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Prestonpans and Vicinity

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" 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 purpose.
" 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 taste,

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. "
In an account from the Revenue Office, Haddington,
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