« PreviousContinue »
few amongst them that can do it well, it lying in a dexterity not easy to be learnt, as they say : they put the cocons in hot water, and so stirring them about with a kind of rod, the ends of the silk twires of the cocons stick to it, which they laying on upon a turning reel draw off from the cocons, which lie all the while in the hot water; but the great skill is to have such a number of these single twires of the cocons running at a time, as may make the thread of silk which they compose of a due bigness; for in turning (which they do apace) many of the twires of the cocons break, and so by degrees the silk thread, made of sundry of these drawn together, grows too little, and then the woman that is winding stirs her rod or little besom again with her left hand amongst the cocons, to get new ends of twires to add to the thread, which all this while keeps running. To know when to make this addition of new twires and in what quantity, so as to keep an even thread all along, is the great skill of these winders; for they do it by guess, and keep the reel turning and the thread running all the while ; for should they, as oft as is occasion, stand still to count the twires, or consider the thread, and how many new twires were fit to be added, it would be an endless labour, and they could never make wages.
The engines also that they use for twisting this silk afterwards, are too curious to be described, but by a model. I have seen one, where one woman has turned a hundred and thirty-four spindles, and twisted as many threads at a time, and I have seen another, wherein two women going in a wheel, like that of a crane, turned three hundred and sixty.
Their mulberry-trees, where they stand near towns, yield them good profit; I have known the leaves of four white mulberry-trees (some whereof were not very large) sold for a pistole, i. c. between sixteen and seventeen shillings sterling.
NA VIGATION :
ORIGINAL TO THIS TIME.
PREFIXED TO CHURCHILL'S COLLECTION OF VOYAGES.
ORIGINAL TO THIS TIME.
Of all the inventions and improvements the wit and industry of man has discovered and brought to perfection, none seems to be so universally useful, profitable, and necessary, as the art of navigation. There are those that will not allow it to be called the invention of man, but rather the execution of the direction given by Almighty God; since the first vessel we read of in the world was the ark Noah built by the immediate command and appointment of the Almighty. But this is not a place to enter upon such a controversy, where some will ask, why it should be believed there were not ships before the flood as well as after, since doubtless those first men, extending their lives to eight or nine hundred years, were more capable of improving the world than we whose days are reduced to fourscore years, and all beyond them only misery or dotage? It is impertinent to spend time upon such frivolous arguments, which only depend on opinion or fancy. If then we give any credit to history, on which
all our knowledge of what is past depends, we shall find that navigation had but a mean and obscure original, that it was gradually and but very leisurely improved, since in many ages it scarce ventured out of sight of land ; and that it did not receive its final perfection till these latter times, if we may be allowed to call that perfect which is still doubtless capable of a further improvement: but I give it that epithet only, with regard to the infinite advancement it has received since its first appearance in the world.
The first vessel ever known to have floated on the waters was the ark made by God's appointment, in which Noah and his three sons were saved from the universal deluge. But this ark, ship, or whatever else it may be called, had neither oárs, sails, masts, yards, rudder, or any sort of rigging whatsoever, being only guided by divine providence, and having no particular port or coast to steer to, only to float upon the waters, till those being dried up, it rested on the mountains of Ararat, as we read in Gen. viii. 4. From this time till after the confusion of tongues there was no use of navigation, there being as yet no sufficient multitude to people the earth; and those men there were, having undertaken to build the tower of Babel, from thence were dispersed into all other parts of the known world. These first travellers doubtless met with many rivers before they came to the sea, as plainly appears by the situation of Babel, generally agreed upon by all that treat of scriptural geography; and those rivers they passed in a hollowed piece of timber, no better than a trough, or a sort of baskets covered over with raw hides, being the easiest that occurred to invention, and sufficient for their present purpose, which was only to pass on in their way to other parts, without the prospect of trade or commerce, which cannot be supposed to have then entered into their thoughts. What vessels they built when they came to the sea no history describes, and therefore it would be a rashness to pretend to any knowledge of them. That they were small, ill rigged, and only durst creep along the shores, is out of all dispute ; if we consider that many