TEXTS FROM ENGLISH RELIGIOUS HISTORY
The Politics of Potatoes
by John Forster
Invented and published
for the good of the poorer sort
Natura beatis omnibus
esse dedit, si quis cognoverit uti
The Politics of Potatoes
To the High and Mighty Monarch, Charles the II, by grace of God, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &etc.:
not necessity (most dread Sovereign) seems to be the cause of most dedications.
It is otherwise with this one, the subject and matter hereof being of
public utility, requires one of public authority to patronize it. Leaving
therefore the more subordinate, I have presumed to address to Your Majesty
as Supreme, humbly presenting this my weak endeavor, this new plantation,
this most profitable invention, to the view and consideration of your
most sacred Majesty; a meaner patron not befitting nor being of sufficient
authority, to advance and set forward a work so generally beneficial:
beneficial to Your Majesty, beneficial to all Your Majesty's subjects,
beneficial to strangers and foreigners of other nations; to Your Majesty
by a constant considerable annual revenue; to all Your Majesty's subjects,
especially to those of the meaner rank, by a cheap, profitable and easy
way of providing for, and maintaining of their families; to foreigners
and strangers of the more northern climates, by yearly supplying and
furnishing them with corn, which may hereafter be spared out of these
Your Majesty's dominions. Seeing therefore, that the benefit of this
plantation may be so great, be pleased, most Mighty Monarch, to vouchsafe
it your Royal approbation and permission; it being a work of charity,
of so large an extent that not a few only but all the poor in general,
throughout these Your Majesty's dominions, will receive benefit by it,
will so well be provided for, that hereafter they will have no cause
to complain of the hardness of the years or of the dearness of corn.
Besides, this project may be performed with very little charge, and
also in a short time; for in two years and a half the plantations will
be finished, to the benefit of Your Majesty and great good of the whole
nation; and in three years all the charges (which is only to the planters)
will be repaid treble. Thus, leaving it to Your Majesty's wisdom and
princely consideration (craving your gracious pardon for this presumption),
I do here humbly take my leave and remain,
To the Reader:
Among all the plagues and punishments Almighty God is pleased to inflict upon mankind for sin, there are three which seem more grievous and intolerable than the rest: the sword, pestilence, and famine. Of which three, when King David had offended God, in numbering the people, and was put to his choice, in what kind he would be punished for it, he chose the pestilence as the least of the three (which truly it is, all circumstances being considered). And of the other two there is none (I think) but had rather die in the field by the sword of his enemy than be pined and starved to death by the bitterness of famine. Now, as a good Prince will endeavor what he can possible, to preserve his country from war, and the sword, so far as stands best with the safety of himself and his people. And, as a good physician will (or at least should) take as much care to preserve the health and prevent the sickness of his patients, as to cure them when they are sick; so it is the duty of every good householder, in times of plenty, to provide for his family against times of scarcity and famine, the greatest judgment of the three. For the better and more easy effecting whereof, I have in this small treatise published such a secret whereby every man, in the greatest times of dearth and scarcity, may have excellent, good and wholesome bread, and other kinds of food, for their families at as cheap rates as now in times of plenty, which if well made use of, I do not doubt, but it will prove more effectual against scarcity and a famine than the best Alexiterium, or antidote against the infection of the Plague. And since it has pleased God to deliver such a talent to my keeping, I was willing (not to hide it in the earth, or wrap it up in a napkin, but) to improve it, as well as I could; which I hope I have done, by publishing of it, that you, loving reader, may know it, may make use of it, and receive the benefit of it, desiring nothing for my pains and labor herein, but your kind acceptance, which, if I shall perceive, I shall be the more encouraged hereafter, (according to my power and ability) further to serve you in whatsoever civility and humanity commands.
Hanslop in Bucks,
I shall (for their sakes) endeavor in this treatise, to show them a way, whereby (with the blessing of God) they may get an honest livelihood, and that without much charge at the first, or trouble afterwards. And it is by the planting of the roots called potatoes, by which, not only the planters themselves will reap much gain and benefit, but also all those that will make use of them, may maintain their families with much more ease and far less charge than at any time heretofore.
Now there are diverse kinds of potatoes, all which were originally brought from America. The first sort, being those of greatest request, are the Spanish potatoes called by the Latins batata, cametes, annes, Ignanes, and Inhames. The second sort are the Virginia potatoes, called Battata, and Battatas Virginianorum, Papas, Paput, and Pappus. The third sort are the potatoes of Canada, called of the herbarists Heliotropium indicum tuberosum, Flos solis piramidalis, Aster peruvianus tuberusus; and falsely in English, "artichokes of Jerusalem." The fourth sort (which are these I shall write of in this treatise, and are fittest for our purpose) are the Irish potatoes, being little different from those of Virginia except only in the color of the flower and time of flowering, for these bring forth a white flower about the end of June and so continue flowering most part of the summer. The other (as Mr. Gerard says) do not flower until August, and bear a purple flower. These roots, although they came at first from the Indies, yet thrive and prosper very well in Ireland, where there are whole fields of them, from whence they have been brought into Wales, and into the north parts of England, where they likewise prosper and increase exceedingly. They are in quality temperate, very agreeable and amicable to the nature of man, and of a good and strong nourishment. In substance they are brittle and mealy, and therefore very fit to be put into bread and to make diverse kinds of wholesome foods as shall be shown hereafter.
If you intend to plant of these roots, you must make choice of such a piece of ground as is not too wet in the winter, for if the water stands upon it, and has not free passageway, all the roots, by being too much soaked with the wet, will become rotten. Therefore the ground must either lie upon some kind of descent, or else be so ordered in the digging and divided into long beds with furrows between them, that the water may the better be conveyed away. These beds ought not to be above six feet wide, that so the planter, by going along the furrows, may pluck up the rank weeds that come up before the potatoes and not tread upon the beds.
Having found one ground fit for the purpose, it must be dug at the beginning of winter, that the frost may make it hollow, and if it be not sufficiently rich of itself, it must be made so by mixing good rotten dung with it. Then, at the latter end of March it must be dug over again, and all the clods and turf being well broken, you may plant the roots half a foot deep in the earth, and about eight or nine inches apart. But you must first cut them into quarters, or halves, or into lesser pieces, leaving always upon every piece one bud at least, which you may perceive in the little cavities here and there upon the roots. Thus a great deal of ground may be planted with a few roots; which about the beginning of May thrust forth their leaves. The flowers, being of a white color, bud forth in the end of June. The fruit or berry does not come to maturity in our climate but is for the most part always green. The roots may be dug from the beginning of September until the end of March, seven months together, and may be used for the making of bread and other kinds of food eight months, even until the end of April. And for fear of snow, or hard frost, they may be kept upon dry boarded flowers for two or three months together; and though they may seem a little withered, yet in the boiling they will be as plump and as full as at the first.
In the digging you must observe that all the very small roots, and all the little pieces of roots must be left in the ground that it may be sufficiently stored the next year. Also, they must not be dug after the end of March, for that will hinder their early coming up and consequently their increase will be the less. Thus far of the manner of planting potatoes. We now come to show the several uses thereof.
How to Make Bread with Potatoes
The first and greatest use of potatoes is for the making of bread, which I do not doubt but will be of much benefit to all sorts of people, especially to the poor in times of scarcity. And indeed this was the chief cause both of the invention and publication hereof. For having seen how much poor people have suffered, and what great complaints they have sometimes made by reason of the dearness of corn, and the slender relief which they found at the hands of those who were able enough to help them: I began to think to myself, what means might be used to prevent the like for the future. And knowing the nature and great increase of this root, I made trial thereof for the making of bread and, by the blessing of God, it succeeded according to my desire. I then planted of them, and afterwards for two years together I made further trial of them, and found that they might be put to diverse other good uses, which in love to my native country, and for the good of the poor, I have here set down, beginning with the way and manner of making bread therewith, which is as follows.
If you will bake a bushel, you shall take half a bushel of these roots, and putting them into two little nets, which is a peck into each net, boil them in a kettle of water till they break between your fingers, but let them not break in the boiling. When they have boiled a quarter of an hour, in which time they will be boiled enough, take out the nets, with the roots, and hang them up a while, that the water may drain from them; then put them out into a wire sieve, made for the purpose, being almost as thick as a coarse hair sieve, and strengthened with three or four strong wires, or small iron rods, over-thwart the bottom; and with an iron truel let them all be broken, and rubbed through the bottom of the sieve, into a vessel underneath; by which means the skins of the roots will remain behind, and the meal will pass through, being much like unto boiled rice. Before you put the roots into the nets, you must cut the great ones into halves or quarters, otherwise the small ones will be boiled to pieces, before the great ones are boiled enough.
The roots being thus prepared, you may make bread of them after this manner. You must take as much wheat or barley flour as your half bushel of potato meal weighs, and mix them well together with your hands; then put to it as much warm water, mixed with a little yeast, as you think will make it into very stiff dough, and as much salt as is convenient; which being done, knead it well, until it is exactly mingled, which will quickly be, by reason of the dryness and mealiness of the roots; afterwards make loaves of it, and see that it be well baked.
This bread, if the corn was good, and if it be rightly made and well baked, will be as hollow and as white, as pleasant in taste and as wholesome and nutrimental, as if it was all of wheat; for all that have written of potatoes do agree that howsoever they be eaten, they do mightily comfort, strengthen and nourish the body.
But if any shall object that this bread is windy, I answer that it cannot be. For the roots being first boiled and then mingled with flour and afterwards baked, it is impossible they should be windy. For by this double coction they are so corrected, that they are made the more wholesome, and all their windiness taken away. Neither being thus used can you at all, or very little, discern the taste of the potatoes, by which it is evident that the bread made from them is not windy.
And not only may bread be made of these roots, but also diverse other wholesome foods as here follows.
How to Make Paste of Potatoes
You may make of potatoes excellent good paste if you take equal parts of the root and of good wheat flour and make dough thereof as you did for the bread, with warm water. Only, in this you must leave out the yeast and add a little butter, yet not in too great a quantity. Of this paste you may make pies, pasties, tarts, etc., which you must bake presently after they are made, in an oven made something more hot than ordinary for such things. And so you will have as good crust as if it had been of the best flour. Also you may make paste with barley flour and these roots and it will be better, and not so apt to cleave and crack, as that which is made all of barley.
How to Make Puddings of Potatoes, either Baked or Boiled
For to make puddings of potatoes, you must take one half of the roots, boiled and broken, as before for bread, and one half of wheaten or barley flour, and mix them well together, with some kind of liquid, adding also two or three eggs to make it hollow, and what other cost you please, and having so done, you may either bake them in an oven or boil them in a bag, and being well baked or boiled, and then buttered (or they may be made with suet if you please), they will be as pleasant in taste and as wholesome as if they were made only of wheat.
How to Make Very Good Custards of Potatoes
Take a quart of new milk (or cream if you will be at the cost), six or seven potatoes, boiled, and very well broken, a couple of eggs, beaten; sugar, about a quarter of a pound; a little nutmeg grated; mingle them well together and put it into a shallow pewter or earthen dish, or else into crust, having first put a little piece of butter into the bottom (if it be made only of milk) and so bake it in an oven or over some coals, then keep it till it be almost cold, and you will have an excellent, dainty and wholesome dish, being both very pleasant to the palate, and very restorative and strengthening to the body, and also so cheap that for four pence charge as many may be made as will serve two reasonable men for a meal.
How to Make Potato Cheesecakes
You may make cheesecakes of potatoes after this manner. Take of the roots, very well broken, and rubbed through a wire sieve, what quantity you please; grated bread, a quarter as much; cream and eggs beaten together, enough of it to make a fit consistency, or so thick as it usually is made for this purpose; currants, sugar and spice, of each as many as is needful. Stir all these things well together; then raise your coffins in form round and shallow, which fill with your former mixture. Afterwards, bake them in an oven and you will have cheesecakes (so called à forma & similitudine) in goodness exceeding those that are made of the curd of milk. These cheesecakes may be made even in the midst of winter, when the other sort by reason of the scarcity of milk and the coldness of the weather are very seldom to be seen.
To Make Cakes of Potatoes
Those kinds of cakes commonly made by bakers of the best wheat flour, with fruit, spices, etc., may also be made with a mixture of these roots and with the flour so well as not to be discerned in the least. But there is another kind of cakes, cheaper and more fit for poor people, made after this manner:
Take of the meal of the roots as much as you please, of wheat flour, or for want thereof, fine barley flour, enough to make it into a dough, without water; put a little salt to it and knead it well. Then make thin cakes of it and bake them in an oven, or upon the hearth. These cakes are quickly and easily made and, being eaten with butter whilst they be hot, are very good for children, and by reason of their cheapness, for all poor people.
After the same manner may bread by made, cheaper than the other way before mentioned; for by how much the more of the roots is put into it, by so much will it be the cheaper. And usually to make bread without water, or any other moisture, than what is in the roots, except a little yeast, there is required three parts of the meal of the roots to two parts of flour. I have seen bread made after this way, very good, white and hollow, though there was no yeast at all put into it. But I shall leave this to everyone to use that way which by his own experience he finds to be best.
Other Ways to Eat Potatoes
I could here set down diverse other things which might be made with these roots, as diverse kinds of fried foods, diverse kinds of sweetmeats, etc., but I will not at this time because I think these are sufficient to lead those that be ingenious (as many are, for their bellies especially) to the discovery of other things of the like nature. Nor would I have these to be followed and imitated, ad unguem, but let everyone according to his knowledge and experience, according to his purse and palate, add, alter, or diminish what he please.
Besides the former ways of using them, they may also be used of themselves for a meal. For some boil them, or roast them in the embers, and having peeled them, stew them in wine, with butter and sugar, or butter them only, and so eat them. Some bake them into pies with marrow, sugar, spice, and other things. Some boil them and eat them with fat beef, or other kind of fat meat, and others dress them other ways, every man according to his own taste and liking, all which ways they are a very wholesome and strengthening food. And by these several ways of dressing them, they are like so many varieties and change of dishes.
And thus I have shown you the several uses of potatoes. I shall now proceed to show what great benefit they may be: first to the planters, by planting them, and second to the whole Kingdom by the use of them.
Benefits to the Planters
The benefit which these roots will be to the planters will be very great, as shall be proven by the demonstration following. Suppose a man should plant one acre of good ground which, if it be arable land, may perhaps be worth eight, nine or ten shillings a year; or if it be pasture or grass round, it may be worth twenty shillings, or more. We will count how much more profit may be made of it by planting it with these roots, than can be made of it, if it lie for grass or be sowed with corn, and so we shall perceive what the planter's gain will be.
And first, every acre of ground contains eight score square poles or perches. Now suppose that one pole should bear but one bushel of roots: In the acre there would be eight score bushels of roots, and every bushel (I mean a heaped bushel, for so such things are always measured) will make as much bread as a bushel of corn. Here is eight score bushels of roots, against twenty, thirty, or forty bushels of corn, which is as much as an acre can yield. Now if these roots may be sold for twelve pence a bushel, which they are very well worth, the eight score bushels come to eight pounds.
But further, if every pole of ground yields three or four bushels of roots, as it will, if the ground be good and yet you may leave enough to store the ground the next year, then is the gain much the more, for out of the acre may be dug six hundred and forty bushels, which (being sold for twelve pence a bushel) comes to thirty-two pounds. Thus you may see what profit may be made of one acre planted with these roots. Besides, the ground being once planted, there is no more charge nor trouble about them unless it be to destroy them, which is very hardly done. Neither is there any need of adding dung (provided the ground be good at the first) for the stalks being spread upon the ground, when the roots are dug, and there suffered to lie and rot, serve instead of dung. Whereas, for corn, the ground must every year be dunged, ploughed and sown. But if any will bestow dung upon his ground, then he may reserve the stalks for fuel, which, if well dried and laid up, will be worth the dung he lays upon his plantation. But they must be left abroad until after Christmas, and often turned, before they will be thoroughly dry. But being dry, they will be excellent fuel for brewing, heating of ovens, or the like uses.
As for the price of the roots, I think none will grudge to give twelve pence the bushel for them, if they consider what may be saved by them. For if, when corn is at five shillings a bushel, a man may have as much bread as two bushels of corn will make for six shillings, he will have little cause to think it dear, because it saves four shillings in every two bushels, besides a great deal of pains, six shillings being sooner earned than ten; and also, men that have ground will be the more encouraged to plant when they see that there is good gain to be made of them.
But some may say, "What profit will be made of them in a plentiful year, for when corn is cheap, nobody will make bread of them."
To which I answer: that in a time of the greatest plenty, bread may be made with one half of these roots and the other half of wheat or barley, cheaper than with all wheat or barley. Besides, the bread which is made with barley and these roots is whiter and far better than barley bread, even almost as good as that of wheat. Whereof I cannot think but that they will be used as well in a plentiful year as in a dear year.
Thus much of the benefit these roots will yield to the planters thereof. We will now treat of the other utilities and benefits the use of them will bring to the whole Kingdom, setting them down every one in particular.
Benefits to the Kingdom: The First Utility
The first utility will be to His Majesty who, of the planters of these roots, may have a revenue of forty or fifty thousand pounds per annum, willingly and freely, without any manner of compulsion, for that thereby the planters gain and benefit of their plantations will be made the more certain. Now this revenue may be raised without any charge at all to His Majesty, and without any manner of damage or discontent to any subject whatsoever, after this manner following:
First, if it shall please His Majesty to command that there be brought out of Ireland so many of the said roots as that (with those which already are to be had in England and Wales) every man which shall be licensed by His Majesty to plant of them may have one bushel at least to begin his plantation with. And if (after the roots are brought over) such a course be taken as that they may be conveyed to all the chief towns throughout England, then the planters may fetch them (four or five joining together) without much charge allowing notwithstanding to those that bring them sufficient gain.
if every planter has one bushel he may with that plant about four poles
of ground, cutting every peck into four hundred pieces, and planting
them as has been shown before. And by yearly digging them up and planting
more ground without diminishing of them (still leaving that which was
first planted sufficiently stored) with the increase of the second year,
he may have an acre and a half, or two acres of ground planted. So that
at the end of two years and a half, he may begin to dig up the roots
to sell. And at the end of three years, he shall have received one year's
profit, and then all his charge and trouble will be at an end, besides
the yearly digging of them up, which is but little, considering the
profit he makes by them.
Thirdly, if His Majesty shall be pleased to command the use of these roots by all people in all parts of England and Wales, viz. by putting one half, or a third part thereof into their bread for six months together, every year, from the first day of October to the last day of March, then will the planters' gain be made certain. For suppose that every planter do serve a hundred families with roots, and they tied to buy of their own planter (as it is necessary they should), those hundred families cannot spend less than a hundred bushels in a month, which comes to five pounds; and in six months six hundred bushels, which comes to thirty pounds; out of which every planter may afford to pay to His Majesty five pounds per annum for his license and authority to plant and sell the said roots, which, of ten thousand planters amounts to fifty thousand pounds per annum which may be paid to His Majesty every year at the latter end of March, at what time the planters will have made the benefit of their plantations. The other twenty-five pounds they have for the rent of their ground and for their labor, which is only for one half year. The other half they may spend about their other employments.
But this is not yet all that they will make of their plantations. For it may be supposed that, although the use of these roots is enjoined but only for six months, yet they will be used both before that time and also after that time is expired. So their gain and benefit will be increased perhaps ten pound a year more besides what they save by them in their own houses. And then, if every planter should serve but fifty families, each family spending but one bushel a month (although some will spend more), they would notwithstanding make twenty pounds a year clear (counting those which they spend themselves to save them as much in housekeeping as all the charge the digging of them comes to ) and therefore may also afford to give five pounds a year for their license.
And if some of the nicer sort of people shall not fancy the bread wherein there is so many of the roots, they may put only a fourth part of them into their own bread, and one half or a third part into their servants' bread; and if they shall use them some of the other ways aforementioned, they may easily spend every month one bushel and more though they have but a small family.
Before I proceed any further it will be necessary that I answer some things which may be objected against the preceding discourse. For some perhaps may object and say, "Why should we in England, who have plenty of wheat and other kinds of grain, be compelled to imitate the barbarous Indians and make our bread of roots?"
To which I answer that, although we have some years plenty of all sorts of grain, yet other years it is so scarce and at such rates that many poor people by reason of the dearness thereof, have been starved, and others that have had somewhat better estates and also many farmers themselves have been almost undone by it; which hereafter, by the blessing of God and the help of these roots may easily be prevented. Besides, we shall do a very charitable work in saving a great deal of corn yearly and furnishing other nations which have more need of it.
And as for the imitating of Indians, I answer first, that there is no nation so barbarous, no people so brutish, but there is something amongst them worthy of imitation.
A Parenthetic Condemnation of Tobacco
Secondly, I ask why these roots should not be made use of, by which many thousands of poor men in the greatest times of scarcity may with ease maintain their families as well as that Indian herb, tobacco, which corrupts the breath, dulls the senses, makes many a good wit sottish and stupid, many a rich man beggarly and poor? I do not deny the medicinal use of it; for it is endued with many excellent faculties. But this I think, that of all the ways of using it, the common way of making it in a pipe is the worst, although some physicians commend it to their patients and use it themselves (as they pretend) for the exciccation of rheums. I rather judge it to be that both themselves and their patients may in the tavern or alehouse (like good fellows) sit and drink with the more liberty and freedom against the dangerous consequences whereof, this is accounted a special antidote.
To Return to Potatoes
But to return to our purpose, I say that in the use of these roots we imitate not the Indians. For the Indians themselves, the greatest part of whose diet they have been for so many ages, never knew these several uses of them, nor have they been used after this manner in any nation where of late years they have been planted.
And lastly, seeing that they may be so profitable to all sorts of people, there is none (I think) but without compulsion will be willing to make use of them.
Some again will object and say, "If the planting of these roots and the use of them is so beneficial, as you pretend, why should not every man plant of them? Why should the planting of them be prohibited and only a certain number allowed of, and those made to pay a yearly rate for the doing of it?"
To this I reply first, that if some such course be not taken, it will be many years before they will be so planted as that any, especially the poor and those that have no ground of their own, will ever be the better for them. But by this means, in two years and a half there will be such store of them in all parts of the Kingdom as that everyone may know where to have them for their money.
Secondly, my intention in the writing and publishing of this treatise was partly that those who have little or no estates, nor was ever brought up in any calling, should by the planting of these roots have a way to get a maintenance for their families which cannot be, if everyone should plant them.
Lastly, there is no reason why that which is so beneficial to the whole Kingdom should not be made beneficial to the King's Majesty also, seeing it must be by his authority chiefly that it comes to be of benefit to any. Thus having sufficiently answered these objections, I shall proceed to the second utility.
The Second Utility
The second utility and benefit of these roots will be by the transportation of corn. For by the use of them in bread, abundance of grain, of all sorts, may every plentiful year be spared to be transported beyond the sea into other countries which will be a great benefit both to His Majesty and to his subjects, for these reasons:
First, His Majesty's revenue of Custom will be increased by the often coming-in of ships for corn with foreign goods and merchandise. Also a league and amity will be continued with those people to whom it is transported so that from them His Majesty (if need require) may have aid and help against foreign invasions or domestic disturbances, which if at any time hereafter they shall happen, so as not to be suppressed with mean force, a foreign army may quickly be procured and here in England be easily maintained without raising the prices of any kind of grains whatsoever.
Secondly, the merchants which deal and trade with these commodities in any great quantity (as they may when these roots be once brought into use) must needs be enriched by it.
Thirdly, husbandmen and farmers (who perhaps may think the former way, viz. of making bread of these roots, to be some hindrance to them, as indeed it will) may by this means sell their corn for as good prices as if the aforesaid roots had not been in use.
The Third Utility
Another utility of these roots is this: That whereas there has been of late years diverse whole Lordships and towns enclosed, and their arable land converted into pasture ground, which practice being still continued, and more and more land each year enclosed, will certainly in time very much increase the price of corn. Yet by the use of these roots poor people (who sill suffer most by such practices) may notwithstanding that, have bread at reasonable rates.
The Fourth Utility
Fourthly, poor people may maintain their families more easily and live more plentifully than heretofore, but especially in dear and scarce years, such as was 1661. These roots will be a great benefit to them. For if wheat be at ten shillings, and barley at six shillings a bushel (as it was that year), yet may they make wheaten bread after the rate of five shillings a bushel, and barley bread after the rate of three shillings, saving thereby one half. So may they have money, even in very dear years, to buy them other necessaries which otherwise they would want.
And now let any indifferent reader judge if this project will not be beneficial to tradesmen also, who have never less trading than when corn is dear (as I have heard many of them confess) for then poor people (who are none of their worst customers) have enough to do to get money to buy bread for their families without which they cannot live, and therefore must let alone other things less necessary. But when these roots shall once come into use, people will live more happily and plentifully, trading will flourish, and much glory will redound to Almighty God for discovering so profitable a secret.
The Fifth Utility
The fifth utility and commodity the use of these roots will yield is that all those poor people, that are maintained by the parish where they live, and are a constant town charge, may be maintained with far less charge than formerly, which will be a great ease to those parishes that are full of poor people.
The Sixth Utility
And so I come to the sixth and last utility, which is to all sorts of people in general. For that there is none, of what quality or degree soever, but (if they please) may yearly save money in housekeeping by the use of these roots, and that without any discredit or disparagement at all, it being no discredit for any man to be frugal. But if any shall be so proud as to think it below their degree to make use of so mean a help, let them forbear the use of them unless by public authority it be commanded. Many I know there are who, because they are gentlemen, will think that it belongs not to them to be saving and provident, but rather to be free and generous (as the name imports) and to spend what they have merrily. But let such consider that a prodigal father makes a beggarly son, and that the estates which they so freely spend was left by their ancestors not to them only, but also to their children after them, which for them to waste in extravagancy and riot and so to rob and deprive their own children of their dright is not only as great a sin, but also a fact much more unnatural than to rob a man upon the highway, for which they ought to suffer death by the laws of the realm. I have known some who have been so guilty of this wasteful and extravagant kind of living that it has been the utter ruin and destruction of themselves and their posterity.
But to come to a conclusion, let every man that desires to live in credit in the world, and that his children should do so after him, remember the golden sayings of the philosopher, Adibe curam, tene mensuram & eris dives, and not lavish away his estate like a prodigal, and when he dies leave his children beggars. But let him use all the ways of frugality that he can, among which, this experiment which I have here published, for the good of my country, will be none of the least.
have I finished what I intended in this treatise, and have to my knowledge
omitted nothing, either concerning the planting or use of these roots.
I have now nothing else to say of them but what I have partly said already,
which is that they are good and wholesome, strengthening and nutrimental,
not windy in the least, much of the nature and temperature of wheat,
viz. having no great inequality of heat, cold, moisture or dryness.
Yet if they exceed in any quality it is in dryness, and in that they
are the more wholesome. For Hippocrates said, Siccum est sano proximum.
And experience teaches that a drying diet is better for the body than
that which is too moist. For when a compositum must perish, it perishes
by the element of water, which overcoming, natural heat is quenched
and extinguished in animals. Hence follows the destruction and mortification
of a part, or of the whole body. But these roots by their moderate dryness
preserve the true temperature of the body which (according to Hippocrates)
is, Naturalis ejus siccitas, and therefore may safely be used as a wholesome
and healthful food.
for that by the use of them bread may be made a great deal cheaper than
with all wheat or barley.
Take therefore of the roots, as many as you please, or as your present occasion requires. And if they be for white bread or for paste, you may (if you please) pare them with a knife; if for coarser bread, you need not. Then cut the great ones into halves or quarters, that they may be boiled as soon as the small ones. Afterwards, put them into a net made indifferent large and thick (never putting above a peck into a net) and boil them in a kettle of water till they will break between your fingers, but let them not break in the boiling lest they be too much soaked with water. When they are boiled enough (which will be in a quarter of an hour or less) take them out and with an iron truel rub them through a thick wire sieve. This being done, you may make bread of them two ways.
First, take an equal weight of the roots thus prepared, and of wheat or barley flour, and mingle them well together; then put to it as much warm water, mixed with a little yeast, as will make it into a very stiff dough, and with a little salt knead it well together.
Secondly, take ten pounds of wheat or barley flour, fifteen pounds of the roots, prepared as aforesaid; or so much as will make the flour into very stiff dough, without either water or yeast. Yet if you perceive that it be not hollow enough, you may add a little yeast.
Of these two kinds of dough may be made thin loaves which must be baked in an oven well heated, for it requires something more baking than other bread.
And thus may bread be made, as well in dear as in plentiful years, at easy and cheap rates, not without great benefit both to rich and poor; there being none of so dainty a palate or so finely fed but may eat this bread with pleasure and profit. And although some there may be who will find fault with it, yet the time may come when those that most dislike it may be glad to make use of it. However, I doubt not but that this my experiment will by poor people and those of small estates be well approved of, and also in convenient time be made use of to the glory of God and the good of themselves and their families.
An Appendix touching the Propagation of These Roots by the Seeds
After I had written this treatise, and fitted it for the press, I found that these roots might be increased by the seeds or berries, which till then I knew not. For that the year before I took the seeds out of the berries, and sowed them, and they never sprang up, and therefore I thought that the seed came not to sufficient maturity in our climate. But to make further trial, this last year I set divers of the berries whole, which, contrary to my expectation, came up about the beginning of June and are now half a foot high July the 8th.
If any will plant the berries for the more speedy increasing of their store of roots, they must set them in good, rich and hollow ground, well dug and raked, and divided into long narrow beds, about two foot wide, with alleys between them that they may be the better weeded. For the berries being set in March will not come up before June, and therefore the ground will be full of weed, which will choke the young potatoes if they be not diligently weeded.
As for the time of gathering the berries, it must be about October, when they are turned a little white. And when they are gathered, they must be laid thin upon a board floor till March, and then set into the ground as aforesaid, and so will they spring up in June and that year yield roots to plant against the next, which may either be dug up and planted thinner, or else left in the ground, which the year following will be mightily filled with them. This I thought good to add by way of appendix for the better and more speedy increasing of these roots.
Thou, O God, hast
of thy goodness prepared for the poor.
He satisfies the
empty soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.