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Bill of Fare


January 19, 1877

The Fishermen's Bill of Fare

A few weeks ago, Mr. Editor, your pen wrote an article on the quality of the fare you considered the crew of your fishing fleet entitled to, which was that they had a claim to whatever of the good things in life they could secure. I certainly should concur in that opinion, if it was confined to wholesome meat, pork, flour, potatoes, beans, tea, coffee, & etc. A man that is well fed will haul more codfish than one half fed. To call for these substantial articles is a right of fishing crews, and is for the interest of the owners to supply, especially to a crew bent on making a good voyage. But the books of outfitters and my own observation, are evidences that the luxuries that even the owner enjoies himself, occupy a fat column in the culinary department of the voyage.

Now we put this question, Does this costly style of feed give a corresponding increase to the product of the labour? We are told that it does not, but that it is simply a ___d for this or that class of men. Very well, if it does not coerce profit, its mischief is that it helps directly to cripple the voyage. We have in view off shore fisheries and short voyages. A four months' voyage to Grand Banks entitles the crew to call for a few luxuries outside the necessities, but our home fishery and short voyages, where the crew are at home almost daily, find no argument for them.

We are informed that some of our shore fisheries, in order to cater to this spirit of excelling in attraction to their crews, and to annoy others, for that is its tendency, paid, the past summer fabulous prices for tropical fruit -- others culled Boston market for the very best peaches, New Jersey grown, and all as a free gift to their crew. We lay it down as a solid law, that this system of gilt-edged feeding will not make a man rich on land, or work better on seas.That is certain.

A good laborer, the world over, looks about as often to his master's interest as to his own, and all he asks for, and all he is entitled to, is good, wholesome food -- more that this vitiates and thrift has lost its mainspring. The commercial world makes one of its epochs by not exactly a dead halt, for that is not one of its functions, but has slowed a little, just to show us how much faster we've run that is laid down in the law. The slow speed of to-day's commerce invites a retrim of our business expenditures, and the basis is, less cash for the same bulk of productions. On this point the world is exact, and no power exists to thwart its rule.

To return to the fishermen. We admit that the calling is hazardous at times, so is shore life; the sacrifice of home and social life is a tax; but on the other hand, the occupation is full on interest and excitement; that all the pleasures of a blue expanding sea are an exclusive delight for them and for them land service has not so much charm as the sea. Commerce would be without legs but for them, and one part of the world be hid from the other except they shew the way. Society appreciated their importance, and the new duty of the day assigns a change for every one, that of economy, and we are of the opinion that if the New England fisheries are called upon to top-off the gilt-edge grub none worth employing will grumble, as it substitutes more profit to owner and crew by so doing.


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