| " A great deal of sea-salt is also made at Prestonpans,
for home consumption and as an article of commerce. It is
produced by means of fire and evaporation. We found no difficulty
of admission to the salt works, which are very numerous.
" The sea water is raised by pumps into immense boilers
of an oblong square form, which are not at most above eighteen
inches deep, and are constructed of strong plates of iron
closely joined to each other. The boiler is supported on strong
bars of cast iron. The furnaces are placed immediately underneath,
and divide into several vents which reach to the extremities
of the boiler. There are four or five of these furnaces to
each boiler, according to its surface, and they are supplied
with fuel of pit coal. The water is by this means kept in
continual ebullition, and fresh supplies are pumped in in
proportion to what evaporates, until the salt is formed in
quantity sufficiently large to be taken out. By this simple
process there is procured a white salt of very good quality,
excellent for cooking and other uses, but not very proper
for curing provisions, nor so good as French salt for that
" I observe in these salt works, where artificial ebullition
supplies the place of natural evaporation, that the atmosphere
is always a little loaded with marine acid in the form of
vapour, which quickly corrodes and destroys the polish of
steel. I experienced its effects on the buttons of my clothes,
which were covered with rust in about ten minutes. This vapour
also affects the smell, and is somewhat injurious to the lungs.
" This is certainly not the marine acid disengaging itself
from the mineral alkali; their union is too intimate for that
supposition. The most violent fire acting upon sea-salt volatilizes
rather than decomposes it; an intermediate substance is always
necessary for the latter purpose. But there is sometimes found
in salt a small portion of muriatic acid, united with magnesian
earth, and as this basic fixes it but feebly, it is capable
of being disengaged by ebullition.
" Dr Swediaur conducted me to the piece of ground which
he had purchased, where the works for making salt were considerably
advanced, the boilers being already erected. I saw all these
operations with much interest.
" I ate some excellent oysters at the table of this learned
physician. This was not to be wondered at, as I was in the
place where the best oysters are taken in abundance. They
are found in great quantities on banks at a little distance
from the shore. They are large, plump, and of an exquisite
and are held in such estimation that they are exported to
the principal cities of England and Holland. Large quantities
also are pickled, put into barrels, and sent wherever there
is a demand for them.
"The position of Prestonpans and its proximity to the
city of Edinburgh render it very agreeable, and one who loves
study and tranquillity may here spend some very happy hours.
It is therefore not surprising that Swediaur, fatigued with
the bustle of London, should have given this spot a preference,
and have settled in it, for the more uninterrupted prosecution
of his studies and useful occupations. "
We had the information long ago that it was in Cockenzie Dr
Swediaur commenced operations in salt making, and failed.
It may be quite correct, but one thing is certain from the
foregoing, that whatever he did in Cockenzie, he also tried
his experiments in salt making at Prestonpans.
The French professor was greatly taken up, it seems, with
the Glasgow lasses in proceeding west. " I was astonished,
" he says, "in a climate so cold and so humid as
that of Glasgow, to see the greater part of the lower class
of females, and even, many of those in easy circumstances,
walking about with their heads and their feet bare, their
bodies covered only with a jump, and a gown and petticoat
of red stuff which descended to the middle of their legs,
and their fine long hair hanging down without any other ornament
than a crooked comb to keep back that part which would otherwise
fall over their faces. This garb of the females, simple as
it may be, is not destitute of grace. As there is nothing
to fetter their movements, they display an elegance and agility
in their gait so much the more striking as they are in general
tall, well made, and of a charming figure. They have a clear
complexion and very white teeth. It is not to be inferred,
because they walk barefooted, that they are neglectful of
cleanliness, for it appears that they wash frequently, and
with equal facility, both their feet and their hands. In a
word, the women of Glasgow will be always seen with pleasure
by the lovers of simple nature. The children and young folks
go also barefooted. "
TAXING IN 1827.
In an account from the Revenue Office, Haddington,