Friday, September 17, 2010

A regular supply of seal's flesh for their dinner

There is no term in political philosophy more ambiguous and lax in its meaning than Luxury. In Ireland, salt with a potato is, by the peasant, placed in this category. Among the Cossacks, a clean shirt is more than a luxury--it is an effeminacy; and a Scotch nobleman is reported to have declared, that the act of scratching one's self is a luxury too great for any thing under royalty. The Russians (there is no disputing on tastes) hold train-oil to be a prime luxury; and I remember seeing a group of them following an exciseman on the quays at Dover to plunder the oil casks, as they were successively opened for his operations. A poor Finland woman, who for her sins had married an Englishman and followed him to this country, was very glad to avail herself of her husband's death to leave a land where the people were so unhappy as to be without a regular supply of seal's flesh for their dinner. While the good man lived, her affection for him somewhat balanced her hankering after this native luxury; but no sooner was the husband dead, than her lawyer-like propensity re-assumed its full force, and, like Proteus released from his chains, she abandoned civilized life to get back to her favourite shores, to liberty, and the animals of her predilection.

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