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thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.
I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child, well nursed, is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled ; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.
I do therefore humbly offer it to public consideration that of the 120,000 children already computed, 20,000 may be reserved for breed, whereof only one-fourth part to be males ; which is more than we allow to sheep, black cattle, or swine. That the remaining 100,000 may, at a year old, be offered in sale to the persons of quality and fortune through the kingdom; always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump and fat for a good table. A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends; and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and, seasoned with a little pepper or salt, will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.
I have reckoned upon a medium that a child just born will weigh 12 pounds, and in a solar year, if tolerably nursed, will increase to 28 pounds.
I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.
Infant's flesh will be in season throughout the year, but more plentifully in March, and a little before and after : for we are told by a grave author, an eminent
French physician, that, fish being a prolific diet, there are more children born in Roman Catholic countries about nine months after Lent than at any other season ; therefore, reckoning a year after Lent, the markets will be more glutted than usual, because the number of popish infants is at least three to one in this kingdom: and therefore it will have one other collateral advantage, by lessening the number of papists among
I have already computed the charge of nursing a beggar's child (in which list I reckon all cottagers, labourers, and four-fifths of the farmers) to be about 2s. per annum, rags included ; and I believe no gentleman would repine to give ios. for the carcase of a good fat child, which, as I have said, will make four dishes of excellent nutritive meat, when he has only some particular friend or his own family to dine with him. Thus the squire will learn to be a good landlord, and grow popular among his tenants; the mother will have 8s. net profit, and be fit for work till she produces another child.
Those who are more thrifty (as I must confess the times require) may flay the carcase ; the skin of which, artificially dressed, will make admirable gloves for ladies, and summer boots for fine gentlemen.
As to our city of Dublin, shambles may be appointed for this purpose in the most convenient parts of it, and butchers, we may be assured, will not be wanting ; although I rather recommend buying the children alive than dressing them hot from the knife as we do roasting pigs.
A very worthy person, a true lover of his country, and whose virtues I highly esteem, was lately pleased,
in discoursing on this matter, to offer a refinement upon my scheme. He said that many gentlemen of this kingdom having of late destroyed their deer, he conceived that the want of venison might be well supplied by the bodies of young lads and maidens, not exceeding fourteen years of age, nor under twelve ; so great a number of both sexes in every country being now ready to starve for want of work and service ; and these to be disposed of by their parents if alive, or otherwise by their nearest relations. But, with due deference to so excellent a friend and so deserving a patriot, I cannot be altogether in his sentiments; for as to the males, my American acquaintance assured me, from frequent experience, that their flesh was generally tough and lean, like that of our schoolboys, by continual exercise, and their taste disagreeable ; and to fatten them would not answer the charge : and besides, it is not improbable that some scrupulous people might be apt to censure such a practice, (although indeed very unjustly,) as a little bordering upon cruelty ; which, I confess, has always been with me the strongest objection against any project, how well soever intended.
But, in order to justify my friend, he confessed that this expedient was put into his head by the famous Psalmanazar, a native of the island Formosa, who came thence to London above twenty years ago, and in conversation told my friend that in his country, when any young person happened to be put to death, the executioner sold the carcase to persons of quality as a prime dainty ; and that in his time the body of a plump girl of fifteen, who was crucified for an attempt to poison the emperor, was sold to his imperial
majesty's prime minister of state and other great mandarins of the court, in joints from the gibbet, at 400 crowns. Neither, indeed, can I deny that if the same use were made of several plump young girls in this town, who, without one single groat to their fortunes, cannot stir abroad without a.chair, and appear at playhouse and assemblies in foreign fineries which they never will pay for, the kingdom would not be the worse.
Some persons of a desponding spirit are in great concern about that vast number of poor people who are aged, diseased, or maimed ; and I have been desired to employ my thoughts what course may be taken to ease the nation of so grievous an encumbrance. But I am not in the least pain upon that matter, because it is very well known that they are every day dying and rotting by cold and famine, and filth and vermin, as fast as can be reasonably expected. And as to the young labourers, they are now in almost as hopeful a condition ; they cannot get work, and consequently pine away for want of nourishment, to a degree that if at any time they are accidentally hired to common labour, they have not strength to perform it; and thus the country and themselves are happily delivered from the evils to come.
I have too long digressed, and therefore shall return to my subject. I think the advantages by the proposal which I have made are obvious and many, as well as of the highest importance.
For, first, as I have already observed, it would greatly lessen the number of papists, with whom we are yearly overrun, being the principal breeders of the nation, as well as our most dangerous enemies ; and who stay at home on purpose to deliver the kingdom to
the Pretender, hoping to take their advantage by the absence of so many good protestants, who have chosen rather to leave their country than stay at home and pay tithes against their conscience to an episcopal curate.
Secondly, The poorer tenants will have something valuable of their own, which by law may be made liable to distress, and help to pay their landlord's rent ; their corn and cattle being already seized, and money a thing unknown.
Thirdly, Whereas the maintenance of 100,000 children, from two years old and upward, cannot be computed at less than 1os. a-piece per annum, the nation's stock will be thereby increased £50,000 per annum, besides the profit of a new dish introduced to the tables of all gentlemen of fortune in the kingdom who have any refinement in taste.
And the money will circulate among ourselves, the goods being entirely of our own growth and manufacture.
Fourthly, The constant breeders, beside the gain of 8s. sterling per annum by the sale of their children, will be rid of the charge of maintaining them after the
Fifthly, This food would likewise bring great custom to taverns; where the vintners will certainly be so prudent as to procure the best receipts for dressing it to perfection, and consequently have their houses frequented by all the fine gentlemen, who justly value themselves upon their knowledge in good eating : and a skilful cook, who understands how to oblige his guests, will contrive to make it as expensive as they please.
Sixthly, This would be a great inducement to