' Upon the whole, I should say that the principal articles of diet of the common people, are salted pilchards, potatoes, and barley bread, with tea; and of these I think that the breakfast of weak tea and ill-baked barley bread, is both disagreeable and unwholesome.
Among the greater half of the inhabitants of this district, i. e. the poorer class, beer can hardly be reckoned as an article of diet. Many families, even among the labouring classes, doubtless, use it as such ; all indulge in it, occasionally, as a luxury, yet its daily and habitual use is entirely unknown to the greater part of this class of people in the district.
This naturally leads to the subject of drinking, more particularly so called, or the use and abuse of spirituous and other strong liquors. And I am happy to say that, in this respect, I can make a most favourable report of the inhabitants of the Landsend, although I am not sure that their temperance is not, in a considerable degree, constrained. At least the report made of them in this particular, only a few years back, by one of their native historians, is extremely different from the representation of their present temperance, which my experience enables me to give.
" There is another poison among us," says Polwhele, " more deleterious than all the lead that ever existed in the cider vessels of Devonshire and Cornwall. The ardent spirits to which the Cornish vulgar are habituated, ' young men and maidens,' old men and children,—pueri innuptceque puellae, are unquestionably prejudicial to health, and are often attended with fatality." And in another place, " Among miners and others, spirituous liquors are equally in repute." (p. 107.) The same complaint is made by Dr. Borlase, in 1758, and the causes are still to be, the nature of the principal occupation, (mining), and the frequent and numerous elections in the boroughs for members of parliament. '
Back to the Top
Copyright © Ambra Books 2003. All rights reserved.