Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 26.djvu/697

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wine-merchant; therefore he quoted fifty-four shillings, and both buyer and seller were perfectly satisfied: the wine-merchant made a large profit, and the customer obtained what he demanded—a good wine at a "respectable price." He could not insult his friends by putting cheap twelve-shilling trash on his table!

Here arises an ethical question. Was the wine-merchant justified in making this charge under the circumstances; or, otherwise stated, who was to blame for the crookedness of the transaction? I say the customer; my verdict is, "Sarve him right!"

In reference to wines, and still more to cigars, and some other useless luxuries, the typical Englishman is a victim to a prevalent commercial superstition. He blindly assumes that price must necessarily represent quality, and therefore shuts his eyes and opens his mouth to swallow anything with complete satisfaction, provided that he pays a good price for it at a respectable establishment, i. e., one where only high-priced articles are sold.

If any reader thinks I speak too strongly, let him ascertain the market price per pound of the best Havana tobacco-leaves where they are grown, also the cost of twisting them into cigar-shape (a skillful workman can make a thousand in a day), then add to the sum of these the cost of packing, carriage, and duty. He will be rather astonished at the result of this arithmetical problem.

If these things were necessaries of life or contributed in any degree or manner to human welfare, I should protest indignantly; but seeing what they are, and what they do, I rather rejoice at the limitation of consumption effected by their fancy prices.


THE British Island of Dominica, although it forms only an insignificant colony, takes a rank among the first of the West Indies, when considered in regard to the richness of its scenery. Built up of lofty volcanic masses, which interpose almost insurmountable rocky barriers to the entrance of civilization into the interior, it still conceals among its hills and ravines a life of animals and plants rejoicing in the wildest freedom, and which is developed under the moist, tropical climate into extreme luxuriance. If one desires to make himself acquainted in the shortest possible time with the life of the island, he can do no better than make an excursion to the "Boiling Lake," that wonderful hot water-crater in the interior, which is one of the most curious geological phenomena of the earth. The road of about fifteen miles, but which it takes two or three days to traverse, so rugged is it.