. less. The potatoes leave no straw, the wheat leaves straw, stubble, and gleanings for pigs. The straw is worth, at least, 3l. an acre, at present prices. It is, besides, absolutely necessary. It litters, in conjunction with other straw, all sorts of cattle; it sometimes helps to feed them; it covers half the buildings in the kingdom; and makes no small part of the people's beds. The potatoe is a robber in all manner of ways. It largely takes from the farm-yard, and returns little, or nothing to it; it robs the land more than any other plant or root, it robs the eaters of their time, their fuel, and their health; and, I agree fully with MONSIEUR TESSOT, that it robs them of their mental powers.
283. I do not deny, that it is a pleasant enough thing to assist in sending down lusty Mrs. Wilkins's good half-pound of fat roast-beef. Two or three ounces of water, earth, and straw, can do her no harm; but, when I see a poor, little, pale-faced, life-less, pot-bellied boy peeping out at a cottage door, where I ought to meet with health and vigour, I cannot help cursing the fashion, which has given such general use to this root, as food for man. How ever, I must say, that the chief ground of my antipathy to this root is, that it tends to debase the common people, as every thing does, which brings their mode of living to be nearer that of cattle. The man and his pig, in the potatoe system, live pretty much upon the same diet, and eat nearly in the same manner, and out of nearly the same utensil. The same eternally boiling pot cooks their common mess. Man, being master, sits at the first table; but, if his fellow-feeder comes after him, he will not fatten, though he will live upon the same diet. Mr. CURWEN found potatoes to supply the place of hay, being first well cooked; but, they did not supply the place of oats; and yet fashion has made people believe, that they are capable of supplying the place of bread! It is notorious, that nothing will fatten on potatoes alone. Carrots, parsnips, cabbages, will, in time, fatten sheep and oxen, and, some of them, pigs; but, upon potatoes alone, no animal that I ever heard of will fatten. And yet, the greater part, and, indeed, all the other roots and plants here mentioned, will yield, upon ground of the same quality, three or four times as heavy a crop as potatoes, and will, too, for a long while, set the frosts at defiance.
284. If, Sir, you do me the honour to read this letter, I shall have taken up a good deal of your time; but the subject is one of much importance in rural economy, and therefore, cannot be wholly uninteresting to you. I will not assume the sham modesty to suppose, that my manner of treating it makes me unworthy of an answer; and, I must confess, that I shall be disappointed unless you make a serious attempt to prove to me, that I am in error.
I am, Sir,
Your most obedient,
And most humble Servant,
285. Now, observe, I never received any answer to this. Much abuse. New torrents of abuse; and, in language still more venomous than the former; for now the Milton and Shakespear men, the critical Parsons, took up the pen; and, when you have an angry Priest for adversary, it is not the common viper, but the rattle-snake that you have to guard against. However, as no one put his name to what he wrote, my remarks went on producing their effect; and a very considerable effect they had.
286. About the same time Mr. TIMOTHY BROWN of Peckham Lodge, who is one of the most understanding and most worthy men I ever had the honour to be acquainted with, furnished me with the following comparative estimate relative to wheat and potatoes.
289. Thus, then, the nutritious contents of the Potatoes surpasses that of the wheat but by a few pounds; but to get at those contents, unaccompanied with nine times their weight in earth, straw, and water, is impossible. Nine pounds of earth, straw and water must, then, be swallowed, in order to get at the one pound of flour!
290. I beg to be understood as saying nothing against the cultivation of potatoes in any place, or near any place where there are people to consume them at half a dollar a bushel, when wheat is two dollars a bushel. If any one will buy dirt to eat, and if one can get dirt to him with more profit than one can get wheat to him, let us supply him with dirt by all means. It is his taste to eat dirt; and, if his taste have nothing immoral in it, let him, in the name of all that is ridiculous, follow his taste. I know a prime Minister, who picks his nose and regales himself with the contents. I solemnly declare this to be true. I have witnessed the worse than beastly act scores of times; and yet I do not know, that he is much more of a beast than the greater part of his associates. Yet, if this were all; if he were chargeable with nothing but this; if he would confine his swallow to this, I do not know that the nation would have any right to interfere between his nostrils and his gullet.
291. Nor do I say, that it is filthy to eat potatoes. I do not ridicule the using of them as sauce. What I laugh at is, the idea of the use of them being a saving; of their going further than bread; of the cultivation of them in lieu of wheat adding to the human sustenance of a country. This is what I laugh at; and laugh I must as long as I have the above estimate before me.
292. As food for cattle, sheep or hogs, this is the worst of all the green and root crops; but, of this I have said enough before; and, therefore, I now dismiss the Potatoe with the hope, that I shall never again have to write the word, or to see the thing.